We hear the phrases follow your intuition or trust your intuition all the time, but often it’s easier said than done. On my own path I’ve found that learning how to truly listen to my intuition is one of the most difficult tasks of them all.
Firstly, intuition is such an alien concept in the modern world, we put more focus on the logical mind- intuition becomes this vague concept. Secondly, when it comes to taking practical action according to intuition, it’s very hard to decipher what is intuition and what is anxiety, fear or something else.
Developing our intuition is a process of trial and error, because there are many different influences and patterns we’re trying to unlearn at the same time.
In this post I want to outline some of the ways you can work with your intuition, hear it clearly and follow it faithfully based on my experience.
What is intuition?
Before we get into how to develop the intuition, let’s go over some definitions so we know what we’re working with.
Intuition is defined in the dictionary as: the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.
Intuition can be looked at from many different angles. From one side it is an accumulation of the knowledge and wisdom that we gain our experiences; we reference the past in order to gain insight on the present and future.
From another angle intuition could be seen of as a form of instinct, something deeper that comes from our collective experiences as a species. We can observe some of these inclinations in everyday life, where we do things from a place of knowing without knowing why.
Where does intuition come from?
In a spiritual context I think there are two main ways we receive intuitive information.
Auras which are energetic fields that extend out from all living beings. When we interact with others we pick up on their aura, this is what we are referring to when we identify an off or negative vibe.
Each person’s aura interacts with the world in a different way, some people’s auras are wider or more open than others. When we are out of tune with others our aura is likely to be restricted or closed off in some way – we become isolated.
Developing our intuition involves opening our aura in some ways, to become comfortable communing with others where we would otherwise feel fearful or protective. It also means refining our aura so that we aren’t constantly overwhelmed by other people’s energy, and therefore cannot discern anything.
The akashic records could be seen as a store of non-physical information: when a physical event happens it leaves an energetic imprint. The akashic records hold energetic information about the past, present and future probabilities.
We often draw information from the akashic records when we feel impending doom or have a good feeling about a situation. Again, the clarity with which we receive information from these records is going to depend on how clear we are in ourselves too.
Intuition vs fear
Hearing our intuition is difficult because there are so many other ways we can receive messages. Fear, anxiety and doubt can all sound similar to our intuition, and often they come alongside our intuition!
We might intuitively know that a situation is good for us, that a job position is right or a person is trustworthy, while still feeling a sense of fear or doubt. In that case, where do you draw the line?
Intuition and fear have a distinct voice and feeling to them:
Intuition: calming, assertive, a reassuring voice and a gentle pull.
Fear: like an adrenaline rush, shaky, a panicked voice and a fierce push.
The best way I can describe the different between intuition and fear is that one feels like a reassuring parent or guide, and the other feels like an uncertain rush. Even when our intuition leads us away from something, it’s not out of fear but knowing – you’ve been here before and don’t need to learn that lesson again.
There is no foolproof way to tell the difference between these two messaging systems, but with practice it becomes much easier to hear the sound of our intuition over fear.
We will make mistakes (no one is perfect) but even then, those mistakes tend to present as learning opportunities rather than complete disasters.
How to connect to your intuition
1) Clear your mind (meditation)
The first thing that stops us from connecting with our intuition is a lack of quiet. The world is a loud place, and seems to be getting louder, we have more and more ways to stay tuned in to everything going on at all times.
This makes it even more difficult to truly hear what our bodies, minds and spirits are saying. Meditation is a great place to start with this, although there are other ways to get quiet if meditation doesn’t click for you.
- Find a space where you will be undisturbed
- Get into a comfortable seated position
- Take deep breaths and calm the mind
- Practice sitting with whatever comes up
To get started with meditation try not to over-complicate things. Focus on the breath and allow whatever thoughts or emotions you are having to come up, then refocus on the breath. At first just being with ourselves in this way is difficult.
It’s important to remember that whatever resistance you face when trying to meditate is also part of the practice, feeling tense is not a sign you are doing anything wrong, but instead shows you are becoming aware of the tension that was already there.
Other ways to clear the mind:
- Limit your media consumption
- Walk in nature
- Practice art or drawing
- Dance or exercize (physically release the tension)
Meditation can be difficult at first because our physical bodies already contain so much tension. Before each session it can be helpful to do a little dance, shake your body, do some stretches or even take a warm bath – anything that calms the body.
Once you are comfortable with clearing the mind (being with the mind) it’s time to start self-inquiry. This is just a formal way of saying asking yourself questions.
When you feel relatively calm ask a question of your higher self, it doesn’t matter what the topic is. You can ask this question out loud or mentally, then notice what sensations arise.
You might feel a certain emotion come up, a thought, an image or something else. Whatever comes up for you here is important, don’t dismiss the subtler messages or sensations either, however irrelevant they might seem.
For now you just want to keep a record of these sensations without over-analyzing things too much. What arises and what is your response to this? This practices helps you get comfortable with receiving and sitting with these messages.
