Updated: Apr 2
What does intuition really mean?
To me it means our subconscious mind's sensitivity towards individuals, towards our own life, even towards inanimate objects or events that are about to happen or have happened without our knowledge. It is a natural alertness of our subconscious mind that tells us or instructs us about what we should do. To some, it is a guiding light that gives direction to their decision making process. It is something that tells us to choose from the options available. It can be as mundane as choosing an outfit to wear or extreme - a life changing decision. It is a stimulus that often comes to us without warning, without expectation and without rational thought. The stimulus can be in the form of a thought, a dream, an unknown voice or vision. Sometimes it is believed to be a supernatural warning. In whichever form it reaches us, it is always a product of our subconscious mind.
If our subconscious mind is really alert, then it can help us sense the energy surrounding us. Sometimes we feel very happy to receive such energy and sometimes we become apprehensive. I have often read this termed as positive energy or negative energy. But I feel that it is our experience after receiving this energy, which makes it either positive or negative. If we are to receive notification of an event that is about to happen, we call it a premonition. This notification can be received in the form of a thought or a dream or written or verbal communication from someone or just in a symbolic or graphic form. Some people have cited visual experiences that have coincided with some happenings in their family or friends, usually of events that can be called negative. Some have similar positive experiences. Majority of the times we get an indication before an event happens, but fail to recognize it. We often think about the indication on hind sight or think about it retrospectively. Many people claim to receive such intuitive warnings frequently and also lay claims to accurate prediction of future events...something that is termed as clairvoyance. We might have heard the names of the famous seer Nostradamus or the blind Bulgarian clairvoyant woman Baba Vanga in this context. Such experiences are not restricted only to famous people, but ordinary people who have an active subconscious mind can also experience intuitions and clairvoyance. People learn to rely on such intuitions with experience and do not hesitate to take decisions based on them, even though they cannot explain it rationally. There is no scientific method that suggests or corroborates such a fact as intuition. But yet some can sense such energy. Right from deciding what should be done today to what is the best way to get important things done, our intuition takes the driver's seat.
We often intuitively know what is right for us or what is not going to work in our favour and we follow such intuitions without hesitation. But intuition should not be mixed with similar thoughts that come from our conscious mind. “Oh! I do not feel like doing so and so today” or “I get a feeling that something is not going to work in my favour” or say… “I have a gut feeling that I am going to crack the job interview today”. We can call such thoughts to be instincts. When such feelings are based on our analysis of the prevailing situation, then they are a product of our conscious mind. But if we are not actually thinking about any such situation, or if nothing has happened that would stimulate our conscious mind then the thoughts that arise without warning or say appear like a vision can be intuitive. However, we need to carefully judge the origin of such thoughts.
Sometimes these expressions are beyond self… that is, they are regarding someone else. “I have a feeling that my aunt is not going to make it through this year” even though I have no contact with her for the past several months or years or when I am not at all aware of her health situation… or that “I dreamt that my daughter has got admission in a university that is far away from home” when my daughter is just in her middle school… or “I saw a vision that you are promoted in your job” and a get the news in the next month” - I call and say this to a friend whom I am not in touch with. Such feelings could be expressed in context to someone close, not so close, or about someone with whom we are not in touch on a daily basis. Sometimes the gravity of such feelings is so strong that they create discomfort and motivate us to act immediately. For example say someone driving home from office, senses a desperate urge to visit his mother only to find her unconscious upon reaching there. Or someone who keeps thinking of her sister since morning for no reason, only to happily find her standing at her door step in the evening.
Sometimes the feelings are accurate and things do happen in the way that we have foreseen. But not always. We have to pause and understand why we are getting such thoughts. Is it because we know something or whether we fear that some negative incidence might happen? Or whether we have a false positive feeling? We also have to deliberate and check whether the thoughts we get is not because of overthinking about some particular incidence or a person we are concerned about. Overthinking often leads to feelings of insecurity or often gives an experience of a deep seated anxiety of which we are not aware. We are never really mentally prepared for something that is about to happen in our life. Often we might not be able to come up with reasonable explanations for the trend of our thoughts. Often it happens that some past memory deeply embedded in our subconscious mind and some current happening can get fused in our brain and thus create such overpowering feelings that compel us to believe them as a premonitions or intuitions.
Sometimes some intuitions are harmless and yes they are accurate as well. Let me share one personal experience. Once I was in queue at the pharmacy at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and had a wait time of nearly 45 minutes. I was thoughtlessly watching the electronic display board that indicated the progress of my coupon number. While doing so, I had no idea how active my subconscious mind was. And I began to sense the presence of a classmate with whom I had parted ways 30 years back. Nor had I ever thought about her in the past 30 years. We were just classmates, not close friends or anything. She was in my class until the 10th and then there was no contact at all. I, for no rhyme or reason felt her presence. My eyes dropped down from the electronic screen to the hospital side entrance and I could see her walking in through the door, in the next minute that followed my musings. But this incidence did not further influence my life. The intuition and the meeting both ended there. It was kind of harmless, except that it made me aware of the power of my mind. There have been other incidences that have had a more serious significance and have influenced my life in a big way. All those have happened without warning and I have fallen to them and come out with a different view of life. This must be happening with so many of us. So what I experienced must not be out of ordinary. But such experiences do change us, teach us to believe in our visions and also shape our lives. Intuitive experiences can influence people enough to bring them closer to spirituality. The interconnectedness of our lives often becomes the seat for intuition. The vibes we receive and send often draws us to people or takes us away from them, but these are not to be confused with intuition, as they are a product of our conscious mind. All such interactions colour our life, bring out the best in us and also help us create our circle of influence and they are also very important. But it is based on our intuitions that we learn to judge situations, make guesses about what might happen in the future and if we are perfectly in tune with our inner self and vibrate in unity with the surroundings, all our intuitions become a reality.
