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New Insights on Intuition

Henry Reed

Ask most people about intuition and they’ll speak of hunches and gut feelings. Yet people who regularly use it in their work typically mention the intentional use of mental images when seeking intuitive guidance. This finding is but one of the insights provided in Marcia Emery’s new book, Intuition Workbook: An Expert’s Guide to Unlocking the Wisdom of Your Subconscious Mind (Prentice Hall). What makes Dr. Emery’s guide to using intuition an expert’s guide is that she consulted many experienced practitioners of intuitive problem solving. As an intuition trainer for corporations, she encountered people who already possessed expertise in the use of intuition. They simply needed to be asked for how they did it. The descriptions and accounts of how these people in the work setting cultivated intuition to help them solve problems adds inspiring realism to the many suggestions Dr. Emery passes along.

One financial analyst explains that he can’t get any intuitions when he has a "noisy and worrisome mind." He has to quiet it. How does he do it? He uses an affirmation: "My intuitive mind will lead me to the right answer." He finds that this thought calms him down and helps him to enter a more intuitive frame of mind.

If imagery is so important to people who use intuition often, what do they say about how to get imagery? One salesman described how he used his memory to improve his imagery, by recalling information from each sense modality concerning a recent event. After a meeting, for example, he would write down what he saw at the meeting, what he heard, what he touched, what he tasted, and so on. This type of practice made it progressively easier for him to focus on the "as if" or "pretend" dimension in the mind.

Dr. Emery compiled many ideas on how to practice eliciting simple imagery in the service of intuition. Some people use an uncomplicated image system for answering questions. For example--to answer a question about "should I or shouldn’t I?"--see if you get an image of a red light or a green light, or see a banner hanging out from a window with a note proclaiming either "Yes!" or "No!" To get an evaluation, try seeing a weather report on TV: do you see a picture of a sunny day or of a storm? To get information about a date when something will happen, see yourself tearing days off a calendar and note the day when you stop tearing.

Imagery is capable of providing more than simple answers. Many people reported to Dr. Emery how they "saw" solutions or even had inspiring "visions" that provided totally new perspectives. She passes along many methods for seeking such important insights from imagery. In one case, the person simply relaxed and imagined herself lying on the grass gazing up at the clouds. She watched as these clouds formed themselves into a picture that solved her problem. In another example, the person imagined himself relaxing by a body of water. His attention then drifted over the water in search of a solution. Soon he noticed something in the water, and he reached down and pulled it out. The object suggested the solution.

Dr. Emery maintains that we can become experts at intuitive problem solving by risking trusting our intuition on small things and letting our confidence grow with practice.

Henry Reed

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