On Intuition

I recently discovered that whenever my intuition tells me that I want to expand in a certain direction, I am immediately met with an inner contraction, an inner force that opposes the original intention. That has been causing me plenty of frustration and I’ve been seeking to understand what is going on. This is what I found.

In order to follow one’s intuition, one needs to be able to trust the involuntary forces within one’s self, without the interference of the mind’s need to control. One needs to be able to believe that trusting these forces leads to good things and thus, to believe in one’s basic goodness. Therefore, intuition cannot function without this letting go of control of the mind and then the faith in one’s spontaneous inner movements.

As you can see, there are two sides to this… one is the excessive control of the mind, the other is the fear of the self and they are very much related to one another.

The excessive control of the mind

If one is afraid to trust their intuition because they are afraid of where it may lead to, one always needs explanations of why things feel the way they do before they can be convinced that they can act on those impressions. That means that they invest the mind with control over these involuntary forces, with the responsibility to contain things, much like a holding a horse by the reins.

But while self-discipline is needed and a degree of self-containment is necessary, this misinterpretation of how much control is needed bars the way even to positive manifestations. It bars the way to curiosity, adventure, exploration, to the sense of freedom itself. The personality not only denies themselves this freedom, but seeks external restrictions as well, such as a moral authority who can tell them what is right. There are a number of side effects that ensue:

  1. one’s inability to act on one’s own considerations and perspectives on things
  2. one’s lack of clarity about what one’s values are or what is important to them
  3. needing permission from others to act
  4. relying on intellectual justifications to the exclusion of how one feels (not taking how one feels into account as a valid argument)
  5. fear of taking independent action

The excessive control of the mind is also a way for the mind to get control in the aftermath of trauma. Trauma can mess up the structure of the being and turn it into a Picasso painting. It’s much like scrambling a Rubik’s cube: now you have colors all over the place, things are no longer where they’re supposed to be and suddenly you find yourself being willful where you should be passive and passive where you should be willful. I think that happens because the mind wants to get back in control, trying to compensate for the emotional overwhelm. Seeing so many involuntary forces coming out and feeling threatened about where they may lead, the mind intervenes and tries to bring some order to the chaos, thus creating rules and mental structures for safety – a more restrictive system to operate in. Not only that but one may find themselves completely confused about what they want or need, only having their feelings to rely on.

That’s why learning to trust one’s intuition means letting go more and more of the mind’s control and relying more and more on how things “feel” like. After all, the subconscious contains a wealth of information that the conscious mind doesn’t have access to. Always waiting to get clarity before one acts means losing opportunities that required just a bit of trust in the unknown.

And this brings me to:

The fear of the self

In order to trust one’s intuition, one needs to trust that one’s involuntary forces can lead to good things and that means to have faith in one’s unknown. The law of correspondence says “as above, so below. as within, so without”. In the same way, trusting the unknown within means trusting the unknown without. It is the same attitude, faith and letting go of control. Much like taking a leap into the wide open.

But there is one thing that prevents this trust and that is the fear of the self. If there is still unprocessed negativity that the personality has not worked through, one will continue to believe in the necessity of self-restriction. One will continue to believe in the necessity of self-deprivation because one senses that what one may want with the healthy part of the personality is mixed with other motivations. Therefore, one cannot let themselves experience that freedom and fulfillment they so ardently seek, because they are pushing against the spring of their own negativity.

In a sense, this is the law of paying the price. One needs to sacrifice these negative attitudes before one can reach towards that which they desire with a clear conscience. That’s why these resistances shouldn’t be pushed through or overcome by sheer force, I believe there is a spiritual law at play, at least that’s how I conceive of it. I really believe that the quote “the only way out is through” is the way to go. Experiencing, expressing in a contained environment and understanding one’s negativity is how one comes out the other side and learns to deal with the fear of the self.

I find that the following Pathwork Lecture is illuminating in this regard:

Part of being on a spiritual path means getting good at attuning to things, getting good at sensing how things feel like. If one considers the possibility that one is not an isolated part of the whole, but a manifestation of the whole – like a unique movement that the whole Universe is doing – one can experiment with this possibility by trusting the spontaneous, involuntary nudges one feels within themselves and observe the chain of cause and effect that this leads to.

