Thursday, November 8, 2012

Intuitions and Assumptions: Finding the Line Between Inner Knowing and Judgment

As many of you know, one of the core ideas that I talk about again and again is your intuition, which I also call your inner knowing. This is that space that we all have inside of us that has our most important answers. It cannot be given to you. It cannot be taken from you. But it can be covered in lots of fears, lies, and karmic crud to the point that you feel like you can't hear it at all. One of the ways this happens is that we simply don't trust or believe in ourselves. And intuition is always an act of faith because there is no rational logic to it. Even when we've gone through an experience and seen intuition work out a certain way, the rationality we might use will say, "Oh because I trusted that intuition, this event happened a certain way," but even that is also ultimately just a mental construct around the unknown.

And intuition always takes us into the unknown.


The Reactive Ego: Covering Up Our Knowing With Assumptions

People are so incredibly reactive, however, that intuition can get confused with assumptions. Assumptions are how we place our judgments around a person or situation to predict what will be done or said. They are not intuitive. They often are grossly wrong. But they can come into our heads so quickly as the seemingly first things that we think of, that they can potentially be misconstrued as some kind of knowing.

Intuition always comes first. In its purest form, intuition is a neutral, calm awareness. There is no fear, anger, or hate in it. But because we've taught ourselves to be so judgmental and to mindlessly react to everything, assumptions may seem to be the first thing to come into our heads. That's why we spend so much time learning about who we are on the spiritual path. We have to figure out what our inner programming is. For instance, if you see a woman in a red coat and instantly don't like her and assume that she's an arrogant stuck-up bitch, you have to pause to look again. You have to look at the assumptions and what they may be hiding. Perhaps you intuitively felt that she has a lot of anger. That anger energy activated you--it made you upset. An internal defense mechanism kicked in to further label her in the "unsafe person" category. Now, you have a story already started, and if you were to interact with this person in any way, it would already be skewed and unconscious often creating a situation where she would act "like a bitch" to you.

And all of this internal story-making would have happened in a split second.


Finding the Space Between Intuition and Judgment

In the scenario that I just outlined, you may have noticed some elements in yourself that do this. In this way, you can already start to work on these aspects of you. If you didn't notice anything, trust me, life will give you plenty more opportunities to see how you judge and assume. Then be more mindful. Inquire within yourself about what these stories are. What are they trying to do? Go into your breathing and slow everything down. If anything, the slower we go, often the easier it is to clearly see situations and other people as well as to see ourselves. Then ask yourself again about the person or situation in question. What do you really feel about them? If you are feeling uncomfortable, find out what that is about.

I know that in some of my sessions, students have noticed that they have a lot of assumptions, judgments, and reactions which come up around love. Love and attraction can make someone really upset because they feel vulnerable, and most people have been taught that vulnerability is not okay. So many people run away from people that they actually were falling in love with because of all this reactivity and judgment. Slowing down helps to see that. It helps you to sit in the space of the unknown and of vulnerability a few more seconds. Those few more seconds start to make all the difference as you learn what is your inner knowing and what is coming in afterwards to pervert it.


Relaxing When Life Gets Tense

To go further, relaxation and being present will be some of the most important practices you can cultivate for your daily life. Life will get tense. Things will get unclear. If you haven't practiced regularly listening to your intuition in less intense moments, it'll be even more difficult to hear yourself in the tense ones when perhaps there are bigger shifts and changes that may result from these moments and the decisions you'll make. And while it is hard to say that any one moment is measurably bigger than any other in life, there are turning points. There are many turning points that people get to when what they want is within a fingernail's length, but they turn away. The situation feels too uncomfortable. The assumption from the ego is that being uncomfortable is bad, unsafe. The person turns away. S/he turns away from:

  • a lover
  • a friend
  • a parent
  • a child
  • a job
  • a new destination
  • a dream endeavor, or something else

The person turns away from this opportunity, and in so doing, they turn away from themselves.


