Ever meet someone and instantly feel at ease despite hardly knowing them? This can be your intuition at work. Also referred to as a gut feeling, an inner voice, or a sixth sense, intuition is a powerful source of inner knowing that we all possess, and can help you navigate change, life decisions, and other people’s intentions.
Or as Kim Chestney, the author of “Radical Intuition” and the founder of IntuitionLab, explains, intuition is “our true north, guiding us to heal, grow, evolve, and transcend our personal conditioning.”
You might be wondering, “How do I know when my intuition is speaking to me?” Contrary to what you may see in the movies or hear about on the internet, it’s not always a big “a-ha” moment of spiritual enlightenment. In fact, everyone experiences intuition differently and it can be accessed through small, everyday decisions. There are four primary pathways that intuition communicates through, Chestney says: The body, the mind, the heart, and the spirit. “Intuition touches us with sensory information, mental guidance, emotive callings and, ultimately, through spiritual connection,” she says.
Strengthening your intuition muscle can help you feel more aligned and start living for yourself. The key, according to Chestney, is to shift from looking outside-in to inside-out. To do so, here are a few habits you can build into your daily routine to get in touch with those messages from your “higher self.”
With the fast pace of everyday life, you might feel pressure to keep up or always be “on.” Reminding yourself to breathe and slow down allows you to be more in touch with your needs and desires. In fact, it’s in these quiet moments that intuition speaks louder.
“That’s the trick: being able to slow down and get into the silence where your intuition can speak to you,” Chestney says. “Whether you are meditating, going for a walk or bike ride, or even taking a shower, these moments when you ‘lose yourself’ are sacred opportunities for your intuition to manifest to you.”
Remember, you don’t always have to be busy or productive to be valuable — it’s okay to do absolutely nothing. Slowing down allows you to be present so you can hear and process your thoughts and emotions, an important step for accessing your intuitive side.
Maybe you’ve heard of the “monkey mind” — a term that refers to restless or unsettling mental chatter. It tends to cast copious amounts of self-doubt which can block your real feelings or true desires from coming forth. Being able to recognize and quiet these thought patterns so you can separate your thoughts and feelings from facts allows your intuition to talk to you.
There are several things you can try to calm your mind, including journaling and taking walks in nature. These practices help you better observe your thoughts and get into the “intuitive white space” that opens you up to higher, more self-aware thinking.
“When we quiet our minds, the intuitive flow grows stronger,” Chestney says. “Start spending more time with yourself. You are never alone in your life; you are always in the presence of your intuitive being, of the higher part of yourself that holds all the answers you seek.”
Intuition is referred to as a “gut feeling” for a reason. The body holds a ton of wisdom that is often subconscious, and can reflect your deeper feelings, wants, and wishes. Case in point: Ever feel a pit in your stomach when approaching something you don’t think is a good idea, even though your mind is telling you everything is fine? It might be time to start listening to those hunches after all.
When exercising your intuition, cue into how your body feels. Is there a heaviness or sinking feeling when you think about something, or is there an energy that makes you feel expansive, warm, and open?
Of course, learning to experience the difference between anxiety and intuition is key, since they can often feel similar. Typically, anxiety has an emotion attached to it, whereas intuition is emotion-free and relies on inner knowing, MindBodyGreen notes. To start accessing intuition through your body, you can try what’s called the sway test to feel into “yes” or “no” questions and decisions. Rooted in applied kinesiology, the test is thought to be a gateway into the subconscious mind as the body responds to “yes” by leaning forward and “no” by leaning backward.
What you choose to engage with or who you choose to listen to can have a big impact on your wellbeing. Ultimately, you know yourself best; outside opinions or viewpoints that distract you from doing you can often be unwanted noise.
This is where it becomes important to establish boundaries with people who offer unsolicited advice on what they think is best for you. Boundaries don’t have to be harsh or rigid, but can simply be establishing what you will and won’t talk about with certain people. By distancing yourself from these unwanted opinions, there’s more room for your intuition to speak up.
It can also be helpful to cut out noise on social media and audit who you’re following to make sure they inspire you, not add to stress or anxiety. It’s easy to look at someone’s life on Instagram and think that if you follow or mimic what they’re doing, you’ll be as happy or successful as they appear to be. Not only does doing so create an impossible standard; it also creates a disconnect from your inner voice because you’re looking outward instead of inward. Do an audit of your social media so you only follow people who uplift you or inspire your growth.
Tapping into your intuition is just like learning any other skill. Think of it as a muscle that you’ve never worked out before — the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
“Practice using it every day,” Chestney advises. “Listen for that ‘knowing feeling’ and follow it, even if you don’t always know the reasons why.”
Start tuning into yourself to make small decisions, such as what to eat for a given meal; what to wear based on your mood, the weather, or an event; and whether you want to go out or have a cozy night in. The more you notice the sensations in your body of what “yes” and “no” feel like, the stronger you will become at using it to inform bigger decisions, like whether to accept a new job or end a relationship.
Get outside of your comfort zone.
Fact: your brain wants to keep you safe by resisting change. However, your intuition pushes you to break out of old habits and patterns.
“Your intuition wants you to expand, grow and evolve into the best version of yourself,” Chestney says. “When you know this and trust it, you begin to live in harmony with the unfolding of your life.”
Leaving your comfort zone is often associated with fear, as unfamiliar things can seem scary. However, you don’t have to go all out with a big decision like quitting your job on a whim, especially if you don’t have a plan B or savings lined up. Instead, you can follow the nudge of your intuition by going to a virtual networking event or reaching out to someone at your dream company on LinkedIn. In each scenario, you are exploring the deeper messages your intuition is giving you by doing things outside of your normal routine. And sometimes, it’s the smallest of actions that lead to the bigger things to unfold as they’re meant to.
“I like to call it creating a lifestyle of ‘insightfulness,’” Chestney says. “First we become mindful — we slow down and move into peace of mind; then, we become insightful, we can live by the brilliance of our inner wisdom that shines through in the empty spaces.”