If embraced and followed, intuition can be an accurate force that permeates all facets of life. Shakti Gawain teaches readers how to tap their innate inner knowledge and use it to enhance their lives and attain their goals. Chapters explore the role of intuition in health, creativity, work, and prosperity. Exercises based on Gawain’s workshops help readers listen to their inner guide but also evaluate the worthiness of such knowledge in the context of the real world. Stories from her clients and her own life illustrate the practical advice she gives.
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Practical Guidance for Daily Life
By Shakti Gawain, Becky Benenate
New World LibraryCopyright © 2000 Shakti Gawain
All rights reserved.
What Is Intuition?
There is a universal, intelligent life force that exists within everyone and everything. It resides within each one of us as a deep wisdom, an inner knowing. We can access this wonderful source of knowledge and wisdom through our intuition, an inner sense that tells us what feels right and true for us at any given moment.
Many people who are not accustomed to being consciously in touch with their intuition imagine that it is a mysterious force that would come to them through some transcendent mystical experience. In fact, our intuition is a very practical, down-to- earth tool that is always available to help us deal with the decisions, problems, and challenges of our daily lives. One way that we often describe an intuitive prompting is as a "gut feeling" or a "hunch."
Intuition is a natural thing. We are all born with it. Young children are very intuitive, although in our culture they are often trained out of it early in life.
We are accustomed to thinking that some people are intuitive and some aren't. Women are generally considered to be more intuitive than men, for example. Yet many men follow their hunches on a regular basis. In reality, we are all potentially intuitive. Some of us consciously develop this ability, while a majority of us learn to disregard and deny it. Still, many people are unconsciously following their intuition without realizing it.
Fortunately, with some practice most of us can reclaim and develop our natural intuitive abilities. We can learn to be in touch with our intuition, to follow it, and to allow it to become a powerful guide in our lives.
In many cultures, including those of most of the indigenous peoples of the world, intuition is acknowledged, respected, and honored as a natural and important aspect of life. Every moment of daily life is guided by a strong sense of connection to the universal creative force. These societies create powerful rituals, such as group councils, dream sharing, chants, dances, and vision quests, that support their connection to the inner intuitive realms. Individuals within those cultures learn to trust and follow their own inner sense of truth and offer it as their wisdom to others. They have a profound sense of the interconnectedness of all life.
Our modern western culture, on the other hand, does not acknowledge the validity or even the existence of intuition. We respect, honor, and develop the rational aspect of our nature and, at least until recently, have disregarded and discounted the intuitive side.
Our school system reflects and reinforces this bias. It focuses almost exclusively on developing our left-brain, rational abilities and mostly ignores the development of the right-brain, intuitive, holistic, creative capacities. We often see the same bias in the business world. Only in recent years have some schools and businesses begun to truly value intuition, and to encourage the kind of creativity and progressive thinking that results from intuitive awareness.
The rational mind is like a computer — it processes the input it receives and calculates logical conclusions based on this information. The rational mind is finite; it can only compute the data that it has received directly from the external world. In other words, our rational minds can only operate on the basis of the direct experience each of us has had in this lifetime — the knowledge we have gained through our five senses.
The intuitive mind, on the other hand, seems to have access to an infinite supply of information, including information that we have not gathered directly through personal experience. It appears to be able to tap into a deep storehouse of knowledge and wisdom — the universal mind. It is also able to sort out this information and supply us with exactly what we need, when we need it. Although the message may come through a bit at a time, if we learn to follow this flow of information step by step, the necessary course of action will be revealed. As we learn to rely on this guidance, life takes on a flowing, effortless quality. Our life, feelings, and actions interweave harmoniously with those of others around us.
In suggesting that our intuition needs to be the guiding force in our lives, I am not attempting to disregard or eliminate the intellect. Our rational faculty is a very powerful tool that can help us organize, understand, and learn from our experiences, so of course it is important to educate our minds and develop our intellectual capacities. However, if we attempt to direct our life primarily from our intellect, we are likely to miss out on a great deal. In my experience, it works best to balance and integrate logic with intuition.
Many of us have programmed our intellect to doubt our intuition. When an intuitive feeling arises, our rational minds immediately say, "I don't think that will work," or "What a foolish idea," and the intuition is disregarded. We must train our intellect to respect, listen to, and express the intuitive voice.
Most of us have spent a lifetime developing our rational minds. Fortunately it doesn't take a long time or a lot of work to develop our intuitive abilities. In fact, I've facilitated thousands of people in this process and I've found that with a little explanation and practice the vast majority of them are able to get in touch with their intuition and begin following it on a regular basis. From there, the whole process of balancing logic with intuition happens easily and naturally.
