Many people laugh at the notion of intuition but it's a very real phenomenon. You yourself may have experienced some intuitive moments. Intuition is associated with innovation and scientific discovery and it's a gift we all have. What exactly is intuition, how does it work and how can you deepen yours?
Intuition is the ability to gain knowledge without the use of reason. It's something you feel that you can't explain. It's an uncanny or inexplicable sense of knowing. You know something, but you don't know how you know what you know. You just know it.
When you have an intuitive moment, you are actually having a sensory experience. Everything we know about our world comes through our senses. Our eyes see, our ears hear, our noses smell, our tongues taste, and our hands and skin feel. The sensations from these organs are sent to our brain, where they are translated into electrical signals or impulses. Our brain then "reads" the information and tells us what we're experiencing. At least, that's what we were taught in school.
Physiologists tell us that we have nine senses. There are the basic five we learned in school and the other four are: our sense of temperature, our sense of pain, our sense of balance (which includes acceleration), and our sense of where our body is in the space around us and in relationship to all of our other body parts. We use these nine senses all the time to make sense of our world and our body in it.
Jamie Sams, one of the foremost teachers of Native American wisdom, tells us we actually have 357 sensory perceptions or "antenna of awareness." According to native teachings, everything in the universe contains energy, so everything is energy. Emotion, thought, intent, and awareness are some of the forms of energy present in us. These flows of energy are one way that we communicate with each other and with ourselves. They are also the means by which we relate to all other life forms. Each of these flows of energy has its own sensory perception to go along with it. So if we have 357 flows of energy within us, then we also have 357 sensory perceptions in us too.
In order to understand how these sensory perceptions work, imagine that your heart works like a compass, a GPS, or a mini-satellite dish, and its intuitive technology is hardwired inside you. It's helpful to think of your heart as having an antenna that sends and receives energy through your senses. When you pick up sensory signals from your antenna, the signals don't come from your brain. They come from your heart and they flow through your brain - the limbic part of your brain to be exact.
The limbic brain is responsible for all of our feeling. It's also responsible for our behaviour and our decision-making but it has no capacity for language. That's where the phrase "gut decisions" come from. Your stomach doesn't control decision-making but gut decisions "feel right." That's because the part of the brain that controls your feelings (the limbic brain) also controls your feelings. When you listen to your gut, you are simply following your feelings or listening to your heart.
Our limbic brain is very powerful. That's why we sometimes have intuitive feelings that are very strong and that contradict our rational and analytical mind. Neuroscientist Richard Restak, author of the book The Naked Brain, says that when people are forced to make decisions with only the rational part of their brain, they often end up "overthinking" things. Rational decisions usually take longer to make and are often of lower quality. Decisions made with the limbic brain, through feelings and not words, tend to be faster, higher-quality decisions. But we tend to doubt ourselves when we have these feelings because we aren't able to verbalize them. We have the feelings but then we tell ourselves the feelings are silly because we can't attach words to them.
In order to deepen your intuition:
1. recognize that intuition is a very real phenomenon.
2. remind yourself, the next time you have an intuitive moment, that you are having a sensory experience.
3. remember that innovation and new scientific discoveries flow from intuition and that intuition is a gift we all have.
4. realize that intuitive feelings come to you quickly and bring higher quality decisions when you listen to them.
5. honour and trust the feelings you are having by listening to and following their guidance.
6. meditate regularly.
Whether you want to make better decisions, solve problems more quickly, or innovate and design, tuning into your intuition is important. When you trust your intuition, you trust yourself. And when you trust yourself, the more success you'll have.