“Once you transcend your mental plane and awaken your intuitive prowess, you’ll experience an immense sense of inner freedom. For this you need to summon the courage to know who you are and be your true self. In other words, put down your mask and present to the world your true, unpolished face.”
– Sri Swamini Mayatitananda, Woman’s Power to Heal
There is a child at the table. Her hands are nowhere near the milk- but you know its going to spill. And then a series of small events transpire in the course of three split seconds, and there is milk on the floor.
Intuition is not much different, except that sometimes the proof takes longer to materialize. It is magical, it is a gift, but not in the way most people think. It is not something reserved for only a few. We all have the ability to “know” our bodies, our children, and the earth around us. It is a simple practice in listening and trusting in ourselves. And it takes some courage.
While growing up I heard stories of my grandmother and father (a continent apart) knowing they needed to call each other during times of trouble. Once when I was small and about to fall out of bed, my father caught me just before I hit the floor. Aside from these stories, I must have had a series of events happen in my life which forged confidence in my feelings and trust that I would know what to do. With practice, a little confidence can easily be transformed to unwavering faith.
Trusting in your senses is not the same as doing whatever you want. It may at times appear to outsiders that I disregard the opinions of others, of science, or practicality. This is not the case. I just accept that I do not always need a tangible reason for my decisions. The beauty of following your intuition is that you no longer have to research your opinion extensively. You no longer need to explain to yourself why you have decided not to walk that way to the park anymore, or eat that food everyone says is good for you. You do not need to look outside yourself for answers. Although, sometimes I feel the need for a little inspiration. Sometimes I can’t get a good feel on the question I am mulling, and sometimes I am just not educated enough on the topic. Then I pull out the books, and ask experts, or friends and family.
When I was expecting my first child, I had a great deal of pain between 33-35 weeks. The midwives told me it was nothing. Co-workers and family told me I should expect the last few weeks to be very uncomfortable. Imagine everyone’s surprise when my water broke. The day it broke I had done the normal nesting thing, cleaning the apartment top to bottom. I then went to three stores and shopped for an army. My baby shower was that afternoon. After all that, I made myself a steak and spinach salad. My water broke as soon as I was done. My baby was big and healthy. Six pounds and five ounces at 35 weeks will convince many doctors that your due date must have been off. I had chosen a pediatrician from a practice I attended as a child, someone I knew and trusted. Several of the practice doctors saw us before we left the hospital and gave instructions for us to be seen at seven days, but to call with any concerns. When I called a few days later worried about the baby’s jaundice I was asked a series of questions.
“She was nursing well, but my milk came in today and now we are having a little trouble. Sometimes it is hard to wake her, so hard that I gave her a bath.”
“ Well, she may be a little jaundiced but bringing her in would probably serve only to work everybody up; we’ll see you at your appointment.”
Seven days later: “ She actually doesn’t look very jaundiced, but we are pricking her heel anyway, so we will check.”
“But look how floppy she is.” I can still see my tiny (now five pound) baby drooping on the table.
Touching my breasts the doctor says, “ It looks like you are having trouble with let down, you need to go get a pump and feed her every hour. Bring her in for a weight check tomorrow.”
Three hours later we were on our way to the ER with a bilirubin of 29. Even a brand new mother knows it is bad when they meet you at the door. The horrors and pain of the next several weeks left me with two resolutions. I was never speaking to that practice again, and I was never, ever, going to let someone else’s opinion come between me and that feeling deep in my chest. I have kept them both. When that same baby broke her arm at age six, I knew it was broken before I even spoke to her.
Intuition can provide you with comfort and insight into the good as well. Like when it is time to buy that house, or start a business. Is your sister pregnant (or having a boy or a girl?) What will grow in that shady part of the garden? Who will be coming to your grandparents anniversary? There will be traffic on the beltway mid-morning. Your partner wants to sneak away with you!
The surest and easiest way to hear your inner voice is to listen. There are moments between our actions where a small voice speaks to us. Straining to hear this voice, and accepting its direction, will enable the voice to grow louder and the connection to become second nature. There are both formal and informal practices which can help magnify the intuitive voice.
:: We can practice listening to our children. Their intuitive voice is very loud. Slowing down to their pace and listening to their words and actions can help us tune in to ours.
:: Take a walk. Walking a constant path throughout the year helps us notice the nuances of nature, and recognize deep in our bodies the changes around us.
:: Eating and cooking seasonally. Preparing our food with our hands, shortly after it comes from the earth gives us a better connection to the earth the food is coming from, the properties of the foods, and the needs of our bodies.
:: Guessing games. Children love them and so do we. Can you guess who I am thinking of? Which teller will be at the bank? Can we guess who is calling? I wonder where your shoes are hiding?
:: Take care. Taking care of yourself and others is kindness in action. Kindness puts us on an open and higher plane, more able to see the truth around us. One simple technique for taking care is an oil rub. Rubbing your child with oil before bed or bath. Give your spouse an oil massage. Take time to cover your whole body in oil before your shower. This serves two very important purposes. First, it makes us feel good to take time for ourselves and others. Second, it allows our inner-conscious self to alight on each part of the body, tuning in.
:: Yoga nidra: this practice is a restful and relaxing way to put yourself in touch with the deep divinity within. It is a healing practice that promotes health in every aspect of life — even better, all you have to do is lie there! My friend, Gina, is a wonderful leader on this journey. You can find information on her yoga nidra cds by contacting her through her website. You can also find local teachers by contacting yoga studios in your area. Free yoga nidra meditations can be found on itunes as well.
:: Regular yoga practice. Yes, it would be lovely if all parents could get away once or twice a week for yoga practice, but it is not always practical. One focus of my practice is finding ways that mothers can “practice” and renew themselves while knee-deep in the practice of motherhood. Trying to do even one or two simple poses everyday has a big impact: connecting the mind, body and breath. Even if you are unfamiliar with yoga, you can attain the benefits by focusing on your breath and concentrating on your body. Try focusing on lengthening your inhale and exhale while doing the dishing, firmly placing both feet evenly on the floor. Or while loading the car, packing lunches, etc.
:: A formal practice of meditation. Sitting quietly, eyes closed, breathing deeply. Even for only five minutes before the rest of the household wakes, or after they are asleep.
When we trust in ourselves and our own inherent wisdom, then we have faith in ourselves.
Sherene Cauley lives in Maryland with her husband and daughters. She journals about their everyday adventures in living, working and learning at the nurtured life.