Through this you build your own internal language which you can reference in the future.
This leads on from the second point well. Having a journal that is specifically for your intuitive work is so important, even if it’s in digital form.
Often when working with our intuition the answers won’t come right away, it can take some time for our questions to sink deeper into unconscious mind. Allow the answers to come in their own time.
What I find helpful is to write a question down in my journal, meditate to find an answer and write it down. Once an hour, day or week has passed, revisiting the answer in my journal and seeing if anything new has come up.
Sometimes I like to leave a blank page or even a small space after each entry, with the intention to come back later and re-evaluate what I know.
4) Find tools
Another step that you can take is to find some tools that help aid your intuition. For me this is tarot cards, although each individual will gravitate towards something different.
Keep in mind that when using tools you bring the magic to them. Most tarot cards are designed with careful intention, so they aren’t just pretty pictures, however what really makes them useful is how you channel your energy through them.
Some intuitive tools include:
- Tarot or oracle decks
- A scrying mirror or bowl
Tools can also include resources that are multipurpose in nature. A holy book, notepad or candle. The purpose of using tools like this is to bring our energy into a physical context, it makes things more real, and so we are more likely to take action on these insights.
Having tools you can rely on is great, but be careful not to rely on tools completely. Being intuitive isn’t about amassing a large collection of crystals or tarot decks, but instead about creating a consistent practice.
How to trust & follow your intuition
Another key aspect to developing intuition is to be able to trust and then follow it. It’s one thing to know we are intuitive beings and can pick up on messages, but if we stop at the point of taking action, we can’t affect physical change in our lives based on those insights.
What many people on the spiritual path find is that they are already quite intuitive. It’s not difficult to pick up on energy and get an idea of what you are receiving. However the problem comes when it is time to follow that intuition!
You might have grown up in an environment where you had to read energy all of the time – you had to be in tune with your surroundings. However alongside this, your gut feeling was dismissed and so you find it hard to truly trust what you see. It’s all about practice.
Following intuitive insights about the larger scope of our lifestyle is incredibly difficult and takes many steps, so this isn’t the place to start. Instead, focus on the smaller intuitive insights you receive at first and practice following through on those.
Notice when you have to be in doing mode; when you are prompted to do something small that you know will uplift & help you during the day. This could be as a simple as making a phone call you have been postponing or cooking a healthy meal that you’ve had in mind.
Notice when you have to just be; when you know you have to relax and spend time recuperating. How difficult is it to practice self care, even when you know it is long overdue?
Oftentimes trusting and following our intuition involves facing the shadow side (unconscious) because the messages we receive involve shifting our life in ways that are uncomfortable or scary.
In these cases we might have to take a look at our priorities and see how they are lining up with our intuition. What is more important to you: aligning with what other people want of you, or following what your heart is telling you?
When you receive an intuitive insight practice gratitude as soon as possible, literally thank your higher self for sending the message at the right time. You can affirm, ‘Thank you for guiding me’, ‘I am thankful for this message’ or simply ‘Thank you.
This is a way to consciously affirm your intuition and strengthen the connect between your conscious and unconscious mind. We tend to focus on the times we miss our intuition and beat ourselves up about it, so this is a way to flip that script.
On a similar note, when you miss an intuitive insight be conscious of how you respond to that. It’s to get annoyed or feel dejected, however this isn’t about finding more ways to scold ourselves.
Instead sit with that discomfort and see what you can learn from this slip-up. Where did you go wrong, and where would you like to shift things in the future?
Can intuition be wrong?
Intuition like energy is a neutral thing, it’s not necessarily right or wrong, it’s just information. What can be wrong is our perception of our intuition – what we think is intuition but is actually something else.
When working with our intuition it’s important to remain somewhat objective. Not in the sense that you dismiss what you feel, but in the sense that you are leaving enough room for further exploration.
It’s not about being wrong or right all of the time, but about not being afraid to confront what we think we know as we gain more insight.
Why can’t I hear my intuition no matter what I do?
What do you do when you just feel a complete block in regards to intuition? I think a shift in perspective can often clarify things.
When we are in a state of confusion, tension or just feel blank, we might give up trying to hear our intuition. However all of these states are useful, they represent the resistance we hold towards hearing or connecting with our intuition.
Rather than stopping when we hit a wall, it’s much more helpful to sit with the blockage we are feeling and just allow it to be. When we view our resistance in this way it transforms from tension to ease, we are no longer judging ourselves for it.
Oftentimes after sitting with this resistance the answer naturally arises. Sometimes we have to take a step back, do something else, and allow the answer to come up as we are going about our day in a relaxed fashion.
Developing our intuition opens us up to an entirely new way of being. Most of us operate unconsciously, influenced by what other people want from us, and so intuition often comes in direct contrast to that.
We’re not always going to hear our intuition, and what we interpret isn’t always going to be correct, but the more we practice the clearer things become.
What has your experience with intuition been?