We all have within us an innate guidance system that we can call gut instinct or intuition. This is our internal GPS. When it comes to blocking this innate ability or resource, we can break it down to five levels: cultural, family, education, work and distractions in leisure. In the Western world we exist in a paradigm where materialism, science and the objective world is generally trusted whereas the inner subjective world is mostly discounted and distrusted. We are taught to trust what we can see with our eyes, hear with our ears, touch and so on. When we see it, we will believe it is a motto of this paradigm. Gut instinct and intuition is not something that can be relied upon we are told. In the family we may be encouraged to stop daydreaming, stop talking to imaginary friends, to get real and so on. Education systems teach us to trust reason and logic, to analyse and plan. We are not taught to trust our feelings. When it comes to work, it is hard to be intuitive when our minds are cluttered with tweets, texts and emails. Intuition does not operate through busyness, but through relaxation and inner stillness. The mind needs to be clear, like a still mountain lake, for our internal GPS to work. When it comes to leisure, we have more distractions such as TV, internet, video games, shopping, alcohol and so on. If you want to know how to be more intuitive, one way is to switch off the TV and reduce and filter the information coming into your brain. There is a very wise saying: ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. Let the wise take heed! In our materialistic culture, many have little interest in spirituality and therefore have little awareness of their inner world. The result of this is that they have no understanding of the mechanics of the ego. They cannot tell the difference between intuition and ego mind chatter. Many follow the voice of fear and have no idea why the outcomes are so poor. These various levels of block or interference sever our connection to our GPS and more than that they block or interfere with us knowing our authentic self, our true nature.
Our Innate Body Wisdom. So, let’s take a look at our internal GPS. Our gut instinct is our body’s innate wisdom. Our unconscious mind, which operates through our physical body, can pick up signs and sensory data that our conscious mind is not aware of. When we are disconnected from our gut instinct then we may fail to read some very important signs in our environment. For example, in the 2004 tsunami that created great devastation and killed around 230,000 around the Indian Ocean, many tribal people were able to read the signs and thus moved to higher ground. Similarly, following the disaster, it was noted that relatively few animals were killed. Some wildlife experts believe that animals’ more acute hearing and other senses picked up changes in Earth’s vibration, tipping them off regarding the approaching disaster long before humans realize what’s going on.”
Gut Instinct Speaks Through the Body. Gut instinct speaks to us through physical sensations and symptoms. According to Judith Orloff, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, positive signs can come through: a sense of warmth, ability to breathe more easily, a wave of goose bumps, tingles or “fluttery” sensations, a sense of relaxation in the body, perhaps the gut and shoulders. Whereas negative or warning instincts are often accompanied by: icy cold hands and feet; twinging or clenching pain in gut or chest, nausea, a sense of being on “high alert”, fatigue or loss of energy, the sudden onset of headache. Ronald A. Alexander, PhD, a psychologist, mindfulness expert and director of the Open Mind Training Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., tells a story of traveling in India where he decided not to get in a cab because of a “burning sensation” in his gut, and he later saw the driver being arrested in the train station for suspected robbery. He says he typically feels impulses in his chest or his stomach warning him.
The Time Gut Instinct Helped Me Out of a Tricky Situation in Northern Italy. On one occasion, during a stay in Northern Italy, I went for a walk and a climb in the hilly and mountainous pre-Alps. I was not really dressed for going too far, I was not wearing proper climbing shoes for instance. Then after about an hour I felt I had gone far enough and realised that the way down was not that easy. Also, the sun was starting to go down over the distant peaks. I was not sure how I had gotten this far and I had no idea how to get down. I meditated and calmed my conscious mind that was starting to panic. I invoked my body wisdom and decided to trust my gut instinct to show me the way. As I started the descent, each step was guided by either a feeling of warmth and expansion or a sense of flatness. Trusting my body, I was guided to descend through a mini-waterfall which felt crazy to my conscious mind. But I trusted the impulse and climbed through the waterfall. Actually the climb down was much easier than I thought. I also somehow managed to avoid getting too wet.
