That tiny feeling in your gut that tells you right from wrong

We all hear a lot about “following our gut,” but what is that exactly? Some people would call it having a hunch. Others might call it listening to their intuition. What I’m talking about is the definition of intuition: “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” It means that you just know something without all the mental fact finding and analyzing.

The origin of intuition is late Middle English and denotes spiritual insight or immediate spiritual communication. Some people might consider prophesy a form of spiritual intuition, and even in this day there are clairvoyant people who give guidance that is beyond their knowing. There are also “medical intuitives” who diagnose illnesses without examining a patient, but aligning their higher minds with a patient’s body.

I know that often they’re right. A friend’s son was gravely ill, with nonstop vomiting. He was told to feed the child certain crackers and give the child something special to drink and the vomiting stopped. That child is over 40 now.

For years, the idea of intuition was that it came from spirit. It’s soothing to many people to believe that if they needed important information for their well-being, such as staying away from an impending emergency, they’d just “know” that they should or shouldn’t do something because they’d feel it. That an angel or their own spiritual self would shoot the right thing to do into their conscious minds without the mind needing to process everything.

My middle child was born with a heart defect. She wasn’t gaining weight and I prayed for her health. One night Mother Mary came to me in a dream and told me to give her gelatin. I added a little dissolved gelatin in boiling water, cooled it, and added it to my milk in a bottle. In one week she gained 8 ounces. The next week even more, and within a month she was at a good weight and I stopped. Should I add that I’m not even Catholic? But I always admired Mother Mary and asked her for help in raising my kids. I thought she did a pretty good job with her son.

Martha Beck is the psychological “answer lady” for “O Magazine.” She wrote an article in the May 2015 issue called, “Your Intuition has Something to Tell You.” She states, “If you’ve never learned to tap into your intuition, your life is almost certainly much more difficult than it needs to be … Because your intuition helps you make choices based on what you actually want.”

She also states, “Your intuition never criticizes you. If you’re hearing an inner voice that sounds shaming, blaming, disdainful, withering or mean, you’re not hearing your intuition.”

Some psychologists call that shaming inner voice the “critical parent.” We copy our parents’ way of directing our behavior when we are making decisions. I’m sorry that your parent was mean to you. That may have been the way they were talked to. It can change now! You can heal it, but it may take awhile.

After you hear the critical message, in your head, translate it into the way you’d want to be talked to. “You stupid idiot!” would become, “Look at that a little more closely, and now what do you think?” or “What’s wrong with you! I’ve told you a million times to ___,” becomes, “I’m going to say this, and I want you to repeat it back to me. It is very important for you to know.” Stay with it. Keep reframing the mean phrases used. Honor yourself.

I learned to trust my intuition years ago, and developed it. Sometimes I don’t listen to it, but it seems to be right a lot, about all kinds of random things. Here’s an example: I was in Costco last month looking at some potatoes and had a hunch to buy them. I thought, “It’s just me and Joshua, I have a few potatoes, why get more?” I knew Father’s Day was coming up and I had a ham and sweet potato dinner planned that didn’t need white potatoes.

This year, there is a new father in our family and ham is not his thing. He wanted a cookout with potato salad. And guess who didn’t have enough potatoes? Me. This is just really minor, but an easy example to follow.

Beck’s article continues to give ways to help develop our intuition. One that I found interesting is that if we are standing with legs shoulder width apart and are thinking of something we know that is good for ourselves, our body will sway slightly forward. If we think of something bad for ourselves, it will sway slightly backwards. So if you get a hunch about something, you can ask your body to let you know if it thinks it will be good for you.

I just practiced it, and it seems to be true, but I didn’t really sway. For “yes,” I felt more weight on the balls of my feet, and for “no” more weight on my heels. I also had responses where I stayed normal. Perhaps in those cases both responses would have had about the same effect for me.

Psychology Today has a website with links to several different articles on intuition. In “Trusting Intuition” author Hara Marano states that sometimes people over think things, which can lead to depression or anxiety.

Intuition is somewhat an opposite of that. It’s a form of nonconscious thinking. It takes the sum of one’s experiences and sorts them out, and comes up with a solution. She gives an example of how you can “walk down a street, get lost in thought and find yourself at your destination without awareness of the processes that got you there.”

In “Gut Almighty” by Carlin Flora, the author states that “The best explanation psychologists now offer is that intuition is a mental matching game. The brain takes in a situation, does a very quick search of its files, and then finds its best analogue among the stored sprawl of memories and knowledge.

That is one way to explain it. But I wouldn’t limit it to that. It’s probably a very good synopsis of how the brain-body perceptual feedback works, but we are more than our physical and mental selves. We have a spirit body, which hasn’t been assessed, as far as I know, because we haven’t learned enough about our spiritual selves to know how and what to measure.

Yes, we do have the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), and the gifts of the spirit: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues. (1 Cor. 12:8-10) for Christians. Other religions also have these, or similar, using words like mercy, compassion, gentleness, patience and more.

Looking at all of these expressions of spirit, it seems to me that the spirit is completely capable of dispatching a message to our human brain that is meant to be helpful and offer guidance toward making good decisions. After all, our creator loves us, or wouldn’t have created us. So I’m also voting for the Middle English meaning of “immediate spiritual communication.”

When I Googled: “Can spiritual gifts be taught, there were 18.2 million sites! It’s obviously a popular idea. I think that the learning would have to do with stilling our own mind’s chatter in order to be able to receive them, but the gifts are offered by spirit if we acknowledge the source from which they came. After all, it is the loving spirit that is the power and wisdom behind the gift’s expression. The person who receives the gift is just the conduit. Also a person has to have the willingness to share them, knowing that we are one spiritual family. We really can’t leave anyone out.

There is maybe one way in which a person’s soul has been measured. About 36 years ago, I read about a doctor who put dying person on a scale, just before death. He weighed him then, and again just afterwards. He found that there was a weight loss of about 21 grams. He did it four times successfully. I checked Snopes which stated that the research was true, but that since the sample size was so small that we shouldn’t give much credence to it. However, a Noetic Science experiment in 1988 by Dr. Becker Mertens of Dresden, Germany repeated the test on 200 patients and found that in each case the weight loss was 1/3,000th of an ounce.

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Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org For more information about Hale Opio Kauai, please go to www.haleopio.org

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