July 29, 2020
I participated in a women’s leadership program several years ago that focused on all senses of the word, “power.” Intuition, however, wasn’t one of the topics listed on the agenda, despite it being a major component of our leadership work together. On Friday night, the twenty-six of us were given an assignment: we were to transform a nursing home facility to have a significant, positive impact for its residents and staff—the next day! We were told to bring everything we needed with us. We couldn’t spend any of our own money, but we could get people to donate money, items, or their talents. In addition, we could each bring one partner to double the number of our teammates. We didn’t know how important that would be.
Intuition is recognizing a need and filling it easily without effort or stress, offering your unique contribution with nothing more for you to do. It’s knowing the answer so deeply you do not need data to validate your actions. You don’t have to know how you know; you just know. And we all have this although we aren’t always able to access it.
We brainstormed and planned for a few hours; people came up with all kinds of things, from doing the residents’ hair to giving manicures, to cleaning hallways and walls and bringing in scented candles to improve the institutional smells. Some brought music; some brought games and crafts to do with the residents; someone even received a large food donation. The plan included personal care, creating ambiance, cooking, cleaning and other activities.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Except, on the day this exercise took place, we were not allowed to speak. We had our plan from the night before and had to trust it. Our guests could speak, though none of them were in on the plans. When we invited our one guest, we couldn’t explain exactly what that person was going to be doing: only when and where to meet you.
Surprisingly, this was the most flawlessly executed event I’d ever participated in: no one overthought or overstressed. Such a graceful experience unfolding moved me to tears several times that day. It was beautiful. The experience demonstrated the importance of listening to our intuition.
If you’re not in the habit of trusting your intuition or aren’t sure you can rely on it, you can connect with your intuitive abilities by learning to listen to your inner voice. The key to reconnection is creating the quiet space in which it can happen, disconnecting and unplugging technology and allowing intuition to happen in that space.
I believe we create our own stress. When we’re in touch with our intuition, we’re more effective—and less stressed. For instance, traffic is not inherently stressful: you bring the interpretation of stress to it. Some people react to it with gratitude: “Awesome, more time to listen to my audio book,” or “I’m enjoying the person in the car with me and now we have more time together.” Some people see it as a business opportunity: “Great, I was able to make seven phone calls.” Others scream at cars and drive erratically. (For the record, I have done all of the above).
What’s behind the difference in these attitudes? When we’re at the intersection of peace and grace, we’re centered enough to ask, “What’s the good news about this?” or “How do I make this work for me?” When we’re tuned in to it, there’s a dramatic reduction in stress because we’re aligned with energy well beyond our intellect. The logical mind is a wonderful tool, but it has its limits. When we’re truly aligned—mind, body, spirit, intellect—we’re open and receptive to bigger things. It’s when we suddenly see a way to streamline a bottlenecked process or come up with a brilliant new business offering. That’s when we take a risk, take the plunge, dare to do something we never thought we would or could do. This is when innovation happens.
I will warn you; our brains will try to stop us. The brain’s most important job is to protect the body, to minimize risk, and to maintain life as it is. When we find ourselves in a corner, we’re going to instinctively rely on logic or past experience. Often, logic fails us, and what worked in the past doesn’t always work in a new, similar situation. Letting go of the past and being open to questioning what’s possible unlocks the door to your inner wisdom.
Grace is there to be found. We can quiet our mental chatter and plug into it, through practices such as meditation, journaling and being in nature. Intuition is heard when we crack the door open to let what’s gnawing at us into our conscious awareness. Some are more skilled than others at letting it in. The rest of us can quiet ourselves for temporary periods and access it. The more we practice quieting our minds, the more freely our intuition will flow.
There needs to be a healthy balance between the spiritual, intuitive self and the logical mind. They don’t negate each other; they enhance and support each other. Using practices to open the mind to the subtle, quiet voice accelerates us to the next great breakthrough, whether that’s seeing a new path, or recognizing the love of your life when that person shows up. It may be subtle right now, but intuition is your superpower.
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