All animate and inanimate things in our surroundings are in a dialogue with us which we often fail to notice. For example, when we switch on the light in our room, we do so by touching the switch and applying slight pressure. It tells us whether the switch is working perfectly or not. If it is working perfectly, it requires normal pressure. But if it needs attention, then the switch might be too tight or too loose. This is how an inanimate switch indicates its health and lets us know if there is a problem. Similarly a newly developed crack in a rock on the hill nearby can tell us about its health. It is up to us to observe such changes, sense how they will influence or impact our life. But this relates more to our conscious mind. Our intuitive self will tell us that the switch is broken without us touching or tell us about the crack in the rock on the hill, without it being visible.
It is said that a pre-occupied mind does not receive signals or vibes to receive energy or vibrations one has to have an empty mind. Therefore those who meditate frequently and regularly empty their minds of random thoughts are more intuitive. Such ability can be enhanced by deliberation through spiritual advancement. It is said that when our mind is wrapped up in conscious thoughts, it is not open to receiving signals or vibes or energy that can reach our subconscious mind. When our conscious mind is at play, a simple observation of the early morning sky can tell us how the day will turn out to be. It all depends on how keenly we observe and how alert our mind is to ordinary things around us. This is ordinary life devoid of a role of our subconscious or intuitive mind.
We have often heard the term “Will Power”. It is not to be confused with intuition as they are two completely different things. Will power is yet again a product of the conscious mind. In our everyday lives, when we do goal setting and make conscious efforts to achieve those set goals, then we summon and employ all the strength and integrity of the conscious mind to achieve that goal. This is the power of our will that helps us attain the set goals. Subconscious mind has a very little role to play in it.
Often we do things because we have to do them not because we feel the need to do them intuitively. Let me share some examples of intuitions. A person driving on the road suddenly begins to get a strong feeling that he has to get off the road immediately. He pulls off the road and immediately a trailer crashes at the very location where this person was before pulling off. Someone leaves for office in the morning with a nagging feeling that something is not right and that he must return home immediately. Upon coming home the person finds that a fire has just started in his house, which would have been devastating had he not listened to his intuition. A woman dreams of a lovely baby boy only to happily find out about her pregnancy within a few days after this dream, when the doctors had told her of having no chance of being pregnant.
When we receive such intuitions, we act on them and are grateful to receive them. Often people hear a voice commanding them to stop and they believe it to be a supernatural warning. Sometimes such warnings come to us through most unlikely means. We may or may not be prepared to receive such warnings but immediately and accordingly if the feeling is overpowering. Sometimes it happens that we ignore our own intuitions because we are not mentally prepared to act on them. Or just to avoid conflicts or arguments or misunderstandings as well. Do such decisions or ignoring our own intuitions go in our favour? Usually intuitions are reliable… and well, acting as per intuitions or ignoring them is circumstantial and always will be. But it also depends on how sound our judgement is. Sometimes we let go things just to learn from the situation. Sometimes it so happens that our very own family members refuse to rely on our intuition, not because it is something personal, but often because they value and view things differently. Learning to respect their views even though we intuitively feel that it is wrong to do so, goes a long way in building sound relationships. Yes, there is always some loss. But the gain is much more. Not hurting the sentiments of family members, and building trust is utmost important to human well-being. Nothing else matters over this. As against this, following our intuition by ignoring others will lead to satisfaction of our ego, but the losses will be many. Often it is our state of mind that we fail to alter when we do not wish to do something. By saying this, I mean that we have to learn to do things impartially. Unconsciously, our actions are biased and more inclined to go with our intuition or thoughts rather than going against them. It is only by experience that our friends and family learn to trust our intuitions.
We often face a dilemma in life regarding following our intuition or disregarding it for more practical matters. If my intuition tells me not to do certain things, but yet I need to get things done, then it becomes difficult to go either way. If we listen to our intuition, then it brings in a lot of satisfaction and happiness. If we go against it, we get different experiences like resistance, delays, unforeseen obstacles, etc. I often feel that it is the state of our mind that cannot work its way around problems, if we are not mentally ready for it. To conclude, I would say, that we are the best judge to understand our intuitive ability. Why do we get the intuitions? Whether they are genuine or not? And how far should we rely on them? Sometimes there is not time to think whether we will benefit from the intuitions we receive and have to act immediately. We also have to think about whether we will really benefit from them. But if one wishes to develop their ability consciously, then do take the required efforts to reach there. Practicing meditation and emptying our mind regularly of random thoughts is the key to an intuitive mind.
About the Author
Arundhati Vishwasrao has a masters and a Doctoral Degree in Environmental Sciences from University of Pune and have been teaching and training teachers.
She has been a faculty at Dilip Oak's Academy, Trainer at Quality Synergy Management Services, Science aptitude coordinator at Mensa.