We Are All Psychic, We Just Have to Pay Attention. ~ Valerie Shively

Via elephant journal
on Jan 6, 2012
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I had heard about women being attacked by men in these woods.

Women just like me trying to get some exercise on a beautiful Saturday morning.  But I never paid it much attention.  I’d never been attacked, so I’d never felt afraid.  Yet on this particular sunny day, as I jogged out of the parking lot and onto a trail that lead into 26 acres of woods, I felt nervous and scared for no reason, or at least not one my mind could understand.


My body felt uneasy. My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty even before I started running. I was skittish and it made me constantly look behind or go into shaky panic mode each time I heard a twig crack underfoot. You know that feeling you get when you watch a horror movie in the dark alone, or when the lights go out and you have to find the fuse box in a black, sinister basement? Your body is on hyper alert and things you might never normally notice become ominous signs of peril. Every sound, every feeling is amplified. That’s what was going on with me, but it made absolutely no sense.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and people were walking their dogs. Maybe I drank too much coffee or something. “Go for your run, Val, because it’s what you always do on Saturday mornings,” that’s what I thought. I never once considered that my body might be trying to tell me something. That maybe, if I paid it just a little bit of attention, I could get some information about the situation in which I was running into.

However, that wasn’t going to happen because I have been taught that logical thought is God. Your body knows nothing but biological desire, “give me the chocolates” and “I want to sleep some more,” and it is my job to discipline my body and keep it in line. I learned a long time ago not to heed physical inklings that take me out of joint with what I think is best for me, I plow over them in an attempt to itself improve. And so that’s what I did as I jogged off into the woods.

Down the hill, around the reservoir, 45 minutes in, I was almost finished, yet that uneasy feeling had made this one of the hardest runs of my life. I was on a secluded trail I had never run before that winded its way up a steep hill. Ascending this hill felt like running through quicksand. The entire run had felt that way but on this hill it was ten times worse.  My legs did not want to lift. So I did what most of us do when we want to ignore the things we don’t like, I turned up the music in my headphones. I vividly remember the song that was playing. It was The Kinks and I remember singing to it as a way to motivate myself.

The lyrics went: I see many people coming after me
/ So where are you going to I don’t mind/ 
If I live too long I’m afraid I’ll die
/ So I will follow you wherever you go/ your offered hand is still open to me/ 
Strangers on this road we are on/ 
We are not two we are one.

The music wasn’t loud enough. My body roared over it.  My heart was pounding like a mac truck in a traffic jam. I couldn’t catch a breath and I was starting to feel like I was going to throw up or pass out, but I said to myself, “self, don’t quit. Work through this and you’ll be stronger for it,” dismissing it all as laziness.  Except that pep talk couldn’t override what happened next.

My body went absolutely haywire – waves of nausea and dizziness spun over me and a charge of electricity ran up and down my spine stimulating every nerve and cell. Chills ran everywhere. I stopped for a perplexed minute, thought it was weird but, since I wasn’t lying on the ground, I figured I would try and work through it. And as I broke the crest of the hill, a man wearing a bloody surgical mask jumped in front of me.

I froze. Time stopped.  The surgical mask he wore on his face was dirty and stained with blood.  His long hair was stringy and wild.  His baggy faded blue jeans were dirty on the knees and his maroon windbreaker was zipped all the way up to his chin.  My eyes locked with his.  Electricity swelled in my veins.  All at once the physical symptoms that had been plaguing my run coalesced into a tornado of chills and nausea.  My body had been trying to warn me about this man while I had still been safe, and now it was screaming at me to get out of there.

What was special about that moment, and the whole reason I am writing this, is that I had no thoughts in the time I stood in front of him. My mind had shut off.  My mind was silent, but I knew to run away. I knew without my mind working what to do. And here’s the kicker of the whole thing, just as I was about to take off, my mind kicked back on and gave me a very distinct thought, and I will never forget how clear and loud this thought was in my mind:


“Don’t run away, Val, or you will make him feel bad about himself.”

And for what was probably a millisecond of time, but felt like an eternity, I actually entertained that thought because it made logical sense to me, even though it went against everything my body was telling me. I remember following it up with the thought that maybe he wears a bloody surgical mask as a scarf because he doesn’t have any money for a real one. That is how dangerously powerful the mind is. As soon as it kicked back on, it was overriding my body’s knowing. Just as I considered dismissing my fear as illogical, the bloody surgical mask man tried to grab me.

