In a modern world buzzing with more information than we have time to consume it, it is easy to look to external sources for answers. The thing is, this often leaves us feeling bogged down by ideas about what we should do rather than granting us clarity around what it is that we actually want to do. Furthermore, this practice of looking outward for answers gradually chips away at the trust that we have in ourselves and the ability that we have to do what is best for us as individuals.
I have fallen into the trap over and over again of looking everywhere but within for insight into how I should navigate the world around me. This causes me to discount my inner wisdom and takes away from my own personal power. On the other hand, when I allow my intuition to guide me, it feels as though I’ve stopped struggling upstream and have allowed the current to carry me. Everything begins to flow and I find myself in a lot of right-place, right-time scenarios. Over the years, I have put in place different practices to strengthen the relationship that I have with my intuition. Here are four of these practices.
Prioritizing alone time
Intuition is communicating with us all the time. However, this information can easily be drowned out in the sea of external stimuli to which we are being exposed. As a working mom and college student, the needs and opinions of those around me could easily take precedence over the whispers of my inner knowing. This is why it is essential that I give myself time alone each day to touch base with myself and tap into what my intuition is communicating to me. To do this, I rise anywhere between 1-3 hours before my family wakes up and dedicate this time to filling my cup—this translates to me waking up between 5 and 7 a.m., for those who are curious. During this time I meditate for 15 minutes, do a yoga flow, journal and read. This allows me to establish a connection with myself that carries me through the rest of the day and allows space for intuitive nudges to come through.
Taking good care of my body
I don’t know about you, but it is rare that my intuition is on lock three rows into a pack of Newman O’s. It is difficult to be in tune with myself when I am not taking good care of my physical body. This means nourishing my body with well-balanced meals, making a point to move each day and getting into bed at a decent time each night. I have found that when I take care of my basic physical needs, I move out of a state of survival and have the energy required to really go after my day. From this state, I am more receptive to the signals that my body sends me and thus am in a prime position to act on any intuitive hunches that come my way.
Nature walks (device-free)
I have gotten in the habit of going for at least one long nature walk each week. I venture to a local river trail near my house, leave my phone in the car, and revel in the sights and sounds around me. Often times I find myself internally resisting going for a walk without my phone, because walking without music, a podcast, or an app that keeps track of my steps seems daunting. However, going for this walk sans phone is critical for me to get out of my head and into my body.
When I do this, I have no choice but to fully feel into my feelings and observe the patterns of thoughts running through my mind. In nature, everything that is trivial seems to fall away and I’m granted with a profound sense of clarity around what matters and what doesn’t, what is worth pursuing and what would be wise for me to let go of. I have found that my intuition is at its strongest during and for a short period after these walks. In this state of mind, everything flows to me without me having to push too hard to arrive at an answer—ideas for articles, solutions to problems at work and insights about what direction to head in all come to me while I’m walking or driving home.
I learned about “pings” from Lacy Phillips, who uses this phrase to refer to the intuitive impulses that come to you unexpectedly, like messages downloading into a computer. In my experience, a ping feels like an aha moment that lights up my body. Sometimes a ping will guide me towards something that feels irrelevant and totally unrelated to any particular goal that I have. Nonetheless, I know that it’s a ping when I feel excited to pursue it regardless of the outcome. Because pings are random and hard to follow if you have a tight schedule, I like to carve out some time each week to dedicate to receiving and following these pings.
A ping day is one day—or afternoon or hour depending on what one’s schedule permits—where you clear your calendar of any outside obligations and surrender completely to your intuitive whims. A full day is hard for me to commit to, so for me this practice looks like taking an evening to “play hooky” from my adult responsibilities and do what I feel like doing. My fiancé will hang out with our son for a couple of hours while I go for a nature walk, take an Epsom salt bath, or head to a cafe—as things begin to slowly reopen—to journal and read a book or just sip a matcha latte and look out the window.
These four practices have helped me to establish a stronger connection to my intuition. This has translated to me looking less to external sources for answers, relying more on my inner voice to guide me and ultimately leading a life that is better aligned with who I am.
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Photo: Jamie Street via Unsplash