“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life…Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~Steve Jobs
Did you ever have a feeling or an inkling that something was going to happen and it did, even though there was no logical reason to believe it would? Or make a great decision based on an instinct rather than factual evidence? I’m sure it’s happened to you, just as it’s happened to most people. Whether you call it a gut feeling, a hunch, or a subliminal knowing, everyone has these moments of clear insight that cannot be explained — this is your intuition.
Every person on Earth has intuition, but you may have a difficult time hearing its voice, or in other instances, you may hear it but choose to ignore it. The truth is that you don’t have to understand how it works. Just like driving a car or turning on a light, you don’t need to understand the inner systems of the combustible engine or how electricity works in order to use them.
Many people have a difficult time noticing and listening to their intuition. Without the support of facts and the “rule book,” you can doubt your inner voice and be led astray from your path by the opinions of others. So, what is intuition or an inner voice? Intuition is the natural knowing; the still, small voice, the voice for truth. Gandhi said, “The voice for truth is as loud as our willingness to listen.”
Intuition is one of the six mental faculties, which are imagination, will, perception, memory, reason, and intuition. These faculties are the connectors between you, other people, and the infinite intelligence in the Universe.
In 1998, I found myself making a major life decision — should I remain in a well-established, well-connected, and enjoyable life in San Francisco, or take a huge risk, sell all of my furniture and large belongings and move to New York City without a job or an apartment? I was craving an adventure, an uproot of a life that was wonderful, yet static…but how could I take that risk? Although I felt in my heart that it was the right decision to make, I was also uncertain and terrified.
I began to waver and gave way too much power to what others thought and said, and I started to doubt my ability to turn such a dramatic change into a success. But this period of uncertainty led me to dig deep and focus on my own small, still voice and I was able to tap into that voice, my intuition. This process eventually brought me back to MY path. I took the challenge and decided to do it — and I’m so glad I did! Within a week, I had a high paying consulting job, an amazing apartment with a view of Central Park, renewed friendships (even a library card!) and a brand new life that was better than I could even imagined. Listening to my intuition paid off!
In an article on Intuition in the Huffington Post, the writer cites Francis Cholle, author of The Intuitive Compass, who believes that, “In order to make our best decisions, we need a balance of intuition — which serves to bridge the gap between instinct and reasoning — and rational thinking. But the cultural bias against following one’s instinct or intuition often leads to disregarding our hunches — to our own detriment…
We don’t have to reject scientific logic in order to benefit from instinct. We can honor and call upon all of these tools, and we can seek balance. And by seeking this balance we will finally bring all of the resources of our brain into action.”
In another article on intuition on the Zenful Spirit site, the author writes, “Perhaps the biggest reason that our hunches are often more accurate than our deliberate guesses, is because our subconscious has more information to draw upon.
The conscious mind is only aware of a fraction of all that our senses actually take in. There is an unconscious “filtering” process always going on, that decides what information is important to the task at hand, whatever we are consciously focused on at the moment. All the rest is screened out as irrelevant. But our intuition draws upon that unfiltered data, connecting dots that we didn’t even know were there.” Although there are a few conclusions in the article that I don’t necessarily agree with, this one is right on point.
Intuition can appear in many forms — as an inspirational thought, a gut feeling, a mental visualization, goose bumps when you’re thinking or discussing a specific goal, or in your dreams (which happens to me quite frequently).
Here are a few ways that make it easier to tap into your own intuition.
Take a Beat and Keep Calm:
- If you're uncomfortable about making a decision or taking an action step but can’t figure out why, don’t assume that there isn’t a reason. When your mind is calm, your connection to your intuition is greater than when it’s in turmoil. Hit the “pause” button and focus on something else until you reach a calm state. Take the time to reflect on possible reasons and try each out. Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness practices can be an excellent way to tap into your intuition. Nine times out of 10, you’ll get to that “aha” moment.
- Be aware of, not only your thinking, but also your physical state. When you’re uncomfortable with something, it can manifest as a physical symptom: nausea, agitation, sleeplessness. You may miss these warning signs, but the more you pay attention, the more likely you’ll realize that the same symptoms appear over and over again when you’re ignoring your inner voice. Intuitive people learn to listen to what their bodies are telling them and pay attention to that feeling in their gut.
- You should also pay attention to your dreams. Both dreams and intuition come from the same root — your subconscious. According to the article in the Huffington Post, “When you dream, you’re receiving information from the unconscious or intuitive part of your brain. If you’re attuned to your dreams, you can get a lot of information about how to live your life.”
Stop Trying to Force Your Results — Slow Down!
- In the current environment of multi-tasking and the continual bombardment of information from the digital world, it can be quite difficult to focus. So many people are in such a hurry, and impatiently want the answers right now, if not yesterday. They then try and force their results, but, honestly, by doing that, the more slowly things will go. It’s always best to let it happen organically and allow the outcomes to unfold in their own time. It’s also pertinent to understand what you can control and what you can’t. Remember, good things come to those who wait!
Here’s the caveat:
This awareness takes work and focus. It’s a continuing practice, like many of the tips that I offer, but it does become easier and easier to accomplish as you continue to do it. Also, when you become more conscious of the power of your intuition, there can be a tendency to think that now that you’ve tapped in to it, your life is going to be absolutely perfect. But life is life, full of peaks and valleys. So, it’s important to see the overall scheme of things and not isolate the bad times. Because how you muster through the low points, will enable you to enjoy the high points even more.
In the end, your inner wisdom, your still, small voice, your intuition is always there. All you have to do is calm down, slow down, and pay attention.
TIME TO DINE: Cooking for Joan
Since I’m writing about my decision to leave San Francisco (still my adult hometown and a place I will always treasure), I’m posting a recipe that I learned to make there. My ex-roommate and wonderful friend, MaryBeth Kavanaugh used to make this incredible Carrot Ginger Soup. I was a non-cook in those days — I even had an idea for a PBS cooking show, Not Cooking with Chris, but that’s a story for another day! In any event, it was one of those simple dishes that even I could make, but the impact was sublime. And as a bonus, it can be made as a completely vegetarian dish. I’ve served it many times since then and it’s always a hit. But more importantly, with every taste, it brings me back to our top floor Victorian flat on 24th Street and Guerrero--Wonderful Memories!
Carrot Ginger Soup
Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 45 min | Makes: 6 to 8 | Difficulty: Easy
• 3 tablespoons sweet cream butter • 2 onions, peeled and chopped • 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable stock) • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger • 1 1/2 cup orange juice • Salt and white pepper • Sour cream • mint sprigs, for garnish
In a 5-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until onions are halfway done. Add carrots and ginger, saute for 4 min.
Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced. (20-25 min)
Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Don't fill the blender more than half way, do it in batches if you have to.
Pulse the blender to start it and then puree until smooth. Return to the pan and add OJ, stir until hot. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with dollop sour cream and mint sprigs.