The next bit is a blur. I don’t remember my feet touching the ground.  My body was flying through the woods.  I ran faster than I have ever run, than I ever thought I could. I never looked back. I never thought a thought in my mind. I knew. I knew what to do and I knew how to do it without thinking about it and I was allowing that sense of knowing to guide me. That sense of knowing was saving my life.

Without thinking about direction, I made it out the edge of the woods and onto the safe sidewalks of suburbia. The cul de sac homes that welcomed me were sunny and green with manicured flower beds and freshly cut lawns. SUVs sped along, driven by women working madly through their own to-do lists, women just like me, so busy that they are unable to feel anything except what their conditioned minds will allow.

I called the police, angry. Not about that man, that hadn’t sunk in yet, but about the fact that I couldn’t finish my run, I couldn’t do what I had wanted to do, what I had planned to do. It didn’t hit me until later that day when my heart was still racing, my hands still shaking, that I had come within a lamb’s breath of being attacked, raped, killed. I was a second away from being another statistic, another five minute news story that some other woman might ignore on her way to do the same run.

A friend of mine’s brother is a police officer, and he told me that nine times out of ten, women are raped and murdered because they don’t listen to their instincts. His words were, “They try and maintain some semblance of normalcy, they try to keep the peace.” Because that’s a woman’s gig in our society, right? Keep the peace, keep everyone happy, worry about others first before yourself. And, oh yes, the most important, God forbid if a woman listens to her irrational instincts because we wouldn’t want anyone to roll their eyes and call us koo-koo for picking up feelings that don’t jive with the logic of the times. So we stick to our to-do lists, our plans and we live like we are on a carousel, riding the horses around through prearranged and logically calculated scenes, never paying attention to what is really going on in the moment, never listening to our bodies.

We have a built in psychic system that we have been conditioned to ignore.  It picks up on what’s going on around us, it keeps us safe, but it doesn’t work in the same way our minds do. My body was trying to tell me that there was a reason for me to be scared but I kept ignoring it. Our logical minds don’t have the supernatural abilities that our bodies do. We are so disconnected and so trained to be so disconnected from our bodies that we only consider them an aesthetic container for which to place our intellect. They are so much more than that. They let us know when we should be nervous or scared.

lululemon athletica

Have you ever had a feeling that something just wasn’t right, but because you thought it should be right, you ignored that feeling? Our bodies know how to do things we could never know how to do, like heal a cut or predict the future or sense danger.

The beauty of this horrifying experience comes in its fallout. I was too scared to run after that, so I thought about joining a yoga studio up the road from me. I even resisted that urge initially because it was expensive and my logic was that I could do it at home for free. But when I decided not to go to the 6pm class and plopped a DVD in the player for the sake of frugality instead, the DVD player wouldn’t work. I tried to play another one, but it still wouldn’t work. I turned it on and off and tried again to no avail.

Finally, as I sat baffled on the floor in front of my television, it occurred to me that something bigger was playing me. I looked up at the ceiling, smiled and said out loud, “Okay I get it,” drove to the yoga studio, and have been in love ever since. Yoga has changed my life. I am healthier, stronger and happier than I have ever been. I feel my body now. Yoga has taught me to stay in my body, pay attention to what it needs and this has enabled me to be more aware of its language. Oh, and by the way, the DVD player worked perfectly every day after.

The short of it is this: My body knew I was in danger, it could predict the future and it was using my feelings to communicate that with me, but my mind couldn’t logically conceive of the signs so I ignored them and was almost killed.

We beat our bodies into submission for the sake of self improvement and we beat ourselves down in the process. Yoga and being chased by a murderer in the woods have taught me that I need to use my body with my mind. Both are important. My body is psychic, all of ours are. It knew what was going to happen the way animals know when bad weather is about to arrive. It gave me the warning signals, but my mind hasn’t been trained to understand the psychic abilities of my body. We are all psychic, we just have to pay attention and not fight the information we are getting so hard.

If you get anything from this story, let it be that you pay closer attention to how you feel, and don’t be so quick to judge and dismiss your body’s feelings because they don’t sync with what you think you should feel. There are things at work in the world that we don’t see and that our minds can’t understand, but our bodies do.  We need to use our minds to work with our bodies, not against. Like the Kinks’ song says, we are not two we are one, and from now on I follow my body wherever it goes, if its offered hand is still open to me. We are being offered information, we just have to stop resisting it.


Valerie Shively resides on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts,  where she teaches high school English and lives with two unbearably adorable cats and one extra special ex-smoker.  She likes to write, do yoga and drive around without directions.


