Understanding Intuition and Gut Instinct

“Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.”  ~ Oprah Winfrey

There is an unseen force that lives within each of us, and that connects us all.  We are energetic by nature, and that energy can guide us if only we can tune in to it.  One of the simplest ways to do this is by learning to honour our intuition.

There are many ways to do this, but today I’m going to focus on one: gut feeling.  Gut instinct or feeling is a primal response hard-wired into every human.

Gut feeling really does come from that area of your body – your abdomen.  It’s not a mind-based wisdom.  It doesn’t come from your heart.  It comes from that primal genetic material that is encoded and passed from parent to offspring.  In humans that is your original eight cells, which are located near your solar plexus. It is also the wisdom of the many bacteria and other organisms that live within the gut itself. We are not just our own consciousness. We are a whole co-creative biosystem that has evolved with an instinct to keep ourselves safe and to guard against threat.

So how do we tune in to this?  It’s easier than you think. Gut instinct does not use words or images.  Gut instinct uses emotions, and rockets along our central nervous system, which can also produce physical reactions.  It operates in 3 modes – neutral, forward and reverse. Some people call this the ‘sixth sense’. Some call it ‘intuition’.  Whatever the name, I’m sure you’ve all felt it and are familiar with it, whether you honour it or not.

In ‘forward’, we literally feel that we want to move closer to something.  We feel good about it.  We feel excited, happy and positive.  We can’t explain why, we can’t find the words for it, but we KNOW that something will work, that the person is good or honest, that this situation will be for the best, that this job/car/person/product/idea/food is the right choice.

In ‘neutral’ we feel indifference. There is no strong emotion or physical reaction either way.

In ‘reverse’ our gut is telling us to back away.  We feel unsure or uncomfortable.  The warning bells go off.  If it’s a mild response, this is where our brain often kicks in and invalidates our emotion (that can happen in ‘forward’ situations too!) by persuading our logical mind with rational thoughts and justifications.  In a strong response we may feel anxious or ill, we want to move back from this job/person/situation, we want to get to safety or a neutral space.  We can’t say why but we KNOW this won’t work well, this person can’t be trusted, something is wrong, it’s going to end badly…

This basic instinct is like a muscle – the more we use it, the stronger it becomes.  If we learn to trust it with the smaller things, eventually we’ll be able to hear and honour it with the bigger things.  This can be especially hard for people who are governed by their mind, which is why I recommend starting with small things that have no big ramifications in your life.

Here are some examples you may be familiar with:

  • Driving to work you suddenly feel like taking an alternative route.  You ignore that instinct and a minute past the turn-off you get stuck in a gridlock that makes you late. If you’d gone the other way you would have missed the traffic snarl.
  • In the supermarket you are drawn to a special: roasted chicken and a vast tub of coleslaw.  You really want to buy it, but that’s crazy.  There’s only you and that’s so much food.  You don’t buy it, and when you get home your sister and her family have arrived and that chicken and coleslaw would have been perfect…
  • You meet a guy, and your immediate reaction is one of dislike and distrust.  Everyone tells you how great he is, so you brush that initial feeling away.  Down the track your instinct is proved right when he turns out to be not-so-nice or trustworthy after all.  You kick yourself because you KNEW it all along!
If you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll know that Master Yoda, the great Jedi has much to say about the Force.  Here’s some of what he told Luke Skywalker…

“My ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us… and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this… [nudging Luke’s arm] crude matter! You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock… everywhere! Even between the land and the ship.”

If Luke learns to master the Force, as other Jedi have done, the Force can provide access to even higher levels of awareness and intuition.  Yoda explains, “Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past…old friends long gone.”

Animals don’t question that Force.  And because of that they are guided in incredible ways.  They trust their instincts. This youtube clip illustrates that energy and trust.  It’s magical…

Postscript: I’m a channel, and often that connection informs my writing. It means I sometimes write about things I don’t consciously understand or remember, which I then go and google (welcome to my life!) to find out their meaning.  That’s how I found out about the eight cells.

When We Know Something’s Wrong

“Intuition is a combination of historical (empirical) data, deep and heightened observation, and an ability to cut through the thickness of surface reality. Intuition is like a slow motion machine that captures data instantaneously and hits you like a ton of bricks. Intuition is a knowing, a sensing that is beyond the conscious understanding — a gut feeling. Intuition is not pseudo-science.” ~ Abella Arthur

A young mother came to see me recently. She is a well-balanced, normal suburban mum, with a satisfying and secure life. She’d enjoyed a safe and happy childhood. We had a great session together – positive and full of direction and uplift – and it ended with hugs and laughter.

As she was almost out the door she hesitated, and her face changed.  I knew she was about to ask her last and most important question. With glistening eyes and a quiver in her lip, she thrust a photo into my hand.

“Are my babies safe with this man?” she whispered. It took almost everything she had to get the words out.

As I took the picture, I knew. They were safe so far. No harm had come to them. But every visit increased the risk of molestation. I looked up at her and she saw her answer in my eyes.

I reassured her that her children were fine, and then I told her to honour her instinct.  She was uncomfortable for a reason.  She felt sick to her stomach for a reason. And her job was to honour that intuition, no matter if that was difficult, or offended people. I knew she would find a tactful way to prevent her children being alone with this person.

We talked then, about that sick feeling she had. About how hard it was to even acknowledge the thought. About what a strange thought it was to have unbidden like that.

Except it wasn’t strange.

Our senses are constantly taking in information. Occasionally we get a bit that doesn’t fit. A word, a gesture, an inappropriate comment or behaviour.  Small things. So small they barely make a ripple in our conscious mind.  We blink and it’s gone. But a flag goes up somewhere in our subconscious.

Over time, if there are more pieces of similar information, things that don’t sit well or are out of place with the normal flow of life, our subconscious keeps storing it all away.

Make-the-Puzzle-Pieces-of-Your-Life-Fit

Then one day, when it’s most needed, the puzzle pieces fit together, and our intuition presents us with a big fat uncomfortable feeling or thought that we can’t ignore.

It’s not always about safety.  Sometimes it’s about realizing your partner has a secret, or a drinking problem.

Sometimes it’s about acknowledging that there’s something serious going on with your health, or your child’s.

Or the new employee’s stories don’t add up.

We possess powerful skills of observation. We are wired to take in information from multiple sources, without being consciously aware of that stream of data. We have an internal emotional and energetic guidance system; a sixth sense. That guidance system is there for a reason – it alerts us to problems and danger.

I’m not talking about ongoing neuroses, paranoia, or drama. I’m talking about that sudden clarity we get, that information which comes to us and we can’t ignore .

Sometimes we just know when something’s wrong.

I urge you to pay attention and take action.