[Editor’s note: this is a guest post by yoga teacher, life coach, and www.libreliving.com founder Lindsey Lewis]
She was at the airport, waiting to go through security. One of the lines had about five people in it. The one she was in had about fifteen in front of her. She wondered about switching lines, took a step towards the shorter one—and felt a literal ‘pull’ to keep her where she was. One interaction later, the shorter line was closed, and everyone in it ended up at the back of hers.
She was about to cross a street, had taken one step off the sidewalk and was lifting her other foot to follow. The image of a dark grey sedan careening around the corner flashed through her mind. She paused. The dark grey sedan careened around the corner, narrowly missing her.
Head honchos at a worldwide corporation secretly admit to a man studying the heuristics of decision-making—experience-based techniques for problem-solving—that relying on one reason, and their gut instincts, leads to better decision making than doing some complex calculations.
The first two stories are mine. The third is from German psychologist and heuristics expert Gerd Gigerenzer; he says that this story is just one of many from different companies all over the world that back up the same conclusion: intuitive decisions are usually better.
And though he doesn’t argue for the superiority of intuitive decision-making, Malcolm Gladwell lists many examples of how much we can and do use it to our benefit in his work Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.
Dr. Frances Vaughan, a psychologist known for her work on intuition as part of her interest in integrating psychological and spiritual growth, agrees. She labels a huge range of experiences as intuitive: from discovery and invention in science, inspiration in art, and creative problem solving to hunches and premonitions and mystical insights into the nature of reality.
What it comes down to—according to Vaughan, Gladwell, Gigerenzer, and, well, me—is this: Intuition is a way of knowing that anybody can access.
1. Few wild animals were killed in the tsunami that crashed around the Indian Ocean in 2004. Researchers surmise they were alerted by sound waves or ground vibrations. Researchers also state that humans have this ability, but have stopped paying attention to it in today’s busy, distraction-laden society.
2. We can see with our eyes closed. Fact: People who have gone blind because of brain damage can often still navigate an obstacle course.
3. Our bodies send us signals long before our mind catches on. Sweaty palms, a subtle increase in heart-rate or blood pressure, tension in our stomach, shoulders and throat.
Yoga for Developing Intuition
1. A regular, simple Hatha or Yin practice. What happens when we do a regular, simple Hatha or Yin practice is this: We develop body awareness. We get attuned to the subtle shifts in physical sensation. And this means we’re more likely to notice the messaging coming from our body—what Vaughan calls physical intuition—that are telling us to move ahead or hold back.
2. Meditation. Yoga makes meditation easier. Having our body stretched out, fit and relaxed means we can be still more easily. And once we’re used to meditation it can tap us into the deep inner stillness our intuition comes from—and take us beyond the boundaries of our conscious mind.
3. Kundalini yoga for your ‘third eye’. Kundalini yoga can help us connect with our chakras—the wheels of energy that exist where major physical functions occur. Ajna chakra is our ‘third eye’ and it sits in the centre of our head, between the middle of our eyebrows. This is where we connect to our intuition. You can develop this particular point by closing your eyes, and drawing your awareness in and up to that space. You can even envision the colour of that chakra glowing there: Indigo blue.