Five teachers discuss how to develop and enhance the intuitive abilities i.e.: ‘sixth sense’ available to each of us.
Last year, I rushed into an office building south of Denver, very late for an appointment. I ran to the elevator, desperately punching the button, worrying that I’d made the long drive into the city for nothing, and would be told I’d have to reschedule. As the elevator doors opened, I was suddenly overcome with a powerful sensation: Something was telling me in no uncertain terms to not get on the elevator. I remember feeling foolish, and taking a step forward anyway, fully aware of how late I was. The sensation washed over me again, and I stepped back. The doors closed and the elevator took off. Within a span of seconds, the power in the building blinked off, and the elevators all became stuck. The people who’d boarded the elevator without me were trapped on board for hours, until rescue personnel arrived. Would that be my sixth sense taking over the controls?
An angelic intervention? Or, another instance of my intuitive powers picking up on some greater pool of unconscious knowledge? I wish I knew.
Many people speak of receiving information in sudden flashes, but don’t know where the information originates. Others, who have developed their intuitive gifts, rely on this information to discern the truth in situations ranging from telling whether or not someone is lying to them, to suddenly changing lanes in traffic to avoid an accident. But how can we develop these powers more fully?
In the world of holistic living, of course, we often refer to the inseparable nature of the body, mind, and spirit. Is it possible that a practice devoted to mindful activities that engage all of these aspects of our being, such as Qigong, Tai Chi, and yoga, can be useful in developing the intuitive powers that lie within each of us?
We asked five experts in the field of mindful movement and meditation to share their thoughts on the power of a sixth sense”.Click To Tweet
Ken Cohen, M.A., M.S.Th. is the winner of the Alyce and Elmer Green Award for Innovation and Lifetime Achievement in Energy Medicine, and is an internationally renowned health educator and Qigong Master. With more than forty years experience, he is considered a world leader in natural health. Cohen’s work has been sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Mayo Clinic, the Canadian Ministry of Health, and numerous medical schools. He is the author of multiple books, including The Way of Qigong (Wellspring/Ballantine, 1997) and Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing (Ballantine Books, 2006), along with best-selling Sounds True audio and DVD courses, and more than 200 journal articles.
“The Tai Chi Classic, a centuries old work that describes Chinese healing and martial arts, says, ‘If the opponent doesn’t move, I don’t move. If he/she makes the slightest move, I move first.’ How can you possibly move first, moments before the opponent launches an attack? I believe that this skill is essentially the same as what allows a master herbalist to ‘write the prescription as the patient walks through the door.’ The initial diagnosis is made on the basis of qi se, literally, energy color, one’s intuitive impression of the patient. All of the diagnostic tools, such as pulse reading, the color of the tongue fur, the general demeanor of the patient, confirm and add details to this initial reading. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘What you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.’
Although intuition may incorporate intellect and previous training, when it occurs, the solution, the insight, the decision presents itself. The whole speaks through the part. One cannot say where intuition comes from because there is no ‘where,’ no separation of self from other, of person from transcendent. Intuition becomes more accurate and more frequent as we learn to trust the unknown, the silence of being that which the Chinese call The Tao.
The Taoist healing arts of Tai Chi and Qigong include many ways of awakening and refining intuition. Instead of focusing on the mind directly, qigong techniques affect the mind by first training the body. As the body relaxes, physiological blocks to intuition are dissolved. The breath slows from its usual anxious pace of 17 breaths per minute, down to a tranquil 5-7 breaths per minute, or even slower. Let me give you a simple qigong meditation to help you achieve this goal: Observe your breath without pulling it in or pushing it out. The breath is entirely natural, the belly expanding gently as you inhale, and releasing as you exhale. Look for five qualities of the breath: slow, long, deep, smooth, and even. Slow breathing creates a mind that is quiet, awake and flexible so that intellect and intuition can each function as needed.”
Desi Bartlett. Yoga teacher Desi Bartlett is the host of Acacia’s Yoga for Beginners and Prenatal Yoga DVDs. She has taught health and wellness for over 17 years, and holds advanced certifications in yoga, personal training, and group fitness.
