Art of Following Intuition
By Shakti Gawain

Listening to, trusting, and acting on your intuitive inner guidance is an art. Like any other art or discipline, it requires a certain commitment. It is an ongoing process in which we are always being challenged to move to a deeper level of self-trust.

For most of us, the practice of allowing our intuition to guide us is really a new way of life, very different from what we have been taught in the past. At times it may feel uncomfortable or even a bit frightening. If we have been conditioned to try to approach life entirely rationally, to follow certain rules (or to automatically rebel against them), or to do what we think other people want us to do, then beginning to follow our own inner sense of truth is a major shift. It’s natural for it to take some time and it may be a little difficult and confusing at certain moments. It’s important to be very compassionate with ourselves in this process.

At times we may be very aware of the conflicting voices inside of us. One part of us may be excited about making changes while another part of us is terrified about it. If we can acknowledge and honour all our different inner voices and their feelings, our intuition will show us an appropriate step to take — one that moves us in the right direction without being too frightening for our vulnerable selves or too radical for our conservative parts.

Opening New Doors
The more we practice following our intuition, the more faith we get, because we see that it really does work. Not only is nothing disastrous happening (as in our worst fears), but our lives are actually getting better and better. Remember to start with small steps until you build a sense of confidence in yourself and can gradually tackle bigger issues.
Your intuition will most likely push you gently toward taking some appropriate risks and trying new things. For example, you might have a fantasy of doing something creative that you haven’t done before, such as taking art, dancing, or music lessons. An inner critic voice might try to stop you from risking failure or embarrassment by whispering in your ear, “Don’t be silly, you’re not creative!” or “You’re much too old to start something totally new.” You can acknowledge your inner critic and thank it for its attempt to protect you from humiliation. Then you can go ahead and give it a try anyway.

Your intuition may be trying to show you that you have a new direction in which you need to move or that there is something within you that is trying to come through. If you give yourself permission to try it, you don’t have to be great at it; just do it for fun. Follow your intuitive impulse and see what happens. It may open a new door for you. It may give you a chance to play and discover a new part of your personality that you haven’t learned to express before.

Suppose you have always wanted to start your own business. Allow yourself to fantasize about it. Start thinking about what steps you could take in that direction. Ask your intuition to show you what to do. Try following any impulse you might have to explore this possibility. It may be that nothing will happen, or that you take a few steps and then feel blocked. This may be an indication that this is not the best course of action for you at this time. Or it may mean that you need to be open to it happening in a totally different and unexpected way. Stay open and see what happens. I know many people who have become very successful this way.
As you learn to live from your intuition you may find that the process of making decisions changes. Rather than just trying to figure things out in your head, you follow your intuitive feeling for a while and let things unfold. In the process, the right decisions usually get made.

For example, if you are unhappy in your job, don’t immediately make a decision to go in and quit, unless you truly have a strong gut feeling that that is the best course of action. Instead, explore and acknowledge your feelings, such as, “I’m really unhappy here, I’d like to work with people more,” or whatever. Then turn it over to your intuition and allow it to show you step by step what you need to do. You will probably find that something will emerge. You may find that your current job changes and improves, or you may get an inspiration about a different career and begin to explore that possibility. You may follow an impulse to interview for another job and find that it is right for you. Or you may get very clear that you need to resign, and it will feel appropriate to do so. The right action will emerge from the process.
If you have a problem to solve, or a desire to fulfill, try turning it over to your intuition. For example, if you feel like your social life is boring or unrewarding and you’d like to make new friends, consciously ask your intuition to guide you in this process. You might find that a week or two later you read about a hobby group and you intuitively feel drawn to attend. You may end up joining a camera club or a hiking club and find a new circle of friends with a common interest.
Some people fear that trusting their intuition will lead them to do things that are purely selfish, irresponsible, or hurtful to others. In reality, the opposite is true. Since intuition is connected to our souls and to the universal intelligence, it is always guiding us to our own highest good and the greater good for all concerned.
When we follow our intuition, we sometimes behave in new and different ways, and others may sometimes be temporarily disappointed or upset. For example, if you are a very giving person who has always tried to please and care for others, your intuition may push you to learn to say “no” when you really don’t want to do something, and to set better boundaries with people. At first, this might upset someone. In the long run, however, you and everyone else you relate to will be healthier and happier because of this change.
It’s actually quite amazing to watch how the intuitive process sorts things out so that everyone ends up exactly where they need to be, doing exactly what makes them happiest.

A Guiding Force
In the process of learning to trust intuition, some people go through a period of time where they feel like their life is falling apart. Relationships may end or change dramatically, you may move, change jobs, lose interest in familiar pastimes. These are indications that you are letting go of certain aspects of your old identity. If you tried to hold on to it, you would limit or imprison yourself. The forms in your life have to change because you are changing. It’s a matter of trusting that even when things are not going exactly the way you expected, there is a deeper perfection in the process. New forms of relationship, creativity, work, and home will come into being and they will reflect your growth and development.*
*For more understanding about how following your intuition can change your life, I suggest reading my book Living in the Light.
It’s important to have emotional support while you are going through these kinds of changes. Find a friend or group of friends that you can talk to about your hopes, dreams, and fears, someone who can support and encourage you as well as give you honest feedback.

Sometimes family or old friends feel too threatened by the changes you are going through and are unable to give real support. You may need to seek out people who are interested in personal growth. One of the best ways to do this is to go to a workshop or join a support group (or create your own).
Learning to follow your intuition can sometimes feel a bit like “living on the edge”. In a sense, it’s learning to live without the false sense of security that comes from trying to control everything that happens to us. It’s recognizing that as we follow our inner guidance, wonderful things are going to unfold for us, things that we may not yet even imagine.
Gradually we become less afraid and more comfortable with uncertainty. We can learn to enjoy not knowing! It’s actually a very exciting, alive feeling. We can learn to move into the unknown with the confidence that we have a guiding force within us that is showing us the way.

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and relax your body. Take another deep breath and relax your mind. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply and let go of all tension or anxiety. As you relax, you find yourself in a deep, quiet place inside. Allow yourself to just rest in that place for a few moments, with nothing you need to do or think about.
From this deep, quiet place, begin to sense the life force within you. Imagine that you are following your own energy, feeling it, trusting it, moving with it in every moment of your life. You are being completely true to yourself, speaking and living your truth. You feel alive and empowered. Imagine that you are expressing your creativity fully and freely, and let yourself enjoy the experience.

Do this meditation as often as you like. I send you my blessings on your journey