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Intuition or Intelligence?
Intelligence helps me understand Pro Tools, the physics of sound, and the myriad of different devices people use to listen to my music. Intelligence gives me the ability to adapt to ipods, computer programs and websites. Intelligence helps me play many different instruments and navigate the mathematical world of music. I value my intellect because it allows me to understand the complexities and nature of the world I live in. However, to navigate my life, I choose intuition. I don’t think I made a conscious decision to switch to intuition; my mind simply fell short. Because I had a highly developed intellect I could see every side of every situation, which left me in constant states of indecision. In order to guide my heart and my life, I was forced to develop intuitive powers.
I did this mainly through meditation – turning off the conscious mind and opening the subconscious and superconscious minds. As a young student, I practiced meditation for an hour each morning. I fasted, I did yoga, I performed kriyas. This laid the foundation for the work I do today. When I am on tour, I sit with people and we meditate and chant together. At home, I sit alone in silence or do japa (repetition of mantra). I sit with myself and listen for the sounds which are not mind chatter. It takes some practice to tune into cosmic sounds over mental constructs. You may ask, what is the difference? If my mind tells me something, is that intuition? Well, for me the answer is no. My mind offers me opinions, criticism of myself or others, daydreams about the future; my mind is helpful in sorting through information, predicting behavior patterns, and understanding human nature. I notice these thoughts and acknowledge their usefulness. But I wait for intuition.
Intuition is a feeling that won’t go away. A recurring vision or a voice in your head. Moses was guided by a voice. Paramahansa Yogananda was guided by visions of divine Mother. Muktananda was guided by a blue flame which either appeared or didn’t appear in answer to his various questions. In your own unique way, after entering absolute silence, certain commands or guidelines will surface. It doesn’t sound like a regular thought, just as a lucid dream does not feel like a regular dream. You will recognize the difference. We choose the outer form of guidance we feel comfortable with and Spirit speaks to us in that form. So, let’s say you are connected to your intuition and you follow your inner guidance. This is where it gets interesting. You are guided to do or say something which has no physical construct to support it. Your Guru or your intuition told you to go open a bookstore in Montreal. Which is fine, except that you are a plumber with no skills or previous experience to justify the career change. Someone feels like family, even though you just met them. So you move in.
Intuition is not bound by time and space. In contrast, the world is completely bound by time and space. Your trick is in fitting the two together in a way that feels cozy, natural and supportive for you and those you love. Sometimes that means knowing the future and saying nothing, allowing events to play out and reveal the intuition you already know. With more advanced souls you can jump forward in time, but it makes the road you travel a little rocky. I often choose the rocky road because it is fun, much faster than waiting around for things to develop in real time, and slightly irregular. This summer I was guided to do a solitary quest in the woods. I had a week in between a Nashville mix session and teaching a retreat in Virginia, so I arranged to visit a friend in New Hampshire and go camping. My heart had been aching for about 10 years, ever since the summer camp which had been in my family for 4 generations had been sold. New England had been my summer home for so many years and all I had in my heart was a gnawing ache. I had failed to find summer jobs that would bring me to New England. In the end, the command from the Universe was: go on a spiritual quest. I followed the command and arranged for a week of silence in the woods. I got some food and camping supplies and drove to the White Mountains, arranging to text my friend every morning to verify I was safe. The first few days were delightful, hiking mountains and plunging into waterfalls and lakes. It was expansive and I felt healed. Every lake was the lake of my summer home; every pine tree was my pine tree; every mountain was my favorite summer hike.
By the 4th day, the silence started its magic and every subconscious fear came forward. Nowhere in sight were the happy moments of childhood in the forest; all I could remember were the horrible things that happened – calling my fiancé after the summer was over to find out he had married someone else, going to the aristocratic wedding of my first crush and realizing I would never fit in, being the one in charge who had to counsel the rape victims that summer… Memory after memory surfaced into consciousness, many of them things I had long since forgotten. …ostracizing myself from Sunday meals because I refused to participate in the consumption of poultry, never being able to find something vegetarian to eat, inhaling gas fumes summer after summer driving the motorboat… The velocity with which these experiences hit me was bewildering. I walked. I swam. I reasoned. It failed. I cried.
When I called a friend who led silent vipassana meditation retreats, he said, “Hey that’s great, you did a week of silence? How about that DAY FOUR?? Huh? That’s something, isn’t it?” The Day Four Meltdown was right out of the silent retreat classic format. Had I chosen a vipassana retreat instead of an outward bound solo effort, I could have had an experienced guide comfort me in my time of need. Instead, I texted my friend who said it was fine to come home anytime and really that was all the comfort I needed.
The silence allowed who I was to come forward. I was not prepared for the tears I experienced when I returned to the world – a whole day and night of sobbing in fact. But I returned with a heart mended; the childhood ache was gone. If I had used my mind to attend to this hurt, I probably would have signed up for psychotherapy. Following intuition provided me a unique format to heal and integrate my longings and heartaches.
Oftentimes things do not go smoothly, as my story demonstrates. Intuition often offers only a command, nothing more. As if God were saying, “Go into the woods…” and then the cell phone service suddenly cut out. “What? What? I can’t hear you!” When you are left with only a thread to follow, you have to figure it out as you go. The teachers and gurus I have known also work this way. “Go open a bookstore in Canada.” That is it. No details. No timeframe for the student to work with. Everything is now, because intuition does not hold time and space. In my experience, when the command was given, the shift happened immediately. Nityananda stood in a tree for years. Shivabalayogi sat in meditation for 23 hours a day, 8 years in a row. In the yoga traditions, the commands were often stark and rigorous, and demanded inner growth.
I think the interplay between intuition and life changes is fascinating, and I continue to try and weave a life which connects them. As I refine my efforts, I see that I could use my intellect more to research the things I am guided to do. And perhaps I could move more slowly in my life and relationships, waiting for them to sweeten in their own time in the way I know they will. But intuition requires a leap of faith. It may not always go the way you think it will go, but it always takes you to the heart of the void.
Wah! is a musician and spiritual seeker who travels the world singing and expanding sacred intention. You can reach her through www.wahmusic.com