You don't just decide to have great big bulging pecs or six-pack abs. You go to CrossFit every morning at 6 a.m. for nine months. Strengthening intuition is, basically, the same. It's a "muscle" you build, a skill you cultivate. And for most folks, right now that muscle is pretty flaccid. A lifetime of "that can't be true" and "I have no proof" leave intuition fairly shy. The good news? We can rebuild it. Every scientific researcher, swami, and psychic gives this same piece of advice: The way to develop intuition is to ask for and then follow it.
The first step is to refriend your inner guru. Like dusting off a found Stradivarius. Like tuning a forgotten baby grand. What follows are five ways to prime the pump. Basic Training for Operation Intuition. You can try all five or focus on the one or two that most interest you. Simply putting some intention toward rebuilding intuition will get the party started.
1. Let's Get Physical
Pay more attention to the sensations of your body. Notice the feeling in your butt as you sit. Feel your pants resting on your legs. Can you feel where your hair meets the scalp? What is your left pinkie touching right now -- don't look! Next time you shake hands, really take in the person's shake. Is their hand warm or cold? How firm is the grip? You may want to close your eyes and inhale deeply. They will certainly think you're on ecstasy, but rebuilding intuition is worth it.
Check in with your physical sensations as often as you can remember. While you talk on the phone, water the plants, or ride the elevator. Perhaps every time you sit down or stand up.
2. Change Your Routine
"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." -- Albert Einstein
Switch things up a bit. Take a different route to work, wear different colors than usual, park in a different spot at the mall, heck, get crazy and try some raisins in your morning oatmeal. Maybe crack a book tonight instead of catching up on episodes of Modern Family. Or risk the dark and take a walk or go out for ice cream. Just do things a little differently than usual. Be unpredictable. Order the fish instead of the chicken. Say yes to dessert. Call your mom. Or don't just for today. Change your routine in some way. Get a little crazy with this one. Maybe skip undies just for today?
Switching up your routine helps get you out of a rut and opens you to new ideas. It will open you to all kinds of possibilities and to the possibility of intuition.
3. Make Some Space
Donate your Harry Potter books to a school in Haiti. Bring your vinyl records to a senior center. Find three pairs of shoes you haven't worn in half a year and give them to Goodwill. Clean out your closet and drop the excess into one of those donation bins in the hardware store parking lot. Not only are you making someone's day and scoring karma points, but making space and tidying up your environment makes room for new possibilities. It's just like switching up your schedule. Otherwise, you're too mired in routine and habit and clutter to even hear it when your intuition whispers, "Hey dude, are you really gonna eat that second chili dog?"
4. Be Grateful for Intuition
This exercise is the simplest and perhaps the most profound on our list. As a mantra, throughout the day, repeat, "I am grateful for my intuition." This is like apologizing to a friend you've ignored for two years. Repeat it a lot. I'm talking, like, 50 times a day. This is remarkably effective. Intuitions will start popping up like the bubbles in your kombucha.
5. Shed Your Shoulds
"Stop shoulding on yourself." -- Psychologist Albert Ellis
Psychologists are pretty sure that a list of shoulds doesn't really get anything accomplished. "I should be as smart as Freda or as funny as Elliot," doesn't bring us any closer to happiness, freedom, personal truths, or inner wisdom. In fact, the opposite. And worse of all, in trying to be someone else, we miss who we really are. So no more shoulding all over yourself. What are your particular gifts, talents, and strengths? Practice radical self-acceptance. Acknowledge not who Freda or Elliot is, but who you truly are. It's hard as heck and it takes practice so be patient and be gentle. No one expects you to lift your body weight the first day at the gym, but you still work out. Same here.
Here's the practice. Every time you judge yourself against someone else, say to yourself, "I am mindful that I am judging myself against Brian. He's so funny and insightful and so darned handsome. I'm wishing I were more like him." And then state three awesome qualities that you have. What makes you you? You may want to prep these in advance or you can name three new ones every time. Believe it or not, after a few repetitions at this, you'll integrate it and actually start to believe it.
"Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change." -- Wayne Dyer
Which of these five intuition boosters jumped out at you the most? Don't think about it too much. You probably already know. Let this decision be more gut than brain. Which exercise(s) on the list had the most electricity for you? Was one in color with the others in black and white? Which one would everyone obviously choose? That's the most important one for you.