“I very much believe that we can deepen our intuitive skills through mindful practice. If you think of different mental skills as exercise, then it makes sense that a daily or even weekly practice can help to strengthen this set of ‘muscles.’ As a yogini, I have learned that meditation is a way to stay in the present moment, and hear that clear inner guidance that we so often seek. Through meditation we can slow our thoughts down and really listen to the path of our life. Sometimes that results in a flash of insight; other times, it creates a deep sense of inner peace because there is an innate knowing that the answers to the questions that we seek are within. There is a great quote about advice being what we seek when we don’t like the answer to the question. Through meditation we can strengthen the inner knowing ‘muscle,’ as we start to trust these insights.
When children are learning their ABC’s, they repeat them over and over singing them as a song, and applying them in their daily language. This is similar to one of the exercises that one can do in meditation: chanting a mantra and trusting. A mantra is a syllable or set of syllables that are repeated over and over to evoke a certain vibration and stimulate the mind.
You can sing a mantra repeatedly, and as you do, your mind starts to clear. It is really hard to sing the word peace over and over, and continue to think about what you should have for dinner, or if you returned your mother-in-law’s call. The feeling of peace starts to enter your being on some level. Your mind starts to think about pictures of peace. When you finish the meditation, there is a clear sense of what peace looks like to you. The trick is to then follow that guidance, to trust that it is real, and not just a figment of your imagination. You start to apply the inner guidance.
Some teachers liken prayer to asking for answers, and meditation to the time to listen for the answers. I love this analogy. As one starts to meditate as a daily practice, this ‘inner knowing muscle,’ gets to be quite strong. So strong in fact, that many times the answers come forth immediately, without having to sit with the question for long periods of time. To me, this is intuition. The immediate inner knowing that goes beyond daily thinking. The flashes of insight can come as pictures, sounds, or thoughts. We need only to listen and trust.
If you know that your mind is particularly chatty, try a physical activity before you start to meditate. Practice yoga postures, go for a run, do something to help take the fight out of your body, so that you can sit still in meditation comfortably. Once you have, try a daily practice of five minutes. Another approach to meditation is to practice it first thing in the morning. Before you even open your eyes, just lay there for another five minutes and breathe slowly. Notice the quality of your inhalation and exhalation. Try to make them equal in length. Repeat the word balance, and start your day with this feeling.”
Matt Pesendian, L.Ac., has been practicing and studying the art of Hatha yoga and meditation for 20 years, dedicating his studies to the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya and Zhander Remete, the founder of Shadow Yoga. Pesendian also practices Qigong, and received his Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine. Nationally Board Certified in acupuncture, he is currently developing a Medical Qigong program at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, and teaches Shadow Yoga workshops internationally. In addition, he leads workshops and retreats, including combined surf and yoga retreats for Via Yoga.
“If approached patiently and consistently, one will discover that meditative practices were specifically designed to enhance one’s natural intuitive capabilities. In this universe, communication is crucial and messages are constantly being sent on countless levels. The most apparent ones are fairly loud and clear, and can be found at the surface of our lives. However, some of the most profound messages (in regards to how we should approach and guide ourselves on a daily basis) tend to come from a far deeper place than our external world. When experienced, that level of perception is often described as an all-knowing feeling. Intuition is that ability to perceive and receive those inner messages, to contact that feeling voiced by the inner self.
Yoga, whether Indian or Daoist based, provides the basic means towards developing this level of communication, the art of listening inwardly. In fact, individuals who were guided by the act of intuition itself created these sacred practices. Consequently, the highest state of yoga, known as Samadhi, is often referred to as intuitive knowledge of the highest truth.
From a yogic perspective, this state of awareness is cultivated primarily by studying and understanding the breath at a very practical level. By focusing on the breath, we learn how to become comfortable with the present moment. As our respiration slows down and deepens, the mind becomes calmer. As the mind becomes calmer we tend to see, hear, and feel into things more clearly. If these inner messages begin to help one navigate life (in a balanced manner), one starts to trust that line of communication more and more. I believe that this is truly one of the highest skills that can be cultivated on this path.
However, there are no guaranteed recipes for developing intuition. It’s a personal process and should unfold naturally. Every yoga and qigong master I have been fortunate enough to spend time with have all essentially said the same thing, ‘There is a universal language that is in all of us. Dwell on these currents and you will start to understand.'”
