Someone asked me recently, "What IS intuition?" What I said at the time, while first allowing that we don’t really know what intuition is – we can only speculate, is that it is a kind of inner knowing that by-passes our thinking process. It is a teaching from within. In-tuition.
Later I looked up the word "intuition" in my etymological dictionary – the history of the origin and changing meaning of words. This hefty book is one of my favorite sources of wisdom. To my delight, I found that the meaning of "intuition" lies in the origin of "tuition," which carries the sense of "protection, custody, looking after, taking care of." The word didn’t take on the meaning of teaching or instruction or teaching until the mid-1800’s.
So my answer now to the question, "What is intuition?" would be this: It is our inner knowing about how to honor our own truth and take care of ourselves
I believe that we are embodied intuition.
On the other hand, I notice that people tend to believe that intuition comes from "out there somewhere." We think of it as an external presence speaking to us: God, angels, a channeled source, our "Higher Self," a guide.
I do support the possibility of gaining wisdom and other perspectives from other realms of beingness. But I think that we have an innate wisdom within our own embodied spiritual presence. We are like lighthouses, showing ourselves the way. But we block our knowing with beliefs and critical judgments carried into our lives from the emotional inheritance of our ancestors.
We seem to believe that our intuition will come to us better when we are good enough – that is, clear enough, wise enough, perfect enough, improved enough, obedient enough, punished or self-punished enough, when we have done penance enough, paid our dues enough… But it always seems as if enough is never enough.
I believe that our bodies are innately oriented to moving toward comfort and away from discomfort – unless there is an internal story that tells us that the direction toward comfort might be bad or unsafe or inappropriate for us for some (often unconscious) reason.
Any time you have a choice to make, hold it in your awareness, and notice whether you get a Yes or a No response from your body.
In a recent class on EFT and intuition, I asked everyone to think of a decision they had to make, one that they were feeling conflict over and found themselves over-thinking. The volunteer this time was Martha, who had an interesting dilemma. It wasn’t earth-shaking as decisions go, but the inner conflict pointed to some deep beliefs and an inner story that was hanging up her deliberations.
Martha had been invited by friends to go to hear the Dalai Lama speak. She really wanted to go, and yet she knew that there would be a huge crowd of people there. "I have difficulty with a large crowd," she said. "Should I go and just force myself to deal with crowds? Or not go? Would that be wimping out? Maybe I should just tough it out and soldier on."
I asked Martha to imagine going to the talk. What happened in her body when she thought about it?
"There is an ‘Oh no!’ feeling, a tightening in my chest, a bracing and a
pushing-away feeling in my heels. I couldn’t stand those crowds!" (It turned out that she had chronic pain in her feet – interesting that her symptoms showed up there!) The emotion felt like fear, and the intensity was a 9 out of 10. So the initial fear and body response was an intuitive NO in Martha’s body.
In this particular session I didn’t want to just help Martha eliminate her fear on the spot with EFT. My intention was to help her set herself on a course of paying attention to, noticing, and honoring what was right for her in the moment. In another session it might be appropriate to deal directly with the fear, and its roots. In psychology this fear is called "Social Anxiety Disorder." However, that term in itself is an implied criticism, and feeds directly into our suspicion that "There is something wrong with me." (The odd dichotomy of a healing profession reinforcing a person’s negative belief system—it happens more than we realize—is a subject that I want to explore in this newsletter another time.) Here in this work with Martha, it felt to me that this honoring piece should come first for her.
We think with our bodies
Come home to find out what YOUR body is thinking…
"So, Martha," I said, "your body is saying NO. This is your first intuitive response. As we tap, notice whether that NO becomes clearer as a NO, or if is transforming to something else. We will also want to deal with your second-guessing yourself by saying ‘Maybe I’m wimping out, I should soldier on, I should tough it out.’ Those are the kinds of beliefs that directly interfere with our inner knowing about what is right for us."
Even though I have this strong reaction when I think about going to see the Dalai Lama, because I really don’t like crowds, I accept myself anyway, I accept how I feel, and I appreciate that my body is giving me this information.
Right away Martha could feel resistance in herself to accepting that she felt this way.
Even though I don’t accept this reaction in myself… it sets up a dissonance inside… I don’t really even know what I think, I can’t get any guidance about what I’m supposed to do—I wish the Dalai Lama would just tell me what to do! … I accept myself any way, even if I don’t, and I am curious to find out if I can think more deeply about this…
Tapping the points:
I don’t accept that I am having this reaction
It makes me think I’m wimpy
I’m wimping out
I really ought to soldier on and tough it out
I should be able to do this!
What is wrong with me?
And anyway I want to see the Dalai Lama
I am having this conflict
This conflict inside
I want to go see the Dalai Lama
But I can’t do those crowds
It is blocking my inner knowing
As a test of our work so far, I asked Martha to think of being in the crowd now, and notice what happens inside.
