I bet you can complete this title. And how many times has your intuition been correct? But just what is intuition? Is it something instinctual? Or simply a regular cognitive process? Is it rational to trust our “guts?”
I don’t know about you, but I continually try to tune into my intuition, and I believe it has saved my hide a few times.
I recently read a neuroscientist’s perspective on intuition. To sum up her point of view, intuition is sort of a “predictive processing framework” whereby our brains are constantly taking in sensory information, comparing that information with accumulated knowledge and experience and then making a spontaneous decision based upon how these data “match” or align. The process is said to be automatic and subconscious.
Intuition supposedly can be a sloppy process that can fail because it is based on outdated information. However, analytical thinking, based upon more current information, can be too slow to allow a timely response and can also err when we over-think a problem or a situation. These two types of “thinking” are theorized to work in concert giving us a good balance. And there are times we use analytic thinking to make a post-hoc justification for a decision based on intuitive thinking.
That all sounds like a bit of over-thinking to me.
The neuroscientist says we can trust our intuition if we follow this thought algorithm:
“Thus, for every situation that involves a decision based on your assessment, consider whether your intuition has correctly assessed the situation. Is it an evolutionary old or new situation? Does it involve cognitive biases? Do you have experience or expertise in this type of situation? If it is evolutionary old, involves a cognitive bias, and you don’t have expertise in it, then rely on analytic thinking. If not, feel free to trust your intuitive thinking.”
But none of this gives me a true understanding of how I just “know” I’ve hit my turn around point on the trail. My gut tells me there is some danger out there if I continue and it’s time to go home. As I leave, I hear a hunter’s shot ring out and a deer runs out of the underbrush and passes by me. Or a large tree branch falls where I would have stepped next.
How about, when I walk into a business and I just get the vibe that something is about to go south there so I turn around and leave. Then, I read in the paper the next day that there was a fight that broke out in that establishment and someone got shot. Or the place was robbed just moments after I left.
Or I see a vehicle pass me on the road and just “know” something is amiss. Then I later pass it as it sits a contorted mass, in a deadly embrace with a semitruck.
What about the times there is no danger? But I “know” to follow a butterfly who leads me to a wonderous discovery. An overlook into a canyon that was off-trail and thoroughly hidden. Inspiration and beauty, I would have walked right on by but not for my gut.
Or I meet a person and within seconds I’m sure they have a good heart. As time passes, this assessment proves to be 100% accurate. People seem to have that intuitive trust with me too, and often just open up to me and share very personal information before they know anything about me. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened, and the person says to me, “I don’t have any idea why I’m telling you all of this.”
None of these situations appear to involve past or present sensory input that could lead to a predictive outcome. It is merely a feeling or my “inner voice” that I have listened to.
As the Universe would have it, the same day I read the neuroscientist’s article I would be directed to another about the topic of what it means to be “clairsentient,” or to be someone who feels things very deeply. Notice, this is not the same as being clairvoyant. Not the same as being able to “see clearly” or predict the future.
The author of this article lists out 25 traits that may accompany being clairsentient. And I don’t want to oversimply a complex topic, but suffice it to say such a person is extremely tuned in. Not only to their own feelings, but to the energy fields surrounding everyone and all things. This hypersensitivity allows for acting on senses without necessarily having any discernable information. Or it allows a different level of accessing and analyzing information to make predictive outcomes. To act purely upon a subconscious process where we are fed information. It is almost as though that information comes from an outside observer who has clairvoyance.
Or maybe that is precisely what this is. Being hypersensitive may just mean being in tune with all of the spiritual energy surrounding us. This allows for lightening fast decisions based not upon historical data accumulated in our brains, but on real-time or even future-time data coming from external sources.
And since we are talking about the subconscious, let’s talk about consciousness for a moment and what that means. To be conscious means we are presumably awake and aware of our existence, our sensations, our thoughts, and our surroundings. The subconscious mind concerns “the part of the mind of which one is not fully aware but which influences one’s actions and feelings.” While on the other hand, the unconscious mind is said to be “the part of the mind which is inaccessible to the conscious mind but which affects behavior and emotions.” And being unconscious, well we all know what that means; lights out and nobody’s home.
