Intuition. It is a term which encapsulates the human experience. It is derived from the understanding that humans have an inner knowledge which precedes logic and judgement. In many ways, we could argue that intuition is what kept the human species alive despite external threats such as predators and natural disasters. Before technology and the age of information science, we relied heavily on our senses, that “gut feeling” being one of them. Yet, as a culture, we have taken a divergent from this innate wisdom and looked to evidence-based decision making.
This is not necessarily good or bad, but rather, poses a question of why it is important to develop a connection to our intuition and to differentiate between ways to approach decision making that serves us differently. For example, we cannot look to intuition to readily pass an algebra test. For this, we need to understand formula and apply it using our learned skills. However, if we are in a room with a stranger and feel uncomfortable for no particular reason, we may be in touch with subtle threats, and it would benefit us to take action such as leaving and/or observing more closely to identify the root of discomfort.
Most of us have experienced the dilemma of going against our gut because we cannot pinpoint a viable reason, only later to find out we were right. Chinese medical philosophy emphasizes the importance of intuition and offers a perspective on its validity. In understanding the role of intuition, you may choose to hone your senses and trust your inner knowledge as it is both a skill and gift.
In Chinese medicine, intuition is associated with the water element. The water element represents reflection, expansion, depth, mystery, and is correlated with ancestry and wisdom. It is the element in charge of kidney energy, the vital energy supplied through DNA. The kidney energy contributes to the development of the bones and sex organs, thus being the basis of one’s essence. The water element is associated with the winter season. It teaches us to preserve our vital energy through periods of rest as seen in hibernation practices during the cold winter months. In many ways, the water element can be seen as our primal brain which facilitates instinct and survival. The water element is thus in charge of intuition and stimulating the feeling in the gut that gives us clues to underlying threats and/or advantages of situations, environments, and relationships.
Intuition further serves to keep us on a path that honors our unique nature. When we sharpen our intuition, it becomes a skill and can be applied as a sixth sense. This requires that we move beyond a purely scientific model of logic and reframe decision making to include this inborn skill. In trusting our intuition, we get closer to a sense of self which allows us to embody our truth. Trust in self not only keeps us safe but keeps us in constant relationship to our life path and personal transformation. This means, you are your greatest resource in judgment.
How do we strengthen our intuition? It is simple. Practice following it.
Perhaps you are in a store looking at products and comparing pricing and ingredients only to see they are all basically identical. Ask yourself which one feels better when you hold it. That is the one for you. You can take this practice and apply it to other tasks. Let’s say, you are driving to a destination in which you know the relative direction. Put down your phone. Start following roads you feel will lead you there. Don’t be discouraged if you hit a dead end or two. Odds are, you’ll get there. The more you practice, the better your skill will become.
Other ways of developing a relationship with your intuition may include daily check-ins. Ask yourself how you feel, what you want to accomplish, and what elements you would like to incorporate in achieving this goal. Do your best to recognize distractions. Set boundaries and maintain your path.
The closer you become with yourself, the more you will trust yourself.
Intuition is deep within us, thus introspection is key. This is precisely the reason hibernation is a good practice. In modern life, hibernation may evolve into periods of rest, abstaining from technology and public spaces, and a focus inward for self-study. Journaling and other independent activities which help you reflect are great ways to practice contemporary hibernation.
How do you gauge your progress with intuition?
You will notice your advancement when things simply feel good and as though they are falling in place. Decision making will feel less burdensome, and the answers will flow like water.
Intuition. It is a leap from our common day practices, but one that goes back to the survival of the species as a whole.
Exercise: Take a moment and review your presence.
Are you aware of your breath, your body, your thoughts?
Can you sense your surroundings?
Notice the colors, the sounds, the smells, the textures.
Now, ask yourself what you feel.
Go on and do what you feel. It may mean continuing to sit or maybe starting a solo dance party.
Do it. Whatever it is, it will support your sense of wellbeing. This is the treasure of intuition.