Intuition and Instinct
People often use the term instinct interchangeably with intuition. In reality, instinct and intuition are different, but related.
Animals live by their instinct, a genetically programmed part of them that naturally directs them toward survival and reproduction. Human beings are animals and we also have instinctual energies that prompt us toward self-preservation and the preservation of our species. In addition to instinct, we humans have intuition, a faculty which gives us a much broader spectrum of information, related not only to our survival but our growth, development, self-expression, and higher purpose. Instinctual behavior is usually similar in all members of a given species, whereas intuition seems to be fine-tuned to our individual needs in any given moment.
As human beings have become more "civilized," we have tended to repress and disown our instinctual energies, such as aggression and sexuality. To some extent that may be necessary to have an orderly, law-abiding society. If our instincts become overly repressed, however, we lose a lot of our life energy, and our natural capacity to take care of ourselves. When we disown our instinctual energies we often lose touch with our intuition as well. So we need to develop a healthy balance of intellect, instinct, and intuition. (We will discuss more about developing and balancing the different energies within us in chapter 8.)
Intuition and Psychic Ability
When people begin learning about intuition, one question that often comes up is, "What is the difference, if any, between intuition and psychic ability?"
The word psychic can be frightening for many people. They may associate the term with weird, far-out phenomena. Some may have had a confusing or disturbing psychic experience themselves or know someone who has. They may have read about or encountered psychics who are strange, flamboyant, inaccurate, or untrustworthy. Some people have simply seen too many Hollywood movies in which psychic abilities are presented in a dark and frightening way.
The terms intuitive and psychic are often used more or less synonymously. If intuition is equated with psychic ability, some may fear that developing their intuition will lead them somewhere they don't want to go. Others feel the opposite: They are fascinated with the idea of being psychic and for various reasons want to develop that ability.
I would like to clarify my understanding and use of the two terms. As I have said, intuition is a natural ability that we are all born with. If our family and our culture support our intuitive gift, it will develop into a natural and practical asset. If not, it may go undeveloped unless and until we choose to consciously focus on developing it. Some people, however, have an especially strongly developed intuitive sense. They may be born with it, or they may develop it early in life. These are the people we think of as natural psychics. Others may consciously choose to develop their intuitive abilities to the point where they become psychic.
People who are psychic may receive a great deal of intuitive information about themselves and others. Like any other talent, this can be a mixed blessing. Their challenge is to learn to manage this ability in such a way that it works in their lives.
So we are really talking about a spectrum of experience.
Undeveloped Developed Psychic
On one end of the spectrum, we have not developed our intuitive gifts. As we move to the center we are learning to follow the daily, moment-to-moment intuitive feelings that nudge us in the direction we need to go. They are not usually very dramatic and they generally give us only the information we need at that moment. If we move farther along the spectrum we may have more frequent and perhaps more dramatic experiences in which we have a strong feeling, a clear vision, or receive a lot of information. There is an infinite range of experiences on this spectrum, and we may fluctuate at different times to different places on the spectrum. For example, sometimes a person with a totally undeveloped intuition has a spontaneous dramatic psychic experience.
This book is focused primarily on helping you explore and find your balance in the middle ground of the spectrum. It's about accessing and learning to trust your natural intuitive ability so that it can take its rightful place as a positive guiding force in your life. Wherever you currently are on the spectrum, it can help you get comfortable with your intuition in a simple, practical way that really works in your life.
Recalling an Intuitive Feeling Exercise
Throughout this book there will be a number of exercises and meditations to help you develop your intuition. Some of you may wish to keep a journal or notebook to write about your experiences and insights.
Get in a comfortable position, close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths.
See if you can remember a time when you had a strong hunch, a gut feeling, or a feeling of "knowingness" about something. How did it come to you? How did it feel?
Did you follow it? What happened as a result of following it or not following it?
If you want to, write a little bit in your journal or a notebook about this experience.
If you didn't remember ever having a hunch, gut feeling, or feeling of knowingness, that's perfectly okay and normal. Many people are not in touch with their intuition in this way yet. Read on....CHAPTER 2
All of us have intuitive feelings all the time. Many of us, however, automatically ignore, discount, or contradict those feelings. Usually this is an unconscious process; we aren't even aware that we've had an intuitive prompting and discarded it. We brush it aside so quickly we don't even realize that it's happened, and that some deeper part of us may be trying to get our attention.
