Accessing Intuition




by Shakti Gawain

Many of us are aware of spontaneously having intuitive "flashes" from time to time. As you read this article, you may become aware that you have intuitive feelings more often than you realized, and that you have discounted many of them without knowing it.

The truth is, our intuitive wisdom is always there inside of us and it is always trying to come through to guide us. Most of us simply don't know how to access it at will on a regular basis. Fortunately we can learn to do exactly that.

Here is a basic meditation for getting in touch with your intuitive guidance. I have used this meditation myself for about twenty years, and have taught thousands of people to access their intuition through this practice.

Inner Guidance Meditation

Find a quiet, peaceful place where you will be undisturbed for a few minutes. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position with your spine straight and well supported. Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath, and as you exhale slowly, relax your body. Take another deep breath and as you exhale, relax your body a little more. Take another deep breath and as you exhale, relax your body as deeply and completely as you can. If any place in your body feels tight or tense, gently breathe into that area and allow it to release and relax.

Now take another deep breath and as you exhale, relax your mind. Let your thoughts just drift away. As each new thought comes up in your mind, let it go. There is no need to hold onto any thought. Just keep letting them go and bringing your attention back to breathing slowly and deeply and relaxing.

Take another deep breath and as you exhale, imagine that you can move your awareness out of your mind, out of your head, and drop it slowly down into your body. Let it rest in the area of your solar plexus or your belly.

Now take another deep breath, and as you exhale, let your awareness move into a very deep quiet place within. With every breath as you exhale, move a little deeper and a little deeper until you come to rest in the deepest, quietest place you can find. Then just let yourself rest in this quiet place inside.

In this quiet place inside, you naturally have access to your intuitive inner guidance. You could think of it as a wise part of you that lives in this deep place within you. It knows exactly what you need at every moment.

Ask yourself in this deep place, "What do I most need to remember or be aware of right now?"

After you ask this question, just rest quietly and be open to what might come. Notice if a thought, a feeling, or an image comes to you in response to this question. Just take whatever comes and be with it for a little while. It's not necessary to understand it. Just be with it in a receptive way.

You may feel like you are "making something up." If so, that's okay - and it's always interesting to note what you have chosen to "make up" at that moment. Just allow whatever is happening to happen.

You may feel that nothing is happening, or that you get nothing. That's okay too. Don't try to make something happen. Trying gets in the way of the process. If nothing is coming right now, just accept that.

If you have received some thought, feeling, and/or image, allow yourself to sit with it a little bit. When you feel complete with the process for now, begin to notice your breath again. Notice how your body is feeling and become aware of your surroundings. When you are ready, you can open your eyes.

If you wish, you can write down whatever you experienced or whatever "message" you received. Otherwise, just contemplate your experience a bit before you go about any other activities.

This is an excellent exercise to do in the morning before you start your day, or at night before you go to sleep. If possible, do it at least once a day for a while; twice a day is even better. If you can't manage that, try for once or twice a week. Once you get used to it, you can easily do this exercise in five to ten minutes.

In this meditation I used a very general question "What do I most need to remember or be aware of right now?" I have found that this question works well for many people to open to whatever their intuition may wish to communicate. You can use any question that works for you, however, including more specific ones such as, "What direction do I need to go right now?" or "Show me my next step," or "How do I need to take care of myself?" or even "Should I take the job I've been offered?"

After you have done this meditation, pause occasionally throughout the day and notice what's going on inside of you. Over the next few days, try to be aware of any thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to the question you have asked. Practice following any intuitive impulses you have, and notice how things work out.

People have different kinds of experiences with this exercise. Many people find that a thought, feeling, and/or image comes to them during the meditation that is clearly relevant and immediately helpful. The more you practice this exercise, the more likely it is that you will receive clear, simple messages that you can easily interpret and understand.

As I mentioned, some people get a response but feel like they are "making it up" rather than experiencing it as "coming to them." My feeling is that it's best to trust whatever is happening, as long as it basically feels right to you. Worrying about whether you are doing it right blocks the process; trusting your own experience opens up the process. So if you feel like you are making something up, just go ahead and do it. Chances are that whatever you "make up" will be relevant.

