When I have questions or problems that I’m dealing with and I take time out to meditate and clear my mind, I sometimes get answers during the meditation. How do I tell whether these answers are my intuition or my mind? They feel like a hunch but then after the meditation I end up rationalising that hunch and can’t tell if the original answer was intuitive or my mind.
Do you have any advice on how I can tell the difference between an idea generated by my mind and pre-existing beliefs and an intuition that actually is a better way forward?
This is a very common question as we progress with our spiritual journey – the good news is that it is progress! Seeing the distinction that answers often just 'pop' up is a step in the right direction. Let's first look at our deep-seated assumptions.
Most of us think that Intuition is a ‘higher self’ that has superior guidance, and our Mind is the place of ego/mindset/belief/habits and therefore inferior. This sets us up for an internal ‘war’ against the higher and lower self. This assumption that you are somehow split into many levels of self would be worth some reflection. In reality there is no self to speak of, just consciousness. Playing ‘good cop, bad cop’ is just another ego game.
Life is a flow or unfolding of events and experiences. We think we make decisions but when we reflect on the decision itself, it just happens. A decision comes to you – whether in meditation or after a full SWOT analysis – if you closely observe the experience of making a decision – it simply arrives. This is always the way, life has unfolded to decision time – you think you have made it through effort or through intuitive insight, but have you really? Isn’t it more accurate to say decisions just happen?
This, like anything true, is observable through your own direct experience. If we take the time to observe. Usually, our thinking is too busy being engaged in beliefs and assumptions to be bothered to stop and stare. But it is well worth the effort.
How do you make decisions? Where do they come from? How do you arrive at them? Is it just an assumption that we need some process of ‘decision making’? In the business world we commonly look at SWOT or Pros and Cons assessments to make decisions, we are trained in all kinds of intricate processes and procedures. It may well be true that the process helps the decision arrive. It may be equally true that the decision arrives despite all our efforts, and if we had made zero effort the same decision would have presented itself. We have no way of knowing. If life is simply an unfolding than the SWOT was also part of the unfolding - nothing is out of place.
When looked at from this perspective, the idea of intuition or mind are secondary to the greater question of being in or out of flow. This is probably why your meditations are so helpful – they allow you to settle into yourself, to accept the flow of life around you, and to be more receptive. Information that comes during these times are still emanating from the mind – where else does intuition come from? It is still filtered through thought and perception.
Are you confusing trust with intuition? When I trust the decision or information as it arrives, I do not double guess, or waste my time trying to figure out why the answer appeared – it’s like magic, the answer comes, and I think “Oh yay!”
When I don’t trust the decision has just appeared out of nowhere then I get all caught up in the idea that I haven’t worked hard enough to come to this conclusion so how do I know it’s right, blah de blah…now I cloud this decision with lots of stressful thoughts and maybe that helps, but unlikely.
This is simply a matter of misplaced power and assumptions. As egos we like to think we control our decisions, that we somehow think them into being. I really recommend challenging this, see for yourself where it comes from. Even a simple exercise of sitting still and watching the contents of your mind, watching your thoughts – where do they come from? Isn’t it true they just appear? Can you stop them? They just kind of pop up from nowhere, even when you don’t want them to. We have zero control over what thoughts pop up, why do we think we have any more control over decisions? It’s funny, but un-investigated assumptions end up twisting us into all kinds of knots.
Life flow just happens – even if you think you have decided you never really know until the moment of action. I’m sure you’ve had this experience before – you think you have decided something but right at the last minute you do something else. Trusting the flow means trusting the outcome – no matter whether you feel it turns out the right way or not. No decision is made until the action occurs – any time before that is just unnecessary over-thinking.
Sometimes I look back and wonder if I could have chosen an easier or different path. But ultimately it is what it is, decisions happen, and life unfolds. Meditation and lessening the busyness of over-thinking helps you to get more in touch with information as it arises, but whether you trust and relax, or don’t trust and get all worked up – my bet is you would end up doing the same thing. That pretty much goes for anything. I used to believe there was such a thing as a ‘right’ answer, and that I could pick a ‘wrong’ one. But experience has taught me that this is probably not the case.
Life unfolds, we are life unfolding. And that’s pretty much that.