During these months of enormous uncertainty, many of us seem to have more questions than answers. Most likely this has to do with the fact that we’re receiving mixed messages from both the authorities and the universe-at-large. The pandemic is unprecedented, and we don’t have concrete knowledge, facts, and experiences to pull from. It’s times like this when it can be helpful to turn to our deep sense of knowing, or intuition. The word intuition means to look at or toward, or to contemplate.
By listening to our inner voice, or intuition, means that we stop and listen to the wisdom inside of us. The inner voice is not necessarily a voice we hear, per se, but it’s a hunch or gut feeling that we get about either a person or a situation. When we focus on listening to our inner voice, we become more empathetic and hypersensitive.
It’s important to be in touch with, and to trust, your intuition. It’s about connecting with both your instincts and vibes. In her book The Wise Child, Sonia Choquette, Ph.D., says that to be intuitive requires an acute presence of mind. She claims that children are born with this instinct. The fact is that most kids are aware of many things that are happening in the world around them. Studies have shown that babies are born intuitive, and this continues into childhood, but somewhere along the way, the knack for inner knowing dissipates. Unfortunately, because many children are not encouraged to turn to their intuition, over time many lose this innate sense.
I’d like to share a personal experience about my daughter when she was just two years old. At the time, we lived in a rural area north of Montreal, Canada. It was a cold winter morning, and we’d awoken to six feet of snow that had fallen the night before. We had a glass-enclosed playroom off the kitchen. On this particular day, my daughter was sitting at my feet in the kitchen, and I suggested she go to the playroom while I prepared breakfast.
“No,” she said adamantly.
“Rachel,” I said, “please go play while I prepare breakfast.” But she wouldn’t budge.
She was a very strong-minded girl and looking back, I suspect that it might have been her deep inner knowing that made her so obstinate in that moment. About five minutes later, we heard a big bang coming from the playroom. Icicles that had been suspended on the roof crashed through the glass and shattered it to hundreds of pieces. The truly frightening part was that when I peeked into the glass-enclosed playroom, there was a dagger-shaped piece of glass sticking vertically out of Rachel’s wooden high chair. Had I insisted that she go to the playroom, chances are she would be dead. It was from that moment on that, when possible, I made a point of listening to my daughter’s inner knowing.
As adults, we’ve all had an intuition about something that flashed through our minds, which we either chose to ignore or not trust. What I’m suggesting here is that we all try to return to that childhood wonder and a deep sense of knowing, as it can serve us well, especially during these uncertain times. The good news is that with practice, it’s possible to reconnect with the deep inner knowing we had in childhood by reverting to the feelings of the heart rather than the intellectual or analytic mind.
In her book Inner Knowing, Helen Palmer says, “When the knower and the known unite, the student becomes at one with the scene she imagines. Far from being unusual, non-dual states of mind occur in small ways throughout the day, but we do not often recognize them” (p. xix).
My own father, who was a Holocaust survivor, taught me from an early age to trust my instincts. He told me that the body doesn’t lie; and that in life, I would be empowered if I listened to the messages my body was giving me, especially my heart. He told me that if I listened to my inner knowing, I would not only feel empowered but would feel peaceful and at ease. He said that no matter what I faced in life—whether it was love or strife—I should turn inward and listen to the messages of my heart instead of being swayed by my mind or other people’s suggestions. In this way, I would have control over my life and destiny.
Tapping into your inner voice or deeper knowing is not about cutting yourself off from the outside world. It’s about being mindful and conscious about what’s going on and then bringing that information inward to see which messages the heart hears. To tune into your inner voice, you need to be completely aware. Deep inner knowing or intuition arises from a keen sense of being in the here and now.
Those people who always seem to be in the right place at the right time or say the right thing are not necessarily lucky, but more likely, they have an intuitive sense of what to choose and how to act. It’s about being completely conscious and present.
It takes practice to tap into your inner voice. Here are some tips for doing so:
Engage in a regular meditation practice. This sharpens your awareness because it clears away the mental chatter. There are many kinds of meditation, so choose the type that works best for you. To deepen your practice, meditation practitioners recommend focusing on the breath. As a way to calm yourself, breathe in “I am,” and breathe out “at peace.” Others might use the mantra “So hum,” by breathing in “So” and out “hum.” Some people prefer a guided meditation practice, while others like listening to classical music. If your attention wanders, bring it back by using your breath. Sometimes putting your hand on your heart or solar plexus area can help you focus
Be interested. If you’re engaged in the world around you, then you get a better sense of it, and thus, inner knowing will come about more naturally.
Be present. This refers to being mindful and aware of what is going on around you. It’s also about slowing down and expressing gratitude for life’s special moments.
Choose your friends carefully. Surround yourself with those who make you feel good about yourself and your life. They should support you emotionally and spiritually. Check in with your body when you’re around certain people. Who brings out the best and worst in you? What is their energy field like?
Practice good listening. This has to do with focusing and listening without resistance. If you have resistance, then you might be missing certain facts or innuendos. Good listening entails making space in your mind to gather and hold information that you might need to process to further tap into your intuition.
Go with the flow. This involves being in control of your actions and environment. It’s about listening to your gut and determining what feels right to you on your path. It’s not about stopping and analyzing or evaluating. It’s about doing what feels right. When practiced, it becomes automatic, without thoughts of goals or rewards. It’s about enjoying the journey without focusing on the destination.
Stay in touch with the felt sense. Eugene Gendlin and his team view bodily awareness as something experienced in the middle of the body, such as the stomach, chest, throat, and solar plexus area. These feelings are sometimes hard to describe and sometimes vague, but they help us get in touch with our deep inner knowing. Focusing can be done with the eyes closed to minimize distractions. It can happen at any time during the day and is a way of checking in with yourself.
Maintain a regular journaling practice. Engaging in automatic or stream-of-consciousness writing is one way to tap into your intuition by tapping into your subconscious mind. Another exercise is to crack open your journal, and for ten minutes, write down everything that you’re conscious of in that moment. Go back and add what you might have left out. When you’re more conscious, you’re more in touch with your inner knowing.
Practicing the art of inner knowing is about connecting to the nonintellectual and nonanalytic sense that will empower you in all aspects of your life. Trust the process. Suspend your disbelief and focus on your inner compass. You will reap the benefits.
Coquette, S. (1999). The Wise Child. New York, NY: Three River Press.
Gendlin, E. (1982). Focusing. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
Palmer, H. (1998). Inner Knowing. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Previously Published on Psychology Today