But these are not the end descriptors of consciousness and subconscious processes because we also have “collectives.” The collective conscious is “the set of shared beliefs, ideas and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society.” The “collective unconscious,” in Jungian psychology, is “part of the unconscious mind which is derived from ancestral memory and experience and is common to all humankind, as distinct from the individual’s unconscious.”
Now that’s a lot to wrap your brain around. And maybe the collective unconscious could provide a source of data for our intuitive responses. But how do we get that package of ancestral memory jammed in our heads? Is that knowledge carried in our genetics?
Well, I have a different idea about the collective minds, or perhaps “energies” is a better word. What if the collective unconscious was not ancestral memory? What if the subconscious or unconscious minds of all were collectively linked, 24/7, in the present moment? What if we could, through “intuition” or other means, tap into all that data and awareness? What if being clairsentient meant exactly that, being tapped into this collective energy? Wouldn’t that allow you to be extremely empathetic, to sense another’s innate qualities and characteristics, to perhaps perceive disruptions in the energy fields that tip you off to events unfolding?
I don’t know.
A number of years back I built a bridge. It spanned a 22-foot, water-filled ravine that fed a lake on my property. I arched it slightly and it had no supports underneath it to resist gravity or to support its own weight. It was the biggest carpentry project I undertook, and I did it with virtually no experience or knowledge. I drew the design out on a brown paper bag. I was no engineer.
Each night before bed, I would formulate a question in my mind with regard to part of the project. Usually a problem that needed to be solved. And each morning I awoke with an answer in my conscious mind. An answer that worked. Now where did this information come from?
I had no inherent knowledge in my mind to process in my sleep with regard to bridge building. Could it have come from some ancestral memory, really? Or could I have tapped into a real-time collective of conscious, subconscious, or unconscious minds, or energy fields, that provided the answers. I have no idea, but that bridge is still standing 22 years after I built it.
And it’s a nice metaphor too. Bridging between conscious and subconscious and unconscious dimensions 😊
Of course, I don’t know that words can ever adequately describe such a process. And you can call me crazy if you want to, but I do know that the times I didn’t listen to my inner voice were the times that I got into trouble.
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to tune-in. Tap into all that is out there. And trust what my inner voice is telling me.
Pleasant trails, keep listening, and trust your gut.
Photos: I built this bridge in the summer of 1996 – winter and summer views.
Links: Here are links to the articles I read. All links are subject to link rot.
Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? A neuroscientist explains
25 Signs You May Be Clairsentient — Someone Who Feels Things Very Deeply
Quotes: And here are a couple of nice quotes on Intuition:
“Intuition is seeing with the soul.”
― Dean Koontz
“The material world is simply an expression of the mind; that’s what so many fail to see. We’re so dependent on what is before us that we discount our intuition. Yet if one dismisses instinct, how can one understand or believe in a world that exists beyond one’s sight?”
― Megan Chance, The Spiritualist
“Intuition comes in several forms:
– a sudden flash of insight, visual or auditory
– a predictive dream
– a spinal shiver of recognition as something is occurring or told to you
– a sense of knowing something already
– a sense of deja vu
– a snapshot image of a future scene or event
– knowledge, perspective or understanding divined from tools which respond to the subconscious mind”
― Sylvia Clare, Trusting Your Intuition: Rediscover Your True Self to Achieve a Richer, More Rewarding Life
“Situations produce vibrations. Negative, potentially harmful situations emit slow vibrations. Positive, potentially life-enhancing situations emit quick vibrations. As these vibrations impact on your energy field they produce either resonance or dissonance in your lower and middle tantiens (psychic power stations) depending on your own vibratory rate at the time. When you psychic field force is strong and your vibratory rate is fast, therefore, you will draw only positive situations to you. When you mind is quiet enough and your attention is on the moment, you will literally hear the dissonance in your belly and chest like an alarm bell going off, urging you from deep within your body to move in such and such a direction. Always follow it. At times these urges may come to you in the form of internally spoken dialogue with your higher self, spirit guide, guardian angel, alien intelligence, however you see the owner of the “still, small voice within.” This form of dialogue can be entertaining and reassuring but is best not overindulged in as, in the extreme; it tends to lead to the loony bin. At times you may receive your messages from “Indian signs”, such as slogans on passing trucks or cloud formations in the sky. This is also best kept in moderation, to avoid seeing signs in everything and becoming terribly confused. Just let it happen when it happens and don’t try looking for it.”
― Stephen Russell, Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao: A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior