“Follow your intuition” always felt like a vague movie line to me.
It took me countless failures and unfavorable outcomes to realize that my intuition exists, and I shouldn’t shrug it off. Learning how to identify it and listen to it has been a long process. Nonetheless, it has never failed me.
I’m also convinced that it has rarely failed anyone else. I often hear people say, “I knew it!” Or, “I knew I shouldn’t go, because…this or that.” What is this “I knew” thing all about? It’s our intuition.
It’s a gut feeling, an inner voice. Regardless what label we put on it, in the end, it’s a form of connection with something we can’t see, touch, or hear. Although it’s not visible to us, it’s the most powerful of all our senses. Yet, we rarely give it any importance or recognition, because we know it might not be agreeable with our ego. However, it often holds the correct option.
To learn more about our intuition, we must first grasp what is working against it. Who leads the way when we don’t act upon our intuition? When we silence our gut, the mind takes control. We usually agree with what our irrational mind suggests, since it’s a master at making things seem rational—but the truth is that our mind is fear-based and often moves us further away from the right choice.
If we are attentive enough, we can recognize when our mind sits behind the steering wheel. We often regret our choices, because we make them when the mind is emotionally charged and chaotic.
So, how do we silence our mind and let our gut take control?
The thing about intuition is that it’s always there, but we need to pay attention to it. We don’t have to sit and wait for it; we might be busy doing something and suddenly know what to do.
I’ve learned an imperative technique that helps me differentiate between my mind and my intuition. The mind has an actual voice that speaks to us—it’s the voice that keeps running like a looping tape in our heads. It analyzes, gives facts, and judges. But, our intuition doesn’t have a voice; it manifests as a feeling. Whenever I hear a voice telling me what to do, I don’t give it any attention—it’s my ego communicating to me. On the other hand, I stay receptive to feelings. When the feeling manifests, I pause and listen to what doesn’t have a voice.
If there’s one important thing I’ve learned, it is to know how to pause before acting or speaking. When we pause, we create space. When there is space, there is clarity. And when there’s clarity, there’s understanding.
To learn how to pause, we have to give the mind time to dismiss its activity. Wait for the mental clutter and noise to disappear. Wait for the anger, sadness, confusion, excitement, pleasure, and so on to calm down. Give yourself time, so you can experience the silence.
Rumi puts this beautifully:
“There is a way between voice and presence, where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens; with wandering talk it closes.”
Within the silence, we can weigh between the two options—or between the “yes” and “no.” Imagine both choices, without any mental judgment. Notice what you feel. The beautiful thing about our intuition is that it showers us with a good feeling when it comes to making the right decision. This is difficult to explain, as every person experiences it differently. For instance, to me, the right choice is associated with the color white. However, when I’m about to make the wrong choice, I see the whole situation as dark and black.
Moreover, there’s always a weight associated with the feeling. If it’s the right choice, you might feel as though a weight has been lifted off your chest. If it’s the wrong choice, you might feel like an immense weight was just added onto your shoulders. Our intuition regarding something harmful can manifest as a feeling of choking, heaviness in the chest, or having sleepless nights and anxiety. If it’s the right feeling, it manifests as happiness, good vibes, or peace within.
How do we learn to trust our intuition? We have to practice listening to it. Reflect on the times you felt something was right, and it turned out to be right indeed. Remember the sensations that you felt in your body at that time. Learn how to associate certain feelings with the “yes” and others with the “no.”
Two things I highly recommend to strengthen our inner voice are practicing meditation or writing. With meditation, we learn how to watch the mental activity without immersing ourselves in it. We also expand the gaps between every thought, which creates space and silence. It is in this silence that our intuition is most powerful.
Besides meditation, we can write in a journal to keep track of our emotions and thoughts. After many years of keeping a journal, I’ve noticed that at some point, the words simply flow. When I go back and read what I have written, I find answers I didn’t know I had. In other words, our inner voice takes the lead when we write down our emotions.
The next time you’re lost and not sure what decision to make, remember what Kahlil Gibran had to say:
“When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.”
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron
Social editor: Waylon Lewis