Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tuning in to Intuition...a practical approach

Something a bit different today. Rather than do a regular blog post, I decided to put information from a talk I give based on my memoir, Following the Whispers. I know it's a bit long for a blog, so for those of you who don't have time, I'm sorry. For those that do, I hope you find something useful here today.

Have you ever heard messages inside yourself that sounded like:





If you have heard these kinds of words inside your head, or phrases just like it, or images or feelings, guiding you to either do or not do something, then you are one step ahead of most people. We all get guidance, but oftentimes, we don’t recognize it, and if we do, we don’t listen.

In these tough times, it’s crucial to be aware of signs and signals that something is wrong or there may be an opportunity over there we need to focus on.

To help understand intuition and how it works, we’re going to explore:

• Different ways intuition, spirit and inner wisdom try to communicate with us

• Reasons why we may have shut down, blocking our ability to hear

• Ways to once again open ourselves to these messages

First let’s look at different ways we might be receiving messages:

o Physical – Body reactions such as tic, twitch, chills, goose bumps, stomach clutch, tears, tingly ears, clench jaw, dry mouth, throat hoarseness, tightness in chest, diarrhea, constipation, numbness. It can be difficult to distinguish between legitimate ailments and messages from Spirit. For example, I have a hoarse throat problem. It’s not there all the time, but it is crucial because I sing. I went to an ENT who said my vocal chords are red and he thinks it’s from my acid reflux. I was told to take more prilosec and cut out chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods and tomato products. When I do those things, the hoarseness is better, but not totally. My hunch is that it’s an emotional issue for me, having to do with being the center of attention.

o Emotional – There are four main emotions: mad, sad, glad, and scared. Again, there could be real reasons you are feeling emotional. You need to check in with yourself. If someone has died, someone has said or done something to hurt you, etc. it’s simply a valid emotional reaction. But if you feel sad in the midst of a comedy routine, or start laughing at a funeral, you might want to see if something else is going on. Or if you go numb and don’t feel anything, you might want to pay attention to who you are with and what was said. I tend to go numb when someone is hurtful or insults me or disrespects me in some way and don’t realize till later I’ve been slammed.

o Spiritual –When we open our hearts and minds to Spirit, messages come in many ways. Be aware and alert. You may have an impulse to do or not do something. You might receive messages from nature, meditation, prayer, talking with friend, church or synagogue, reading inspirational writing, or writing in journal. Consider keeping a small notepad with you to jot down thoughts when in this state.

o Martha Beck, in “Finding Your Own North Star,” describes it this way. You have two selves: a social self and an essential self. In most people, the social self dominates. When we stop listening to the essential self, it resorts to extreme measures in order to communicate. And the social self will do everything it can to prevent us from hearing. Some ways the essential self will get our attention:

 Freudian slips – pay attention if your own words surprise you

 You feel drained and exhausted on your way to job, class, medical appt, social functions. If you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep. If you’ve eaten recently. If you’re hydrated, pay attention to the drained, tired feeling.

 Frequent illnesses

 Forgetting – it will conveniently forget things that help you go in a direction it doesn’t like. Beck gives an example of someone who fell apart when he was assigned to a large corporate client. Every time he set out to meet with this client, he’d forget airplane tickets, passport, briefcase, the presentations he’d spent hours preparing. He finally resigned from the case, something he’d never done in 20 years. A few months later, that corporation became the target of an FBI investigation. A “sabotage” by the essential self turned into a smart move.

 Your essential self will fight you by committing stupid blunders whenever you violate your own values.

 Social suicide – When you are in circumstances that poison your core, all the subtle mechanisms that make for smooth social behavior get gummed up

 Addiction – Your essential self feels a constant sense of yearning emptiness if you’re headed away from your North Star. Things that dull this feeling (food, sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping) are the addictions your human self will adopt.

 Mood control – If you suddenly break down in tears for no apparent reason, or laugh during a serious meeting, rage at a traffic jam, your social self and essential self are disconnected. Pay special attention. Your essential self is trying to tell you where to find your North Star.

