Intuition is Your Body’s Ancient Alert System
Three Ways to Tune In
For early humans on the tree-speckled savanna, survival depended upon making quick, instinctive decisions in a harsh environment. Reading every sound, sight, smell, touch, and taste meant the difference between being the hunter or the hunted. The challenge was the sheer volume of information—literally billions of bits of information coming in through the five senses at any given moment. The brain evolved to process and sort this data at a subconscious level then serve it back to our conscious mind as an alert. We call it intuition or our sixth sense when we seem to know things we can’t explain. But we are not magic or psychic. We are highly evolved survivalists.
As domesticated man no longer need a sixth sense for basic survival, intuition became regarded as unprovable and therefore irrelevant. Recent science, however, has found quantifiable evidence that intuition does exist.
In one study in 2016, a team of researchers at University of New South Wales demonstrated how intuition can inform and improve decision making. Participants in the study were exposed to emotional images outside of their awareness as they were asked to make accurate decisions. They thought they were simply watching white noise on a screen while the images flashed too quickly for the conscious mind to register. The study found the participants were able to use information from the subliminal images to make more confident and accurate decisions. The research team of psychological scientists Galang Lufityanto, Chris Donkin and Joel Pearson published their findings in Psychological Science.
“These data suggest that we can use unconscious information in our body or brain to help guide us through life, to enable better decisions, faster decisions, and be more confident in the decisions we make,” Pearson says.
No matter how long you’ve ignored your intuition, it is still available. The question is how to tap into our ancient alert system?
One–Develop Your Sensory Awareness
Get out in nature and quiet your mind. Focus on each of your five senses to strengthen the neural networks of awareness connected to these different parts of the brain. Any activity using as many of your senses as possible will strengthen this part of the brain.
Two—Pay Attention to Your Body’s Cues
Think of a time when you made the right decision. You selected the perfect gift for your mother-in-law. How did your body react? Did you experience a lightness in your chest and relaxed shoulders? Was your gut calm and your palms dry? Did you find yourself smiling? How about when you took a wrong turn in a strange city after dark? Did your heart race and your breath become shallow? Were your palms sweaty against your tight grip on the steering wheel?
Three—Practice Empathic Accuracy
Whether interviewing a prospective employer or entering a new friendship, we can establish mutually beneficial connections with people when we pay attention to body language, micro-expressions, and tone of voice. In other words, pay equal attention to how someone is communicating as well as what they are communicating. You have a wealth of interpersonal experience stored subconsciously. Then tune in to your own body’s cues.
While it might be fun to have a psychic reading at a street fair, we are all “psychic” readers of the world and people around us. We all come equipped with the valuable gift of intuition. But you already knew that.