Learning to Listen to My Intuition
Recently, I’ve been focussed on listening to my inner voice more often. Many of my favorite teachers talk about the importance of paying attention to your intuition; tuning in to the wisdom within, feeling what you need, getting still and allowing hope and answers to rise up to meet you.
I am all about it — but I’m not very good at it…yet. My mind thrives in overdrive. It jumps at the instruction to compose a list of pros and cons. I am most comfortable making a decision by relying on analysis and logic. By weighing all of the different possibilities, and then taking the path that makes the most “sense”.
This type of thinking has served me well in the past and has led me to successful outcomes; so it’s natural that my brain jumps into “go mode” and starts analyzing facts and evaluating outcomes whenever I am presented with a problem or choice. I know that my analytical mind roars into high gear in an effort to protect me and help me succeed when presented with the slightest indication that it could be of service.
In recent years, however, I’ve picked up some new decision making strategies. By incorporating meditation, yoga, and mindfulness into my life, I have learned there is another way; a softer way. A way of making decisions without “making” them. This way asks for space, release of judgment and careful attention to what is in my heart, what feels authentic in my soul. This way asks me to keep the gates closed when the horses are ready to sprint out and start the race to reach a logical, reasonable, analytic decision as quickly as possible.
This way is hard for my mind to surrender to. It squirms and wriggles with doubt, asking — “but wouldn’t it be better if we thought about this hypothetical?” or, “wouldn’t it make more sense to do it this way? or, “come on let’s at least make a list here, this is chaos!”
In order to surrender to softness, I have to take my mind by the hand like a small child; I gently guide it to the sideline where I say, “I know, I understand, but this way is okay for right now”. Meanwhile, it sighs petulantly and sits on the bench, ready to jump in and save me from my own madness at a moment’s notice.
But when I can sideline my driven, analytical thinking mind, something beautiful happens. Obstacles clear, roadblocks melt away and a clear path emerges. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. I might have a long list of reasons why it isn’t the “best” choice, but somewhere in the still and quiet of my heart, I know that it is what I need.
I have learned, often painfully, that although sometimes I know what I need — it is not what I want. My intuitive voice doesn’t scream, it whispers, speaks quietly but firmly, and then leaves it up to me to decide how I want to proceed.
What I have found so frustrating about this process is that I can disregard my intuitive voice relatively easily. It is easier to choose to listen to my monkey mind that shouts at me loudly that it knows best. When I listen to the intuitive part of my mind, it does not demand attention, or claim superiority by creating a looming cloud of fear warning me — “heyyyy, you didn’t listen to what you really need!’.
Instead, the voice of my intuition is soft, like advice from a grandparent. It won’t come chasing after me when I choose to ignore it. Instead, it watches without judgment or anger or punishment and waits for the next time I tune in and gives me another chance, without blame or expectation. When I am able to tune into a place where I can access my intuition —it whispers and then patiently waits, and I am reminded that I must choose my path forward.
One of my current mantras has been: I will create the space and quiet I need to hear and listen to the voice of my intuition.
It’s a reminder that it is up to me, only me, to create this sacred time, and to choose to listen to the wisdom that my intuition presents. Sometimes the message isn’t what I want to hear, for example staying in and skipping an event; or asking family not to come and visit me when I need as little stimulation as possible to heal or manage my symptoms (this one still hurts every time).
The should’s and could’s tear at my consciousness with repetitive abandon. They storm in when I am weak or tired and try to get me to change my mind. But you’re hurting other peoples feelings by doing this! What will everyone think? If you don’t show up you’ll miss out? The questioning is relentless; it makes my heart hurt, and at times fills my eyes with tears.
But I’m accepting, slowly, that intuition doesn’t always come with “why’s”. Sometimes it merely speaks, and that is that.
Intuition doesn’t shout, chide or demand. It is gentle and soft, just like the space within from which it emerges. It is up to us to learn how to connect to that voice and space, and how to integrate it into our lives. It looks different for everyone, but it is there for all of us.