Intuition – The Sixth Sense?
So why am I interested intuition?
Well I have experienced things which apparently go beyond the realm of the physical.
For me these experiences are real and I see them in the context of my connection with my Higher Self, the Divinity within me. But I recognise that these experiences are universal and are shared by people across different cultures and spiritual traditions, being expressed with different language. I became interested in the concept of intuition because it strikes me as being universal and to some extent quite a neutral term that might be used equally by a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, or anyone from any other religious school of thought.
Of course it is also a word commonly used in secular language, having no religious connection, and so might appeal to people who have no religious or spiritual leanings, and who perhaps prefer to talk about the potential of human capabilities without all the trappings of spiritual labels.
So I guess any discussion about intuition should probably start with the question: What is intuition?
Now the answer to this could vary enormously depending on your spiritual and cultural background. When talking of intuition you may think of those sudden moments of understanding, and flashes of insight. You may think of a moment when you decided to do something without knowing exactly why, but you somehow knew it was the right thing at the time. Maybe you can remember when you met someone for the first time and had a persistent feeling that something wasn’t right. Or for some reason, which you couldn’t explain, you just didn’t like that person. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of having a “hunch” about something, or having a “gut feeling” of what to do or say in some situation.
Intuition is also a term used by some people to refer to some “paranormal” phenomena, such as having a premonition, or seeing some event outside of the normal range of the senses. Other people might also use intuition when referring to dreams, visions, meditation, or hypnosis. In such cases there is often a feeling of receiving some knowledge that would otherwise have been unavailable to them. More religious people might also use the term when describing their connection with the deity or deities of their particular religious belief.
So the word intuition could cover a very wide spectrum of phenomena, ranging from common everyday experiences to the more mystical. From the types of examples mentioned above one thing which seems to be a common thread is that it always involves obtaining some previously unknown information by some means other than the usual conscious awareness of the physical senses.
Hmmm… intuition sounds rather mysterious. But is it?
We are all aware of our five physical senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. But not all of us are aware of that which is known popularly as the sixth sense. In my own experience this “sixth sense” is in fact simply the mind. Part of my way of life as a monk involved training and enhancing the senses. I noticed that through years of discipline, hard work, and Divine Grace, the mind can be applied to each of the physical senses to act as a sort of extension which seems to enable them to function beyond the normal physical limits that we are commonly used to. The Hindu mystics often alluded to this extension as “the third eye”. Well although it is referred to as an eye it actually works through all of the five senses.
The environment of the monastery where I was living is highly conducive to the development of this “sense extension”, as I prefer to call it. The monastery is completely surrounded by nature and its elements without the interference of inharmonious vibrations. As a monastic you spend all your waking hours working and interacting with these elements in a very deep and intimate way. As a consequence you become highly sensitive to the vibrations of things around you, the level of vitality of plants, animals, and people, their instinctive impulses, their current emotions, the ulterior motives behind their actions and speech, their dominant personality traits, the hidden potential in their character.
Although I was far from having any sort of mastery of this ability, which truly takes a whole lifetime of dedication and working in partnership with the Divine, I had nevertheless developed a very keen awareness of the senses’ extensions.
I used to practice this a lot on my walks with my dog… whenever I saw an animal from a distance I would hold up my hand, palm towards the animal, and take note of what I felt. Sometimes I could feel some warmth in my hand, sometimes I felt some emotion such as a mild pleasure of eating, or a feeling of curiosity wanting to know what was under the soil as the bird pecked around, or a nervousness (and sometimes panic when my dog decided to chase after it!). Occasionally I would see from afar one of the other monks approaching, and briefly I would get an idea of how he was feeling; stressed, or tired, or happy about something, or upset. This exercise is easier with animals, probably because their emotional states are more simple than the complex psychological dynamics of humans.
For me these experiences were examples of being in tune with my Divinity and being able to use my mind to “extend” my physical senses. I was using the non-conscious part of my senses to bring information into my conscious awareness. It was amazing and fascinating to be able to do this, but it certainly wasn’t anything mysterious.
The power of intuition is focused through the lens of the human brain.
All the time our brain is registering and processing information which is outside of our conscious awareness. This information can be from internal sources, such as memories, and also from the external sources of our physical senses.
Recently I have come across some fascinating research that links this type of intuition to particular areas of the brain, and its associated cognitive processes. In my next post on this topic we will take a little journey through the brain and how it links us with this amazing tool of intuition.
In the meantime I’d love to hear if anyone else has had any experiences of intuition. How does intuition manifest in your life? Are you able to control it? Do you think it is something that can be developed?
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