Life Offers Many Chances

Fortunately, life will continue to offer you chances even when you know you've quit on yourself. Life will also offer you plenty of chances to cultivate your inner knowing. Use this moment to do so. Turn inside and see what is going on. Listen to the mental noise, and then ask yourself a question that is important to you, but to which you don't have an answer. See what comes up. What thoughts and feelings come up first? What comes up next? What comes up after that? Write it all down. See if you can figure out where each answer is coming inside you. See what emotions and ideas are attached to them. See if these feelings and sensations have a location in your body or in your energy field. Then ask the question again. See if you get the same answers, and pay even more attention to how each answer feels.

I'm not going to say that it's all going to get clear over night. I've been practicing with my intuition my whole life, and I'm not always clear. But the duration of practice doesn't matter either. Practicing with your intuition is a moment-by-moment practice. The more you do it, the more you are doing it. That's all. So don't think in terms of improving or getting better. Just consider it an everyday practice.


Taking Apart Assumptions

The great thing about assumptions and judgments is that they are based in the mind. You can take these apart. While intuition may make no sense at all to the mind, you can use your mind to take apart assumptions and judgments very effectively. This is one of the great gifts of the mind. You can use it to see how you are acting out your parents assumptions. You can see how you learned to judge others a certain way by the social circles that you've been in. You can see how a lot of these assumptions are completely irrational. Racism is a good one to take apart. It's one of many, many forms of discrimination. The rational mind can pick that apart because there's absolutely no way you can judge one person by any other person much less by a whole race of other people. The reality is that each and everyone is different and unique. So if you ever had fears of others based on the color of their skin, the rational mind can take this assumption apart to show the lies inherent in the idea.


The Continued Practice of Inner Knowing

If there's one thing you can't stop doing, it's practicing. You won't get perfect, but you will stay in tune with yourself. My intuitions always show up when I don't expect them. They can be so randomly timed that I almost always feel vulnerable and kind of unsure about myself. I'm like, "Why am I going left down that road?" Many times, I don't know why I went that way. Nothing significant may happen, so it's an important point to remember that sometimes we won't really know why we said or did or didn't say or didn't do something. Other times, it will be pretty clear where an intuition took us, but as I said, I don't want you to get hung up on rationalizing intuition. It's just something that you learn to trust. It's our inner compass to our soul's path.

With that said, intuition may not take you towards comfort in this life. It will take you towards what feels true to you. If your calling is to fight for women's rights in Pakistan, you are not going to be comfortable a lot of the time. You may find intense resistance from those who want things to stay the way they are. The ego may rush in to say that you should have stayed in your comfy home in London. Why did you ever take on such a thing?

But if you are tuned into your inner knowing, you can hear the difference. You can hear the voices in your head that are seeking bland, lifeless luxury and safety versus the deeper calling in you to live the life aligned with your soul and your heart. Make no mistake about it, living by your intuition is taking you where you want to go, but where many of us have to go is not necessarily an easy life.


Having the Courage and Faith to Keep Stepping Into the Unknown

Again and again, we step into the unknown. As I said, intuition is always an unknown place. You will likely find some comfort in this vulnerable place as you let go of the ego's resistance to the insights that you are receiving. And as I said, no one can give you these insights. No teacher, psychic, or anyone else can tell you what you need to do. Now, some of us have senses of what is in your heart and soul, but only you really know how to live it, be it, and embody it. I encourage you to trust that in yourself and to let go of the search for answers from someone else. Don't give up your power and your right to own your inner knowing to somebody else. No once can tell you what you are here to do or when it will be safe or the right time to do something. This is YOUR life. Live it. Enjoy the mistakes and learn from them. Enjoy the triumphs and then let them go. Because the unknown is all that there is. Life is constantly shape-shifting in ways that we can never logically or rationally know, so trust yourself and your inner knowing. You will find your way and know exactly what you need to know when the time is right and when you are ready to listen.

Today's photo comes from my friend and reader, Becky Stiller. Please feel free to check out her beautiful work on this flickr link.
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