Fun and Simple Exercises for Intuition

It seems most of us have entered into weird emotional space this week, so I’ve put aside the more “intellectual” thoughts I had planned for this post. Instead, I compiled a few fun ways to tap into intuition. I invite you to dive into a creative exploration of your heart.

Scrying: This is one of my favorite intuitive forms; however it’s also tricky. You have to be able to relax your mind but be alert at the same time. You have to want an answer to a question but not be desperate to get an answer.

Scrying is basically using your imagination to see images on a reflective surface. You can do it with almost anything. It’s what you do when you look for shapes in the clouds, so it may help to think of the sky as your first scrying object.

What you’ll need: Something dark and reflective. Below is a picture of some of the things I use for scrying: a mirror, a sphere of jet, and a dark bowl of water.

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What you do: Get into a comfortable position in a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. Ground yourself. Arrange your scrying object so that you can see the reflective surface without it reflecting back too many objects (a darkened room with a candle may help). Definitely try to arrange it so you don’t see your face. Trust me, that will terrify you once you get into the “zone.”

Relax your eyes, allowing the world to unfocus slightly. Ask your question to yourself, trying to keep it simple if it’s your first time but avoiding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions (we’ll have another exercise for those later).

Once your eyes are relaxed, relax your mind. Let it contemplate the scrying object. As images appear, take note of them without breaking concentration–speaking to a voice recorder can be helpful here or writing down what you see if you can do that without losing your focus.

When you are done, bring your focus back and ground yourself again. Take some time to consider whatever images you saw and what they might symbolize to you.

Alternatives: If you’re finding it hard to see, try using a little food coloring, coffee with milk, or tea. The swirls on the surface will form shapes that can be interpreted more like clouds.

Pendulum: Here is the yes/no version of scrying. If you have a pendulum, you probably know how to use it. If you don’t, they look like this:

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What you’ll need: A pendulum. You can make your own by putting a ring or something symmetrically balanced on a long chain.

What you do: Sit in a comfortable place, with your elbow supported/balanced by a table but your hand free. Hold the top of the chain so your pendulum dangles straight down. Try to keep it still.

To find what “yes” is, ask it to show you yes and take note of the movement that follows. For me, yes is a clockwise circle. Then ask for a demonstration of no. It will usually be opposite of yes.

Next, ground yourself and ask yourself your yes/no question. It can help to start with questions you know the answer to before moving into questions that you don’t know.

The pendulum is a great way to sort through your conflicted emotions…but don’t expect it to make decisions about the future for you. It clarifies. It doesn’t predict.

Dreaming: Dreaming is an incredibly powerful way to tap into your intuition. I’m working towards strengthening my ability to be conscious during my dreams, but you don’t even have to be good at lucid dreaming to use dreaming for intuition.

What you’ll need: Sleep, a pillow, a notebook, maybe some essential oils or crystals

What you do: The most important part of using dreaming is to prime your brain before bed. You can make a dream pillow with herbs tied up in a little satchel to encourage dreams, or you can put a little essential oil on your pillow. I’ve been using lavender the last few nights and have been having some incredibly insightful dreams (which I’ve helped to interpret with scrying the next morning).

Crystals can also help here. Unakite is a great one for dreams. When I place it under my pillow, my dreams become more vivid and often carry some deep meanings.

Dreams tend to bring up your subconscious anyway, so you don’t need to work too hard to get them to reveal interesting aspects of yourself. However, if you have a specific purpose in mind for a dream, you can try writing it down on a piece of paper and placing it under your pillow.

It’s really important to keep a dream journal if you’re trying to use your dreams for guidance. A little notebook and a pencil on your bedside table are easy to grab and jot down key ideas when you wake. You can go back later and fill in the details and analyze more thoroughly…preferably after coffee.

Inkblots: They’re not just for psychology!

What you’ll need: Paper. Pencil, ink, or paint.

What you do: If using a writing instrument, close your eyes and begin moving the instrument over the paper. Don’t think about what you’re doing; just do. Open your eyes and outline the images that stand out to you.

If you’re using paint, apply it to the paper without any particular picture in mind. You can keep your eyes open, but don’t censor yourself. Just let the brush or fingers wander. When you feel it’s “done,” let it dry, returning to it later to draw in the images you see with a pen or crayon.

