“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
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.