Cultivating Your Intuition
August 2, 2011
Intuition, the sweet voice of our internal navigation system.Without it we bumble. With it, we grow humble. Intuition is the guide of consciousness. It’s truly a lovely thing.
Jackie Gilbert, Professor of Management in the Middle Tennessee State University College of Business, offers her wisdom about intuition in her guest blog below. Please visit her site, which is chock full of wisdom and thoroughly researched. Besides, she’s a great writer!
Take it away, Jackie!
A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans which it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own (A Course in Miracles).
How often have you felt frustrated as a result of either a failure to plan, or an attempt to plan too much at one time? Our sense of timing, intuition, and content of our very plans are all impacted by our state of mind. I love the following quote from A Course in Miracles:“The mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control of future happenings. It does not think that it will be provided for unless it makes its own provisions…The mind that plans is thus refusing to allow for change. What is has learned before becomes the basis for its future goals. Its past experience directs its choice of what will happen. And it does not see that here and now is everything it needs to guarantee a future quite unlike the past without a continuity of any old ideas and sick beliefs. Anticipation plays no part at all, for present confidence directs the way” (p. 210).
Intuition and the resulting sense of what to do can be channeled through our deliberate focus. In his study of lucky people, Wiseman (2003) found that they were more relaxed (less anxious) than their non-lucky counterparts. His findings suggest that creating our own future is more a state of mind than of circumstance. At every juncture we have the opportunity to choose our thought, rather than to be controlled by our cognitive wanderings. Buddhists refer to this quality as “mindfulness,” or full attention on a task, absent the background fast forwarding to something else.
The Dalai Lama describes mindfulness as the recognition that a negative thought has taken root, an “early warning system of sorts,” and the subsequent desire to change course. The byproduct of relaxation is then the ability to harness our thoughts in a way that is beneficial for our purpose, which is (in large part) to nullify negative voices, and to find our inner guidance system, or intuition.
Intuition can also be nurtured through freehand writing in response to pressing questions: e.g.: What should I do next? (Canfield, 2005). The immediate dictation, followed by subsequent directed activity, will facilitate an increasing number of instinctive responses. Journaling permits repressed feelings to surface so that we can take appropriate action, and it promotes catharsis through written self-expression. Hohlbaum (2009) explains journaling as an “unloading” technique, particularly for chronic worriers. When we list every single thing we are worried about, we realize that many of our concerns are inconsequential.
Relaxation broadens our perceptual lens. Achieving inner peace is the precursor to a self-induced state of “flow” in which we can work at peak capacity with minimum effort. Flow has been defined as “…the state of consciousness in which you find joy in the simple execution of a task, often losing yourself completely in it” (Hohlbaum, 2009, p. 21). Similarly, Maltz (1960, p. 264) describes this space as “being in the zone,” and “as entering a time and place and emotional state where [individuals] are totally relaxed, totally confident of the outcome.” Presence, “being in the moment,” and the “holy instant” are when:
- All senses are firing on five cylinders
- The world is in high resolution
- The little things don’t bother you
- You experience full engagement
- You feel enthusiasm and excitement for whatever you are doing
- You react without worry
- You are single-minded in your determination to concentrate on the task at hand
- You are in the moment absent the baggage of things past
Remove mental obstacles so you know what’s truly important, and can refocus on your priorities.
When the mind emanates peace employees’ work proceeds effortlessly of its own accord, and they experience the negotissimum otium, or complete leisure that is intense activity (Russell, 1991).
Carr-Ruffino (2001), in her book Creative intelligence model: Building innovative skills provides a table of emotions. The more positive emotions are associated with serendipitous occurrences, with insight, and with a “can do” attitude. Conversely, negative emotions lead to learned helplessness, to despair, and to a lack of creativity.
Expansive emotions engender a non-combative way of expressing feedback which creates feed forward, or dialogue between two parties where communication is a tool of empowerment. Similarly, Robbins (1980) mentions that “enabling states,” or conditions in which we experience peak resourcefulness, consist of confidence, inner strength, joy, and ecstasy. Positive states are created by the mental images that we conjure forth in our minds.
Our mental schema can in fact be so programmed for success that our subsequent behaviors have no choice but to follow suit. In Towards a New World View, DiCarlo (1996, p. 149) explains the effect of love on the human spirit: “When a person allows love into their field, the field becomes very soft, very flowing, resilient. The whole field blows up like a sort of balloon. It becomes very energized and energy flows out of the field in a very healthy way.” Canfield, Hansen, and Hewitt (2000) describe the most resourceful state as “conscious and awake,” or a state of self-reliance, consisting of high self-esteem and inner validation. We can conjure forth positive emotional states by our deliberate actions. To be more positive, today engage in the following:
- Focus on what’s working in your life. What things are going well at this particular instant, and what actions can you take to create more of the same? Success begets more success, and a desire to work harder to produce results of the same caliber. Keep feeding your productivity engine with positive thoughts.
- Give gratitude. Being thankful for the many gifts that you have removes the focus from what you may think is lacking. According to Sarah Ban Breathnach (author of Simple Abundance) “all you have is all you need.” In this regard, service to someone less fortunate produces a contrast effect that forces you to focus on your blessings. See also The Minimalist’s Guide to Inner Peace
- Realize that our thoughts are of our own choosing, and consciously work to eliminate the unwanted. When you sense your mind wandering in a negative direction, choose to refocus. Remember that happiness is in fact a choice.
 The first six bullet points are from Morgenstern (2009).
Canfield, J. (2005). The success principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be. New York: Collins.
Canfield, J., Hansen, M. V., & Hewitt, L. (2000). The power of focus: What the world’s greatest achievers know about the secret of financial freedom and success. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications Inc.
Carr-Ruffino, N. (2010). Leading Innovation (p. 127). Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.
DiCarlo, R. (1996). Towards a new worldview: Conversations at the leading edge (p. 149). Erie, PA: Epic Publishing.
Hohlbaum, C. L. (2009). The power of slow: 101 ways to save time in our 24/7 world. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Maltz, M. (1960). Psychocybernetics: A new way to get more living out of life. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Morgenstern, J. (2009). Shed your stuff, change your life: A four step guide to getting unstuck. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Robbins, A. (1986). Unlimited power. New York; Fawcett Columbine.
Russell, J. B. (1991). A history of heaven: The singing silence. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.