If you’re using ink, drop some onto a piece of paper and fold the paper in half. Unfold and allow your mind to interpret what the splotch looks like.

As always, see if you can determine what each image symbolizes to you.

Why intuition?

Intuition is an underappreciated and underutilized aspect of the human mind. We are all operating from motivations that we consciously know and from motivations that are unknown and unconscious. By tapping into our intuition, we bring to light the unconscious, freeing ourselves to use the unconscious to empower ourselves for change and growth.

 

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Meditation on Womanhood

 

Womanhood is me;
Womanhood is you.
Womanhood is the maiden and mother
and crone;
It’s the child and lover
and bone woman.
It’s all the composite,
disparate
parts of ourselves
coming together as one—
The parts that society says
don’t belong to us yet,
The parts that society says
don’t belong to us anymore,
The parts that society says
have never belonged to us
and never could
because they never should.
Womanhood
is being whole with our parts
because we have come to know
they are what makes us whole.

Hymns for the Sexually Repressed

I have a lot of hymns stuck in my head from over twenty years of singing the same things over and over again three times a week. Every once and a while, something will draw a hymn to the surface of my memory.

I take it as a sign of progress that rather than cringing when I remember songs I sang as a child, I am more inclined to laugh. So many of them sound so…sexual. I’m a little surprised that fundamentalists haven’t picked up on it before, but then again the sexual repression in the IFB is quite spectacular.

Since I’m feeling blasphemous and silly, I decided to compile a list of some of the hymns that bring up quite vivid images for me. The first one is from “He Touched Me” by Bill Gaither. The lyrics are creepy or hilarious or maybe a little of both, but the video of the Gaither band actually singing the song is priceless.

He touched me. Oh, he touched me.
And oh, the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know!
He touched and made me whole. –He Touched Me

Yes, that’s a video of a bunch of men singing about the joy of being touched by Jesus…homoerotic much?

For many hymns there seems to be an S & M component. The first and last verses of “Have Thine Own Way” with words by Adelaide Pollard sound like they could be a fantasy role play out of a porno:

Have Thine own way, Lord, Have Thine own way;
Thou art the Potter; I am the clay.
Mould me and make me After Thy will,
While I am waiting, Yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord, Have Thine own way;
Hold o’er my being Absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit Till all shall see
Christ only, always, Living in me.

Insert the breathy voice of Marilyn Monroe into this song, and you’re all set for quite the sexy spiritual experience. Apparently Jesus is a fan of dominance and submission…although I don’t recall ever learning what the safe word was.

And then there are those that just sound like the Christian version of Cleveland’s “Boom goes the dynamite.”

 All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all. –All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name by Edward Perronet

Take note, Christians, Jesus is upright and powerful. Crown him…yes crown him. If you don’t know what that means, imagine. You’re probably pretty close just from the way the song sounds. And seriously, who puts “prostrate” into a song? As a kid, I didn’t know the difference between “prostrate” and “prostate,” making this song incredibly problematic for my pure little mind!

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson used to be one of my all-time favorite hymns to sing. Now as I look back, I can’t even hum though half of the first verse without losing myself in laughter. It taps deep into the junior high in me.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

It’s a little bit like when I realized that Ezekiel 23:20 was referring to horse ejaculation and a donkey penis. There’s just no way to erase those images from my mind!

Lastly this chorus, from the song by the same name, is one of my favorites. I don’t think I’d be able to sing this with a straight face if I ever found myself in a church again. It’s nice to know that multiples are within the realm of possibility for God. that’s hard for even women to achieve!

He is coming again, He is coming again,
The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
With power and great glory, He is coming again! –Mabel Camp

For some of these, I’m sure you could say my mind is just too dirty and finds gutter thoughts in the most innocent of lyrics. For others, I’m pretty sure the sexual repression of the ages was seeping out into the songs. At any rate, I hope it’s given you as many giggles as it’s given me. If you know a hymn that sounds inappropriate, post it below.

The Art of Listening as Taught By Plants

Listening.

We all know how…or do we?

