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.

It’s a Fairy Forest here at the farm!

“Few humans see fairies or hear their music, but many find fairy rings of dark grass, scattered with toadstools, left by their dancing feet.” 
Judy Allen

We’ve had a furious amount of rain here at the farm these past few weeks. Everything is damp and waterlogged, but green green green!

On my morning walk I marvelled at the fungi forest in our paddocks. Mushrooms of every shape and size.

The one in the picture above is the size of a dinner plate.

And these tiny delicate ones are covering the trunk of the fallen coral tree like lace.

Soon enough they’ll all be gone, so I am enjoying their magic while I can.

How about you? Can you slow down a little today, or over the weekend, and take yourself for a walk in nature? Who knows what you might find, what inspiration could come to you, or what you might learn about yourself and your feelings.

I can highly recommend walking. After our retreat I rushed straight into a busy week of medical appointments in the city and the stress of supporting family members. It was so good to come home yesterday and decompress by spending some quiet time in nature. Walking helped me come back to centre, release my stress and reprioritise what truly matters so that I don’t get caught up in external dramas. Maybe you will find that kind of peace too, if you walk long enough. If long walking’s impossible a short gentle stroll or even sitting outside in nature with a quiet and watchful eye can be enough.

Biggest hugs and love, Nicole ❤ xx

A miniature city of mushrooms

There’s almost nowhere to walk – with mushrooms everywhere under my feet

Perfect umbrellas for fairies!

Lace-like and delicate. For fairy dresses perhaps?

 

 

 

 

“On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.” 
~ Mark HaddonThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

It’s windy and raining here at retreat. During the night we had wild weather and this morning the air is charged and vibrant. There is a tang of salt on the breeze, and below us at the shore we can see the waves whipped up into a white-capped frenzy.

Every leaf is dripping water. There is a carpet of fresh leaves and bark on the ground. There’s still a hard coastal breeze this morning and an occasional gust of rain.

It’s the perfect kind of weather for meditating, journalling, doing inner work. It’s perfect for sitting in small circles with friends, drinking mugs of tea all cosy while the trees dance and bend in the breeze outside.

These kinds of days support us to feel into the spaces deep within us. And as nature goes from a backdrop to a force demanding attention we are reminded viscerally of the world we walk.

We made a large crystal grid here in the hall yesterday. You’re represented in it, and you’re in my thoughts, meditations and prayers.

I hope you find some time for a little reconnection to your inner landscape and to the world outside your door today.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole  xx

A Small But Positive Sign In The Shape Of A Snail

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” 
~  Oprah Winfrey

When we holidayed with a friend and her family early this year, her small children asked me what I had done to earn pocket money when I was little.

We didn’t get pocket money when we were growing up, but sometimes we would get paid for chores, and the one chore both my mother and grandmother would pay for was snail collection. Both of them were avid gardeners, and there were always so many snails threatening their annuals, vegetables and flowers. I would wake early each morning to silvery trails along all the paths, and of course all of the soft plants and flowers would have been nibbled voraciously. I’d be sent out with an empty ice-cream bucket (the family size!) to gather snails so they could be disposed of. I’d easily fill that bucket with perhaps half an hour’s work. They were everywhere, especially if you knew where to look.

Fast forward to today, and I have barely seen a single snail in years, except for the giant rainforest snails that we sometimes see around the farm. I’ve grieved and ached for that loss, and for my role in contributing to the demise of so many creatures. Our modern garden is so different to the gardens of my childhood. Where have all the snails gone? The bees? The insects? As a child I would amuse myself for hours catching small green grasshoppers or odd-looking beetles. There was an abundance of wildlife in my own back yard. Birds, dragonflies, stick insects, praying mantis, butterflies, Christmas beetles by the battalion, moths, all kinds of grubs and crawly things. And so many bees, especially when the summer lawn was full of clover.

Forty or so years later the skies and gardens seem empty. And I hadn’t seen a snail in my garden for a decade.

Until today. A tiny snail on one of my roses. Ben pointed it out to me. ‘Look, honey’, he said. ‘A snail is eating your rose.’ ‘Good!’ I responded. ‘I’ll grow more!’ If that little snail likes roses I will make sure she has an endless supply.

I can’t tell you how happy this one little snail has made me. I am hoping to soon see more.

A garden snail – courtesy of the Breathe Easy Project

Here in our little corner of the world, at our farm and at our neighbours, we don’t use chemicals or bug spray or any kind of pesticide. I favour companion planting. If bugs destroy a certain plant I make a note of it and either don’t grow it again or I grow lots of it so we can share it with the bugs, or so they can eat it and spare the rest of my garden.

Birds like to eat snails and bugs. So do lots of other critters. They are all part of the cycle of life, and I want for that biodiversity to continue. To that end we’ve planted lots of native flowering trees that are food for birds and butterflies and possums. We’ve placed birdbaths strategically around the garden. We’ve replanted species around the denuded areas of our farm to encourage biodiversity and restorative ecology. We farm organically. We use worm farms to enrich our soil and to compost all our food scraps. We do what we can to make our home a home for all.

