Finding the Intuition

The sixth sense ¡V what actually is it? Most of us think of it as a mysterious phenomena possessed by a rare and  usually weird few. Some supernatural wonder that has nothing to do with the average person. But what if it were as natural to all of us as the other five senses; as much a part of being human as seeing and hearing and tasting and smelling and touching? Obviously that is not so you can say: most people don¡¦t have it.  But what if most people do have it but just don¡¦t know what it is or how to use it?

This, it seems, is the reality. In many years of running workshops designed to teach people how to listen to their sixth sense, I have yet to come across anyone who didn¡¦t have it. Of course the average person will probably not develop a capacity to see dead people walking around like the child in the recent hit movie ¡§The Sixth Sense¡¨. Neither will they start predicting world events like some famous psychics. These are rare uses of this particular capacity, just as some people have rare creative gifts, a Picasso for instance, or rare mental capacities ¡V like an Albert Einstein. Just as the body, the emotions and the mind in each person function in a uniquely individual way, so does the sixth sense, or intuition as I prefer to call it. Everyone has the capacity to develop this part of their being in a way that is natural for them. And just as the body, mind and emotions are a natural part of being human, so is the intuition.

The Indian esoteric system, which has been widely adopted into new age thinking, views the individual as having seven bodies or layers of energy. The first of these is the physical body and the energy that controls its evolution and growth.  The second, which exists a little outside of the physical, is the emotional body, that controls our feelings.  The third, just outside the emotional, is the mental body, from where our thoughts emanate. And just outside this is the fourth or intuitive body, which is our ability to experience things as they are without the filters of the mind and the emotions. Both the mind and the emotions cloud or distort our perception of what is outside with the information that they contain, whereas the intuition is capable of seeing things in an undivided and undistorted way. The final three bodies have to do with even subtler energies that rule the workings of the highest level of the human soul. But these are not our concern right now. So the existence of this fourth body or intuitive energy, is as natural and elemental to all of us as our emotions and thoughts. But how much we tune into it, and how developed it is, depends on us.

So what happened? Why do many people have little or no awareness of this intuitive part of their nature? The answer lies in the roots of the way we are trained as very young children.

The human mind is like a computer, and like a computer it needs software or information put into it to be able to function. This software is often called childhood programming or conditioning. From when we leave the womb we are inevitably taught how to behave according to the family and the society into which we are born. Some of this is direct teaching: the training of correct behaviour, of what is acceptable and what isn¡¦t. Some of it comes from the child¡¦s tendency and  incredible ability to mimic and copy those around him. And some from the accidental incidents of living. As every parent knows, the capacity of the child to absorb information in its early years is phenomenal. The child¡¦s mind is clean and empty and so it soaks up enormous amounts of data very quickly. Everything that is experienced makes an indelible impression on the mind, every occurrence leaves an imprint. 

This learning is obviously an inevitable part of growing up, of becoming ¡¥civilised¡¦. We have to learn how to fit into the family, and later the society, to survive. Out of necessity we learn very quickly what is right and what is wrong, what works and what doesn¡¦t work, what behaviour gives us what we want or need and what doesn¡¦t. And each of these learnings, every little thing that is experienced in these early years, becomes a pattern in the mind. Those that study the human mind say that all the programs that run the life of an individual go into the mind in the first 7 years of life. From then on we just continue to act on what is already there. It is the same as the software in the computer: once it is installed it will perform in a predictable and habitual way ¡V unless, of course, we do something to remove it.

There is no intrinsic problem with this, except that in most societies it also teaches us not to trust ourselves and the purity of our experience that is inherent as a child. Before this programming takes over the child is naturally not only directly in touch with what is around, but part of it. The child is one with the existence and has no sense of being separate. He is seeing things as they are without the filters of the emotions and the mind that keep him separate. This is the quality of the child that delights and touches us ¡V the honesty and innocence of how he perceives and responds to the world. The voice of this connection is the intuition.

There is no reason why the child has to lose this touch with this connection except that it is safer and easier. As children we are very vulnerable and needy and from an early age we find out that to protect ourselves from getting hurt, and to get the love and attention that we crave, it is better to follow what others say rather than trust our own being. Our priority is to fit in with those around us and do whatever is necessary to get approval. And so we gradually trade in our own intuition, our inner knowing, for security and safety. And in this trade we lose something very precious. Some of us do it very readily and easily; others of us are resistant and rebellious and hang on to our truth for a few more months or years. But almost always, at some point, we give in and give up, because otherwise the pressure from the outside is too great, too risky.

The process is then continued as we expand from the family into society through the procedure of education. Not only do we have to learn how to fit into the school environment, but for many years we are stuffed with largely irrelevant information and told that our value is based on our ability to regurgitate it. When we are good at learning this dead knowledge we are we praised and made to feel successful. When we don¡¦t do well, we are made to feel like failures. It is hardly surprising then, that usually long before we have finished our education, we no longer have any connection with what is true to us as individual beings. We have lost contact with the inner voice that connects us to the whole and see things only through the safe filters of the learned mental and emotional patterns required to fit into our society.  The more sophisticated and structured a society is, the stronger and more complete this process will be. That is why in more primitive and simple cultures, people are often more in touch with their inner knowing in some way. And Japan is possibly one of the most  sophisticated and structured societies in the world.