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17 Responses to “We Are All Psychic, We Just Have to Pay Attention. ~ Valerie Shively”

  1. linda buzogany says:

    This is such an amazing story, Valerie. The intelligence of the body…it's quite something. Now that we've learned about it (many thanks to yoga) we can teach it to our girls. Did I miss something? Did they get the guy? Why the blood??

  2. ContentReader says:

    Thank you for sharing your insights gained a very scary way… and for the encouragement and reminder to listen to my body!

  3. Mary aa says:

    I'm glad to hear you it away. I live in the Boston area. Where and when did this take place?

  4. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    WOW – this story had me on the edge! How scary! I am glad you were okay. OMG. And, what a brilliant message – listen to the body. A lot of us seem to think that the mind, body, etc are separate – this has been so engrained that we don't really understand how powerful, psychic, creative, etc we truly are. Thank you SO much for sharing this. I can't wait to hear more from you.

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  5. Blissed says:

    Dear Valerie

    I am very relieved to read that you were spared of what could have been an even more traumatic and life threatening experience. I am at the same time confused about the premise of your story being about listening to our psychic Inner self. Please help me understand why you decided to go into the woods after knowing there were several women who had been attacked and raped there and apparently with perpetrator still at large. The point I am making is not that we should lock ourselves in our homes and never venture out or change our daily activities because of the existence of crime in our society. That would be ridiculous. Rather my point is that you seem to be miscategorizing psychic signs or abilities for a deliberate dismissal or negligence of the facts. Had you never been aware of the attacks/rapes in the woods, and your body experienced these warning sensations, I could understand your premise better. However, given the violence that happened in those woods that you knew about, I am left confused. Again, I am not trying to minimize your harrowing experience at all. I am just not sure it should come under the heading of heeding your psychic warning signals. I believe there must be a place for attentiveness to logical decision making that lives alongside attentiveness to our psychic strengths. For me, this article overlooks the obvious and dresses it up as psychic intuition, which I believe minimizes the importance of both our logical and psychic strengths.

  6. valerie says:

    Fells Reservation on the Winchester side

  7. valerie says:

    It is a popular area for running, and I never mentioned the fact that I had been running there for years without cause for concern along with many other people. Like many urban parks, there is always an inherent danger because there is violence where there are more people, but it wasn't something that had ever stopped me from running before, much in the same way we hear dangerous stories about the subway, but we still ride it. Looking back at my article I can see the incongruity at the start and I probably should have laid it out more clearly that this was a habit – something I had always done – and I had never felt scared before. It was very much, for me personally, an experience in which I was recieving intuitive information through my body and my mind was trying to rationalize and dispute it away, and almost won which would have been much to my cha'grin. To me, that is psychic, but we all have our different understandings of psychic experiences and this may not float your boat. However, if it gets at least one person to take what they are sensing seriously while entrenched in a habitual experience, then I believe it was helpful and therefore good to share.

  8. Blissed says:

    Agreed…and while we are at it, for that person to also take seriously their awareness of the exitence of violence in the setting they want to experience and make appropriate adjustments.

    Glad you are safe.

  9. yogijulian says:

    so glad you are ok – and yes the body often has intuitive awareness that we do well to listen to! this is one of the great gifts of practices like yoga…

    i would hesitate to go so far as to call this "psychic" though – sounds like a stretch.

  10. Chris Guzik says:

    Gavin DeBecker's excellent book "The Gift of Fear" is all about this topic and should be mandatory reading for all young women. We do tend to override our instincts and it often results in horrible consequences. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  11. Great article, thank you. So much truth in our tendency to ignore the wisdom of our body and over-value the rational. I have worked with many women with anorexia and bulimia and they too have a tendency to ignore the body’s wisdom – beating it up instead of acknowledging the powerful gifts the body has to offer. I am starting to collect stories and essays for a book on embodiment, helping women who have done the work of mind and spirit to do the work (and play) of embodiment. I would love to include this story, it is so personal and powerful.

  12. Valerie Shively says:

    That is a really great point. Thank you for making the comment, I totally agree.

  13. Valerie Shively says:

    I would be honored for you to include this story in your collection. If you email me I can send you the copy, [email protected]

  14. Vicky says:


    I had a very similar experience 18 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The only difference is that as soon as I had that feeling – that really bad bad feeling that something was very wrong, I high tailed it out of there like my life depended on it. I will never know for certain if someone was watching or waiting but I will never go back to that part of the trail. Thank you for sharing your story.

  15. valerie says:

    Wow….sounds like a great film, and I will definitely hook it on my list. Thank you so much for reading and sharing the nice comment.

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