“I shut my eyes in order to see” – Paul Gaugin
You’ve heard the expression ‘trust your gut’ but there’s a lot more to the saying than mere colloquialism. That gut feeling is a powerful force within us, and while many times it’s an unwelcomed visitor, it should always be received and respected because it’s a sign in a life where we don’t receive many signs. It’s the answer you wish you could get from the wind and the warning you wish someone could give you. It’s that spiritual connection you literally can’t get anywhere else, and it’s the deepest connection you have with your innermost self.
Two years ago my Chinese acutherapist told me I desperately need to listen to my gut and trust my instincts. I’m not sure how he knew (probably instincts!) that being a lateral thinker, I tend to process things mechanically assessing all possible options, as a big part of me believes rationality must prevail when making decisions. After my annual appointment he sent me on my way, and I spent the next twelve months going about my life totally ignoring my instincts as per usual. A year on I had made some bad business decisions which initially had seemed like opportunities brimming with prosperity. At crunch time, my mind computed its own hyper-rational Pro and Con list from layers upon layers of logic, and I went ahead despite the niggling feeling that I should proceed with caution…
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, until your Chinese doctor waves his finger at you add proclaims, “I told you so!”. Here are his tried and true suggested methods to tap into your intuition:
Make time for peace
It’s easier to hear whispers from the soul when your mind is quiet and open, and while this one might seem like the most obvious, but for me, meditation is something I’ve always struggled with. But my Chinese doctor has a way of always being right, so gave it a go. And I love it! I adore the apps Buddhify and OMG I Can Meditate! as I quite literally can’t meditate without them (yet).
Connect body to breathe
You likely rolled your eyes at this one, but beyond being present on your mat and in the moment, yoga is a great way to truly feel into the vast corners of your body. Bringing a physical (and mental) presence into the entirety of your being, which is what tapping into your intuition is all about. For me, when I started yoga a few years ago, it surprised me by serving as the catalyst to truly be able to listen what my body was telling me not only on the mat, but off it to. I got to know my muscles, my menstrual cycle, and even discovered food allergies and sensitivities by just learning how to listen.
Cut out the bad stuff
When my Chinese doctor told me that I really had to stop gobbling down bananas like a monkey because the high sugar content caused inflammation and anxiety in me, I literally didn’t know what else to eat. Bananas were like my life force, if I didn’t have a bunch in the house, I didn’t know who I was. But I heeded his advice, and many others about what foods weren’t great for my body and noticed an astounding difference in my digestion, weight and mood. I’ve found that eating mostly organic plant based wholefoods, which clears up a lot of room in my physiology to allow calm, deep peace, abundant love, and gratitude. Read this article on how to become more in tune with your body, but a great start is cutting out refined sugar, too much meat/dairy (or cut them out all together depending on your beliefs), unnecessary gluten and processed foods.
Because I also love to geek out on science, I spent some time hunting around the US National Library of Medicine and found the following information on what’s called the gut-brain axsis. The enteric nervous system, found in the gut, has more neurons than the spinal column or central nervous system. Long thought to be only concerned with directing digestive contractions, the enteric nervous system has a direct conduit to the brain via the vagus nerve, 90% of whose fibers are dedicated to communication from the gut to the brain. If you’ve ever gotten butterflies in your stomach from young love or anxiety (or both), or felt like you knew something “in your gut,” that may have been your gut-brain relaying the message to your, brain-brain. Cool huh?
Dreams are the brain’s way of processing information that’s left over from the day. They are rich with valuable data – experiences, memories, learnings – so they can work for you if you guide them. While you are sleeping and your conscious mind is at rest, your soul has the opportunity to bring intuitive information to you through your dreams This was by far my favourite exercise my Chinese doctor gave me: Before you fall asleep, turn your thoughts to any unresolved issues or problems. Think about possible options or resolutions as you’re falling asleep. Close your eyes and let your brain do the rest. Keep a journal by your bed so that you can record your dreams the moment you wake up.