Intuition is different from gut instinct. Gut instinct is different from intuition. With gut instinct we are being led through the body, centred in the lower three energy centres, the base, sacral and solar plexus. Intuition, on the other hand, is felt through the higher energy centres, the heart, the throat, third eye and crown. Intuition involves a more creative partnership between the conscious, unconscious and higher conscious minds. Intuition can help us make better choices in life. Intuition can guide us towards greater happiness, success, spiritual awakening and so on. Intuition does not simply rely on the unconscious mind picking up data and signs in the environment. Intuition also relies on information coming through the higher mind that is aware of possibilities, opportunities and also challenges that await in the future timeline.
To give an example of intuition, when I was working at Alternatives, we received a phone call in the office. My colleague took the call. He then called across the room and said has anyone heard of an author called Eckhart Tolle. (This was before he was really known in the UK). I had a strong impulse and I said, “Just book him”. We agreed on the spot to put him on for a talk. The talk, which happened four or five months later, was a sell-out of around 900 people with around 400 people being turned away at the door. Following the success of the talk Alternatives put him on for a workshop which was the best attended workshop to date with over 1000 people in attendance. Now Eckhart Tolle is of course a household name.
Our ancestors knew the importance of gut instinct and also of intuition. For thousands of years, shamans and priestesses used their psychic abilities to help their communities. Often these abilities meant the difference between life and death. If you were a tribal medicine man or woman and you could not divine the nearest food source for your tribe, then your tribe starved and you were out of a job. If you were a medicine healer and you were unable to heal a patient, then your reputation would suffer, and if this happened too often you would be out of a job.
Becoming Whole-Brained. Here in the modern world with all its challenges and opportunities we have an amazing gift, our brain with a neocortex made up of two halves, a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. The two parts are connected to each other by a thick cable of nerves at the base of each side. Experimentation has shown that these different hemispheres of the brain are responsible for different kinds of thinking. The left brain is more logical, sequential, rational, analytical and objective. The right brain is more random, intuitive, holistic, subjective and synthesizing. It looks at the whole picture rather than detail. The left brain gives us the ability to be practical, create strategies, focus, plan, analyse, structure, understand and design. The right brain gives us the ability to imagine, dream, fantasize, dare, feel and intuit. If the rational mind is the analyser, the intuitive mind is the synthesizer. It creates the big picture out of all the small details. It opens us to that sudden flash of insight that makes everything crystal clear.
The Times We Override Our GPS? Becoming whole-brained allows us to access our gut instinct (impulse from the intelligence of the body) and intuition (a collaboration between conscious, unconscious and higher conscious minds). It is important to note that using our intuition does not require that we stop thinking or stop trusting our logical mind. Intuition is a great tool but sometimes we may think we are being guided by our intuition when actually we are being led by a more fearful or fanciful part of our personality. Knowing the difference between intuition and fantasy or fear is extremely important. I have noticed that highly intuitive people can be led astray when there is a high emotional charge around something or a high expectation. Perhaps the classic area is romantic relationships. We want a partner; we may have a certain list of characteristics that need to be fulfilled. A candidate appears and many of the boxs are ticked. Yet, there are signs that this person is not really a good match. Yet, we override our gut instinct and intuition and then further down the line we scratch our heads wondering how we got it so wrong!
Choose to Be Whole-Brained. Despite this, intuition is a great tool and one that we should use. Most of the great geniuses of history were whole-brain thinkers. For instance, the artist Pablo Picasso worked in a right-brain field yet demonstrated great left-brain thinking in his many notes about the specific combinations of colours he used in his art. Then we have Albert Einstein, a wonderful whole-brain thinker who created his theory of relativity out of a daydream. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, was a deacon in holy orders and a university lecturer. Leonardo da Vinci, was an artist painter – he painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper – and also a scientist and engineer.So, there are many benefits and reasons to embrace being whole-brained. Being Whole-Brained is the way to awaken your innate genius nature which can help you in any chosen endeavour. There are many reasons to trust our internal GPS that can help us on our journey of embracing happiness, success and greater service.
Thank you, Steve Nobel, for this insightful information. As always, the subject is exactly what I needed to hear!
I am so glad I have come upon you!…So needed in my life, as I’ve been fine tuned for so long now, being a seeker for a longgg time…Seems all is lining up to hone in with more understanding, practice and humble love for myself to create the opening channels available…Yes. And Trust!…That can be a hard one!…
Thank you Steve. Intuition into Action is what I teach in my keynotes/workshops and so it’s wonderful to hear you talk about it, adding a few new layers to my own understanding. I especially appreciated your distinction between intuition & gut instincts.