I recently did this exercise with a group and here are a few examples of "messages" that came to the participants:

One woman received the message "Have more fun!" She saw an image of riding on a carousel followed by an image of swimming in the warm ocean in Mexico at night. These are both fun, physically enjoyable, sensuous experiences not involving the mind. This woman is a very mental person. She felt that her intuition was showing her that she needs to enjoy her physical body more.

One woman saw a sign in big letters saying HEALTH. She was dealing with some health issues and interpreted this as a reminder to focus her attention on her health.

A man had an image of sitting on a warm beach by the ocean. The feeling was "Everything is okay."

Another woman heard the words "Trust, not fear." She interpreted this as a message not to worry, to relax and trust her own process.

A woman had an image of a large brown bear with quiet strength, so powerful that he doesn't need to be aggressive. This is a frequent image for this woman, representing her personal power that she's learning to own. This time the bear was excited and happy, almost dancing, because the woman has had a recent breakthrough where she was able to stay with her own power in a difficult situation.

For one man these words came: "Love is the answer." This man had recently had a very upsetting experience and was feeling very angry. He felt this was a reminder not to polarize too far into anger and remember the power of forgiveness.

One man had an image of himself in a meadow with a powerful woman he respects. She was on a horse and dressed in a warrior/goddess costume. He was bowing reverentially to her. She said to him, "Don't give your power away. Don't be so adoring! You are my knight!" He felt this related to a pattern he has of giving his own power away to women. The woman in the image represented his powerful inner feminine side.

One woman, who is usually very visual, just had a peaceful feeling inside.

Some people receive a message that is unclear or difficult to understand or interpret. Don't worry about trying to understand it logically. Like our dreams, the images or feelings that come to us are often working on a level below the conscious mind. Don't obsess about the meaning of it. Let it go and assume that it's working on a deeper level. Sometimes the meaning will come clear later, in some spontaneous way.

For example, a participant in one of my workshops got an image of a bright red-hot burning fire one day during this meditation. She had no idea what it meant. A couple of days later she woke with the realization that she was carrying a lot of anger that she needed to express and work with. Her intuition was letting her know the next step in her healing process. Of course, the same image might have a totally different meaning for someone else.

Even if you never get a conscious understanding of an intuitive message, don't be concerned. If it's important, it will come to you again, one way or another.

If you feel that you didn't get any type of feeling, thought, or image in response to your question during the meditation, that's not a cause for concern either. Here are two possible reasons:

1.   If you are new to all this, or this is the first time you've tried this exercise, it may take a little time and practice before you feel relaxed and open enough to trust your experience.

2.   Even for the most experienced and highly intuitively developed people, the message we need to hear often does not come at the moment that we ask. There is often a "delayed response." We ask inside for some type of intuitive guidance and we get nothing in the moment. However, a few hours or a few days later, we may get a spontaneous awareness, thought, or feeling, that is really the answer to the question we had asked.

Another very interesting thing is that our intuition may respond to our request internally, in all the ways I have been describing, but we are just as likely to receive a response from what seems like an external source.

For example, you may ask for an intuitive message in your meditation one morning, but not receive any information. That evening as you walk home from work you may have the impulse to go into a bookstore. When you walk into the bookstore you may find that you are drawn to a certain table of books. You pick up one of the books, open it randomly and read a paragraph. Suddenly you realize that you are reading exactly what you need to hear at this moment in your life. In fact, this is the answer to the question you had asked that morning (although very often in these situations we forget that we had asked for exactly this piece of information).

Here's another example of how this can happen. You have a sudden impulse to call a friend you haven't heard from in a long time. In the course of the conversation your friend says something that has an impact, and helps you see a step that you need to take in your life. At some point you realize that you've been asking your inner guidance for clarity of direction and you've just received it.

Of course in these examples, it looks like the wisdom came from outside of you. But where did the impulse come from to walk into that bookstore and pick up that book? What made you call that friend? Something from within you prompted you to take those actions. Intuition is always trying to lead us in the direction we need to go, and it will use any method it can to help us.


Handling Special Problems

If you work with this meditation a while and don't feel that you are getting any stronger sense of connection with your intuition, here are some further suggestions that may help you.

