When Gloria's heart began to thump irregularly, she immediately sought the advice of her physician and learned that palpitations are often related to tension. Recognizing that she was overworked, Gloria decided to ask her intuition to guide her to a healthy lifestyle.
Surprisingly, her intuition did not start with her heart, but with her primary relationship. A week of daydream images about a vacation with Tom, her husband, culminated when she saw an ad for a Mexican condo rental. Tom was thrilled and, within a few weeks, they were off to their first real vacation in more than a decade.
When they returned, Gloria's rational mind kept telling her to resume her usual pace. But her intuition signaled no with a sick feeling in the stomach whenever she contemplated working more. After four months of listening to her intuition by selecting her work opportunities carefully and investing in her marriage, Gloria's palpitations were greatly reduced.
Gloria's body, mind, and spirit are healing, finding peace with a new work rhythm, and thrilled to be exploring her marriage anew. Gloria's body knew what she needed. All she had to do was pay attention.
Do you know that intuition lives in your body?
It is important to realize that intuition, like all human experience, is not outside of your body. Intuition lives in the body and likely has roots in your biology. Below are some examples.
- In attempts to understand why people often report picking up the phone before it rings or knowing who is on the line before they pick it up, the HearthMath Institute did a study in 2004 in which people were shown a series of images, most of which were peaceful and calming ( such as landscapes, cute animals, and trees). Randomly interspersed with these were violent and disturbing images, such as car crashes, bloody objects, and threatening animals. The researchers monitored the people's brainwaves, electrocardiograms and heart rate variability as they looked through the images. Interestingly, people's heart rate indicated an emotional response five to seven seconds before the emotionally disturbing images were displayed-their hearts appear to know in advance what is coming.
- People sometimes describe intuition as instant sensing. For example, they say "My gut told me something important would happen here" when entering a room, or "I sensed that my relationship with this stranger would be important in my life." In these cases, the experience of intuition is body-based. Note that a 2005 research article 'Thin-slices of life,' demonstrates that your intuition does often know the truth about a situation within seconds of your exposure to it.
- Did you ever meet someone who you recognized even though you had never met them? Neurologist Antonio Damasio's research suggests that this intuitive recognition is based on somatic markers, which are chemically based records of your emotional history encoded in your frontal lob. For example, you met a colleague Susan fifteen years ago and she became a close friend. Today, when you were introduced to Ellen, something about her reminded you emotionally of Susan, even though they don't look alike. Your somatic markers were automatically activated and you felt like you knew Ellen. You even asked her if you had met before.
- Intuition is also often associated with transcendental experiences. A Pennsylvania University team discovered that your brain's parietal lobe is relevant to the sense of boundlessness or mystical oneness common to intuitive experiences. Usually parts of the brain become more active during these experiences, but the parietal lobe, which is responsible for your sense of boundaries, becomes silent during the boundlessness associated with intuition and transcendency.
These biological discoveries suggest that intuitive impressions have biological roots. Your body is knowledgeable.
What insights can intuition bring?
As you become aware of and sensitive to your body's intuitive knowledge, you will be more aware of changing conditions in your body and better able to monitor your health challenges, guide your healthcare, and nurture your wellbeing.
Consider these examples, which represent the spectrum of intuitive experiences-from increasing wellbeing to saving lives.
Anne's intuition may have saved her life.
Anne, a high tech executive, has to work 14-hour days during project deadlines. She was feeling very tired during one of these periods, but dismissed it, considering her exhaustion normal for the circumstances. But one Friday afternoon, as she was driving home excited to see her daughter who had just arrived from London, her intuition urged her to check herself into the Emergency Room. "You are too tired." She argued with her intuition for a few minutes, but found her body driving towards the hospital.
Tests were run that night that showed Anne was bleeding internally due to a malignant tumor in her colon. Surgery was completed within the week and they found that the tumor was still well-contained. Anne is doing fine 3 years later.
Lesson: Listen when your intuition nags you about a health issue. Check its information out with healthcare providers.
Betsy's intuition guides her to multiple healing modalities in her struggle with inflammatory breast cancer.
Aware of a strange persistent rash on her breast for several weeks, Betsy turned to Google for some answers. Within a few hours, she diagnosed herself with inflammatory breast cancer and later learned that she was at 3.5 stage out of 4. Her prognosis was grim, but her intuition suggested a combination of conventional and complementary therapies.
To create her healing team, Betsy researched providers, then asked her inner self if this person would be a good fit. Eventually, her team included five physicians with diverse expertise, massage therapists, jyorei healing, Native American and Tibetan spiritual and medicine people, and a wide variety of prayer circles. Her physicians lead her through the traditional mastectomy, chemo therapies, and radiation, as well as advised a course of vitamins, supplements, and guided imagery tapes.
Throughout, Betsy listened to her intuitive body and took charge of the course of her care. If her body told her no more chemo or radiation this week, she stood her ground. She remains closely attuned to her body's mental, emotional, and spiritual energy.
