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Consulting Your Intuition

Friday, September 23rd, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Download MP3: intuition.mp3

Today I'd like to discuss with you the topic of consulting your intuition and accessing information stored in your subconscious mind.

I'm sure at some point you've heard about the difference between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. Your conscious mind is simply the thinking that you're aware of right now — what you're currently thinking about in your head that you identify as your own thoughts.

Your subconscious mind is all the mental processing that's going on below your level of conscious awareness. This includes, for example, your body regulating your autonomic functions such as your breathing and your heartbeat. It also includes your memories that you're not consciously thinking about right now. Those are stored somewhere below the level of consciousness.

One of the reasons you might want to access your subconscious brain — or your subconscious mind — is that you can gain many benefits from the strengths of your subconscious mind that you cannot gain as easily from your conscious mind.

There's three key benefits that I'd like to go over with you right now.

Problem Solving

The first benefit is problem solving. Your subconscious mind has access to far more information than you can think of consciously. Let me give you an example: how many memories can you consciously think of right now?

Can you think of one memory; sure. Can you think of two memories at the same time; maybe. But can you think of 10 or 20 or a 100 or a 1000?

Not very likely.

Your subconscious mind, however, has the ability to access all these different memories simultaneously, whereas you cannot do this consciously.

So in terms of problem solving, if you want to solve a problem consciously, you must do so in a fairly linear fashion. You have to load up a very small amount of data into your conscious mind, and be able to think about it, and access it. When trying to solve a problem consciously, even if you completely immerse yourself in it, there's still a limit as to how much you can fit in your consciousness.

In terms of a computer analogy, it's like you only have a certain amount of mental RAM (Random Access Memory). You only have a certain amount of that RAM in your head that you can load up and do your current conscious thinking with. Subconsciously, however, you have a much larger amount of storage space with which you can work.

Clearly, if you could access the vast reserve of knowledge you have in your subconscious mind — even though you're not aware of how it's working or of how that type of mental processing is occurring — if you could get the whole brain invested in solving a problem, not just your conscious mind, but your subconscious as well, you would have far more mental computing capacity to apply to solving problems.

Self-Understanding

The second benefit for consulting your subconscious information — or accessing your intuition — is self-understanding. You can pull out what you intuitively know to be true, and become consciously aware of it. Have you ever had a situation where you seemed to be behaving in a manner which you just didn't understand? You might have asked yourself Why am I behaving like this? Why am I acting like this?

Using a process, which I'll tell you later in this program, you can gain access to your subconscious understanding and pull it into your conscious mind. You'll often find that while consciously you do not understand why you're behaving a certain way or why you're thinking a certain way, subconsciously there is often a reason that makes a great deal of sense.

Most of us don't know how to interface with our subconscious minds in such a way that the communication makes sense to us consciously. We see behavior and we consciously think Why am I doing that? That's a bad habit, why don't I stop? But on the subconscious level — where your subconscious mind has a lot more information available to it, information it can access simultaneously — it begins to make sense.

Think of your subconscious mind as having an IQ that's much, much greater than your conscious mind. Sometimes we simply don't respect how much more information our subconscious mind has available to it and how much information it's using to make its decisions in controlling our behavior.

Much of our behavior is controlled subconsciously. We don't always consciously think of what were going to do and then act. Oftentimes, our actions are automatic or we have a compulsion to do something, especially in the form of habits.

By developing a better interface to our subconscious mind, we can then pull these behaviors into a conscious level of understanding, understand the behavior, and start to change it in a way that makes sense. Otherwise, if we try to make changes before we fully understand why we're already behaving this way, then our changes may very well be ineffective.

Consistency

The third benefit in learning to consult with your subconscious mind is consistency: getting your actions and your thinking to be in agreement. This is a step beyond self-understanding. You're listening to your subconscious mind, you're listening to why your behavior is a certain way, and you're working to change it.

Most people try to make a change, in terms of saying here's what I want, consciously. They command their subconscious mind to do it — and there are ways you can do that, by setting goals, by visualizing what the outcome is — and sometimes that works.

But sometimes it doesn't work, and when it doesn't work, often it's because, consciously, you do not understand the problem or the goal that you're trying to achieve to the same degree that your subconscious mind understands it. If you could respect and get to know your subconscious level of understanding of the problem, you might realize why it's blocking you from applying your current solution.

Oftentimes your subconscious mind will block you from applying a current solution that you (consciously) think is the best one for you, because it realizes it's not the best approach. It realizes there's a better way of achieving your goal; or maybe it sees that your goal is malformed to begin with — that you shouldn't be setting this goal to begin with — and so it blocks you from trying to achieve it.

So these three benefits — problem solving, self understanding, and consistency between your actions and your thoughts — are three very crucial benefits to why you might want to develop the ability to consult your intuition and to access your subconscious level of thinking.

Now let's move into how to do this. How can we actually communicate more deeply with our subconscious mind and get access to that much wider capacity for thinking, that more holistic form of thought?

