I’ve been thinking a lot about intuition. That ‘knowing’ that some people ‘seem to have’ better than others. In my line of work – the business of enlightenment – you hear things like ‘my intuitive self’ (when people describe that part of them which knows something greater without fact, as a 3rd party) or ‘I’m very intuitive’ which implies a sort of hierarchy of awareness and enlightenment. The more intuitive one is, the more they ascend the enlightened ladder.
We’ve all got it actually – we’re all intuitive however, some are absolutely more willing to pay attention to it and follow it than others, but it doesn’t mean they have ‘more of it’. It’s just means they use it more. It’s also important to distinguish between intuition and instinct. I like to think that intuition governs our experience of life whereas instinct governs our survival.
I’ve been thinking about intuition like this. You know those blow-up air mattresses? You may have stayed at a friend’s house on one of these, or camped on one. It’s a common occurrence that just as you start to settle in, as you get yourself comfortable and ready for a night slumber, there is this feeling that air is escaping. However, it is so subtle and quiet that you can’t tell. It’s not obvious. If you’re tired, your instinct will dictate you go to sleep and not worry about it (no danger). Your intuition, on the other hand will keep you awake with this knowing that ‘things are going down’ but you’re not sure from where.
Instinct is something we’re born with – it’s the way we know how to survive in the world. Intuition, I believe, is a seed we’re given. We’re born with it but in order to for it to grow we have to tend to it. It’s based in feeling, not seeing. Practices like yoga and meditation and breathing all seek to maintain quietness in one’s life so that one can listen more; which is really what intuition is – the art of acute attention, careful listening.
However, sometimes I feel like we’ve defined intuition as a kind of prophetic skill. As if ‘being very intuitive’ means you’ll always know what happens next. To be sure, intuition is our internal ‘knowing’ of something that has no basis in logic, but the point isn’t to know everything all at once, or prophesize your entire life. Because, quite frankly, what fun would that be? It would be like watching a movie for the first time, knowing everything that is about to happen and only getting to watch it once.
No, I think the point of building intuition is not so you can tell your future but simply to remind you that you are a participant in your life. Intuition moves you in directions that challenge you, it asks you to seek, to create, and to follow your own heart more. To experience your life as something you create, not one that is created for you. So, in fact, you do get to see the future! What fun.
During my recent training, our teacher asked a student to teach a class, spontaneously. She did, it was good but it was based on her ‘seeing’, her logic. He then asked her to close her eyes and teach the class…..without the safety of seeing, measuring and with an initial quiver in her voice she started to teach. As as the class built in momentum, so did her feeling. We were now being led by her intuition – an entirely heart-felt, moving experience than the previous one. Yet, she could not have predicted, or planned for that beforehand.
The word ‘Lila’ in Sanskrit means divine play. Many take this interpretation literally and think it to mean joyful, rambunctious, ‘squeals of delight’ type play (you often hear it in yoga classes – the teacher will throw out this word in an effort to incite some sort of spirited play from their students.) If taken at face value, one would assume that this is correct.
However, as Douglas Brooks often reminds us “Lila doesn’t give comfort, it gives us insight” (and the etymology of insight translates to “sight with the eyes of the mind“). Quite literally, the divine play – the Lila – is the randomness of life. Basically, it’s the divine fucking with us for a little bit of fun. In our perfection based, results driven world, this is a hard pill to swallow. We want life to run on a neat, linear scale. Sometimes I think people feel intuition keeps them protected from this randomness, but I think its purpose is not to protect us from random occurrence, but to keep us playing in our lives.
So, if the universe is going to play with us then we need to develop the tools necessary to stay in the game. Needless to say the universe, more times than not, has a better chance of winning (it’s got hurricane’s and lightning bolts and earthquakes and shit) but, if you want to play just as hard, develop your intuition.
Intuition is based in the experience of your life, not just the answering of it. It is part of the play, it’s your chess move. What is the basis of playtime? Its randomness! You don’t know what’s coming next. When kids simply play there is no plan, no supposed outcome to achieve it’s just – well – it’s just instinct and intuition. I think we have lost this art a little bit. As Douglas reminds us “The goal is uncertainty…..always act as if there is certainty, knowing that there isn’t”
Douglas also says that “What we want isn’t perfection, its success!”, so while your intuition won’t forewarn you that the mattress has a little hole in it, the minute you lay your pretty little head down to sleep, a subtle descent or not you’ll know right away you’re going down. Before you hit the floor!
Take a moment to quiet yourself, take a deep breath and listen. Not with your ears but with all of your senses. Intuition engages your whole self. The path of your intuition leads you back to you, every single time. Let the games begin!
How do you relate to intuition? What other thoughts can you add to this? It’s a rich conversation and these are only my meanderings on it.