There is agreement in neuroscience literature that intuition is related to the unconscious.
Famed transpersonal psychologist Carl Jung described intuition as unconscious perception that taps into implicit processes and knowledge in the body and brain. We also know that intuition predominantly sits in the non-dominant hemisphere of the brain and is often derived from images, feelings, physical sensations and metaphors. In this first part of this article I will explore the nature and role of the unconscious mind and consider some ways in which we can access our unconscious to aid us in developing our intuition, including signs and symbols and dreams.
The Unconscious and the Higher Self
In psychotherapy, the conscious and unconscious minds are often referred to. When explaining hypnotherapy to a client, for example, I often talk about the conscious and unconscious minds in terms of an iceberg. The conscious mind is that part of the iceberg above the water; it involves our conscious awareness of what is around us and our conscious decisions. The unconscious mind, on the other hand, is like the greater mass of ice below the water. It houses our memories of past experiences, a great deal of knowledge and contains a range of unconscious beliefs that we build up during our lifetime about ourselves and the world. It also wants what is best for us and can guide us in connecting with and developing intuition.
Penney Peirce, a leading expert and author on the subject of intuition, refers to the conscious mind, the unconscious mind, and the ‘Higher Self’. She has the view that when intuition arises from the unconscious, it often comes through the five senses or in the physical body. The Higher Self is described as understanding the interconnection of everything that exists in time and space, so it can generate global perceptions and transcendent experiences. It is that part of you that contains a higher awareness and purpose. When intuition arises from your Higher Self, it is frequently experienced like a light is turning on in your head, involving a blending of all your senses and an all-over ’direct knowing’ often accompanied by a feeling of openheartedness.
Activities that can help you tap into your unconscious mind and develop intuition include being self-aware, practicing meditation and mindfulness, enjoying imaginative and creative activities (such as music, drawing and mandalas) and relating to others with awareness and empathy.
Writing is also a great way to access your inner wisdom and develop intuition. Do you have a problem that you want to reflect on and seek guidance with? Stephanie Dowrick suggests writing a letter about it in detail and then finishing with one of these questions: ‘The insight I most value is … ?’, ‘The action I need to take is … ?’ or ‘I am most grateful to see that … ?’