But just because we have lost contact with the intuition, doesn¡¦t mean that it is no longer available to us.  It doesn¡¦t actually go anywhere ¡V we can¡¦t lose it any more than we can lose our ability to think or feel. What happens is that it has become hidden from our conscious awareness behind the screen of all the learned mental patterns. The moment we are willing to risk putting these patterns aside, the intuition is there. And then we start to see that it was always there, we just didn¡¦t know how to tune into it. But listening to it is a risk ¡V that¡¦s why we put it aside in the first place. There is no guarantee that the inner voice will fit in with the belief systems we have about what is right and wrong. And these conditioned belief systems are what we continue to function by to keep us secure in the knowledge that we are doing the right thing. We are so safe and strong in following what we have been taught is right that we can even go to war and kill for it.

Never-the-less, at a certain point in our evolution, we start to sense something is missing in our lives; that in some way we are not in touch with ourselves, we don¡¦t know what we want or where we are going. Sometimes it comes when things are not working, when we feel we are in conflict with existence rather than in the flow of it. Or sometimes it is just a feeling of emptiness. However it manifests, that recognition itself is the beginning of something essentially new in our lives.

What does it mean to come back to this inner knowing, to start connecting with and living by the intuition? In one way it is a little frightening, because we start to doubt the basic beliefs systems that have kept us safe. In another way it is very exciting, because it is the opening up of a new dimension in life ¡V like the discovery of a new sense. It¡¦s not something that happens all at once, it¡¦s a journey that we make one step at a time. And if you are reading this article, then it is most probable that you are already on this journey. It is a journey that is not separate from the pilgrimage back to our real selves, back to our inner beings. The intuition is the voice of the inner part of our beings.

So how to do this?  The first step is allowing the logical mind to trust that the intuition exists, that we do have this capacity. Without this trust it is very easy for the rational mind to discount  and discredit it; to put it down as something stupid, whimsical or just simply illogical and therefore invalid. The next step is to identify the flavour, the feeling, the experience of it in yourself. Your intuition is as individually yours as your body, your emotions and your mind. And usually we use these first three bodies as the doorway to connect with the intuition so we can put it into three different categories: kinaesthetic, emotional and mental. The kinaesthetics relate to their intuition as a physical sensation, the experience of being comfortable with something or not. Or it can be a particular sensation in a particular part of the body: hence expressions like ¡¥listening to your guts¡¦ or ¡¥I don¡¦t like the smell of it.¡¦  

Some people relate to their intuition through the door of the emotions. For them things feel right or not, they are sensitive to peoples vibrations, they form instant irrational likes and dislikes. A vague sense of needing to do something can be an example of this kind of intuition. The third type is an intuition that works through the mind. Sometimes these people see things in pictures, they work through imagines or symbols which is the same language we dream in. Or mental intuition can work though hearing things ¡V literally an inner voice. It also operates as a flash of understanding where ideas just fall into place. Most people will have a combination of some of these. And all can be the entrance to the fourth which is pure intuition, the direct connection with the whole, sometimes as a spiritual experience or altered state of consciousness, sometimes as a simple knowing, without knowing how you know. 

To identify and become familiar with your particular way, some kind of group training can be very useful. In a workshop situation it is much easier to put the logical mind aside and to trust. In Tuning Into Intuition participants spend a certain part of each day doing a variety of meditation techniques to create a distance from the rational mind. We also use various exercises to trick this part of the mind so that it doesn¡¦t know what is going on and therefore can¡¦t project its opinions and desires. Then we play with the different types of intuition to see what works best. Almost immediately participants get to experience the intuitive knowing that was always there, but they never recognised before.  And for most of them it is an astounding and very gratifying knowing.

From then on it is a process of becoming more established with this quality. And this can only happen through a process of trial and error. In daily life it is easy to confuse intuition with our fears, desires or projections. For sure you will make mistakes, and you need to be prepared to take that risk to move on this journey. But once you have awakened this quality inside and begun to bring your awareness to it, the certainty of this knowing will become more and more established. Keeping a written record of your intuitive flashes and whether they worked out or not can be very helpful in this. As can consciously using simple techniques for putting the logical mind aside and creating space for the intuition to function.

The more we know how to listen to this part of the being, the more we find ourselves in the tune with, and in the flow of existence. Because this inner voice is the voice of existence within each of us. It is our connection, our antennae into what is greater than us and what surrounds us. And when we listen to and move with it, we move with the innate confidence that comes from knowing we are in the right place at the right time. We are literally relaxing into and trusting the natural flow of life rather than getting caught into the doubting and fighting that is a necessary part of listening to the logical mind. Of course that doesn¡¦t mean we will get everything we want, but we will get everything we need. And beyond that there is the feeling of being tuned in, at one with, what is happening around us. And for most of us, deep down, this is the ideal we aspire to.