But surrender isn’t something that one can always so easily give themselves up to, even if they are willing. To trust one’s spontaneous movements one must be unguarded, undefended and trust their goodness at their innermost levels. That is when they can go back from being the ripple in the ocean to being the ocean itself.

Reflections On Reading

I am not an avid book reader. I read somewhere between 10 to 15 books a year on average. I tend to read mostly books on spirituality and personal development and I like to experience what I read thoroughly. These are some things I observed on what can make the reading process more enjoyable and satisfying:

Need is the best guide

I think the best way to enjoy a book is to seek for books that meet a particular need. Whether that need is for relaxation, for reflection or for finding answers to specific problems, the thought of fulfilling the need is what keeps you engaged with what you are reading.

I remember that in high school and in middle school we were assigned books to read and I thoroughly disliked most. It was so disconnected from purpose and need, that for me the exercise felt completely pointless. Instead of reading because I understood the necessity of reading, it all became about how reading makes you smart and knowledgeable, about how it made you appear to others. The more you read, the better.

The problem with that was that it created a vacuum, an expectation. It was not so much about your natural inclinations and interests, but about living up to a standard. So that connection to need and purpose was severed.

If we are not motivated into action by need, then we are doing so out of other external considerations.

Compulsive book buying increases your to do list

I can sometimes be a compulsive buyer. It used to be a big problem in the past – I once bought books that cost me more than 200$ – but thankfully I managed to change this habit.

The thing about compulsive book buying is that it gives you a high when you do it, but then you have a big stack of things to do. When you buy books on sale, you are spending less than you would otherwise, sure, but you’re also increasing your backlog of things to begin, process and finish. And when you do this on a regular basis, the stack keeps increasing.

As humans we like resolution. We like safety, reliability and predictability because it gives us a sense of control. We like finishing things because it clears our mental space. We no longer need to worry about that, it’s done. But when we keep accumulating things, that can make them appear a bit unmanageable, like an endless row of things to do.

Note Taking

I personally like to take notes while reading. If I find something that speaks to me personally, I can be sure that I can learn more about myself by exploring it in writing or reflection.

Sometimes while reading, I reach a paragraph that feels like a new angle on a problem I am currently facing or something I have been thinking about. I like to take the opportunity to expand on it right there and use the momentum to lean into that insight. That feels like it creates a sort of opening, a way for a new perception.

I have heard of others doing this exercise at the end of the book, taking notes on a few key concepts that they took from the book and applying them in day to day life.

I think both are valuable, the former being more oriented towards specific insights of a more personal nature while the latter is more of a general overview of the ideas that made an impact. But regardless of the approach, I think it’s good to process the ideas that are relevant for the purpose of making them useful.

One (or two) at a time

I have tried reading multiple books at once. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think starting multiple books at the same time can be a sign that you are not sufficiently engaged with the book you are reading. Perhaps the language is a bit difficult, perhaps it’s repetitive, perhaps you are distracted and you need something else.

Alternatively, some books are of a different atmosphere. Like for instance, the writings of James Allen, Lao Tzu, Khalil Gibran or The Pathwork Lectures take a lot of contemplating. I take my time with reading them, because they are more depth-oriented so they can be better experienced in smaller chunks and they can be alternated with other books that don’t require as much depth of thinking and reflection.

But generally I prefer reading one book at a time for the reason that when you read a book you are taking part in its atmosphere, it builds a momentum, it carries you through its progression, whether fiction or non-fiction. Reading multiple books at a time can be like switching back and forth between two or more movies you’re watching. They lose coherence, you lose engagement.

Mindfulness

Another good practice when reading books is to notice yourself in the process. Perhaps you are enjoying it and/or getting a lot out of it, perhaps you’re losing interest, or perhaps you’re using it as a distraction.

For instance, reading can be a displaced need for experience, or it can be a substitute for the need to know what to do, seeking answers externally or another mischannelled need. That doesn’t take away from the value of the practice, but it is good to be aware of the motivation.

Generally, when I feel I am making too much effort reading, I think that is a sign that I am losing interest in the book. In order for the process to be meaningful, I need to feel like I am engaged with what I am reading, that it is relevant to what I have experienced or am experiencing. So I either discontinue reading or read in smaller chunks.

What are some of your habits/reflections in regards to reading?