For example, when presented with an opportunity, you might get an instant deep feeling and think, for a moment, "Wow, I'd love to do this!" or "This really feels right for me." Immediately after that you may think, "Well, I can't do that. That's silly!" or "What would my family think" or "Gee, I really don't know anything about that. I might fail or make a real fool out of myself." Then you may push the whole idea aside without considering it further.
A friend of mine told me that her husband had brought home a man he was thinking about hiring as a partner at his firm. She found him to be perfectly pleasant, but felt for some reason he would not be a good partner for the firm. She couldn't really put her finger on why, so she dismissed how she felt, didn't say anything to her husband, and the person was hired. Within a few days her husband told her that they were having difficulties with their new partner, and that the firm would have to let him go and start the whole recruiting process all over again.
Although my friend dismissed her intuitive feelings at the time, her intuition was validated several days later. I've seen this happen countless times in my own life and in the lives of those around me. You've probably seen it happen, too.
Developing your intuitive ability begins with paying attention to what's going on inside of you so that you can become aware of these inner dialogues and catch them when they are happening, or shortly afterward. As you become more aware of your inner process, you will begin to notice the intuitive feelings as they pop up, and you will then be able to deal with them more consciously.
Most people find that with a little practice and time, they become much more aware of their intuitive feelings. The next challenge is to learn how to interpret them and act on them in a practical way. The information and exercises in this book will help you to develop all of these skills.
Remember that feeling and following your intuition is a completely natural process. You were born with this ability and you had it as a young child. To whatever degree you've forgotten or lost touch with this skill, with a little practice you can reclaim it.
Here are a few examples of different ways that people experience intuitive feelings:
A friend of mine once shared with me that whenever her phone rings, she knows, nine times out of ten, who's calling before she answers. When she first noticed this happening she thought it was a little strange. Now she gets a kick out of it and even makes it a game with herself. Have you ever felt like you knew who was calling before answering the phone? Or, how many times have you been thinking about someone and the phone rings and it's the person you were thinking about?
I've often had the experience of thinking of a certain song that I haven't heard in months or years, and then hearing it on the radio a short time later. My editor says that she often senses that there is something important in the mail several days before she receives the package. Have you ever felt something important was "coming," but were unable to put your finger on what that "something" was?
Many people tune into their intuition while participating in sports, while at work, or at school. Have you ever felt that you knew the teacher was going to call on you, and she did? Or, you knew that you were going to hit a home run or sink a putt, and did?
Most successful people follow their gut feelings when making business and investment decisions. Research scientists often follow a hunch about which line of experimentation will be most fruitful. Einstein was a wonderful example of a scientist who was clearly in touch with his intuition. The famous story of Edison dreaming of the light bulb is a beautiful example of how intuition interweaves with science, and how intuitive guidance can come through our dreams.
The vast majority of our intuitive feelings, however, are so ordinary and mundane that we might not even think of them as intuition. Suppose, for example, you're at a pleasant social gathering and you realize that, for no particular reason, you are feeling like you need to leave. Another voice inside of you may jump in immediately and say, "That's silly. You can't leave! What will people think?" So you may stay in a situation where you really don't want to be. If you do trust your intuitive feeling and act on it, you may find that you just needed some alone time. Or something unexpected and special might happen on the way home, or you might get home just in time to get an important phone call. When we follow our intuition we often don't know exactly what we are doing or why, but there are usually some surprising and interesting results.
If you sense that you may have intuitive feelings that you are in the habit of ignoring or disregarding, try this exercise every evening for a week or so.
Excerpted from Developing Intuition by Shakti Gawain, Becky Benenate. Copyright © 2000 Shakti Gawain. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Preface Why Develop Your Intuition?,
Chapter One What is Intuition?,
Chapter Two Becoming Aware,
Chapter Three Trusting Yourself,
Chapter Four Learning to Relax,
Chapter Five Accessing Intuition,
Chapter Six Acting on Intuition,
Chapter Seven Interpreting Intuitive Messages,
Chapter Eight Distinguishing Intuition from Other Voices,
Chapter Nine Intuition and Emotions,
Chapter Ten Intuition and the Body,
Chapter Eleven Intuition and Work,
Chapter Twelve the Art of Following Intuition,
Resources Audio Tapes,
About The Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I like most of her books, however they tend to mostly generate around the ideas of meditation. This book has some good information and some helpful meditations.
An important topic, but handled as numinous and frivolous. I was looking for a serious text with practical, scientifically based insight. Don't waste your time, dear readers.
After studying about Zen Buddhism, animal totems, and books by John Edwards and Deepak Chopra, I found this book helped in an area I was still unclear about..How can I literally listen my intuition? I found the reading and exercises in this book concise and very effective. This was my 1st book by this writer, but I plan to look into Shakti's other books.