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3 Questions to Help You Access Your Intuition

“Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.” ~Horace

During my second year at an arts conservatory, I took a detailed diagnostic test to determine the hemispheric dominance of my left and right brain.

People who tend to lean toward the left are logical, reality-based, practical, and intellectual, when people who tend to lean toward the right are artistic, intuitive, feeling, and imaginative.

On a horizontal linear scale from 1 to 10—1 being the farthest left and 10 being the farthest right—I tested 4.8. That means that I am basically balanced between both sides of my brain but lean .2 toward the left.

Recently, I found a website that had a computer image of a ballerina spinning on her toe. If you saw the dancer spin clockwise, your brain dominance leaned toward the right; if anti-clockwise, left.

A friend of mine (who was also in that class with me at arts school) had her four-year old son do the exercise. He was able to see the dancer go both ways, capable of switching at will.

When she asked him how, he said, “I don’t know, Mommy. I am not my mind.” Jeez! I just want to hug this enlightened boy!

When we identify with our mind it can be our worst enemy. It likes to cycle, obsess, tighten, and cut us off from experiencing our heart. It can prevent us from having real intimacy with others and ourselves.

The mind says it wants something, yet sometimes we categorize, intellectualize, and analyze all because we are afraid to actually feel, open, and come to intimately know that thing beating in the center of our chest.

I remember a night when I was sitting with my husband at our turquoise Moroccan table in our backyard, talking about how I desired to be physically closer to him.

Life stresses, including four miscarriages and three-failed In-Vitro fertilizations had caused us so much grief, strife, and tension that we were burnt out, disheartened, and shut down.

Yet, with all that talking, whining, and wishing we could be closer, it was easier for me to take the time to sit and talk about my needs than go up upstairs, cuddle with my husband, and create closeness.

My intellect was doing what it knew how to do best: prove and defend my needs and talk about them, rather than surrender, open, and feel.

All of us, regardless of where we test in the right/left brain hemisphere, have the ability to cultivate intuition.

When we take our attention off the chatter of our mind and put our intention onto developing our intuition, we learn to play with much subtler dimensions. Listening and moving from the heart instead of the intellect, we make wiser choices rather than smarter ones, which can serve us better in the end.

Of course, it is important to be educated and to understand principles through the intellect. When we were children, our elders taught us the importance of learning the alphabet, but when it came to writing our first “A,” we had to intuitively feel the curves of it as we used our pencil on wide-lined paper.

Intuition comes from a sensation, an expression or movement directly from the heart. This is how we are able to make our dreams come to fruition and create our lives in alignment with our callings.

In fact, our “callings” stem from intuition in the first place.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to step out of the intellect and boldly listen to your intuition:

1. What does my heart really want in this moment?

When I sit down to write, I begin with this simple question: “What do I really want to write right now, in this moment, straight from my heart?”

I follow that instinct and don’t worry about whether it fits in the context, if it is in the right correlating order, or if it’s systematically within the requirements. First I need to get the energy onto the paper, and then I can go back edit, delete, and tweak.

The intellect can come in later to make sense of it all. But first, we have opportunity to honor what the intuitive energy wants and listen to how it wants to come through.

So as you step into your work for the day try to follow where you are drawn, not because your mind says so, but because you intuit that’s the place to start.

2. What am I sensing right now?

Sensing is felt through the heart, the way a mother senses what her child needs.

Good parents are smart but also wise. They know intuitively when their children are coming up with excuses to not have to go to bed, are really hurt or faking it, or are in need of some extra love and care.

When we move from the heart intuitively we know what is most needed in the moment. We are guided and led, and we sense opportunity.

We are like loving parents when we nurture our dreams or desires, holding them closely to our chest.

3. What if it didn’t have to look exactly how I envision it in my mind?

When we do something, it rarely looks exactly like we envision it.

For example, each time I found out I was pregnant I created an image in my mind: I estimated the day the baby would be born. I planned to move the second trimester to a bigger house with a second bedroom.

I thought about names. I wondered if we could afford a nanny and even worried about which schools we would put our child in. The tremendous anxiety of being pregnant made my mind project way, way out into the future, keeping me from having to face the fear I felt within.

Losing the pregnancies crushed our hearts. It was hard to recover.

If I had remembered to ask myself: “What if it didn’t have to look like an exact replica of the vision I hold in my mind?” I may have been more capable of listening to my intuition.

My intellect was aware of a few things. I was almost 40. The odds of having a healthy pregnancy were getting lower and lower with passing time. The doctors told me I must do it now, that time was running out.

After the losses, when I had to let go of the vision I’d created in my mind and pay attention to what my heart and anxiety were really telling me, I came to a big realization:

I did not feel ready yet to be a mother. There were other things I wanted to do first with my life and my career. In fact, I was not 100% sure whether I wanted to have kids at all.

