How often have you had a distinct feeling about something, but couldn’t seem to put your finger on where it was coming from? Perhaps it was the moment when you realized your significant other was the ‘one’ or the feeling you had that led you to purchase your first home- or maybe even the sense you got that something was ‘off’ with a friend?
These are all instances of Intuition.
According to The British Journal of Psychology, intuition is what happens when the brain draws on past experiences and external cues to make a decision in the present moment. This process occurs rapidly, mostly at an unconscious level- yet has powerful influence in our lives.
Intuition is believed to guide us to decisions that are truly best for us, based on our own unique experiences and insight. Recent brain imaging studies on intuition demonstrate the realness of this phenomenon. Researchers observed various areas of the brain that were indicated to be active and directly involved in the intuition process. The basal ganglia in particular was highlighted when users “tuned in” to their intuitive sense (McCrea, 2010). In addition to its neural component, intuition has also been shown to have a strong somatic piece.
In fact, it is proposed that intuition stems from our gut. Research suggests that our body (specifically our gut) picks up on intuitive signals first, before they reach our consciousness. This makes sense as we have receptors in our gut (called neurotransmitters) that can pick up on emotional cues from our environment.
These receptors are attuned to this information, and signals it to the brain, which is where the neural component comes in. The body, therefore, plays an integral role in the intuitive process. This is further reason to pay attention to what your body is trying to communicate to you, and listen.
We all have the power of tuning in and following our intuition. It is inside all of us. However, as women, we have even more of an advantage. By nature, women have an innate ability to be emotionally in tune with others. This is demonstrated in a number of studies and has frequently been cited as possible evidence of women’s intuition (Hall, 1984); (Graham & Ickes, 1997). This is more reason to listen to that ‘distinct feeling’.
Experts in the field emphasize the more you use it, the stronger your intuitive sense will be. Learning to trust your gut instincts is key. Further ways of developing your intuitive sense include strategies for restoring the body and mind, as these are the key players in this process. Things like; getting enough sleep, spending time outdoors in nature, and regularly implementing meditation and mindfulness are all simple- yet effective ways of strengthening intuition.
So, the next time you are faced with a difficult decision, take some time and let your intuition guide you. Our body has all the answers, we just need to tune in and listen. How has your intuition served you?
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