7 Steps to Cultivating Stillness and Listening to Your Intuition
When I interviewed Debra Alt last week, she spoke about listening to your intuition. She said we should practice cultivating stillness because that's when all the magic and wisdom are available to us. She also said to listen to messages from your body. She explained the body holds the spirit, so the more you can tune into your body's messages, the more wisdom you'll hear.
If we hold all this wisdom and if bodies hold the key, how do we access this? Other than intuition telling you when something bad is going down, how do you use intuition in not-so-big decisions? How do you tap into your Inner Knowing regularly?
The first step is to be aware that you're aware. Oprah gave this example. Imagine a red circle. Visualize it. Now imagine a bridge over water. Next, visualize a tall oak tree. Then ask yourself who was the one visualizing these things. Your Inner Observer is the part of you who is watching you visualize or think of these things. If you're still with me, this means you're able to access your Inner Self. This part of us is separate from our thinking mind. Our thinking mind is often likened to a monkey, constantly moving and chattering. If you can observe this part of you, it gives you space between you and your thoughts.
Another trick is to notice things around you. Access your senses. I'll ask students to notice the sounds around them or feel the air on their skin in yoga class. If you use essential oil, notice the smells around you. By using your senses, you're also removing yourself from your monkey mind.
If you're having a hard time knowing what inner wisdom looks like, think about a time when you accessed your intuition without realizing it. Remember a time when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was right or wrong.
Maybe it was a person who gave off a weird/bad vibe; maybe it involved the safety of your child; maybe it was when you spotted your husband/partner across the room and just knew.
I was once in a job interview and heard the words (it was my own voice I heard, but it was yelling "Run! This is not for you!"). Another time I took my son to a new daycare to try it out and see if it was where we were going to leave him for 8 hours a day. It had a bad vibe from the minute I set foot in there.
I've also learned to tune in to my intuition when it comes to patients. It might be a mole that looks relatively normal, but sometimes I feel a pull to biopsy it anyway. I've learned to listen to my intuition about things like this after diagnosing several melanomas this way. I felt it a couple of months ago when I had a patient who was winded while talking to me. This wasn't his normal. I checked his pulse ox, and it was extremely low. I told him he needed to go to the ER. Sure enough, he passed out within a few minutes, and we had to call an ambulance.
How do you cultivate stillness to better listen to your intuition?
1. Sit quietly. Or walk quietly. Or drive quietly. Exercise quietly. Eat quietly.
This is my #1 tip. Without quiet, you're not going to hear anything going on except the talking or music around you. Your intuition will send you messages all day long, but they're usually in the form of a whisper. If you don't listen, the signals get louder and louder. Eventually, the messages may cause physical symptoms.
2. Cut off your devices. Device-free time is key. Don't even have your cell near you; it'll be like a banana for your monkey mind. Your mind will be so distracted by the device nearby; it won't be able to access your inner messages coming through.
3. Listen and watch. God (or Spirit or Universe) will send messages in the form of coincidences and seemingly random comments. You must be looking for signs, or you'll miss them. The day I wrote in my journal that I wanted to learn Spanish, a parent at school happened to start a conversation with me and mentioned he was a Spanish tutor.
4. Notice what emotion you're feeling. "I feel anxious." Then, notice where you feel the emotion ("in my throat"). Ask what you need and listen to the answer ("I need to go for a walk. I need to avoid more coffee and screen time.")
5. Try writing questions to yourself, and then write the first thing that pops into your head. I swore I was crazy the first time I did this, and answers popped into my head. The answers to any problem are within you. You have an inner GPS, but you have to access it. One way is with writing. This is how I knew I was burned out a few years ago and needed to change jobs. I (my mind) wasn't ready to admit it, but my Inner Self knew it was time. I wrote out in my journal that I didn't know what was wrong with me. I didn't know why I wasn't sleeping and why I was so grumpy at home. The next words on the paper were, "I need to leave this toxic job; it's killing me."
6. Get away from your routine. This might mean going out of town or staying at a friend's house or simply switching up your routine. A perspective shift will automatically happen when you get out of your normal routine, even if it's an afternoon at the Botanical gardens.
7. Look at physical symptoms as a gift, as a message from your body. My daughter's tummy had been hurting. I went through all the medical questions. Then I asked her, "What do you think your tummy is trying to tell you?" She surprised me when she told me she felt a lot of guilt over sneaking extra screen time the day before, and she couldn't stop thinking about it." The body doesn't lie.