Now, let’s look at reasons in your life you may have shut down:

o Childhood sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. Jane Middleton-Moz explains in her book, “Shame and Guilt” that debilitating shame and guilt are at the root of all dysfunctions in families. Adult children of depressed parents, abuse, religious fanaticism, war, cultural oppression and parental and sibling death (to name a few), have one thing in common, according to Middleton-Moz…they grew up in shaming environments where the grief of the past was not resolved in the past and parents in delayed grief could not healthily bond to children.

o Abusive relationships – If you are in a relationship in which you are shamed, put down, disrespected, controlled, physically assaulted, psychologically assaulted, or emotionally battered, you are in an abusive relationship. And if you are, there is no way you can be comfortable being yourself, open to life and its wisdom. Instead, you are encased in a protective covering that shuts out everything. But it really doesn’t. Each barbed comment, each ridicule, each humiliation, each slap or punch, each jab at your psyche and your soul, eats away a bit more of your life energy until you feel depleted and defeated, in despair and perhaps depressed.

o Poor self-esteem – One must have a sense of self in order to have self-esteem. Jesus said to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Ingrained in that statement is that you must love yourself in order to love.

o We live life in fear, not love – Pema Chodron, author of “Start Where You Are,” says, “”We already have everything we need…All these trips we lay on ourselves, the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, jealousy, addictions, never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.” And intuition cannot speak to us unless we are fully awake.

o Debbie Ford, in “Dark Side of the Light Chasers” says, “Dark doesn’t mean only negative, it refers to something that is out of the light of our consciousness. We resist looking long and hard for fear of discovering someone we can’t live with. We fear ourselves. We fear every thought and feeling we have ever repressed. Many are so disconnected from this fear we can only see it by reflection, by projecting it onto the world, our families and friends and strangers. Our fear is so deep, the only way we can deal with it is either hide it or deny it. We learn to suppress disturbing internal messages.”

o Marianne Williamson, in A Return to Love, says, “It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I found this to be so true for me. I was afraid of my own Light for so long. Others didn’t always react well when I was happy and powerful. A therapist once gave me this analogy: Imagine a bucket full of crabs. One crab begins to climb up out of the bucket, but the other crabs keep trying to pull it back down. This is an apt description of a dysfunctional family/relationship/world.

Finally, let’s look at ways to once again open ourselves up to intuition:

Caroline Myss, in “Anatomy of the Spirit,” says that intuitive or symbolic sight is not a gift but a skill based on self-esteem. Everything that is alive pulsates with energy and all of that energy contains information. The energy field surrounding your body is both an information center and a highly sensitive perceptual system. Here’s an example of how it works. If you had trouble with math in elementary school, knowing that 12 makes a dozen would not ordinarily carry an emotional charge that could alter the health of cell tissues. But if you were humiliated by the teacher because you didn’t know that fact, the experience would carry an emotional charge that would create cellular damage, especially if you dwelled on that memory thru adulthood or used it for determining how to deal with criticism, or authority figures, or failure or education. Positive images and the energy of positive experiences are also held in the energy field. Emotions are stored in the body.

Have a reflective state of mind. Be objective. Don’t judge the messages. A clear impression has no emotional energy connected to it. Learning the symbolic language of energy means learning to evaluate the dynamics of power in yourself and others. Energy information is always truthful. Someone may agree to something in public, his energy will state how he really feels and his real feelings will find their way into some symbolic statement. Our biological and spiritual systems always seek to express truth, and they will always find a way to do so. Become conscious of what gives you power. And what drains your power.

According to Myss, intuition is neither the ability to engage prophesy nor a means of avoiding financial loss or painful relationships. It is actually the ability to use energy data to make decisions in the immediate moment. Energy data are the emotional, psychological, and spiritual components of a given situation.

The information makes its presence known by making us feel uncomfortable, depressed and anxious, or drifty and detached as if we are cut off from all our own feelings. In dreams we may receive symbols of change or chaos.

Here are some ways to connect with inner wisdom

o Don’t compare yourself to others. Look inside not outside. One of my favorite slogans is: comparison is an act of vengeance against yourself

o Step into nature/silence

o Don’t confuse emotion with true intuition. Fear-based emotions versus intuition, which feels clear.