Journaling Method

The first method I'll give you, and I'll give you two methods here, is what you might think of as a journaling method. I do this in my journal, so that's why I think of it as a journaling method, but you could just think of it as a simple writing method. It's very, very simple, but it will take a bit of practice until you can develop skill and confidence with it.

All you do is you take a piece of paper — or if you keep a computer journal or you want to type this up in a computer document, that's fine too — and you type up a question, or you type up a request for information, and then you simply sort of relax and type whatever comes to mind. The first thing that comes to mind, type or write it. So for example, let's say you want to increase your income; so you might start with some questions of self understanding.

I highly recommend the best approach is to understand where you are right now. Once you have that level of understanding that comes from your subconscious, then you can start to work to negotiate with your subconscious on how to make a change that you might want to make. Ultimately, your conscious mind is the one in control, but your subconscious is, in a sense, smarter, in that it has access to more information.

However, it doesn't have its own independent will; it will follow the will of your conscious mind, but it will also object, sometimes violently so, when it believes what you're doing is not in your best interest, when it believes it is getting conflicting signals from your conscious mind.

When using this approach, you might start with a question or a request that says, Explain to me why I am at my current level or Explain to me why I'm experiencing my current financial situation as I am right now. And then just type what comes to mind, and just listen to that inner voice. Try to just relax; what I find helps most is to focus on the intentionto hear the truth; not to hear an answer that you want to hear, that will generally block the results from coming through very clearly. So what you're really doing is you're using your conscious mind to pose a question to your subconscious, and letting that answer flow up from your subconscious mind, into your consciousness.

You might hear it in the form of words in your head, but usually what happens when I do it is that I get it in the form of thoughts, which are not fully verbalized, and then what I have to do consciously is take those thoughts and turn them into words as I type.

So sometimes I struggle over the exact words to type, because the information comes up sometimes as mere thoughts, like abstract concepts, it comes up as images, it comes up as impulses, sometimes even sounds. But do your best to consciously translate those signals that are coming into your consciousness, just by listening, and type them out as text.

Once you feel you've exhausted the flow of information you're getting — and some answers you might type up a sentence, some I find I'll type 2 pages, because I just have more and more information coming to me — then move onto the next question. Then you might ask other questions of understanding, of further understanding.

For example, you might ask clarification questions if you get an answer back and it doesn't seem to make sense to you. You might say Please clarify, so imagine that you're treating your subconscious mind almost as someone you're interviewing. So you're posing questions to your subconscious and it's coming back to your conscious mind.

I find that it usually takes me a good 15 minutes of using this approach before I really feel I'm getting a good flow of information. Oftentimes the first few questions I ask, and the first 15 minutes of writing, feels like I'm just typing gibberish or I'm typing garbage, or it doesn't really seem like the answers make a lot of sense.

But after doing this for about 15, maybe 20 minutes, then suddenly I feel as if now I've got a connection going. Now I'm really starting to get good information. Once you get that level of self-understanding, or you feel you're really understanding the situation you're dealing with, then you can start negotiating a change. I don't use this method to demand a change. I start using it to negotiate a change.

So for example, once you understand your financial situation, you might say to your subconscious mind, OK, here's what I want. I would like to double my income over the next year. Can you show me how to do that?, and let the information flow to you again and see what answer comes to you. I find that often the information I get from this is extremely valuable, far more so than what I can think about consciously.

The conscious plans I get, while often they look really good on paper, sometimes don't work; whereas the subconscious information I get sometimes doesn't look good to me consciously, however, it often is extremely effective when I try to apply it. It's as if my subconscious mind knows something that my conscious mind doesn't. It has access to more information and often its solutions are more intelligent.

So part of this process, as you negotiate with your subconscious mind, is to ask for enough clarifications, such that you do understand it consciously, and that you do see it will work. See, I'm not a believer in following your intuition blindly; this is not a process where you simply consult your intuition, then blindly follow its advice. It's a process where you can bring your intuitive, or subconscious, understanding into your consciousness, where you can then understand it better. Then you can align your conscious thinking with your subconscious knowing, and implement a solution to one of your problems, or set a goal and make a plan to achieve that goal, such that you not only believe in it consciously, but subconsciously you also feel its correct.

When you do that, you're far more likely to achieve success, because now all parts of your mind, all parts of your brain, are on the same page. When it comes to the journaling method, I sometimes get a groove where I'll do it for 3 or 4 hours straight without stopping. It's as if I have a sort of connection, and I just don't want to break it. You get in this flow of information coming, and sometimes it's just amazing to hear or to read what you're typing.

You'd be surprised just the things that come out of your mind.

Visualization Method

Let's move onto the second method now. The second method is very similar to the first one, except it's done entirely in your mind instead of using pen and paper. This is a visualization method. What you do is the same process of asking questions and listening for the answers, but in this case, instead of trying to translate the answer into words, you keep it in the form of images.

So you ask a question, and it could be the same one, like Show me what my current financial situation is right now, and you close your eyes (if you find it easier to visualize with your eyes closed, otherwise keep your eyes open, if you find it easier to visualize with your eyes open) and listen for an answer.