You may be trying too hard to make something happen instead of simply allowing it to happen. You may be making the process into a bigger deal than it really is. Relax and let go. Stop trying to make anything amazing happen. Just listen a little more deeply than usual for your own sense of truth.

Try not to get caught up in needing to have an immediate answer. Life is an ongoing, unfolding process, and you may not be ready yet for a decision or a definite direction. You may be "in process." Inner guidance seldom gives us long-term information; it usually just lets us know what we need in the moment. Sometimes, inner guidance may be saying, "Just wait, don't do anything, allow yourself to be in confusion." When clarity is meant to come, it will.

If you feel really blocked for a long period of time, you probably need to do some emotional healing work. When we are holding our emotions inside us, it can be difficult or even impossible to contact our intuitive feelings. If you feel you may be having difficulties of this kind, find a good therapist or support group and begin the process of learning to experience and express your emotions. Once you've done a certain amount of deep emotional healing, you will automatically be more in touch with your intuition.


Checking In on a Regular Basis

Once you have a little practice in relaxing, going inside, asking for an intuitive message, and paying attention to what comes to you either then or later, you can begin to integrate the process more naturally into your daily life.

In the middle of a busy day you may not have time to sit down and do a deep meditation. However you can learn to "check in" with your intuition on a regular basis throughout the day.

In order to do this, you need to develop the habit of pausing every now and then and taking a moment to notice what is going on inside of you.

Here is a quick, simple exercise that can help you touch in to your intuition even in the midst of a lot of activity. You can do this at your desk, or in a parked car briefly before or after you drive somewhere.

One excellent way to ensure a moment of quiet and privacy is to go into the bathroom to do this exercise. Of course, it's even better if you can take a minute to walk or sit outdoors; however, don't wait for that time if it is not going to happen easily. Just do it whenever and wherever you can.


Quick Intuitive Check In Meditation

Close your eyes and take a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Notice what's on your mind, what you've been thinking about. Notice how your body is feeling right now. How are you feeling emotionally? Do you feel like you are more or less "in the flow," following your own energy, or do you feel stressed, conflicted, out of sorts?

Take another deep breath, exhale slowly and let your awareness move into a deep place inside. Is there anything you need to pay attention to that would help you feel more connected to yourself? Any gut feeling you need to be aware of? Whether or not you get any specific information or awareness, enjoy a moment of rest before you carry on.

It doesn't matter too much what happens for you when you do this exercise. Just the fact that you are taking a moment to be with yourself and tune in on a deeper level will be very healing, and chances are that it will help you get more into the present moment. The more present and connected with ourselves we are, the more likely we are to notice and follow our intuitive feelings, and the more effective we are likely to be in whatever we do.

To assist you in remembering to do this exercise, you can put little reminders where you are likely to see them around your work area and your home. A reminder can take the form of a little note to yourself, a poem, a picture, or an object that symbolizes or conveys to you a feeling of connecting to your intuition. You may want to put your reminders in different places every now and then, so that the reminders remain fresh and new and don't get overlooked and begin to blend into their surroundings.

Remember that our intuitive wisdom is always there inside of us and available. We may not always be able to access it, usually because we are too caught up in our activities, our minds, or our emotions. That's okay; it's just part of the cycles that we go through.

If you do this exercise or anything similar to it often, you will begin to build a relationship with your intuitive self and it will come through to you more and more frequently and clearly.

If we can develop the habit of checking our intuitive messages at least as often as most of us check our telephone messages, we'll be in great shape!

Applying the Intuitive Check In

You can apply the intuitive check in to many situations. Here's an example.

A few days ago one of my clients was driving to work and she got a flat tire. Her first impulse was to call her husband to come rescue her, but something inside her said, "Pause a moment, help is right there." She listened to this feeling, paused for a moment, observed her surroundings and within minutes was approached by a young couple willing and able to help her. Within twenty minutes she was on her way again.

If we can get into the habit of pausing, checking in with our inner guidance, we will often find answers to many of our questions, throughout the day.


From Developing Intuition by Shakti Gawain. Copyright 2000 by Shakti Gawain. Excerpted by arrangement with New World Library. $12.95. Available in local bookstores or call 800-972-6657 ext. 52 or click here.