When to Trust the Still, Small Voice of Intuition

by Janet Arnold-Grych

There are times when we simply “know,” when our insights feel bigger than us and point us in a particular direction. We might label it intuition or a direct line to the higher self. Keyed in to this frequency, we boldly embark on the new career, launch into the relationship, or paint the unborn baby’s room pink. So how is it then that the career doesn’t pan out, the relationship turns out all wrong, and our baby boy is left wearing a drawer full of “It’s a Girl!” onesies? If that knowing emerged from our higher self, shouldn’t our actions garner a higher success rate?

In truth, there are times we build the story we want built. We link unwarranted optimism (or sometimes pessimism) to half-truths and wrap neutral events in meaning. Standing back, the cracks in our creation are visible. But then there are those times we are absolutely sure that we’re not fabricating that whisper. How do we recognize the voice of intuition? Author Christina Baldwin, in her book, Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice, writes that true intuition does have a different timbre. The trick is discerning it from that of our calculating mind.

For Christina, intuition is a form of spiritual communication and as such, benevolent. While the mind may lead with bold or even belittling decrees, intuition is quiet and calm, supportive and instructional. It is not a reflection of the ego and thus does not deliver grandiose or judgmental statements. Aruni Nan Futuronsky, Healthy Living faculty member at Kripalu, agrees. “There is an energetic difference between actions based in intuition and actions based in the mind,” says Aruni. “When the mind is running the show, more struggle and more frustration emerge. With intuition, the energetic flow is different, easier, smoother.”

Christina writes that true intuition has the feeling of coming through you rather than being generated by you. The mind is wired to build its own case and forge ahead. The key to identifying the voice of intuition is to move below the surface. “Dig the well by finding a quiet place to practice opening space for that voice,” says Aruni. “Carve out regular time to be with yourself in this quiet place of flow. It’s like lifting a weight at the gym. It becomes easier the more you keep at it.”

This doesn’t mean you need to hide away in a cave. Because it’s about connecting to flow, to a higher wisdom, Aruni suggests thinking back to what you loved to do as a kid. What activity seemed to erase time and bring you joy? Perhaps it was painting, assembling model cars, or playing with your dog. Reclaiming that childhood activity or something like it can serve to turn down the volume on your mind’s chatter and strengthen the connection to intuition that is, as Aruni says, “so much deeper and bigger than the conscious mind.” It’s not about completely shutting out the mind, she says (which is impossible anyway), but rather allowing it to integrate into a greater whole.

Just as the Yoga Sutras tell us that yoga is skillfulness in action, so too must we practice to adroitly identify intuition. Aruni notes, “Intuition is that place that is always available, in every breath and every heartbeat. It is our birthright, our connection to original blessing. As we practice connecting to that place of knowing, we become more familiar with its energetic quality.” Allowing the mind to settle and intuition to be felt and heard doesn’t guarantee the outcome of our actions. But turning up the volume on that still, small voice does offer us a richer toolkit in making decisions. And that makes trusting ourselves a much surer bet.

Janet Arnold-Grych is a yoga teacher and writer whose work has been published in Elephant Journal, Huffington Post, Third Coast Digest, and other outlets. She’s also a marketing manager for a Fortune 200 company.

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