"The soul has no secrets that conduct does not reveal."
Carl Jung maintained there are only two types of basic personality: those who react to external situations by giving a measured, thoughtful response, and those who react to internal stimuli and give a knee-jerk response. The differences in personality are determined by the swings and roundabouts of thinking. "In thinking," wrote Plato, "the soul is talking to itself."
As human beings, we are all endowed with an incredible gift of intuition. Whether you call it a hunch or a gut feeling, intuition actually stems from a very old part of the brain and is honed from years of experience. When you have a sudden insight of intuition, you just know something, without being able to pinpoint exactly why you know.
There's the story of four men who wheel a large cabinet onstage followed by Houdini leading an elephant. Houdini ushers the elephant into the cabinet, and closes the door. He waits a moment, then opens the door again — the cabinet is empty. Twenty men wheel the cabinet offstage.
So, where is the elephant? There are no illusions that fool all of us all of the time or even most of it, because if there were, they would be a reality. Maybe some are. Despite major life challenges, people who listen to their intuition can always tune in to an inner wisdom that is easy to access.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking argues that we can make decisions in the blink of an eye. And he says that often we make better decisions with less information. Which in a nutshell means we're all biologically hardwired to be able to access it!
After my father died, I stopped listening to myself and my body. After a lot of mishaps, tears, and conundrums, I consciously made a choice to try doing things differently. Along the way, from London (where I used to live) to New York (where I now live), I've met countless teachers, mentors, and friends who have helped me reconnect with myself and inadvertently sharpen my intuition.
Here are the five strategies that helped me make the greatest and most fulfilling shift back to myself:
1. Pay attention.
If you have a visceral reaction to a situation or a person, don't discount it. You might think that a difficult decision requires hours of reflection to accurately understand, but in reality sometimes all you need is a moment to be able to see the light. Never discount your flash emotions.
2. Listen to your body.
We all know about the "gut feeling" we get, the one in the pit of our stomach that can send chills down the back of the neck, such is the unease it creates all over. It's important to take note of the physical sensations that we experience so that we can learn to recognize what our body is trying to tell us.
3. Connect with nature's power.
Our ancestors recognized the power of the earth and understood that if they worked in harmony with nature, they could tap into its energy. Simply being outdoors can deepen our bond with the cosmos, lift our mood, and take our intention to connect with things outside ourselves and reinforce it.
4. Ask questions.
When you don't understand why you are feeling a certain way, gain clarity by asking questions — the response will often inform you of hidden emotions of your own and of others.
One of the best ways to connect with yourself is through meditation, which rests the conscious mind. Sit for just two minutes. This will seem ridiculously easy, to meditate for just two minutes. That's perfect. Work your way up to more time — your intuition will improve accordingly.