Enhancing the Intuitive Coping Style through
Transpersonal Course Instruction:
A Pilot Study
David W. Miller
Many people are unaware of their inherent intuitive skills
for dealing with the stressful situations of modern life. But
others are aware of this intuitive transcendent phenomenon in
the form of hunches and have learned how to sporadically use
it. A few have learned how to trigger this intuitive skill and
use it to cope with modern life.
This culminating project for Atlantic University addresses
the question of what kind of training experiences might be used
to help people adopt an optimal coping style for modern life.
The assumption was that the deepening of ones own experience
with meditation and intuition would have a positive impact.
Adapting the work of Dr. Kenneth Pargament on "spiritual
coping style," a new instrument for measuring "intuitive
coping style" was developed.
Sixteen college juniors and seniors then served as voluntary
participants in a training program that lasted for three weeks.
During those three weeks, they received training in the principles
of transpersonal psychology, along with instructions and practice
with a set of meditation exercises. Although meditation has
been verified as beneficial through numerous meditation research
projects, it is still a relatively unknown subject matter to
young college students.
Another questionnaire instrument was used to measure effectiveness
in meditation, as well as additional factors related to attitudes
and spiritual awareness. A third source of data for this project
was a content analysis of the narrative journals kept by the
students during the three-week training course.
Results showed noteworthy changes in how these students perceive
their use of intuition for coping with life challenges.
Here are the descriptions to accompany the three intuitive
coping styles we used in this work. Perhaps you can find yourself
among one of these.
The Self-Directing Style (Left Hemisphere Oriented). You are
primarily an active problem-solver who perhaps does not believe
in intuition or believes that you have the skills and strength
to deal logically with life's ups and downs, without needing
to use hunches or intuition. Research shows that your style
allows you to handle many of life's problems effectively. However,
when faced with more severe, uncontrollable problems, you may
develop physical, psychological, and intuitive spiritual distress.
To improve your ability to cope with extreme crises, you may
want to write a list of situations where, no matter what you
do personally, the end result is out of your hands. Then ask
yourself whether it makes sense to try to control the uncontrollable.
Or, ask yourself whether there's any place in your life for
graceful acceptance of the inevitable? Or even active surrender?
You may find that meditation, prayer, or religious rituals
will help you to draw upon forces beyond yourself and let you
master the art of letting go. In the process, you may find great
relief. You may also enhance the control you do have in life
by turning over the control you don't have to the transcendent.
The Deferring Style (Right Hemisphere Oriented). Rather than
actively solve problems yourself, you prefer to surrender responsibility
to your intuition. Research shows that your style may provide
reassurance and relief during severe, uncontrollable situations.
It is also extremely useful in programs like the Twelve Steps
of Alcoholics Anonymous. However, the deferring style may discourage
the active learning and experimentation so necessary for growth.
To improve your ability to cope with stress, start by taking
complete stock of yourself. As a deferring coper you are already
well aware of your limitations and the need to look beyond yourself,
but you may be less aware of your own strengths. It may be hard
for you to identify your own abilities without feeling arrogant
But a number of self-help and spiritual tools are handy. Try
thinking about your resources as gifts. Imagine your intuition
supporting you, encouraging you, and giving you the strength
to tackle tough problems. Regular prayer, meditation, or participation
in spiritual type rituals may help empower you. Spiritual counsel
may also help you find room for personal strength within the
context of any religious and spiritual traditions.
With these tools, you may become better able to cope with difficult
problems. At the same time, you may find that you enhance your
relationship with your intuition by developing your own gifts
The Collaborative Style (Hemispheric Partnership). You see
your intuition as a partner who works together with you in coping.
Thus, your style emphasizes the power of your relationship with
your intuition, rather than the power of you or your intuition
alone. Research shows that your style enables you to handle
a wide range of life's problems effectively. The collaborative
style has been associated with higher levels of competence,
fewer psychological and physical symptoms of distress, and spiritual
If you would like to strengthen your abilities to cope, take
stock of your relationship with your intuition. Consider how
to foster your sense of spirituality without self-centeredness
on the one hand or self-denigration on the other. Traditional
religious services, rituals, and readings may help. So may spiritual
retreats, meditation, chanting, and listening to spiritual music
or develop your own rituals.
As a Collaborative coper, you are able to draw upon your relationship
with your intuition for strength in times of stress. But to
what ends? Think about the values you ultimately strive for.
Neither self-centeredness nor other-centeredness are likely
to be completely satisfying. As the Jewish sage Hillel said,
"If I am not for myself, who is for me, and being for my
own self, who am I?"
Through your relationship with your intuition, you may find
the right balance in your life. You may also find that by enriching
yourself you enrich the lives of others, and that by enriching
the lives of others you enrich yourself.