The whole pregnancy process was a blessing because I learned a great lesson. My mind was so fixated on the story of having a baby by forty that I overlooked the powerful message sent to me by my intuition:

For me personally, it was simply not the time.

If you’re not sure what’s right for you at this time, go within and ask yourself these questions. Then pay attention to what you hear when you really listen.

Photo by Charlotte McKnight

Profile photo of Lynn Newman

About Lynn Newman

Lynn Newman has a Masters in Counseling Psychology, is a writer, painter, and game creator (like The Game of You & The Game of Insight – An Interactive Way To Know Yourself, Create The Life You Want). She’s big into unleashing the truest, free-est parts of you, to experience more joy, purpose, and passion in life. Visit her at LynnNewman.com.

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  • Sasalool

    hi Lynn
    thank you for another great article, I have to say I couldn’t agree more

    But to be honest sometimes life overwhelms you and you get busy dodging what it throughs in your way, that you don’t have the time to want or to seek what you want 

    I have changed my job recently, a decision which might be a little bit rash, but it was the right dicsion at that time, it was the smartest thing to do
    I have questioned my decision for a while but now I feel my heart is in this decision

    Sometimes you face a turn in your life, and your not sure wheather you want it or not, but after the clouds clear up, things make more sense and you see the bigger picture

    regards

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Hi. I totally agree with you. I think you are illustrating my story here in regards to my pregnancy. I didn’t know what I want either. These 3 tips are really about cultivating intuition which is a great tool to use with overwhelm and the stresses of life and takes no time at all because it can be felt in the moment. Best, Lynn

  • Lynn, I’m a massive advocate of self-questioning and enquiry. After all if we don’t know the answers (and we always do deep down or not so deep) who does? We often pay large sums of money to others to ask the questions we’re too scared or unsure how accurate to ask ourselves. But, all it takes is to get asking and to begin a communucation with a loved one we long should have done. Us. What they will tell us WILL change our life….forever!

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Hi John,

    Could you clarify this sentence  – maybe some typos? I want to make sure I understand the whole of what you are saying…

    “But, all it takes is to get asking and to begin a communucation with a
    loved one we long should have done. Us. What they will tell us WILL
    change our life….forever!”

    Thank you, Lynn

  • Cubuffgirl311

    this site just amazes me…every time i’m going through some kind of challenge, or questioning certain decisions or direction in my life…that exact day there is a post on tiny buddha that directly relates to it. it’s like it’s a beacon to help guide and focus my thoughts into the direction that’s best for me. 🙂 even when my days seem to be particularly dark, or difficult, the posts of that particular day are dead on with what i’m going through. and with this post…i was posed with a question last week from my ex-boyfriend for a second chance at a relationship, and have been going back and forth between my heart and my mind about whether or not that’s a good idea. i know i need to to ask myself these three questions to come to the best answer. and maybe it isn’t even the “best” answer, but one that will get me to the lesson that is being presented and how/what i can learn from it. thank you so much for your insight!

  • cin

    lol…for some reason it’s so funny that somebody else voiced exactly what I was thinking!  The uncanny TIMELINESS of these posts blows my mind most days!

  • Chris

    I really want at this moment to walk
    in the other room, find my ex, hug her and tell her I love and appreciate her.

    I am sensing sadness, fear and
    confusion in my heart right now. I am constantly asking myself if she will
    return. I miss what was once my family and miss the events that never (but
    expected) to transpire since we were last together over a month ago.

     

    The
    recent 2 of 5 years have not been how I envisioned in my mind what an engagement
    would consist of. We have suffered emotional trauma from an affair and a death
    in the family. Both instances left scars that may never truly heal. Perhaps
    scars can only be a reminder of a pain that may have been horrific, yet it was
    also overcome and the person (hopefully the relationship) still exists.

    On
    my body I have a scar that is a constant reminder of a terrible time in my
    life. It was a time filled with darkness and emptiness. But, it is a time now
    passed. I can only hope that the scars (if unhealed by time) will only reflect perseverance.
    There will surely be more cuts, and bruises along our walk through the forest
    of life ((riddled with thorn bushes (and roses)). And there will likely be
    unhealed scars from cuts too deep that will stay with us forever. But, in our
    last days when forever ends as we lie, reflect, and ask ourselves many
    questions I do not believe our thoughts will linger much on scars. 

  • Cynthia

    Thanks for the three questions. They are wonderful and I have a feeling they will help me move from my usual juggling place of too many balls in the air at once.

    http://www.cynthiasblog.com
    http://www.theapptutor.com

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Big Heart Chris. Take gentle care of it. xoxoxo Lynn

  • Lynn Zavaro

    I like this Cynthia! Thank you!!!

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Usually when our heart is speaking we get a big YES! Happy to be of service as today’s TinyBuddha beacon… (cool imagery) xoxoxo Lynn

  • Lynn Zavaro

    LOL!

  • Anu

    A big thank you to all the writers on this website for keeping me sane when everything around these days is so insane. You guys simply make my day!!!