Lesson: Do your research and tap into your intuition when choosing providers and therapies. Attune to your body's wisdom and take charge when necessary to serve your healing and wellbeing.
John's enhanced sensitivity to subtle messages leads to taking care of himself.
John had a history of cold sores which would suddenly make him ill for days. As his sensitivity and willingness to listen to his body's subtle chemical and intuitive messages grew, John learned to adjust his schedule and reduce stress before a cold sore could take over his life. In addition to noting stress, John's intuition helped him identify what thoughts, attitudes, or actions increased the risk of getting a cold sore.
Lesson: The skill of listening and being sensitive to your body's clues (intuitive and otherwise) can help you respond earlier to health challenges and may help you handle, reduce, or prevent their development.
Jane's dreams make a suggestion for her wellbeing.
Jane loves active outdoor vacations, such as canoeing and camping. When she began to have dream images of lying in a deck chair on a cruise, she thought they didn't fit. "I am not the cruise type," she told herself. But when her intuition continued to urge the cruise, she began to wonder what it meant.
Pondering the possibilities, Jane realized that she needed a vacation where she could completely relax and not take care of anyone. Jane let go of her preconceived ideas about how like this might come about. Later, when she and her husband took a canoe trip without children for the first time in years, Jane recognized the deep relaxation and restoration of her dream as she floated along on the water with no deadlines or people to take care of. Her intuition had been working on many levels at once, serving not only the wellbeing of Jane, but also that of her husband, and their marriage, and indirectly their children.
Lesson: When your intuition continues to call to you, give up preconceived ideas of the specifics and surrender to the meaning behind its advice. Intuition will take care of the details.
How can I work with my intuition for health and wellbeing?
Below are three practices you can begin immediately to tune into and enhance your body's intuition.
Practice # 1: Love and Appreciate Your Body
While most people aren't listening to their body, their body is listening to them!
Your body hears everything you say and think about it. So, think for a moment--what do you say about it? Do you criticize or even hate your body? How often do you thank, appreciate, and love your body?
Most people have things about their body that they don't like and they often focus on these aspects. But realize that your body is working on your behalf every second. It allows you to do activities you enjoy, to appreciate beauty and love, and to engage in millions of interactions. Minute-by-minute your cells are communicating; digesting and producing available energy; and cleaning and transforming your being. Your body is one of life's greatest achievements and worthy of great appreciation.
Remember also that intuition operates best in a caring atmosphere. Intuition travels on love. This is why people's greatest intuitions are about things they love. If you wish to use your intuition to improve your health and wellbeing, begin by expressing appreciation and love for your body everyday.
Practice # 2: Listen and Attend to Your Body
We listen to the people we love; we keep our minds on the things that we love.
Learning to listen to your body's clues is central to applying intuitive wisdom to health and healing. Listening and attending require you to do three things:
- Develop a still point inside you. With practice you will have access to your still point, regardless of what is happening in your life.
- Know your body's normal patterns in order to recognize and assess changes. Scanning techniques and conversations with your body help you establish knowledge about your body.
- Act on your body's messages within the parameters of common sense.
Practice # 3 Nourish and Grow Your Sensitivity
Intuition arises in multiple ways, but most of us have been trained out of hearing its voice. In fact, a 2003 study of school children found that intuitive skills dropped as children proceeded through elementary school.
Your intuitive body is a like a musical instrument. Just as it is hard to get music out of an untuned instrument, it is difficult to access intuition when your body is out of whack. Here are some clues for nurturing and growing your sensitivity.
- Stimulation: avoid constant work, television, media exposure, or activities that can numb you. Learn to slow down or stop. Cherish time in quietude.
- Exercise: intuition requires energy and alertness. Exercise elevates your circulation and reduces tension. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and do it three times a week.
- Rest: regular restoration of the body through relaxation and sleep keeps you alert to your body's signals. Make a conscious decision to sleep, nap, or relax when your body indicates a need.
- Food: while you wouldn't buy gasoline that revs your car engine to unsafe speeds, makes your car sputter along, or stalls your engine out, many people eat food that does just that to their bodies. Nourish your body's sensitivity to intuition with good food.
- Thoughts: medical research on stress shows that thoughts and emotions can directly impact your physical body. In addition, preoccupation with difficult or negative thoughts can result in bad moods and/or a reduced sense of wellbeing. Guard your mind; invest in thoughts that make a positive contribution to your life.
When trying to enhance your sensitivity to intuition, it may help you to apply some of the ideas of modern physics. The string theory suggests that the core building blocks of the universe and your body are miniscule vibrating strings. Think of your intuitive body as a vibrating, information-rich field that is in constant communication with the world around and within you.
Albert Einstein, a fan of intuition, stated: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
Intuition can contribute to your health and wellbeing in many ways, from potentially dramatically saving your life to guiding you to a more balanced lifestyle. If you learn to love and listen to your body, intuition serves your mind, body, and spirit.
© 2006 Charlson Meadows, used with permission.
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