Perhaps that little snail is a sign that we are doing something right.

Today I’m intending for you some small positive sign that you’re moving in the right direction too. Much love, Nicole   xx

 

 

My Favourite Morning Job

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.” 
~  Hermann Hesse

 

Here on the farm my favourite morning job is checking our water points. I slip on my gumboots (still usually dressed in my pyjamas!) and then go for a little walk to check the cattle troughs. They all fill by themselves with float valves except one up in the orchard, that we only need if the cattle are there.

If the cattle are grazing in the orchard I will take the heavy farm hose and top up the trough for them before the heat of the day comes. While it fills I talk to the cows and watch the birds doing their early morning circuits. Our skies are always busy just after dawn.

 

I’ll flick the hose around the vegetable gardens and note anything that needs picking. And yes, a few stray strawberries or sweet little tomatoes usually find their way into my mouth.

Back down at the house again my last stop is the birdbaths. I fill them up, and the one on our front deck has new flowers placed in it from whatever I have gathered from my morning walk.

It’s a peaceful start to my day that never fails to put me in a good mood.

I’m wishing you a peaceful day and happiness too, much love, Nicole  xx

 

Eagles and Cups of Tea

“Farewell,” they cried, “Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!” That is the polite thing to say among eagles.
“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,” answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.” 
~  J.R.R. Tolkien

We are always up early, here at the farm. Right now we have weaners (calves that are being weaned from their mums) locked up in the yards being fed hay and taught yard manners while their mums’ milk dries up so we start our day down at the yards feeding out and checking water.

At the back of our farm we have a wedgetail eagle nest – a giant platform of sticks large enough for us all to sit in (if we could climb that high!). This year the eagles have hatched and reared three fledglings, and while we worked this morning they all took flight, riding the thermals about our farm.

It made my heart swell to watch them all; the majestic father with a feather missing in the leading edge of his right wing, the slightly smaller mother and then these three tentative and still clumsy juniors. When they landed in a Sydney Blue Gum at the back of our orchard it looked like 2 large men and their dogs sitting in the branches, so big are these birds.

They were still resting there when we finished our morning chores so we sat out in the backyard with our mugs of tea watching them. We only came in again when they took flight and soared off over the ridge and out of sight. (I added a photo below of the golden glow that surrounded us this morning!)

I hope you get a little outdoor time or time for a quiet cuppa today too.

Take care of yourself and each other, all my love, Nicole ❤ xx

The Best Blog Was The One I Didn’t Write!

“Have you ever seen the dawn? Not a dawn groggy with lack of sleep or hectic with mindless obligations and you about to rush off on an early adventure or business, but full of deep silence and absolute clarity of perception? A dawning which you truly observe, degree by degree. It is the most amazing moment of birth. And more than anything it can spur you to action. Have a burning day.” 
Vera Nazarian

 

I had a rough day yesterday, and then a rough night. In this week’s intensely intuitive energies some of my clients and students are struggling with the realisation that their lives that are far from alignment with their inner selves, or they have become overwhelmed with the weight of humanity’s problems. And there has been an influx of suicidal feelings for some, or for members of their family. So this week my phone has rung off the hook, my inboxes are jammed and the calls just keep coming. Since my fiftieth birthday in September I now feel every single emotion other people are holding within them as viscerally as if those emotions were mine. As you might imagine I went to bed totally drained, and woke the same, despite my regular meditation.

I had intended to blog, but nothing would come. So I walked.

In the murky twilight I threw a warm jacket over my pyjamas and put my feet into gumboots and I walked outside and into the paddocks.

The tawny frogmouth owls were singing to their chicks while feeding them an early breakfast. A powerful owl sat in the teak tree, feasting on the remains of a possum. Koalas grunted to each other in the trees, and the boughs above our house shook and danced as a group of possums jumped down and then ran across the roof of our tiny cottage, moving towards our shed where they will sleep throughout the day.

The air was alive with the sound of insects and birdsong as the sun slowly rose behind the hills, ready to illuminate the day.

As I walked further I saw one of our older cows lying down in the field. She was in an unnatural position, so I hurried over to check on her welfare, just as she finished pushing out a newborn calf. I stood quietly by while she broke open the sac and cleaned off the tiny animal, licking it until it began to push up on its brand new twiggy legs. Soon it was standing for the first time.

The cow and I both stood quietly together, catching our breath, and the newborn calf wobbled over to mum, found a teat and began to drink. Suddenly my world was calm and beautiful and milk-sweet.

Some ‘alone time’ in nature is always good medicine for me, and if you’re feeling things intensely this week I suggest it will be good medicine for you as well. Then perhaps some journalling and the pulling of a few cards so that you can explore your feelings and find pathways that give you choices, understanding and a way forward. Of course I also recommend a good cup of tea with that too!

Sending so much love your way, Nicole  xoxo

 

Magical And Surprising – Spring At The Farm!

“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” 
~  John Galsworthy

It was a beautiful day at the farm here yesterday – all sunshine and rain and greenery and discovery and cups of tea and long rangey walks out into nature.

