This post is the fifth in the series exploring the 9 key factors that Dr Kelly Turner PhD found were present in the recoveries from advanced cancer that she studied in her book Radical Remission. Those 9 factors were:
- Radically changing your diet (Part 1 here and Part 2 here)
- Taking control of your health (here)
- Following your intuition (here)
- Using herbs and supplements (here)
- Releasing suppressed emotions (here)
- Increasing positive emotions (here)
- Embracing social support (here)
- Deepening your spiritual connection (here)
- Having strong reasons for living (here).
Today we are going to explore intuition, what it is, why we would use it and how to follow it. To find out more about the book Radical Remission, go to the post “Being Radical – Introduction” here.
Every day we are subjected to external voices telling us what to do, where to go, what to wear, what to buy, and even who to be. These voices may come from family and friends or even the hundreds of advertisements we see as we go about our daily business. These voices can be loud or quiet, subtly influencing everything we do. Often, we are persuaded to do things. But they don’t feel quite right. How often do we listen to that feeling? And where does that feeling come from?
Usually, it comes from within. We’ve all experienced it. But some are better at listening to it than others and following the direction it suggests.
This feeling is our intuition. We all have it. Instincts and intuition had been a huge part of human evolution. But as the external messages become more frequent and louder, the voice that is our intuition gets drowned out.
As Dr Turner notes in Radical Remission, intuition plays an enormous role in the healing of the radical remission survivors. Throughout my blog posts, I have written that given the right conditions, the body can heal itself. And what’s more, the body can tell us what it needs to heal. And it does this through our intuition.
What is intuition?
The best place to start, when dealing with an abstract concept like intuition, is the dictionary. One of the definitions of intuition is “the ability to understand or know something immediately, without conscious reasoning” (Compact Oxford English Dictionary). Another, which I prefer, is “direct perception of truths, facts, etc, independently of any reasoning process” (The Macquarie Dictionary).
It is the absence of reasoning process that is really the key. Using our intuition is a limbic function. It comes from the part of our brain that is subconscious, instinctual and feeling.
Many of us understand intuition as coming from our gut. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as we have over 100 million neurons in our stomachs. It has been suggested that our gut holds a ‘second brain’ that can act independently of our brain. So it can be that sudden twinge in the belly that we get when we are about to do something that doesn’t serve us. A mentor of mine used to say it’s the ‘na-a’ voice, that also seems to come from the gut.
But intuition can be so much more than just an admonition that we are about to do something that might land us in trouble. We can use it much more constructively than that. We can use it to plan, find answers to difficulties, to connect with ourselves and to understand our values. It can be our inner adviser, inner guide, inner pilot, higher self, spirit, God, sixth sense or the ~ing that Gabrielle Bernstein talks about.
How do we connect with our intuition?
Everybody is different. And just as there are many different meditation techniques, there are many techniques that we can use to tap into this incredible resource. To make the “journey without distance” from the head to the heart.
Techniques include recording dreams, meditation or contemplation, and journaling. There are also inquiry exercises like the one I wrote about in the post Being Friends with Fatigue.
There is something that all these techniques have in common. Taking time for stillness. Silence. A Course in Miracles says “In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved.” To hear that inner voice of wisdom, we need to take time to quiet our mind.
And what do we do once we are quiet?
Ask a question. Ask lots of questions. And write down the answers as they come. Or just mull one question over and over in your mind. And then drop it. Just sit in the silence and see what comes.
This is what started Neale Donald Walsche’s incredible Conversations with God. He wrote a number of angry questions on a piece of paper to the effect of “Why isn’t my life working?” And the voice came “Do you really want an answer to these questions, or are you just venting?”
“You can’t force the voice of your ~ing to come forth. It’s important to realize that
the loving guidance has always been inside you, so you don’t have to fight to find it.
You just need to slow down and surrender.”
Patience is key. The voice may not arrive on demand. It may pop up through a friend while you are having a cup of coffee. It might be a telephone call. It might be a photo on Facebook. It might be something you read. It might be expressed in a coincidence or synchronicity. Or it might just be a flash of inspiration.
But when it arrives, you will know it. You will be inspired. Doubt will dissolve. It will feel right!
Why use our intuition?
