Trusting the Intention to Trust Your Inner Intuition
A simple hunch. I was driving down a steep, curving street in a residential neighborhood near my home. Something tells me, “slow down, slow down,” so I brake the car just a few seconds before I round the bend and encounter a flock of a dozen wild turkeys 50 feet in front of me, slowly crossing from one side of the street to the other.
I was glad for the inner voice signaling me to pay attention and slow down. Then I immediately remembered the documentary I had seen a year ago, Personal Guidance System, Bill Bennett’s exploration of his experience of hearing an inner voice, “slow down, slow down” as he approached a busy intersection in Sydney, Australia. He slowed down; a big-rig trailer truck didn’t slow down; the driver ran the red light of the intersection. Bennett would have been killed if he hadn’t heeded that inner voice warning him to slow down.
Bennett began a 3-year journey researching the power, understanding and use of the intuition that had saved his life. The film includes interviews with many experts on intuition: Caroline Myss, medical intuitive; Dr. Norman Shealy, neuroscientist and expert on stress and pain management; Dr. Judith Orloff, psychiatrist at UCLA; Dr. Dean Radin, consciousness researcher at Institute of Noetic Sciences; Dr. Jeffrey Fannin, neuroscientist and expert on brain wave energy, and many others. It’s a mind-bending and heart-warming view into the world of intuitives.
Intuition – the felt sense of direct knowing or insight – often gets downplayed in a Western culture that prizes rational, analytical thinking in decision making. But “trusting your gut” is a legitimate, time proven, (and increasingly evidenced based) way of sensing what’s about to happen or what needs to happen.
This post offers you a story and exercise from Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being, not just to make better decisions, sometimes life-saving or life-changing ones, but to deepen your trust of yourself in making those decisions, trusting your own deep intuitive wisdom.
My client Matthew came to his therapy session one evening torn between two possible courses of action at his job. Both were good opportunities but pulled him in two very different directions. One was to accept a transfer to Tokyo to manage several new branches of the large retail clothing chain he worked for in the U.S. The other was to accept a promotion within the headquarters of his company; he wouldn’t have to move, and the somewhat greater responsibilities came with a bit higher pay.
The first choice appealed to Matthew’s curiosity and sense of adventure but brought up concerns of selfishness. Was it fair to ask his family to uproot themselves and live in a foreign country for two years? The kids would have to adjust to new schools and a new culture The second choice appealed to Matthew’s need for stability and security and a desire to be a good provider for his family, but it brought up concerns of going stale in a position he was already competent at and comfortable with.
I asked Matthew to settle into a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths, and relax into the state of mindful presence he had practiced with me many times before. I suggested he call upon the sense of his Wiser Self to “listen” to the concerns of each of the competing parts or voices within him — his desires for adventure, his desire for stability, his worries about selfishness, his worries about stagnation. After a few minutes in which he — his Wiser Self — had allowed all of his concerns to be heard mindfully, respectfully, with allowing and understanding, I asked him to drop below the level of all those voices, past all the layers of conditioning, roles, identities, defenses, to the sense of his core essential goodness that his Wiser Self embodied. In this process of de-conditioning, Matthew could listen to the voice of his own Wiser Self and let the grip of the conflicting voices relax. Listening to the “part” of him that is creative, resourceful, and whole that could guide his decision.
By the end of our session, Matthew knew clearly that at this juncture in his life, his deepest yearning was for adventure. When he presented the truth of his explorations to his family that weekend, they were all able to rally in support of his own deep knowing of himself and all readily voted for a two-year adventure together in Japan.
Listening to the Intuitive Wisdom of Your Wiser Self
We can listen to the deep, intuitive wisdom of our Wiser Self for guidance about conflicting voices within ourselves as Matthew did, and for guidance in any conflict with another person as well.
1. Find a time and place to sit quietly without interruption. Settle into a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths, and relax into a state of mindful presence. Let any thoughts or concerns fade into the background for the time being. Then bring to your awareness a sense of your Wiser Self, the “part” that embodies your own essential wisdom and goodness.
2. Then bring to mind someone with whom you are currently having difficulties with. A neighbor who turns up their television too late at night; a co-worker who “forgets” important deadlines; a sister-in-law who dominates every discussion at the dinner table. Imagine that you can introduce this person to your Wiser Self, and then stand to the side as you overhear the conversation your Wiser Self has with this person.
3. Listen to how your Wiser Self handles the conversation with your difficult person – what they say, how they handle the energy of your difficult person. You are overhearing your own inner wisdom be patient and skillful with your difficult person.
4. When the conversation between your Wiser Self and your difficult person is complete, notice how the difficulty is resolved. Notice what you overheard, what you learned, what advice you are taking in from your Wiser Self.
5. Let the difficult person fade from the scene. Imagine that your Wiser Self turns to you, offers you a word or phrase of advice, and offers you one symbolic gift you can hold in your hand to remember this conversation by. You may choose to write down your reflections for future reference.