"I don’t feel quite so fearful, but I’m still not too enthusiastic," she said doubtfully.
"Right now we are not trying to get rid of the fear to make it possible for you to go see the Dalai Lama," I offered. "We are just honoring your body’s intuitive responses, sensing into what your inner self really prefers that you do. There are no right answers here, no expectations."
The image came up in Martha’s mind of going hiking instead. I asked her to get a sense of what happens inside when she imagined going hiking. It was an opening, expansive feeling. Interestingly, the fear had gone down to a 4, but the resistance to being in the large crowds was still strong, a 7 or 8.
Even though I still have some fear, and I accept that I have it, even though I might think I am wimpy, I am curious to learn the deeper wisdom of my body for an answer in this situation.
Even though I still have some fear, and a strong sense of resistance, I accept that these are my inner responses, and I am wondering what this means. I am open to my body telling me more.
Even though I have worried that I was wimping out by saying no, and I thought I should say Yes just to soldier on and tough it out, I accept that my body is giving me a message, and I am wanting to deepen into my own truth here. What is right for me?
Tapping the points:
I couldn’t do those crowds
But maybe I should make myself do it anyway
I’d kind of like to go hiking instead—that feels like a yes
Crowds are overwhelming to me
I had been experiencing the fear
This sense of bracing in my feet
This sense of tightening in my abdomen
I’m wondering what to do
What is right for me?
Do I want to go see the Dalai Lama?
Would I rather go hiking?
What do I really want?
What would I get from seeing the Dalai Lama?
What would I get from going hiking?
Interesting that my feet are my resistance meter – and here I am thinking about going hiking – that’s where my feet want to go!
I’m asking for guidance
I am asking for my own deeper wisdom in this situation
I asked Martha, "What is coming into your mind as we tap?"
Martha responds, "There is sadness, that it looks like I don’t want to go to the talk. It would be a unique experience, I would be with my friends, I might never have this experience again, the loss of a unique opportunity, it makes me sad to think I am not going…"
I suggested this: Feel into your sadness, consider it, and ask inside – is there another part of me that would be willing to go and deal with the crowds – is there a way that I could do this and keep myself feeling OK about the crowds?
Martha answers (we are continuously tapping through the points as we are speaking), "Whenever I think about the crowds I get a breathless fear. The answer I get is No."
"Just remember, I am not trying to force you into going," I say.
"We are inviting the deeper awareness in you to come up with a solution that makes you feel OK—good, even—about whatever you decide."
We continue tapping:
Even though I am still feeling breathless and fearful about braving the crowds, and at same time I am feeling sad about not going, I accept that I have all these responses in me, and I want to feel good about the decision that I make….
Even though I have both fear and sadness…and part of me really wants to go see the Dalai Lama… and still part of me really doesn’t want to deal with the crowds, I accept that there is this confusion and conflict inside, and I am seeking a deeper resolution.
We tap through the points, naming these conflicts.
Afterwards, when we again test her response to going to the event and it still comes up not very enthusiastic. I say the following, as Martha taps on the side of her hand: "Now consider this important question:
"How can I make this situation work for me?
"Think about how you might not go see the Dalai Lama. And, on the other hand, there are reasons why you want to go. This is a rare occasion, you would be in the presence of a rare being, the purpose of going is to get a sense of his wisdom and of understanding his presence in the world…. are there other ways to do that besides challenging yourself to do something you feel uncomfortable doing? Is there another way that could be better for you, right now…videos, DVDs, books, speaking afterwards with your friends who are going? Again, I am not trying to influence your thinking, just offering other possibilities."
And then I ask her this: How does it feel to honor your body’s resistance and find other ways of gaining what you want from the event?
Martha says: "My resistance is still strong, but it is not fear now. It feels like deeper wisdom for myself. I feel it is really not the right thing for me to go."
We test her earlier belief: "If I don’t go I will be wimping out." How true does that feel now?
Martha says: "It doesn’t feel true any more at all. I know now that if I did go, I wouldn’t be listening to my inner voice, my own truth for right now."
We do a final round of tapping:
I am choosing to honor myself and find alternative ways to accomplish what I want, while at the same time honoring what I need
It is not the right thing for me to be in this large crowd
I honor my body’s wisdom for making that clear to me
I can take a stand on my own behalf, and find different ways to achieve the same end
I understand I’m not wimping out, in fact I am taking a stand on my own behalf This is a very brave act on the part of my feet! Standing up for myself!
I honor myself for making this choice
I choose to find other ways to honor my intention of encountering what the Dalai Lama offers, ways that are more appropriate for me right now
Some time in the future I may choose to deal with the fear
It is up to me
This is my intuition, and I’m sticking to it!
With my love and blessings –