To paraphrase a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on “Self-Reliance”, we find our genius and power when we learn to detect and watch those gleams of light that flash across our minds from within.
I know what some of you are thinking. Finally, a post about intuition! This blog is supposed to be about enhancing intuition but so far you’ve focused on meditation, open-mindedness, breathwork and processing uncomfortable feelings. I want intuitive tools!
This post will include five simple steps for beginning to enhance your intuition. Before jumping into that discussion, I should define what I mean by intuition. I should also point out why the blog includes those other topics. Especially when some of those discussions may seem a tad more pensive than others.
What do you mean by intuition?
For the sake of this post, let’s define intuition as any kind of gut instinct, wisdom, or other awareness we may experience that does not come from a clearly physical or obviously pragmatic place. The “gleam of light” that flashes from within, as Emerson put it.
Here are some examples of intuition based on this broad perspective that encompasses any way of knowing that is beyond an obvious or modern understanding of ways of knowing.
- That job offer seems amazing on paper, but you can’t shake a weird feeling about it.
- You keep getting the feeling you should check in on someone and it turns out they’re having an awful day and need a listening ear.
- Even though you haven’t heard any rumours or noticed anything out of the ordinary, you suddenly have the feeling your boss is about to leave your team to take a promotion, and then s/he announces it (yes, this actually happened to me!).
There are lots of reasons and ways you can know something without otherwise having had prior knowledge.
- Your subconscious could be picking up on details and patterns that you hadn’t otherwise noticed.
- You may be a highly empathic/otherwise energetically and emotionally sensitive person (not a bad thing, and in future posts I’ll talk about ways to care for yourself if you are).
- You may be spiritually tuned in to a world around us that others have forgotten how to see.
Regardless of what you believe the source (or combination thereof) of your intuition to be, each of us can enhance this ability.
Intuition versus insight: why the blog includes all those other topics
Another important distinction to make when thinking about intuition is that intuition is not the same thing as insight. By insight, I mean that you’re tuned in to your inner knowing, but you’re also skilled at applying perspective and wisdom to that knowing. It’s like the differences between 1) any kind of literal knowledge, 2) understanding and 3) wisdom.
Anyone can know information. But it’s just as important to understand the context and broader picture of any information you have. Taking that a step further, it’s important to have the wisdom to apply that understood knowledge in a meaningful way. This is why career experience matters, for example. It’s why law students article before they sit the bar. It’s why medical students complete a residency before they become certified physicians.
What does this have to do with intuition?
As you may notice in reading the five steps below, enhancing your intuition is best supported when you’re open-minded, non-dismissive, and able to increasingly discern fear-based thoughts from genuine intuitive knowledge. That’s why this blog deals with those other topics.
We are complex and multi-layered, like an onion meets a jigsaw puzzle (how’s that for an image to meditate on!). That complexity is beautiful and messy, and that’s okay. It just means that as we engage specific abilities or aspects of ourselves, other parts of us are pulled in.
So as with all of the tools your learn here, be gentle with yourself throughout this work and this journey. You can both push yourself to grow and be compassionate toward yourself.
Okay, let’s get to the fun stuff!
Where I learned how to start enhancing my intuition
I am not being compensated for making these references; just sharing the resources that helped me, and you should find what works for you.
- An Indigenous healer who teaches workshops on healing from an Indigenous perspective.
- A gifted reader in Toronto named Jayne Marie.
- Reading barrels of books on a breadth of topics. I include lots of suggestions for resources throughout these posts, and encourage you to check out what’s available through your library system.
How to heighten your intuition, starting today
- Keep a small notebook (like one of those slim, small Moleskine type notebooks) on you, or download a note-taking app (e.g. I have the free version of Journey on my phone). You’ll need somewhere to capture thoughts at any time of day, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.
- Next time you get a feeling about anything or a thought that comes to mind, immediately take half a moment to acknowledge to yourself, “I’m getting an intuitive sense about something.”
- Be really open here. For example, look out for thoughts or observations of people around you, and feelings or thoughts you get about situations.
- Then right away, make a note of it in your notebook or app.
- You don’t have to do anything else with that intuition right now. This is a first step in heightening your intuition, and this first step of learning to notice when you’re picking up on something is the most important.
- It’s like I explained in the beginner’s meditation post – noticing that your mind has wandered is a huge triumph; this is the same. Noticing you’ve had an intuition is the goal right now.
- You can always decide later whether or not you do/say/think/feel anything with the awareness you’ve received.
Although it’s not a must, I suggest using this tool in conjunction with a regular meditation practice so that your mental muscles will be more keenly honed into noticing when you’re having an intuition. And if you really want to take it up a notch, do the 30-day homework as well, and your intuition will heighten by leaps and bounds!
Troubleshooting intuition development
Some common challenges with developing intuition:
How do I know when I’m having an intuition or if I’m just having a good old thought?
For now, I suggest you just start taking those moments to notice when you’re getting a sense about something. You’ll find that the more you practice, the more you’re able to make the distinction between knowledge coming purely from experience and intuitive knowing you have for other, less concrete reasons.
Just keeping taking notes of your intuitions, and soon you’ll discover just how frequently you’re tuned into your higher knowledge. Future posts will discuss more about where to take intuitive development. In the meantime, keep taking note of the ideas and thoughts that come to mind.
How do I know if I even get intuitive thoughts? I have lots of thoughts all the time but who says any of it is intuitive?
If you’re at this point in the post, there’s a part of you that knows you have intuitive thoughts. We all have access to intuition. It’s an ability like any other that needs to be intentionally developed in order to be honed.
Most people are “naturals” at something, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to train. Athletes may be predisposed to being awesome at maneuvering their bodies, but they still need to train in order to achieve competence and develop the complementary skills needed to be successful in their fields.
Training your intuition is no different. Regardless of whether you’re naturally very attuned to your higher knowing, you can develop your intuition.
What if I’m afraid to tune into my intuition? I don’t know where these thoughts are coming from. What if I’m somehow tuning into something negative?
Learning how to trust yourself and discern between an observed feeling or thought, and a fear-informed concern takes practice. If you struggle with anxiety, this is going to be particularly poignant for you.
But we all have to start somewhere, and by actively developing your intuitive ability, you are developing a core set of mental and emotional muscles that will help you to grow into your power. The truest version of you. You’ll find I repeat that idea, because it’s fundamental to all this work.
I know what it feels like to deal with anxiety, to deal with underlying worries and just plain in-your-face fear. Ultimately, I had to decide whether what was on the other side of all that fear was worth it. I had to decide that the most powerful version of myself and the experience of life that I could have with it, was worth it.
Is it going to be an ongoing journey of continued improvement? Yes. And that’s okay. Was it and is it completely worth it? Without a shadow of a doubt.
The most important thing in starting to develop your intuition is just to get started. Set the intention and see where it takes you. Let me know how it goes!
Here are some suggested resources. I am not being compensated for referencing them and I encourage you to search for and explore resources that speak to you.
- Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein
- Whatever Arises, Love That by Matt Kahn
- “Journey” journaling app by Two App Studio (I use the free version with fewer options myself)