But listen for it in your imagination, almost like you're daydreaming, and let an image pop into your mind, and then just listen to that image, in the sense that you pay attention to the image, you focus on it, and let the image do what it wants to do. Usually, I find when I get an image, it will start to become animated, and something will happen. It's like a scene will play out in my head, sometimes the scene may take only 5 seconds, other times it may be a minute long, or maybe it's a whole series of animations.

And what will happen is the scene is maybe just some random images, like you may see a bird flying through the sky, through the clouds, landing on the ground, and so on.

So don't try to interpret the images at this point, just let them come to you. The images may not mean anything to you at this point. That is perfectly fine. Once you feel that whatever images have come to you have played themselves out, in other words, you've probably seen some kind of animation and it's played itself out in your head, then, once you have that sequence in your head fairly clearly, and you can review it as much as you want, backwards or forwards, until you feel you have it locked into your conscious mind.

Then go back over it, and now you go through a process of interpreting these images. What you do here is you simply ask for each part for each object you can identify in your vision, you ask your subconscious mind, you say, What does this represent?, and wait for a word to come to mind, and the first word that pops into your head, that's the one you go with.

So for example, if you see a bird flying through the sky in your image, then you would ask, after you're done with the image and it's played itself out, you might ask yourself, What does the bird represent?, and then you hear an answer back, You. So the bird is you. And then maybe you see the bird flying through clouds, so you ask, What do the clouds represent? Maybe the clouds are other people. And then you might see the bird land on the ground, and then you ask the question, What does the ground represent?, and so on.

Now once you have the interpretation of these different images, and you know what all the nouns in your scene represent, now you interpret the scene by going back over the visual elements of the scene and seeing what those nouns are doing. Except now, instead of using that original object in the scene, you substitute its interpretation.

So here's a simple example of how this type of visualization worked for me on trying to solve a problem:

I asked a question of Show me how my thinking is in a certain area of my life? The image that I got was of a sun moving behind clouds, and when I asked my subconscious mind, What does the sun represent?, the answer I got back was me. That the sun represented me. When I asked it what the clouds represented, then the answer I got back was that the clouds were my thinking. So what it was really saying is that my thinking was becoming cloudy. I was moving behind these clouds.

So you'll see that there's a symbolic interpretation to the images that you that you receive and to what the images are doing. The verbs that you would use to describe what they're doing will often be very interesting when you hear them. When you hear yourself saying them out loud, you might even choose to go a step further and write them down. Sometimes I do that, especially when I was first learning this process, I would often write down what I was seeing, so that I could review the words I was writing.

For example, if you visualize a bird, and you see the bird coming and landing on the ground, you might interpret that as coming down to earth, in other words becoming more grounded in your thinking. That's one possibility.

So in using this method — of asking questions and then waiting for a visual answer, letting a scene play out in your head, identifying the objects in the scene, interpreting those objects (again, by asking your subconscious mind what they represent), and then plugging those interpretations back into the scene and seeing what they're doing — now you get a complete answer.

I realize this may sound a little complicated, but in practice it's actually very fast; sometimes you can go through the whole process in less than a minute, once you get practice with it.

So here you have two different methods. You have the journaling method, or the writing method, where you're communicating with your subconscious mind, you're asking questions and letting the answers come to you in the form of words which you write down. And the second method is the visualization method, where you, again, pose a question in your head to your subconscious mind, but instead of writing it down on a piece of paper, you let the answer come to you in the form of images, which you then interpret.

My current favourite is the second method, but I started out with the first method and was using that for many, many years, before I eventually switched to the visualization method. The one thing I like about the visualization method is that you can do the whole thing in your head. You don't even need a pen and paper once you get used to it, so you can go through a lot of questions very quickly. What may take 3 or 4 hours with the journal method could be done in maybe 20-30 minutes with the visualization method. So you can get these realizations coming to you much more quickly, and communicating from your subconscious mind to your conscious mind.

Now again, the ways in which you can apply these two methods are: you can use them to solve problems, you can pose a question of Show me how to solve this particular problem, you can use it for self-understanding, which I think is one of the most powerful ways you can get a better understanding your own behavior. For example, you can pose the question, Show me why I am procrastinating on this particular area of my life?.

You can also use it to get consistency between your thinking and your actions, so that's a process of negotiation, again, where you get information for your subconscious mind and you begin to understand why you're behaving a certain way. Once you do, then you can begin to suggest changes and negotiate with your subconscious mind, asking it to show you how to make this change in a way that it feels is intelligent.

So my challenge to you is to pick one of these two methods and sometime in the next week, use it to try and either solve a problem, to gain a higher level of self-understanding or to get more consistency between your action and thinking in some area of your life.

But try to use one of these methods, just once during the next week. And again, these are methods that take a bit of practice to work, so if your results the first time seem a little bit foggy and not quite as clear, realize that with practice your results will become much better. You'll get clear answers, you'll get better information back.

And again, the real goal here is to create a bridge between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind, so that you can access that reserve of information and knowledge that's stored below your level of consciousness, pull it up into your conscious mind, or you can use it to make better decisions.

So take on this challenge, and until next time.

Live consciously.