Intuition Arises from the Body
Most of us do not remain in our body when difficult emotions arise. Rather than feel our emotions, our minds try to figure out how to change our discomfort. This is where so much of our unnecessary "doing" comes from. Learning how to move forward intuitively, however, can save years of unnecessary steps. We can liken progressing in life to progressing in therapy.
In the early 1960's, psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin discovered what type of person progressed in therapy, and what type did not. He found that unsuccessful therapy clients stayed mentally articulate through the entire therapy session, and they did not sense into their bodies. Focusing Psychotherapy teacher and author of "The Power of Focusing," Ann Weiser Cornell explains, "No matter how much they analyzed their problems, thought about them, or cried about them, their therapy was unsuccessful."
Successful therapy clients slowed down their talking and groped for words. They identified feelings in their body - even as their body awareness felt vague and difficult to describe at first. This leaning into what is not yet known in the body, is in essence, a perfect description of intuition. Cultivating intuition involves sensing inside of our body to discover the next step that we need to take in our life.
Art to Access Intuition
Before we can have clear access to our intuition, we need to acknowledge and sort out the emotional conflicts that we have within. One way to bypass our thinking mind and access our hidden inner conflicts is to engage in making a simple spontaneous art making process.
I like to offer the activity of spontaneous collage to anyone who tends to over-think their lives. Creating a collage involves randomly choosing imagery and words from a magazine, and gluing them together in an intuitive way. Choosing imagery that feels emotionally strong, and quickly assembling it into a collage before our rational mind can interpret it, provides an honest visual picture of how we are really feeling.
Most often, when I work with people to support them to make sense of what they have created, we discover several different conflicting parts of self within one collage. It is quite easy to symbolically see how the various parts of our personality want different things. Inner conflict arises from opposing aspects of self having different goals for our happiness. And, inner conflict creates emotional pain.
The avoidance of the hurting parts of ourselves can motivate us to take vigorous, and even successful action in the world. Yet, until we turn towards our uncomfortable emotional states with love and acceptance, our efforts to connect to our intuition will ultimately be thwarted. When we are busy avoiding our emotional pain, we remain out of touch with our intuitive bodily knowing.
Intuition arises when we are emotionally and psychologically integrated. To heal inner conflict, we can learn how to spend equal time with the opposite sides of our nature. The polarities in our thinking and emotional states need equal love and attention. If we nurture the thinking aspect of our nature to the exclusion of our feeling nature, our emotional pain will secretly accumulate in our shadow. And, our inner conflicts will become even more painful.
If we express only one side of ourselves in our daily life, expressing the opposite of what we normally think or feel through art making can feel very liberating. Allowing "forbidden" feelings to emerge through creative expression can incite powerful integration and inner peace. As Lao Tse wrote about integrating opposites in the Tao Te Ching, "Whoever says 'beautiful' at the same time creates unbeautiful. Whoever says 'good' creates ungood."
Through regular creative practices, we can witness the play of our inner conflicts from a place of stillness, fascination, and even amusement. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle expresses the essence of intuition, "Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behaviors. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain." When we learn to love our dark and our light, our accepted and unaccepted, we can reconcile our inner warfare, and our intuition can come to the forefront to guide our life.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of Women in Trade Magazine