The gardenias are blooming, scenting the air with their rich perfume, and beyond the swimming pool Mr Grunty, our big male resident koala, looked down on us from his perch amidst the gumleaves and grunted his appreciation for the goodness of life and a break in the rain.

The vegetable gardens are groaning with produce, and I harvested a basket of kale for our dinner, under the watchful eye of Randal the garden gnome, whom we will give a coat of fresh paint on Sunday in honour of the change in seasons.

The coriander has all bolted while I was visiting the city, and so have my broccolini and lettuce.

I’ll let them go to seed and in no time at all there will be new baby shoots sprouting up by themselves. Perfect.

My beetroot has gone gangbusters too. After the unseasonally dry winter it has loved the sudden rain. This will soon be juiced or roasted.

As we walked down to the river paddock I thought I saw a coil of rope hanging off the gate post. But no, it was a green tree snake, entwined in the chain that usually latches the gate to the house paddock. We left her undisturbed. She was rather large, and oh so pretty!

All in all it was a wonderfully relaxing day, that has left me recharged and rested, ready for a big weekend of writing, planning and a little work.

Sending my love to you, and my wishes that you too get some recharge time over the next few days,

Nicole  xoxo

Road Trip Treasures!

“You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It all depends on how you view your life.” 
~  Paulo Coelho

 

Late last week Ben and I slipped away from the farm for a few days.

We took a simple road trip into country New South Wales. Just to be together. Just to be on our own.

It’s been a very full year. This time twelve months ago I was preparing for major surgery. And since then there have been family health dramas, constant concern and worry for Ben’s aging mum, and then my latest near-death experience, back in May.

We were more than ready for some processing time, and a little distance between us and our problems.

We were gone for two and a half days. Not long at all. But it felt like weeks.

Here’s the secret of how we stretched time:

  1. We put our phones away and didn’t check our emails, social media or other distractions except to have a quick glance after breakfast and before dinner in case there was an emergency.
  2. We allowed ourselves early nights and plenty of rest.
  3. We kept our days simple and chose easy over ambitious.
  4. We stayed in the moment, engaged with each other and our surroundings.
  5. We held hands, we talked and deeply listened, and we held eye contact with each other and anyone we spoke to.

Those simple choices gave us the gift of replenishment. And if they worked for us I know they’ll work for you.

It was a super trip. Here’s a few of my highlights:

This is Beth, standing in front of the beautiful silk and merino wool shawls and scarves that she makes. Beth reinvented herself as an artist when she turned fifty, after attending a TAFE course in felting. She totally inspired me, and she gives awesome hugs too. (And yes, Ben bought me a gorgeous pink and coral shawl for my birthday!)

 

 

On our first night away we went for dinner at a local bowling club that does an all-you-can-eat $16 Chinese buffet on Thursday nights. It was packed with locals, all soaking up the ambiance that only plastic tablecloths, gold-painted honour boards, decorations from last Christmas and a gigantic empty dance floor can give. The food was delicious!

Book stores. You know the ones that are filled to the rafters with rare and old editions, as well as the latest reads? I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t come home with anything. I’ve now got some excellent reference books to research my next project. And I may have come away with one or two eclectic ancient cookbooks as well…

Op shops, second-hand shops, and those lucky dip kind of places where you walk through the door into a glorious clutter of wares old and new. I found some beautifully made old tablecloth and napkin sets at totally bargain prices, as well as a few little plates and bowls for serving tasty treats in. Oh, and some cake forks and a set of Japanese made 1950’s cocktail forks. And a cake tin. All of which will be put to good use here at the farm.

This glorious sewing, quilting and fabric shop fired up my imagination, and we managed to buy a packet of needles. Just the thing for me to dig all the splinters out of Ben’s hands from when he was off chainsawing and hauling timber earlier in the week.

We also enjoyed a quiet pub meal for two, sitting in an ancient dining room beside a roaring log fire on a frosty night. The table was set with real linen and a candle, and as we ate our delicious food we realised that it was the first time we’d had a romantic dinner date in Australia for over ten years!!! (My fault – my health has been crap, and I’m always in bed so early that we usually favour a breakfast outing or an early cafe meal.)

Ben’s already planning our next adventure.

How about you? Do you have a road trip planned or can you recommend one? I’d love to hear about it.

Much love from your rested and refreshed friend, Nicole xoxo

After Rest Comes Rejuvenation

“In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin.” 
~ William Kean Seymour

 

Are you taking some time for yourself this week?

As part of my be-gentle-with-myself healing process I spent the late afternoon in the garden yesterday, watching my dogs frolic, watering my vegetables and fruit trees, and inhaling the delectable fragrance of newly mown lawn.

Of course I couldn’t go anywhere without young Rufous following me. That dog is curious about everything!!!

When the air cooled and the sun began to dip behind the mountain we came inside, cooked dinner and curled up on the couch by the fire before an early night.

All that outside time made for a deep sleep!

Here are a few snaps of my soul medicine session.
Much love, Nicole xx