Intuition, sixth-sense, instinct, hunch, gut-feeling – there are many words used to describe the phenomenon of the mind and body that has the ability to acquire information from ‘out there’ in the ether, from the source of infinite intelligence.
Intuition is when we experience an innate knowing or awareness of something without logical reasoning or proof. It’s our unconscious radar at work protecting us from danger and it’s our internal guidance system being used for making big decisions, such as whether to change careers, buy a house or get married – decisions that the rational mind could lead us down the wrong path if we get caught up in reason alone.
I bought my first home based on a feeling. I had narrowed my search down to a couple of different neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Being a first-time buyer in a hot market could have been quite intimidating, however I had a savvy realtor and my intuition on my side. I knew right away when a place didn’t feel right as soon as I walked in as I felt heaviness in my chest and belly.
When we viewed the place I now call home, I instantly felt curious when I walked in and started asking lots of questions. Then it was time to check in with my body to see if this was the right place for me. My realtor sat aside and watched, possibly wondering if I was crazy! I stood facing north in the living room with my feet planted firmly on the ground and silently made a statement to myself ‘this is my home.’ My body felt light and leaned forward – my signal for ‘yes.’ I’ve discovered having a feeling of heaviness and leaning back is my signal for ‘no.’ As this was a big decision for me, my rational mind wanted to test my intuition further so I repeated this in the bedroom and got the same ‘yes’ reply. One week later the deal was closed and about a month later I moved in.
It’s common that intuition is not very well-developed in everyone. Think of your yoga and meditation practice as your internal education, compared to your external education where you go to school, get a diploma or degree then go off to work. We spend years in school and at work and not a whole lot of time learning about our inner selves.
We can go deeper into the subconscious mind with meditation to experience stillness, to tap into our intuition and to transcend the ego. It’s in these moments of stillness that you receive insights, messages and clarity from your inner teacher.
A meditation technique that I use to develop my intuition is trataka (candle gazing); using a candle and eye exercises. This practice is beneficial for strengthening your eyes, quieting the mind and stimulating ajna chakra (your third eye or intuitive centre).
- Set up your space by lighting a candle that will sit just below or near eye level and approximately 1-2 feet in front of you when you are in a seated meditation pose.
- Perform eye exercises: close your eyes really tight for a few seconds then open wide (repeat 5-10 times), then roll your eyes clockwise then counter clockwise approximately 6-7 times in each direction. You may roll the eyes or look up/down/left/right and repeat 6-7 times.
- Fix your gaze upon the flame and try not to blink. This may feel strange at first and you will feel the urge to blink. Try to resist blinking as long as there is no major discomfort or pain in the eyes. If you blink, then fix your gaze on the candle again. This will get easier over time and with practice.
- After a few repetitions of fixing your gaze, you will notice you are able to focus a bit longer and your eyes may water – this is normal. Continue for as long as is comfortable. If you are a beginner this might be 2-3 minutes or up to 20 or 30 minutes for more advanced practitioners. Go with what feels right.
- When you feel you have had enough then blow the candle out and close your eyes and allow yourself to go deeper into meditation. Be an observer of your thoughts and notice what arises.
Repeating this practice builds and strengthens your intuitive awareness. You may notice you are being guided towards certain decisions or receiving answers to questions that previously had you thinking too much. I recommend writing down your observations in a journal to see what shows up as a result of this practice over time.