By Megan Harshbarger
How often do you listen to your inner voice? Did you know you have one? Lately I have been struck by the concept of intuition. I recall times where there was an “inner voice” to which I did indeed listen. In those moments I experienced my intuition as a side of myself that understood more than I consciously appreciated and which could be trusted. In response to these experiences, I began to listen more often to that voice that arises within in my effort to remain true to myself and to my path. With these ideas in mind, I would like to explore further the concept of intuition.
Many eminent thinkers - from Jung to Einstein - have stressed the importance of intuition as a fundamental and indispensable aspect of human nature. There are many different theories of intuition; some define it as a spiritual guide, the Divine within, or a version of their Higher Self. There are scientists and psychologists that have explained intuition as a biological remnant of evolution; a relative to animal instinct. Others, like me, are still in the process of developing our own beliefs about this process inside of us that we call intuition.
It is important to realize that the ideas of intuition from a spiritual standpoint are often contradicted by more analytically oriented modes of thinking. Working with our intuition may seem more difficult for many in our Western culture because intuition often operates in a different way from the way have been trained and encouraged to process information. Our left-brain logical modes are always active. We analyze and probe everything around us. Intuition is different because it is receptive. I don’t believe that the rational mind and the intuitional mind are meant to overtake the other, as everything needs balance. When utilized effectively, the active and the receptive, as I like to think of as the head and the heart, can actually complement each other rather than compete.
There was a point where I impulsively made a life-altering decision; I was insecure and listened to the opinions and advice of others around me that urged me to move forward with that decision. My intuitive moment came “out of the blue” while having a phone conversation. It was almost as if a voice, strong and clear, told me not to pursue any further. It was such a strong feeling that I just knew that I had to go with it despite what my rational mind was telling me. Looking back, I know the decision I made to listen to my intuition, was correct. I know that I am where I need to be and that impulsive decision could have led me off course.
The process of receiving information through intuition is generally subconscious. As it is commonly associated with the unconscious, intuition is often thought to have a certain magical quality. Answers or solutions are suddenly delivered “out of the blue.” One of the main features of intuition is its capacity to synthesize information through sensing patterns and similarities and quickly seeing connections among disparate pieces of data. By seeing how everything is connected and interrelated, intuition is capable of discerning universal laws and structures.
The key is letting intuition work for us by simply believing that it is indeed real and trust-worthy. We must first acknowledge and own that we do, in fact, have some form(s) of intuitive ability. I’m not suggesting “trying to figure things out intuitively,” which is an oxymoron implying the rational brain can actively synthesize the process of intuition. We must instead receive information, by paying attention to what comes. It is true that we receive loads of information all of the time, much of which we have no conscious awareness. Some have been trained or encouraged to pay attention to these subtleties and seem to have extra-sensory awareness. But even this is cannot be the essence or definition of intuitive knowing. Otherwise, what would we do with the countless stories of mothers who instantly “knew” that their child was in some danger, in what later was revealed to be the same moment?
It is my belief that once we begin to develop our own intuitive knowing, it deepens and can be very powerful. I also believe intuition can be a very natural part of life. What is striking about it and what I think is its identifying marker is that intuition is never vague - there is no element of doubt attached to it. This is contrary to common perceptions.
With this knowing comes the beginning of deepening understanding, and with understanding and insight can come wisdom if we are so open and inclined. If we’re truly open and don’t put preconceived terms and self-imposed limitations on it, we can tap into our own intuitive ability and begin to understand ourselves and the important life purpose to which each of us has been born.