You know those times that you have a decision to make or you’re meeting someone new and everything just feels right, or it doesn’t? Call it “trusting your gut” or “following your instinct” or “listening to your inner voice.” What it really is, is your intuition talking.
Intuition is a tool that all of us have, and some of us listen while others ignore it. Often times when we ignore it, we look back and can see all those indications that could have led us in the right direction had they been heeded, clues that were drowned out perhaps by following other’s advice. I have found that my intuition rarely steers me wrong in decisions big and small and I’ve often said “I should’ve listened to my gut.” I can’t tell you how many times this was true when trying a new recipe!
The science nerd in me wants to know more about where this touchy-feely trait comes from. Clearly, it’s something that served us well throughout our evolution, helping us to make instant decisions to increase our chances of survival. It is theorized that intuition is a result of a combination of past experiences, our emotions, our environment and bodily clues like muscle tone, heart rate and endocrine activity (the gland that produces hormones like adrenaline). So, when you say you “have a feeling,” you are spot on.
In this time of instant news and advanced technology, as well as the consumerism that drives it, it can be difficult to tap into our intuition. We are fed vast amounts of information at an alarming rate that may or may not be true. It’s easy to become disconnected from your gut feelings when the whole goal is to confuse you. That means it’s even more important than ever to listen to that inner voice, and to do so it’s essential to quiet your mind. Here are a few techniques to help you develop your intuition:
Of course, you know this. Meditation helps quiet our busy minds that come from the onslaught of information thrown at us everyday. Mindfulness meditation focuses on breath awareness as a way to stay in the present moment, helping to clear the chatter.
Take a walk
I’m talking a mindful walk here, so leave the podcasts, audio books and music at home. In fact, leave your technology at home. Tune in to the natural world, and let everything else fade to the background.
Sometimes putting things down on paper opens up a floodgate of ideas and inspiration. When you study what you have written, you will likely find insights you haven’t even considered. Be sure to write about those times your intuition led you in the right direction or you didn’t listen to them when you should have. And keep your journal in a safe, private place so you’re free to be open and honest.
Trust your gut
The surest way to shut down your intuition is to never follow it. Start using it in situations that have minor importance. That could be as simple as asking yourself which fork in the road to take on your next walk, or when to go grocery shopping for the least crowd, or when to wash your car so it doesn’t rain the next day.
Of course all this said, the best decisions are based on three factors: Your gut, your heart and your head. Quieting the mind, as these practices do, can help you connect on all three levels to reach some sort of consensus. And for me, if all three continue to be in disagreement, I choose my gut.