  • SoW

    I know what I want.  Just not sure how to get there without causing pain to others.

  • Ricardo Jr. Caliolio

    Ditto with “.every time i’m going through some kind of challenge, or questioning certain decisions or direction in my life…that exact day there is a post on tiny buddha that directly relates to it. it’s like it’s a beacon to help guide and focus my thoughts into the direction that’s best for me.”. 😀

  • Sarahtsaraht

    This is beautiful; so personal, touching, true and wise. Thank you Lynn!
    (And I can’t NOT see that dancer spinning clockwise!)

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Thank you Sarah!!! Hmmm… something tells me you’re right brain?

  • Great questions! I like questions which open an communication with the heart. I often happens that we experience things in life which are different  than we envisioned it. What I try to do in such cases is to accept the facts and try to learn from. In most cases it works, but I found that posing the right question can help to fasten up this process.

    I’m sorry you lost your pregnancy and it is great you could make sense of it. It is not an easy thing to do. I wish you the best!

  • Hi Lynn,

    Great article.

    I think your third question – “What if it didn’t have to look exactly how I envision it in my mind?” is the key one for me. A lot of ‘help’ books and articles touch on the first two in various ways, but it is always about mapping, planning, and achieving the pictured goal in your mind.

    Your last question refocuses everything to the main point. It seems to be sort of getting your hindsight ‘up front’.  Personally, whenever things have gone heads over feet, after the cleanup is done, and the damage is repaired, it usually boils down to ‘I never really wanted that anyway, did I?’.

    Although, I have to say, the question gets a bit scary when you start trying to answer it!  (You may need a follow on article on how to best handle what you tell yourself!)  🙂

    Once again, great site, and source of inspiration and wisdom.

    Thank you.

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Very interesting! Thank you for your comment. I like how you say the third question refocuses everything to the main point. It’s the key and the base to the whole piece. xoxoxo Lynn

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Thank you Marc. How very kind of you! Best to you – Lynn

  • Cubuffgirl311

    thanks again! 🙂

  • Adele Uddo

    I’m so glad you’re continuing to contribute on this site, Lynn. I LOVE reading your articles! They are always so full of insight and Heart. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and vulnerability. I can relate to so much of what you’re saying here…the question of having children and what the “mind” believes about what I SHOULD do is just one example. Time and again, I’ve found the wisdom of the heart far more reliable than the stories/beliefs of the mind.

  • Lynn Zavaro

    What a beautiful and supportive comment Adele!! Thank you very much for nailing exactly my feelings:) xoxoxo Lynn

  • Pingback: 3 Questions to Help You Determine What You Really Want | Truth Is Scary()

  • Before I got into my old band a few years ago, I was teetering on that or something else (I don’t remember what now). He said “I think you know what you want now and that’s what you should do.” I joined the band. I still don’t remember what that other thing was.

  • I love this piece – thanks!  I have this image I use … my mind looks like a woman in a huge straw hat sitting in a lounge chair on the beach – and she’s sipping a Mai Tai, or some tropical, fruity drink with an umbrella in the glass.  I tell my mind something like, “I love how brilliant you are, Mind – however, this situation is the realm of the _____. (fill in the blank; soul, heart, body, etc.) Thanks for working so hard on my behalf all the time – now, you get to go on vacation.”  My Mind happily “stands down” so the other aspect of me can step-up … this article reminded me of how our different aspects (mind, soul, heart …) work together as a team, sometimes leading, other times following.  Thanks so much, Lynn for writing about this – your words helped clarify all of this for me even further!  Namaste  <3

  • Lynn Zavaro

    I love this image!!! And yes you are right, it is a mind/body/soul connection – about integrating it all!! Thank you! Lynn

  • Lynn Zavaro

    This is a fantastic story and makes me smile – thank you!

  • Katem76

    I always know that I will find what I am looking for here, whether or not I know what that is until I find it.

  • Lisa

    Wow! I am in awe of your honesty and openness! Thank you…I will ask these questions.

  • Lynn Zavaro

    Thank you Lisa!

  • James

    I don’t find this article useful. It just shows you a black figure and tells you go and figure out for yourself what does it mean? If I understood the figure I wouldn’t be here. Would appreciate if this article would describe the meaning of the figure rather then describing the figure itself…. (If you don’t understand what I am trying to say in my comment, you will understand what I understood from your article)…

  • bohemian_butterfly

    This story reminds me of a great book I’ve just finished reading: “Everybody has Everything” by Katrina Onstad.

  • mejla

    That’s not helping me at all sorry …. So basically if I follow what is written and ask myself questions then decide to forget it and give up. Now it can be good to give up, exept when you have no clue what to do after ………

  • Paul White

    Thank you.

    Wise.

    Honest.

    Helpful.

  • Caitsly

    Beautiful article. I think I have some stories that are keeping me from hearing the message of my intuition.