Awareness that our intuition could benefit from some correction… makes clear
the need for disciplined training of the mind.

Intuition works well in some realms, but it needs restraints and checks in others.
 David Myers, Intuition: Its Powers and Perils

Our brain is rarely quiet in its mission to take in information (ATTENTION) and evaluate the information it receives (ATTITUDE).  It will interpret, evaluate and nudge us to act before we fully appreciate all the information available to us… because it relies on a pattern recognition response acquired from our experience.

Now pattern recognition is “intuitive,” a kind of thinking without awareness.   Neuroscientists have even measured it and, would you believe, there is a 0.3 second gap between the brain waves that initiate our reaction and our conscious awareness of decision making!  David Myers explains it this way: “Our gut level attitudes guide our actions, and THEN our rational mind makes sense of them.”

The “power” of this process is obvious: We can act quickly and accurately when we rely on our expertise.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the perils exist, too.  Among them:

  • “Garbage, in; garbage out” when we construct inaccurate memories… and all memories are constructed!
  • Intuition is strongly affected by our mood… and negative moods over-estimate negative events.
  • We operate from a self-serving bias (i.e., We see ourselves as better than average).
  • On challenging tasks, we tend to be more confident than correct.

When accuracy really matters, can you trust your intuition? The wisest answer to that question comes from deep self-understanding.  When we check our hunches, gut feelings, and voices within against available evidence, keeping notes of our experience so we don’t have to rely on constructed memory.

Instructions:

  • Gently observe any compelling (and especially “confident”) thought, feeling or sensation as it arises in reaction to information today… without any attempt to condemn, condone or congratulate yourself about the hunch, gut feeling or inner experience.
  • Welcome all information as it unfolds, saying to yourself, “Of course I would feel this way (or think this way, or believe this way) when you feel confident that what you sense is real or right or accurate.
  • Allow yourself to live with uncertainty in the moment… without encouragement or resistance… by  breathing mindfully… in and out, slow and deep, with calm and ease, and a smile to release… as you are mindful about the limits to our knowledge, predictions, judgments, etc.
  • Write a note to yourself about your beliefs, predictions, judgments, etc. along with any observations of how they came to you, and how they felt in your body.  After a month of doing this, you will have a pretty good idea of which personal experiences to trust and which may be misleading.

This “non-attachment practice” is our first step towards developing authentic compassion.

© Copyright 2013 Maria Hunt
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