The other night I was headed to my studio in my car to teach a painting class.
My route to work is along the freeway and I am normally a speed demon behind the wheel, but for some reason on this particular evening I was driving at a reasonable, non breakneck pace in the slower right lane.
All of a sudden the road got extremely bumpy, which made no sense at first, cause I drive this road daily....have for years.... and this was a decidedly new experience. At first I thought that maybe this was just a slow right lane thing that I had never noticed because I am never IN the slower right lane. And then I strongly suspected that the bumpiness was being caused by my car and...... oh shit...maybe I had a flat tire. Well, I pulled over, and sure enough, the front left tire was completely blown out.
So I spent the next two hours sitting on the shoulder of a busy freeway, sucking down exhaust and feeling frustrated and annoyed while waiting for Triple AAA to show up and for some nice young person to change my tire.
It never occurred to me to change my own tire, since I am now 56 years old and no longer have the Amazon Warrior "I Am Woman" thrill I used to get when I was younger and needed to prove to myself that I could do things like change a tire on a busy freeway. At night. I'd rather sit in the car and fume. Anyway, the guy showed up eventually, fixed the tire and I was on my way.
The weird and noteworthy part of this story is that just three days earlier I heard an out of the blue voice in my head say, "You should get your tires checked."
That's it. Just once. Very calmly and matter of fact."You should get your tires checked." There was no reason for me to think that my tires needed to be checked. They were relatively new... a little more than 2 years old with good tread, no leakage or any other kind of noticeable problem. Now, obviously I did not listen to this voice, and what is really sad is that this is not the first time something like this has happened.
I am a creative type, teach intuitive painting classes and identify myself as an intuitive person, and so developing my intuition is a very high priority in my life.
When I make decisions I rely on my inner voice (which is often very loud and bossy. Not exactly the "still, small voice" that one usually hears about ) to steer me in the right direction. And when I pay attention to it and follow its instructions things work out pretty well. So I have learned to trust it. And because I trust it and it knows that I hold it in very high regard, it keeps yakking at me. We actually have a good thing going, my voice and me.
Now I don't want to give the false impression that my relationship with my intuitive voice is always "Peachy with a side of keen" ( thank you Joss Whedon and Buffy for that little bit of language kung fu).
Because I don't always listen. Or I will listen, eventually, but only after many strenuous and repeated objections. And why don't I just listen? Especially given the fact that my yakky inner voice is usually right and has given me really good advice over the years?
Because even though I generally respect it, and after a round of futile arguments I almost always give in and do what it tells me to do, I have this little problem with demanding that my inner voice prove itself to me by insisting that the directives it gives me make some kind of logical, rational and reasonable sense.
That's the main reason why I didn't pay attention and take some action about the tires. I needed convincing!
So when my intuition tells me to do something like check my tires, I want to know how it arrived at that conclusion. I want to understand the mechanics and I want it to spell out to me exactly how it got from A to B.
But that's not how it works. It just knows things. And it's either not clued in itself or is not interested in telling me how the whole thing operates.
A number of years ago I read an amazing book by astrologer Steven Forrest called Measuring The Night which explores in great depth a powerful approach to this ancient divinatory art called Evolutionary Astrology. I had been a "hobby astrologer" for decades before coming across Steven's work but had never studied directly with a teacher. After I attended one seminar with him my inner voice started in on one of its bossy tirades.
Voice: "You need to really pursue this." Me: "Are you kidding me? I already have two businesses and I'm busier than I want to be and you want me to take on yet another line of work??" Voice: "You need to really pursue this." And its back and forth and back and forth with it saying the same thing over and over, no explanation, until I just get completely worn down and say "OK. OK. I'll sign up for his damned apprenticeship program. Jeeze Louise. I wish just once you would give me a good reason for these things!!"
And of course I signed up with Steven and stuck around for about 6 years. And the program was fantastic. My symbol loving brain could not have been happier. I met some wonderful people who have become great friends. And I began actually practicing as an Evolutionary Astrologer, something that I love doing, have gotten quite good at and because of it have increased my income. I have never regretted for a moment that I went down this path. But I wouldn't have done it if I were just listening to the rational, reasonable part of me. Pursuing astrology in a serious, professional way just did not make "sense" to me at the time.
Intuition is often defined as knowing something without knowing how you know it.
And no one gets exactly how it works. Scientific types think that the brain picks up on a lot of subtle cues that don't make it to conscious awareness and then puts all these bits of information together in a way that people experience as a hunch or a gut feeling or a bolt from the blue ( or a little voice giving you orders).
Those on the more metaphysical end of the spectrum see the world as one big energy field that we are all embedded in. Anyone can tap into that matrix and retrieve information and find guidance if they just know how to dial into the right channel.
Personally, I think that both camps have a piece of the puzzle and that the intuition uses things that you experience directly ( albeit under your conscious radar) as well as tapping into some larger invisible web of connectivity.
Intuition is also something that has gotten a bad rap in the western world because it is not clearly understood. We live in a part of the world and at a time in history that does not value the mysterious meanderings of the right brain. And even though I make my living trying to help people trust their intuition more, even though I "believe" in it I am still somewhat influenced by those cultural prejudices.
To tell the truth, my intuition scares me.
It chose my husband, convinced me to relocate to California and commandeered me into a career as an expressive arts teacher.
It has pointed me in directions that have always been incredibly life enhancing but is clearly not at all interested in maintaining the status quo.
If what it wants me to do next is going to shake my life up a little bit, or even more than a little bit, well, then so be it. Its concerns are not necessarily "of this world". It doesn't care all that much about money or position or worldly success or power.
Now when I follow its dictates a lot of those things often show up as byproducts, but what the intuition is mostly interested in is my soul's growth. It has a clear sense about who I am and what I am here to do during my short span on this planet and it wants me to get on with it.
It is hell bent on me finding ways to shine my light into the world and living a very real and authentic life.
The messages about things like the tires are just little bonuses that it throws in.
The world at large is going through a major shakedown. Things are changing rapidly and will continue to transform. I don't think that any of us can begin to imagine what the world is going to look like in even five years. But I'm willing to bet that the landscape of our lives is going to get rearranged on a lot of different fronts. During times of major upheaval we have no good maps because the landscape HAS changed.
We can't rely on external guideposts so what we need more than ever is a well functioning internal navigational system. And that is exactly what our intuition can provide for us.
Our logical, rational minds can only make sense of things based on what we have already experienced. Now I'm not saying that we don't need logical and rational during times like these, because goddess knows that we do. That part of us definitely has a job to do.
But figuring out how to make our way through unfamiliar and potentially scary environments is not one of those jobs. That part of the mind can get too caught up in things like fear and negativity which often leads to paralysis and entrenchment when it finds itself in places that are more like the wilderness and less like a shopping mall.
What we are needing now is courage, trust, flexibility and an open heart. We need to stay curious and open to possibility and new directions. And we need to be light on our feet and able to turn on a dime.
The intuition is also connected up with our imagination and the dreaming self. And this is a time when we have an amazing opportunity to dream a new reality into existence.
So cultivate your intuition. Make it your friend. It likes it when you paint or meditate or take long walks out in the natural world. Pay attention to your dreams. Pray. Above all, let it know that you are listening.
And watch and be amazed as it bosses all of us into a new life and a new world created out of what matters most which always looks like our deepest hearts desires.