Hi, dear souls! Please note that this article was originally published by Lunchbox as "5 Tips for Listening to Your Intuition." You can view it here.
I wrote this piece to address a question I see asked frequently in spiritual spaces - what does intuition really mean and why do I keep hearing about it? The intuition, or inner knowing, can be one of our best tools for spiritual upleveling and living in greater alignment with our truest selves, but we can't use it without first fully understanding what it is and how it works.
My hope is that this guide brings you some answers to those questions and can send you on your path to communication with your inner wisdom! There's nothing better than discovering that you basically have a superpower within you, so enjoy this process and be open to the idea that you might be a lot more powerful than you think...
Let's dive in.
In the world of spirituality, phrases like “listen to your intuition” and “tap into your inner knowing” seem to pop out from behind just about every corner.
Countless bodies of wisdom, books, articles, podcasts and Instagram captions suggest looking to your intuition – that subtle tug of inner knowing that has the power to guide you on your life’s path – for knowledge and insight, promising that all answers are found when we mute the external noise around us and listen to the voice within.
That’s all well and good; in fact, I have found much truth in the spiritual notion that wisdom is found internally rather than externally. However, it can be quite challenging to put that notion into practice in a society that scarcely recognises the value of stillness and quiet – two key factors in the process of getting to know your intuition. We haven’t been shown how to effectively slow down and find the state of internal calm through which intuition speaks.
Instead, we were taught to listen to the voice of the ego – the intuition’s antithesis. The ego manifests as the constant spiral of racing and often anxious thoughts that run around and around in your mind (the opposite of stillness and quiet!). Western cultures in particular have the tendency to glorify egoic concepts such as hard work that leads to burnout, the hustle and grind mindset, and the notion that if you just “put your nose to the grindstone,” you can do it.
The problem with this method of operation is that it’s exhausting. It requires constant effort and devalues breaks, rest and self-care. Conversely, taking a step back to quiet the mind and listen to what your body and heart are telling you beneath all the surface noise is an excellent tool for gaining clarity and fresh perspective. Further, listening to the voice of intuition promotes self-awareness, which equips you to attend to what your body and soul desire and to say no to what isn’t serving you.
Getting to know the subtle voice of intuition takes some practice. But the more you do it, the better you’ll get at recognising and responding to it. The following suggestions are fun and accessible ways to start you off on the path of listening to and learning from your intuition. As you get comfortable with allowing it to be your guide, you will open yourself up to a life of greater alignment with the most authentic version of you!
Now, here goes…
Know that you’re not your thoughts. Remember that spiral of anxious thoughts I mentioned earlier? It turns out that those thoughts – and the ego that’s creating and sustaining them – are not you. Instead, you are the one who hears those thoughts. You have the option to detach from them at any moment. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can make your mind become completely thoughtless; that would be quite a tall order! It does mean that you can separate yourself from your thoughts by taking on the role of the observer. To do so, practise watching your thoughts go by like clouds in the sky instead of actively engaging with and trying to control them. When thoughts become emotional in nature, you can label them as experiences rather than identities. For example, instead of saying “I am angry,” try the phrase, “I am experiencing anger.” The more you separate yourself from your thoughts and identify with the quiet observer, the more you’ll be able to differentiate the ego’s anxious, rambling voice from the intuition’s subtle, calm one.
Meditate. Meditation offers an opportunity to step back from the noise of the world and check in with your inner landscape. While a traditional seated meditation is a great way to practise quelling your racing thoughts, meditation can look very different from person to person. For you, meditation might be a creative endeavour like making music, dancing, tending to your garden, etc. Any modality that brings you to a state of presence counts as meditation. When you are engrossed in the present moment (sometimes called a flow-state), the ego has very little power over you. Thus, it loses its ability to squash the subtle voice of intuition. From your flow-state, practise calling to mind a problem or looming decision, and ask your intuition for a solution. The intuition will typically present information in quick flashes of images, a simple word or phrase, or a bodily sensation. Practise noticing these cues and trust that they are coming through from your inner knowing.
Move your body to calm the mind. Having trouble quieting the mind enough to hear the voice of intuition? That’s completely normal! A great way to get out of your mind and into your body is by literally shaking your body awake. You’ll be amazed by the way your energy shifts and elevates after as little as one song’s worth of dancing! Have a mini dance party to your favourite song in your living room, put on an energising yoga flow, or go for a brisk walk around your neighbourhood. Any type of movement that shakes the body out of its resting state will clear the mind and allow greater attunement to intuition. After you move, enter your flow-state activity of choice for a heightened sense of connection to your inner knowing.
Listen to your body’s cues. Your physical sensations are a form of intuition. They have a lot to tell you. Think about the last time you had a deeply emotional response to something. You felt it in your body, right? Whether it was sweaty palms and a racing heart or tears of joy and uncontrollable laughter, I’m sure your body made itself very clear. You can harness the body’s wisdom by stopping to periodically check in with yourself throughout the day. You can start with setting a timer to go off once per hour, and then gradually increase the frequency to every half hour, every 15 minutes, or even every 5 minutes. Start to identify your body’s patterns. Do you feel tight every time you talk to a certain person? Do you feel light and buoyant when engaged in a specific activity? These are cues from your intuition about what to steer clear of or lean into.
Respond to the intuition to strengthen it. Hearing messages from your intuition is an exciting sign that you’re deepening your self-awareness, but you maximise its value in your life when you act on those messages! Imagine your intuition as a friend with whom you need to actively build trust. When insights come through, respond accordingly in order to strengthen that friendship. As the friendship deepens, the intuition will come through for you more often and with greater clarity. Following your intuition’s cues will always lead you to take actions and make decisions that are in alignment with your most authentic self, so you have nothing to lose! The more aligned you become by listening to your intuition’s guidance, the more messages will come through, and the beautiful cycle goes on…
I like to think of intuition as our human super power. There’s absolutely nothing to lose in seeking to get to know it, and everything to gain as you let its wisdom guide you to a life of greater self-awareness, self-love and authenticity. As you pursue intuitive guidance, you’ll start to notice that more answers exist within than you could have possibly imagined. Instead of looking outside of yourself, you’ll see that the wisdom inside already knows the perfect solution. So get in there and befriend your intuition, dear ones. Uncover the gifts it has in store for you. You never know; you might just become a superhero.