Research Paper By Heather Howland
(Purposeful Living Coach, UNITED STATES)
What is Intuition:
Intuition: quick and ready insight; immediate apprehension or cognition; the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference (Merriam-Webster.com). Intuition: gut reaction; sixth sense;hunch;innate knowledge;feeling; perception; premonition; insight (Thesaurus.com).
The topic of intuition is vast and has been contemplated by philosophers and scientists for centuries. There are several schools of thought regarding what it is, ranging from a purely instinctual tool located in the right hemisphere of our brain to a spiritual connection through which the ‘Universe’, (God, Source Energy, Higher Self, Collective Consciousness, etc.) communicates with us and guides us. Numerous scientific studies have been conducted to provide a scientific basis and understanding of it. Some scientists believe intuition is the unconscious mind drawing on real, past experiences; however, other studies have proven that the body’s psychophysiological systems (specifically connected to the heart and the brain) “receive and process information about a future event before the event happens” (Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mike Atkinson, and Raymond Trevor Bradley, Ph.D.).
The purpose of this paper is not to delve into each of these avenues in detail, but rather to provide a simplified explanation of what it is, how it presents itself, and how it can be used by all coaches and clients in a practical setting.
Listening to our intuition does not suggest that we throw all rational thought into the wind. Intuition is, at its core, very logical. It leads to good and fruitful decisions, decisions that forward our life, enhance our well-being, and steer us toward the happiest and most fulfilled versions of ourselves…only it does so by calling upon information that is not readily seen when we rely only on the analytical side of our mind. (Willard 7).
Intuition is something that every human being has. The more you listen for it, the more you recognize it, and the more you trust it – the more it grows.
In her book, Divine Intuition: Your Inner Guide to Purpose, Peace, and Prosperity, Lynn Robinson wrote, “Many people think of intuition as the domain of a gifted few, even though it’s now recognized not as a rare, accidental talent but as a natural skill anyone can cultivate. Indeed, some of us are intuitively gifted in the same way that an outstanding musician or artist is gifted. But I believe the world will be a far better place to live when we all know how to routinely use the gift of intuition to enhance the quality of our lives” (3).
Intuition is a knowing. An unexplainable, deep knowing.
Intuition: How does it present itself?
Each person will experience intuition in their own unique, individual way. Intuition can be experienced as a thought, a physical reaction, ora feeling. The knowledge or answer can seemingly drop into your head. It can be felt in the pit of your stomach, in your bones, in your heart, or your entire body. When your intuition is telling you ‘yes’, you may feel an overwhelming sense of calmness and peace; or if it is telling you ‘no’ or warning you of danger, you may have a sense of dread, unease, or just feel as though something is ‘off’. Some people may see or hear things, while others may have an intuition come in the form of a dream.
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of beginning to work with your intuition is to know how to decipher between true intuition and your thinking mind, your ego, or the voice of your inner critic. If you are having an unsettled feeling about something, it could be your intuition letting you know that a situation is not right, or it could be fear or doubt about your ability to accomplish it.
According to Judith Orloff, M.D.:
Signs of reliable intuition include:
- Conveys information neutrally, unemotionally
- Feels right in your gut
- Has a compassionate, affirming tone
- Gives crisp, clear impressions that are “seen” first, then felt
- Conveys a detached sensation, like you’re in a theater watching a movie
Signs of an irrational fear include:
- Is highly emotionally charged
- Has cruel, demeaning, or delusional content
- Conveys no gut-centered confirmation or on-target feeling
- Reflects past psychological wounds; diminishes centeredness and perspective.”
When we are receiving true intuitive guidance, there is no emotion attached to it. You are more than likely unable to explain it. It is clear, still, and direct. When you are hearing the ego or the inner critic, your mind brings you back to past experiences or compares you to others. It criticizes you, belittles you, and makes you feel unworthy. It replays past failures or hurts. Your logical, thinking mind will rationalize, place bets, consider the likelihood of success or failure, and link events from your past to potential outcomes for the future. It is chatty and noisy.
[Intuition] is not like the waves on the surface, it is more the tide beneath the waves. (Dodgson, Jonathan Marshall).
When you start to work with your intuition, you are beginning to build trust in those small nudges, and you are learning how your intuition speaks to you. Don’t dismiss a fleeting thought, a ‘mere coincidence’, or even a ‘lucky guess’. Not every signal you receive will result in grand ‘AHA!’ moment. Sometimes you may not see any connection, or you may even feel your intuition was wrong. Intuition is never wrong, however, the interpretation of it may have been. It’s like learning any new skill. It takes time and practice to know it well.