Intuition is a gift. And a skill we need to hone. Sometimes the message is crystal clear. Other times you’ll get an image or a thought or a feeling and won’t have a clue what it means or what you’re supposed to do about it. It’s an art, not a science. I am certainly not an expert. I’m still learning. Even the experts I quoted today are not infallible. Someone once said we are spiritual beings having a human experience. That’s key. We’re human. And as such, we’ll make mistakes. Lots of them. But learning how our intuition speaks to us will hopefully help us avoid some, handle some better, and make better choices and decisions as we move through Earth school.

Here are my 10 practical ways to tune in to intuition:

1. Be fully present in your body whenever possible. Make sure your five senses are functioning. That you are aware of yourself and your environment.

2. Pay attention to physical and emotional reactions to people, places and things.

3. Watch for inappropriate responses to people, places or things.

4. Listen to voices, feelings, nudges you get from inside yourself. Stay with them, even if they don’t make sense right away. Spirit seems to operate in its own time, not ours.

5. If something doesn’t feel right, stop, look and listen.

6. If you feel confused, talk to trusted friends and family members. Listen to other perspectives, then go deep within to find your perspective, once the issues are clarified.

7. Be aware that there are consequences, usually negative ones, if we don’t listen to our intuition. Be willing to accept those consequences.

8. Awareness. Acceptance. Action. First, become aware. Once you are fully cognizant of a situation, accept it. I love the serenity prayer for this: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Only then can we determine right action.

9. Intuition is a skill we can learn to deepen and cultivate.

10. Trust yourself.


Rayna M. Iyer said...

Karen, reading your post made me realise how lucky I am. If there is one thing in the world I can trust implicitly, it is my intuition. In all these years, my intuition has never let me down (there are times when I have chosen to ignore it, but there the fault is mine). Only now do I realise what a wonderful gift it is to be able to trust your intuition as much as I do.
But then I have had a great childhood, and that perhaps put me in touch with myself.

Tabitha Bird said...

this is wonderful Karen. I am in a place of finally trusting myself a whole lot more. Thank you for sharing :)

Jules said...

I have to come back and read this again. I know how to hear my intuition it is the trusting part I have problems with. :(

I'll be back.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Karen Walker said...

Rayna, you are very fortunate to have had a childhood that gave you a solid foundation which enabled you to trust yourself.
Tab, that's wonderful. Trust, especially trusting ourselves, is crucial.
Jules, see ya later!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sound advice, Karen.

arlee bird said...

You and I were on a similar thought wave today, except your post was much more in depth and more analytical. Our posts could have been combined.

You make some very excellent points here. I think it is important for a person to have a combined awareness of mental and emotional state, physical well being, and one's surroundings to capture the accurate intuitiveness that is available to all of us. If we leave out one we do not have the complete picture of what's happening in our lives and judgement can be faulty.

Excellent post, Karen!

Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

Living in love, not fear, and self esteem stood out to me. These are waht we are instilling in our children. Their identity is in Christ, not what these dimwit entertainers try to shove down the public's throat.

Stephen Tremp

Anonymous said...

I've read a Beck and Ford's books many years ago, and do need to return to them. I did find more than something useful here-I found the tools I need to pick up again, to me. Thanks.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Wow, that's in depth, Karen!

Karen Walker said...

Yes, Lee, I noticed we were quite in tune today.
Stephen, great traits to instill in your kids while they are young.
Lynn, so glad you found some help over here.
Diane, yeah, depth - I was afraid it was way too long for a blog post.

Ann Best said...

Your ten practical ways to tune in to intuition are an excellent summary of an excellent post. It's so good that I saved in in a Word document to re-read and ponder later. Thank you!

Cyndi said...

Great post Karen! I ignored all physical and intuitive signs most of my life. It takes a lot of practice to tune into these after being oppressed for so long. In recent years I've come to recognize a knot in my stomach that means I'm anxious about something. After quite some time I remembered that I felt that same knot most of the time growing up. I was so used to it and/or repressed it that I didn't even notice it until I'd spent a year dealing with extreme insomnia and crying jags for no apparent reason. Now when I feel that knot I know I have to figure out why it's there. I also have difficulty trusting my instincts. They were discounted growing up and as an adult I have confused addictive and/or feelings of needing to escape something as intuition and followed it with sometimes disastrous results. It's a process... :)