How meditation strengthens gut feelings and enhances your ability to trust your own intuition
Intuition is the idea that we make decisions without deliberate analytical thought. Many ascribe this to a sixth sense that is honed through mindfulness
Kay Cheung, 43, has always loved music. But when her application to study the subject was turned down – twice – by a university in Hong Kong, she felt defeated.
“I ended up enrolling in a Bachelor of Social Science programme, which wasn’t what I wanted, but I completed it anyway,” she says.
She wasn’t a happy student. The course was difficult and she missed being able to play the piano because she was always too busy catching up on homework. On a whim – because she desperately needed a break after she graduated – she flew to New Zealand, where she met a Swede who had changed his major to study what he really loved. He suggested that she follow her passion.
“He told me that if I really wanted to study music, then I should do it,” Cheung says. “I found him inspiring, so when I returned to Hong Kong I began looking for schools to do my Bachelor of Music. It took a while for me to locate a school that was affordable and taught the course in English – the only problem was that it was in Holland.”
Cheung had never visited the Netherlands before, and didn’t have any friends there. Yet, something inside her told her to make the move. “It was a feeling; something was guiding me towards it and I knew I had to follow it. I knew I could trust the feeling, and I knew that I would be OK.”
Things turned out to be more than OK. After several auditions, Cheung received an offer to study music for four years. She loved living in Holland, worked with some amazing teachers, made many new friends, and met and fell in love with someone.
“Everyone thought I was crazy at first, moving to a country I’d never visited and living there for four years, but I had to follow my gut,” she adds. “I’ve always been an intuitive person, I’ve always allowed my sixth sense to guide my life and even my friendships. My decision to move may not have made sense from the outside, but on the inside, it felt right.”
Intuition goes by other names, like “instinct”, “gut feeling” and “sixth sense”. But what is it, exactly?
If you have ever, at some point in your life – and almost everyone has – “just known” what to do, or had a feeling in your gut that something wasn’t quite right about a situation or a person, and yet had no evidence or facts to back that up, it was probably your intuition talking, says Stephen Clasper, co-founder of Shakti Healing Circle centre in Central.
“From a young age we’re taught to use logic, linear thinking or only hard facts when making decisions,” says Clasper. “We’re also wired to use our five senses to gather information and make sense of the world, and we often end up confused about the best way forward. On top of that, we all have a powerful subconscious where everything we have ever heard, seen or experienced sits, driving our automatic responses as our day unfolds.”
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“Our subconscious mind is always picking up information that our conscious mind isn’t even aware of,” Clasper continues. “Our intuition is connected to our subconscious but really comes from an even deeper part of us.”
Some people seem to be more intuitive, or more comfortable using their intuition, than others. The truth is that they likely spent a lot of time developing this “sixth sense”. And the good news is that you can, too.
It starts with learning to pay attention, to stay silent and observe, and to suspend judgment.
“If your work demands that you’re always ‘on’ and always processing information, then you can’t help but be too much ‘in your head’,” says Clasper.
“You end up being data-driven, and not as aware of your own senses, your own emotional state, and your sense of being connected to everyone and everything at the energetic level. It’s not difficult to develop a good working relationship with your intuition, but it does take consistent practice over time.
Being mindful and present is certainly a necessary first step to develop the awareness needed, but you need to go deeper still.”
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“As you begin to sense energy you’ll notice intuitive guidance coming to you in subtle ways,” says Clasper. “You may have dreams with relevant messages, or you may flip open a book at a random page only to see the answer to a question on the page in front of you.”
Once you’ve raised your awareness and can meditate easily to find that quiet calm within, ask for guidance through clear and specific questions. Then wait patiently as your intuition gives you the answers. Notice any sensations that come up, any images, words or feelings – observe these without judgment and without your rational mind interfering.
Cheung is now living her dream as a musician, as a pianist and composer of ambient music and easy jazz. She posts regularly on her YouTube channel, Kate Francis Music. She also teaches meditation, and finds her own daily meditation practice has helped nurture her intuition over the years.
“In the silence, my heart reveals itself and steers me towards answers and decisions that reflect and embody the real me. That inner voice is already there; meditation just helps you tune in to and uncover it. And you’ll be surprised where it takes you when you really pay attention to it.”