- the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
I once had a dream that a huge bear was living under the front porch of my home. I had always been afraid of bears as a child, often dreaming they were trying to claw their way into my house. Though this dream came to me as an adult, I was still a child in the dream. In fact, I was so small that I could walk upright under the front porch where I saw the bear sitting. She was sound asleep. A part of me observed the dream and felt fear for my child-self, saying, “Stay away from the bear; if you wake him he will hurt you.” But my happy little child-self walked right over to the bear and shook him.
“Oh, no,” I’m thinking as I observe the dream. “She is going to kill me.”
Instead, the bear slowly awoke, looked at the child, nosed the child as if trying to snuggle, and patted her with her paw. Then she spoke, ”Oh, Jannie, if only you would listen to me I could save you a lot of trouble.”
Well, I had to know what this dream meant. So I began to research bear as a totem, bear meanings in dreams, and I learned that bear represented my intuition. In essence, the dream was telling me, “If only you would listen to your intuition it would save you a lot of trouble.”
In my personal experience, I have learned that the inner voice we call intuition is most likely the best guidance we have available. The problem is we are seldom taught how to connect with and utilize that guidance, and we seldom trust it. I now remind myself of bear’s message.
Trusting your intuition can save you a lot of trouble.
I believe in a Higher Power, and I believe that Power communicates with us through our intuition. But it takes practice to learn to listen to this “inner voice.” Sometimes rather than a voice it is simply a feeling in your solar plexus. A gut feeling—or a hunch—is a sensation that appears quickly in consciousness (noticeable enough to be acted on if one chooses to) without us being fully aware of the underlying reasons for its occurrence.
In hindsight I have learned that had I always listened to my intuition, my gut instinct, I could have avoided many painful experiences and taken advantage of many productive ones. But trusting that inner voice can be difficult.
We need both intuition and reason to make the best possible decisions for ourselves. We do need research, reasoning, consulting, and logic. But to discount intuition is to ignore our most reliable source of guidance.
How often have you heard of animals escaping natural disasters because they acted on instinct or intuition? I recall reading an article on the tsunami in Viet Nam that claimed so many lives and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. The native elephants somehow knew to move out of harm’s way hours before the tsunami occurred. Humans had no such instinct. Or, at least humans did not listen to such instinct. That instinct has mostly been enculturated out of us. We don’t have to reject scientific facts nor logic in order to benefit from instinct. We can honor and call upon all of these tools, and we can seek balance. By seeking this balance we will finally bring all of the resources of our brain into action. Until about a hundred years ago science wasn’t even aware of the role of our unconscious, but studies now show that only 20 percent of the brain’s gray matter is dedicated to conscious thoughts, while 80 percent is dedicated to nonconscious thoughts.
So, speaking logically, how could we possibly be making the best decisions for ourselves without including the nonconscious parts of our being? Our intuition.
How do we learn to listen to and trust our intuition? Here are some techniques that work for me:
- Solitude – give yourself time to be alone. This can take place anywhere that you are comfortable with. I have a friend who has designated a space in her home that she calls her “nest.” I like my alone time in my studio that looks out over my garden where many creatures visit. You may have some sort of altar that you have set up or a morning walk in a park. Find what works best for you in allowing your thoughts and feelings to flow unencumbered.
- Meditation – still your mind. I have come to think of prayer as talking to my Higher Power and meditation as listening to that Power. Here you learn to sort that fearful, clamoring voice from that “still small voice” of guidance.
- Journaling – write down what you hear while staying in that meditative state. Often more guidance comes from writing in this way.
- Watching for the signs – pay attention to what seems out of the ordinary and right in your face during your day. One morning I came out to my studio for my morning quiet time to find a huge garden spider had built a web across from a tree branch to my bamboo fence. This allowed him to sit hovering directly over the center of the koi pond, right in my face as I sat on my chaise looking out my studio window. I knew this was out of the ordinary and a message for me. So I looked up Spider as a Totem Animal. Here is what I found:
Spiders are careful and diligent web weavers, knowing exactly how to ensnare their prey without getting caught themselves. Spiders symbolize creativity and those with spider totems are often involved in creative careers or somehow use their creativity to benefit others.
I was struggling to decide on creating a new workshop that I felt would help others connect with their creativity. I wasn’t sure I had the time in my schedule. I wasn’t confident that enough people would respond to make it worthwhile…..Spider gave me a sure sign that I was to do the creativity workshop.
I have had many signs related to animals and birds that present themselves right “in my face” with a message. But signs can come from an unexpected phone conversation that allows you to “know” what you are to do. Or it can be something that interrupts the flow of your day so that you have to stop and listen.
Listening and trusting your intuition takes practice. Try the techniques above and keep a journal of how successful you find this in your daily life.