It seems that half of the relational advice given revolves around learning how to listen to others. People pay people to coach them in how to listen to others for business or marriage. There are countless articles and books on how to listen and how to communicate, yet it seems that despite the plethora of resources, we still struggle with how to go about this deceptively complex art.

I would have never guessed that plants would be the best teachers for listening—or that they’ve been whispering their lessons to me since I was a child. But as the spring has woken my green friends again, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned over the years from being with them.

I realized I learned how to listen.

Listening Meditatively:

Grandmother willow

Pocahontas talking with Grandmother Willow. Pocahontas 1995

Listening meditatively is the kind of listening in which the purpose of communication is to act as a springboard for self-guidance and discovery. Plants are really good for developing this kind of listening because they never talk louder than my own internal compass and they will selflessly sit with me for as long as it takes for me to figure out what I need to learn.

As a child, I understood that if I needed to get a fresh perspective on my life or situation, sitting and talking to plants was one of the best ways. I was intimately connected with myself when I was spending time with plants. When I got older and lost connection with plants, I lost connection with myself.

There’s a silver maple outside my bedroom window at my current apartment, and I often feel it calling for me to come sit under its branches when I need guidance. I know that when it calls for me to come visit, it’s calling me to come find myself again, to come back to my center…my root…and to let all the other distractions fall away from my heart.

Listening responsively: 

Money Tree

My braided money tree when I first brought it home. It’s grown quite a bit now as I’ve learned what it likes!

Responsive listening is kind of like listening meditatively in reverse. Rather than listening to understand my own needs, it’s the listening I do to understand the needs of others. I actually thought I had this kind of listening down pretty well, but when I started to spend more time around plants, I realized I had a lot more I could learn.

Listening to a plant’s needs is kind of like learning a foreign language. I don’t necessarily need to learn a new vocabulary, but I do need to learn how to process the communication that is being sent my way.

Some plants are easy to listen to. When their needs aren’t met, the wilt dramatically as if to say, “Oh my god, water me! I’m dying!” They also tend to recover dramatically too, filling back out within a few hours of a good drink.

Others are much harder. The signs of overwatering can look similar to the signs of underwatering. Too much sun can look like too little. It takes spending time with the plant and observing it closely to learn how to interpret its subtle needs.

Although people can seem much easier to understand, I’ve learned that even when you speak the same language, communication is complex.

It would be nice to live in a world where everyone stated their needs or feelings clearly. However, we all develop different habits of expression, not all of them healthy and certainly not clear. Learning to listen responsively requires more than having an ability to hear someone’s words. It means being able to learn a person’s unique version of expression, to pay attention to body language, and to know how to interpret what is said and unsaid.

Listening Empathically:

Ferngully hurt tree

Okay, so maybe cartoons have played a big role in how I view plants. Ferngully 1992

With the first kind of listening, I was really listening in order to hear myself. With the second, I was listening for the sake of interacting–listening to figure out what I could do. But listening empathically requires a deep connection to another life and a disconnection from that life.

Listening empathically feels dangerous.

I am stepping into the perspective and emotions of another being, whether human, animal, or plant. There’s a possibility that I will feel the joy of that other being, but there’s a much larger possibility that I will feel the pain of that other being. It’s uncomfortable.

I’m often tempted to try to “fix” things or alleviate the pain, but listening empathically means that I listen without interference.

Listening empathically isn’t a form of listening I developed by listening to plants…as with the previous two. Rather, it’s a form of listening I’ve learned because plants listen to me empathically. In fact, when I’m listening meditatively, that usually means they are listening empathically.

They never directly intervene. They never overtly tell me what to do. They sit with me. They empathize. They suggest. But they let me lead.

And as they demonstrate the hardest form of listening, I learn to listen empathically in return—to nature and to people.

Composite Listening:

I’m still learning from them how to blend the various forms of listening. Communication rarely fits into separate categories neatly, so listening to learn, listening to respond, and listening to support don’t have clear boundaries.

I think ultimately my goal is to be able to blend the three so well that there isn’t much of a distinction, to be able to listen meditatively and empathically at the same time…or at least to dance in and out of the three easily enough that they feel they are happening at the same time.

But for now, I’m still learning how to distinguish which one is appropriate for different situations.

Which reminds me, I have an appointment with my teachers now.