Because usually it knows what is best for us. I can’t put it any more simply than that. I’ve used my intuition on and off for years now but it never spoke to me so loudly as it did as when I did my first Vipassana meditation retreat in 2005. That was the first time in a very long time that I came to understand my core values and how I could live a life that was congruent with them.
Unfortunately, I did not pay attention in the way that I would today, and my health paid the price. However, I have found listening to my intuition incredibly valuable on this healing journey. Whenever I have had to make a decision about treatment, I have taken the time to find out if “the plan” sits comfortably with my body, and me.
The day I told my oncologist I intended to withdraw from maintenance treatment, he gave me a whole lot of numbers and statistics in the hope of changing my mind. I told him that I would consider what he had said, and I did. I came home, sat on my meditation cushion, and allowed it all to resonate within me. When I had finished, I came out and said to Beloved “I’m clear.” And I was. I knew exactly what I needed to do. Because it came from the depths of my soul, I have never regretted it. I believe in it.
Using our intuition to understand our health
If we take the time to sit in silence, we can inquire of our inner self the reason for any illness or distress we might be experiencing. We can listen to our symptoms and allow them to present in the form of an image. These symptoms are like warning lights. If we don’t suppress them, there is always a chance that they can tell us more about our overall state of health.
For example, in my exercise with fatigue, it came to me as a heavy rubber mat. Once it took form, I asked it questions such as Why are you here? How can you help me? How can I help you? Can we work together? And we could. And we did.
Sometimes nothing might come. Or the symptom might resist. But other times there might be a flood of information that you just haven’t had access to before.
In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson talks about work she did with those affected by AIDS. She had them write letters to their disease, expressing their anger, disappointment and sense of despair. Then she had them step into the shoes of the disease and write back. In this way, a dialogue was opened and many found a way of living with their illness with a peace of mind previously unknown.
Who’s driving your bus?
When we get a serious diagnosis, everyone around us has an opinion about what we should do. Some voices are louder than others. But when we have to decide on a healing plan, some of those voices may just distract us. If we are planning to take control of our own health, then we have to find a way to silence those voices. And to commit to listening to our own inner wisdom. We have learn to drive our own bus:
Sit quietly and take some time to relax … feet flat on the floor if you are sitting on a chair … take 3 deep breaths … then just settle with an awareness of breath … imagine you are driving a bus … on that bus are all the people who you feel tell you what to do … picture them one by one and observe how each person makes you feel… as you drive the bus, listen to the chatter going on behind you … see whose voices are loudest … drive the bus to a place that seems to be a long way away from where you started … when you reach your destination, stop the bus and open the door … imagine all the passengers getting off the bus, one by one … when the bus is empty, close the door and drive off … you might like to wave to the passengers as you leave … observe how you feel driving the empty bus for a few moments … do you feel empowered? Does it make you sad? Just observe the feelings… then drop the image and sit for a while, just allowing the thoughts to come and go.
When you have finished sitting, record who you saw on the bus, and how you felt once those people got off. Also reflect on the feelings that arose once the bus was empty.
Radical Remission refers to a number of techniques and contains some specific exercises. If I haven’t said so before, GET THIS BOOK! There are also other books I have used on this journey to find ways to learn about and communicate with my intuition. Some of them are:
The Mind That Changes Everything by Dr Ian Gawler;
Guided Imagery for Self-Healing by Martin L Rossman MD;
Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain;
Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein.
Another wonderful technique I learned years ago is the “God Box”. Write out your question or difficulty and place it in a box (or bag) you have designated especially for this purpose – your trust box. As you do so, say a prayer handing it over to a higher power of your own understanding. You may wish to put a time limit on it by saying I intend to make a decision by [insert time]. Whenever you then think about whatever you put in there, say to yourself “I don’t need to worry about this right now – it’s in the God Box.”
I did this once about my work. I told my higher power that I would make a decision in 6 months time but in the meantime I would show up each day in my current job with the intention to serve as best I could. Almost 6 months to the day, I received a call from a colleague inviting me to apply for the type of job I had been seeking.
YOUR intuition is your best friend on a healing journey. Take the time to get to know it. If this is something that Radical Remission survivors have done, then they are all the evidence we need to know that it is probably the best thing you can do for yourself.
Please feel free to share and let me know your experiences with intuition in the comments section, both here and on Facebook.
Affirm: I sit in silence and listen for the wise voice within.
Be happy. Be well. Just be.
And so be it.