Intuition and the Coach:
As coaches, our intuition can be one of the strongest skills we can come to rely on to assist our clients in reaching their goals. Using our intuition while we are coaching means picking up on our client’s body language, their energy shifts, their tone of voice, and what they are not saying.
It can be helpful to mentally and physically prepare yourself before your coaching session. Take five minutes to relax your body, focus on your breath, and be in your stillness. You may simply breathe in and think to yourself, “I am breathing in’, and on your exhale, “I am breathing out”. It is not necessary(nor humanly possible) to clear your mind completely. Set an intention that you will listen to your client from a heart and mind space.
During a coaching session, notice what thoughts, feelings or words come to you.
“Intuition is of no benefit to the client unless coaches speak what their intuition gives them. You need to put words to the signal, or nudge you received, and say those words out loud” (Coaches Training Institute, 2012).
We must know that we should trust our intuitions, but phrase our questions and observations in an open, non-leading way. We must remain detached to the client’s response to our insight yet remain open to the feedback they give to us. If our client doesn’t agree with our insight, or it appears to hold no meaning or connection for the client, that is ok – as long as we remain unattached to it.It doesn’t mean we were wrong, just that our interpretation may have been off.
“Unfortunately, we often hold back our intuition. We hold back because intuition is looked upon skeptically by our culture — at least compared to the scientific and empirical methods of knowing. Because of that, we don’t get much practice using our intuition as we grow up — so our intuitive ‘ear’ is not well trained. Sometimes we hold back because we’re not sure our intuition is ‘right’…It’s not about being ‘right’ with your intuition; in coaching, the key is to have the antenna sensitively tuned to pick up signals, and then speak boldly from that intuitive place — and dance with whatever shows up for you and the client.” (Coaches Training Institute, 2012).
Intuition and the Client:
As coaches, we can also assist our clients in recognizing and working with their intuition. Some clients may not have much experience or knowledge about working with it. Some may think it’s “new age” or “woo-woo.” Some may be very disconnected to their mind/body connection and may not be used to noticing subtle sensations or physical cues in their bodies.
A good place to start for beginners is to simply become aware of their breath. The breath is the gateway between the body and the mind. Have your client become aware of the sensation of the cool breath entering the nose, and the warm breath leaving the nose. All thoughts don’t need to subside. As thoughts emerge, simply bring awareness back to the breath. You may ask the client what they first notice in their body – what sensation do they feel and where do they feel it? Ask them if there is a thought associated with this.
For beginners, it will also be very helpful to practice being in stillness. This does not have to be a deep, meditative state. As the client becomes more familiar with working with their intuitive guidance and body signals, they can more easily tap into and recognize it in any situation or circumstance.
It can also be helpful to ask the client to bring to mind a time where they knew something about a situation without a doubt. Ask them to sit with the memory of this experience. How did they know? What did it feel like, and where did they feel it? Was it a thought, a feeling, or a physical sensation? By realizing what intuition felt like in the past, the client will be able to more easily recognize this feeling the next time it comes around.
Your client may also benefit from beginning to use their intuition for small decisions such as what to have for a meal or which direction they will take on a walk. These small steps in learning to listen for and hear their intuition will build more confidence for larger decisions later on.
Intuition is an innate gift we all have. It has a very practical place in our everyday lives and allows us to know ourselves more thoroughly and be more confident in our choices. When we begin to live from a place of listening to the gentle nudges, the guidance from within, we face less resistance and doubt. We begin to trust in ourselves at a deeper level and gain access to an infinite well of wisdom.
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. Albert Einstein
Dodgson, Lindsay. Business Insider. There’s a subtle trick to tell the difference between intuition and over-thinking, according to a relationship expert. 2018
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2004; 10(1): 133-143.
Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mike Atkinson, and Raymond Trevor Bradley, Ph.D.
Orloff M.D., Judith. Telling the Difference Between Intuition and Fear.
Robinson, Lynn. Divine Intuition: Your Inner Guide to Purpose, Peace, and Prosperity. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013. Print.
The Coaches Training Institute. (Co-Active® Coaching Skills: Intuition). 2012
Willard, Jill. Intuitive Being: Connect with Spirit, Find Your Center, and Choose an Intentional Life. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2016. Print.