The last time my husband and I purchased a car, both of us made a list of what functions were most important to us. Knowing my talent for getting lost meant an on-board GPS system was at the top of my list. That was one item we could both easily agree on, so it was part of our new car. Now a voice we have named Lois kindly tells us exactly where we are and how to get to where we want to be. If we deviate from her instructions there is silence, and then a new route is suggested to get us back on track. If I listen to Lois, I know exactly where I am and how to get to where I need to go.
Even more exciting is the knowledge that inside each of us is an inner GPS navigator, but for some reason it is harder to trust this than the one we have in our car. Maybe it’s because Lois’s voice is very clear and distinct, and our inner guidance often comes softly. Listening and trusting take practice. It’s the proverbial still, small voice that we call our instinct, intuition, gut feeling, inner nudge, or sixth sense. Mark Nepo writes this about intuition: “The way we think and feel and sense our way into all we don’t know is the art of intuition. It is an art of discovery. To intuit means to look upon, to instruct from within, to understand or learn by instinct. And instinct refers to a learning we are born with. So intuition is a very personal way we learn to listen to the Universe in order to discover the learnings we are born with.”
As we begin to still our minds, we can learn to listen and trust. We become adept at receiving and fine-tuning the constantly transmitted signals that are there for our guidance. A friend who practices acupuncture told me a personal story the last time I worked with her. A mole developed on her that grew quickly, looked strange, and bled with the slightest bump. She immediately sensed something was wrong and went to her dermatologist, who blew it off as unimportant. A couple of weeks later she returned to her dermatologist asking for a biopsy. She was again blown off and refused a biopsy. At that point my friend knew she needed a new dermatologist. Only by sticking with her inner knowing that she needed a biopsy, and pursuing a new doctor, did she get her needs met. And yes, her biopsy showed her mole was quickly turning into cancer.
My intuition has repeatedly helped me when I’m driving. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I have been in traffic and suddenly known the car just ahead of me in the next lane is going to switch lanes. Without any signal, or even a head turn from the driver, the car cut right in front of me. I had just enough time to slow down and prevent an accident only because I had an inner warning.
Intuition is creative in the way it communicates. It can be what Dona Cooper calls “the educated gut.” That is a visceral feeling that is a physical reaction in the center of our bodies which can’t be denied. It’s telling us to stop and evaluate. Then there is the soft touch on our shoulder, or a whisper in our ear asking us to reconsider an action or decision. It can be a nudge to try something new which broadens our horizons. Or it can be a sudden realization that we are putting ourselves in danger and we need to leave the situation. It also offers a clear directive in choosing activities, clarifying when to say “yes” or “no” so we choose what is healthy for us. Sometimes it is the inner knowing that we are in the right place at the right time, and we are surrounded by a synchronicity of affirming events.
But sometimes we have trouble trusting our own judgement, so trusting our inner nudges is even more difficult. Something may have felt right at the time, but later turned out to be a mistake. A person we thought we could trust was dishonest and manipulative. That not only shakes our trust in the other person, but as we wonder how we could have been so mistaken, we question if we can trust ourselves again. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I wonder if what I called mistakes weren’t actually critically important lessons that needed to happen at that point in time. Now I look back at my past with gratitude because I’m not sure I would have learned that lesson any other way. Without trust in our intuition, we live in fear, which impairs our judgement. If we take time to look at what we gained by our so called mistake, we will fear less, trust more, and live in gratitude.
In nature we see that wild animals live by instinct – it is how they survive. A tiny flower seed reaches down into unfamiliar dark, and up towards light it senses without seeing, because this is its natural process. The inner GPS of plants and animals do not give them choices, but we do have choices. Mark Nepo writes, “Unless rooting and opening, unless listening to what is near but beyond us, we will forgo the soul’s birthright to blossom. . . . This is the reward for every seed growing in the dark with no sense of what it will become. As a soul on earth, this is all we can hope for, to feel the light and being of all time course through our veins while we blossom.” The lesson from nature is that the flower, trusting what it senses, becomes what it was meant to be – a flower. And we, trusting our senses, become what we are meant to be – whole, opened, and fulfilled.
Today, let’s tune into the intuitive sense endowed to us by our Higher Power to help us navigate the maze of life. Let’s quietly go within so we can hear the soft whispers, and feel the gentle nudges of our instincts. Let’s take that leap of faith and trust our gut feeling. If we need to, we can begin small, and gradually build our inner GPS listening skills into the strong guidance system it is meant to be. Let’s encourage each other with support and gratitude. It’s time to use and celebrate our sixth sense.
Until Next Time – Sylvia