Wade Imre Morissette is the author of Transformative Yoga: Five Keys to Unlocking Inner Bliss (New Harbinger Publications, 2009), which includes a foreword by his twin sister, Alanis Morissette. Morissette has studied yoga for more than seventeen years with many of the world’s most influential teachers, including Baba Hari Das, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, T.K.V. Desikachar, and the Krishnamacharya Lineage. He leads workshops, yoga teacher training, retreats, and mantra music evenings internationally. Morissette is director of teacher training and program operations at YYoga in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He also practices vipassana meditation and is a recording artist with Nettwerk Music Group.
“When we engage in a mindfulness practice, we are consciously pointing our mind to a place of calm and accessing a deep inner awareness. Heightening awareness goes hand in hand with increasing intuition. When the mind is scattered because of busy mental chatter, one is not able to listen to the inner wisdom when it speaks. Thus, it is important to focus your attention and slow down your thoughts, as this allows for a greater capacity to hear the inner cues that the body/mind/spirit provides. In my book, in the chapter entitled Awareness, I describe how it is important to listen to the wisdom of the body (intuition) and how to act on the knowledge of your inner compass.
On an intuitive level, the inner voice, or compass, comes from a deep sense of self. As the mind stills and the body relaxes, then energy in the form of prana or life force can be used to access this inner dimension, and to take action. Another positive consequence of stilling the mind is the opening of the heart. Compassion and love start to become the primary and only goal as we deepen our awareness. This deeper connection to self always guides the individual back to the heart, and then enables one to access more intuition.
Some practical tips for accessing or enhancing deeper intuition and stilling the mind include starting with a broader practice to enhance the connection to your body. This can be physical movement and focused breathing like yoga, dancing, singing (such as kirtan-call and response mantra singing meditation), cardio activity, and/or walking.”
Hemalayaa. Besides her bestselling Bollywood dance DVDs including The Bollywood Dance Workout and Bollywood Burn, Beautiful Belly, yoga instructor Hemalayaa teaches classes in yoga and Indian dance in California, and leads workshops and retreats around the world. A yoga practitioner since she was very young, Hemalayaa also studied philosophy and meditation..
“Yoga, meditation and spiritual practices were present in my upbringing. When I was getting ready for an exam or test at school, my father would sit me down in the mornings and we’d meditate together. We would chant the vibration OM, and sit and breathe. My father is an extremely intuitive person, and I believe he was born with some of it, as we all are to some degree, and some of it was developed with his practices. He has always had some sort of physical practice to support the body, which I also feel is important in our lives and can deepen our sense of intuition. I choose yoga and walking in nature, both of which are of great benefit to my body, mind, and spirit. I feel that I am more in tune with those around me. More and more I am becoming intuitive; having visions that give me clarity about situations, and life choices. I believe this has a lot to do with my practices of yoga, breathing, and meditative walking. My father has had a regular physical exercise practice for as long as I can remember, and although he did not do a lot of asanas when I was growing up, he was always consistent with movement, every day. I remember him practicing a little headstand every now and then, which I called weird, even though I was intrigued by what he was doing. He was into the meditation and devotional side of yoga more than the poses, trying to create that union that we seek constantly through external sources. We see this in our daily lives; in the way we seek union with relationships, material things, etc. He always found that ‘going home to God,’ or the Source (if you wish to call it that) was the way he got himself present and in-tune.
As I practice yoga more and more, I feel that the real reason why my intuition is increasing is that I am using my heart as my decision-maker, instead of my head. Our head/mind will make survival choices pretty fast in those instances or circumstances that it needs to. Our hearts can do all the rest. I believe that people who are in their hearts more by nature, upbringing, or practice are able to use this skill more readily than those of us who are more ‘heady.’ The head will have constant commentary regarding how and what we’re doing, listing the endless pros and cons, without any real solution or answer. One easy way I bring myself into that place of the heart is to sit, and breathe deeply into where my heart is in my physical body; into my ribcage, the cage or holder of the heart. I focus there, dropping into this place and listening to the simple answers, guidance and directions that come. The heart will always give you what you truly need. It seems too easy because it is.”
By Debra Bokur
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