“I shut my eyes in order to see.” – Paul Gaugin
You’ve heard the expression “trust your gut,” but there’s a lot more to the saying than mere colloquialism. That gut feeling is a powerful force within us and, while many times it’s an unwelcome visitor, it should always be received and respected — it’s a sign in a life where we don’t receive many signs. It’s the answer you wish you could get from the wind and the warning you wish someone could give you. It’s that spiritual connection you literally can’t get anywhere else, and it’s the deepest connection you have to your innermost self.
A friend of mine runs a large alternative energy company that just floated on the stock exchange. He recently told me that he takes his wife to business lunches when he’s deciding on a big deal or whether to enter into partnership with a new business associate. Little does she know that he brings her there specifically to tap into her women’s intuition and pick up cues about the new potential partner. Nine times out of ten, he says she’s right.
Two years ago my Chinese acutherapist told me I needed desperately to listen to my gut and trust my instincts. I’m not sure how he knew (probably instincts!) that, being a lateral thinker, I tend to process things mechanically. A big part of me believes rationality must prevail when making decisions. After my annual appointment he sent me on my way, and I spent the next twelve months going about my life totally ignoring my instincts as per usual. A year on I had made some bad business decisions which initially had seemed like opportunities brimming with prosperity. At crunch time, my mind computed its own hyper-rational Pro and Con list from layers upon layers of logic, and I went ahead despite the niggling feeling that I should proceed with caution.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, until your doctor waves his finger at you and proclaims, “I told you so!” Here are his tried-and-true suggestions on how to tap into your intuition:
It’s easier to hear whispers from the soul when your mind is quiet and open and, while this one might seem like the most obvious, for me, meditation is something I’ve always struggled with. But my Chinese doctor has a way of always being right, so I gave it a go. And I love it! I adore the apps Buddhify and OMG I Can Meditate! as I quite literally can’t meditate without them (yet).
You likely rolled your eyes at this one, but beyond being present on your mat and in the moment, yoga is a great way to truly feel into the vast corners of your body. Bringing a physical (and mental) presence into the entirety of your being, which is what tapping into your intuition is all about. When I started yoga a few years ago, it surprised me by serving as the catalyst to truly listen to what my body was telling me both on and off the mat. I got to know my muscles, my menstrual cycle, and even discovered food allergies and sensitivities by simply learning how to listen.
Cut out the bad stuff
When my doctor told me that I had to stop gobbling down bananas like a monkey because the high sugar content was creating inflammation and anxiety, I literally didn’t know what else to eat. Bananas were like my life force; if I didn’t have a bunch in the house, I didn’t know who I was. But I heeded his advice, and many others about what foods weren’t great for my body and noticed an astounding difference in my digestion, weight and mood. I’ve found that eating mostly organic plant-based whole foods, which clears up a lot of room in my physiology to allow calm, deep peace, abundant love and gratitude. Read this article on how to become more in tune with your body, but a great start is to cut out refined sugar, excess meat/dairy (or cut them out all together depending on your beliefs), unnecessary gluten and processed foods.
Because I also love to geek out on science, I spent some time hunting around the US National Library of Medicine and found the following information on what’s called the gut-brain axis. The enteric nervous system, found in the gut, has more neurons than the spinal column or central nervous system. Long thought to be only concerned with directing digestive contractions, the enteric nervous system has a direct conduit to the brain via the vagus nerve, 90% of whose fibers are dedicated to communication from the gut to the brain. If you’ve ever gotten butterflies in your stomach from young love or anxiety (or both), or felt like you knew something “in your gut,” that may have been your gut-brain relaying the message to your, brain-brain. Cool, huh?
Use your dreams
Dreams are the brain’s way of processing information that’s left over from the day. They are rich with valuable data – experiences, memories, learnings – so they can work for you if you guide them. While you are sleeping and your conscious mind is at rest, your soul has the opportunity to bring intuitive information to you through your dreams This was by far my favourite exercise given to me by my doctor:
Before you fall asleep, turn your thoughts to any unresolved issues or problems. Think about possible options or resolutions as you’re falling asleep. Close your eyes and let your brain do the rest. Keep a journal by your bed so that you can record your dreams the moment you wake up.
+ How are you tuning in?