Horses follow their inner wisdom - we can too. Photo by Betsy Allen
Most of us can relate to the idea of intuition and have had hunches or gut feelings about things, such as whether to trust a stranger we’ve just met or whether to take a new job offer. We all possess intuitive ability, but we were conditioned to suppress it as we grew up.
In my new book Beyond Words: Talking with Animals and Nature, I explore the idea that intuition is an innate human quality that was widely used in ancient cultures for communication between humans, animals, and nature. The ability to converse in this way is a gift that all of us possess and that anyone can develop. Since getting into this field in 1989, I have come to view intuition as a tool for survival that optimizes one’s life experience.
Animals and Intuition
Animals recognize the survival value of intuition and never disconnect from their intuitive awareness. They constantly scan the environment for intuitive data, alert to any changes, such as shifts in the emotional states of those around them. They know that a sense of danger means they should pay attention and take action to protect themselves. They go inside, ask what needs to be done, and act without question on that inner sense. Conversely, they are also alert to any hint of something positive that’s about to occur and take whatever action is needed to optimize that event for themselves. This ability to sense the environment was evident in the behavior of the animals who sought high ground just before the Asian tsunami. And if your otherwise laid back dog starts acting suspicious of a stranger, take heed: your dog may sense something you don’t.
Intuition operates much like a thermostat. If the temperature in a room starts to fluctuate, the thermostat registers that and triggers the furnace or the air conditioner into action. Similarly, intuition can help us achieve and maintain comfort in all areas of life – if we pay attention to it!
Following Your Intuition
Even though suppressed in modern humans, intuition often surfaces in a crisis to inform us of some threat or critical event, such as a dying relative. Often in my intuitive consultations with animals, when I convey what I heard from the animal the person will say, “I felt that was true; I didn’t trust myself to believe it.” To start reviving your intuition, pay attention to your emotions. Feelings are the front lines when it comes to intuition. If you have a feeling about something, recognize and record it in a diary. Then reread what you have written days or weeks later to check its veracity. What we feel may be true usually turns out to be correct, but we are trained to override our own counsel, following just about anyone’s advice but our own.
Many of my students have found that learning intuitive communication completely changed their lives. Once they regained the ability to hear their inner voice, they found that to be truly happy, they needed to change their jobs or living situations. This is intuition doing just what it is supposed to do, helping you to optimize your life. Intuition is your true self and most valuable guidance. Given the serious state of the earth today, it is critical for each of us to discover and follow our inner wisdom, reject the increasingly false constructs of governments and corporations, find out what it is we are truly supposed to do in this lifetime, and set about the work of creating a better world for ourselves, the animals, and the earth.
Growing Your Intuition
To strengthen your intuition, notice and examine your feelings about things like upcoming events, pending decisions, or people you have just met. Be alert to any urges or hunches, any internal voices guiding you, and any feelings of certainty or ‘knowing’ that you experience. Record and categorize these impressions and, over time, evaluate which are accurate intuitive hits and which are inaccurate prejudgments born of cultural conditioning. Work to release your prejudgments and experiment with taking small actions and making minor adjustments in your life based on those true intuitive feelings. Then evaluate whether following your intuition really is an asset for you. I suspect you will find that the more you develop and honor your intuition, the better it will serve you. Make it a habit to regularly stop and do an internal check of your emotions. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you are certain about something (as yet unknown) you are probably correct. The consequence of ignoring your feelings is that your intuition will shrink away from you and become less accessible. If you want to truly hear the messages from your intuition you have to honor your feelings.
Here is an exercise that will give you practice in recognizing intuitive information: Whenever you find yourself in a quandary about a decision between two or more options, try consulting your intuition. Get a pen and paper and sit quietly. Write each option at the top of a page. Now consider the first option. Immediately begin sensing any intuitive data you are receiving about that option and write it down. Data can come in the form of emotional feelings, images you see in your mind's eye, memories of other situations that have relevance to the present, words or phrases that pop into your head, and virtual sensory data like phantom physical feelings, smells and tastes. Think of yourself as a radar scanner with the sole purpose of recognizing incoming intuitive data and recording it. Don’t judge or try to change what you receive, just record it as accurately as you can. No matter what comes in, just write it down. Repeat the process for each other option and then compare your results. My guess is you will have received some pretty clear guidance about each option, courtesy of your intuition.
Intuition in the Ancient World
Using our intuition, each of us has the ability to communicate intuitively with animals and nature. I believe this is an ancient, innate characteristic of all life, the foundation of spoken and written words, and the common link between all species. In the research I did for my books, I found that indigenous people of many cultures conversed quite freely with animals and nature – for personal and practical guidance and information – and that they considered other species to be relatives and equals. When you reconnect with nature in this ancient way – through intuitive communication – you experience the profound realization that all forms of life are just as intelligent, emotional, and spiritual as you are. Your worldview – your perception of science and of the laws of nature – is completely and irrevocably transformed, regardless of how much of an animal/ nature lover you may have already been. After experiencing this shift myself, I realized that this ancient skill has the potential to change human consciousness on a very profound level. I decided that I wanted to devote my life to making the ability to communicate intuitively with animals and nature as accessible as possible to people.
Intuitive communication is not the same as reading body language, such as knowing that your cat wants to go outside because she’s sitting at the door staring at you. It is something completely different that conventional science holds to be impossible – the ability to send and receive thoughts, images, feelings, and other sensory data mentally, without using any sound or gesture. Intuitive communication can be done at a distance, and you don’t have to see or know the animal (or other being) you wish to speak with.
Here is an example of how it works. At a workshop held at a farm, my students interviewed four Norwegian Fjord horses. We knew the horses were female, and we could see that one was young and one was pregnant. The students mentally spoke with the horses and then got feedback from the woman who regularly cared for them. This woman was skeptical, but as the students relayed their questions, she became amazed. One student asked, “Was that mare brought in from another farm? Did they use her for jumping and then get rid of her because they wanted a bigger horse? That is what she told me.” The caretaker nodded. Another asked, “When they got rid of her, did they get a big black Friesian horse instead? That’s the image the mare showed me.” Again the caretaker nodded. Most of the information the students got from the horses that day turned out to be accurate; they even accurately predicted that the baby would be a colt.
Try It Yourself
There are two parts to intuitive communication: sending information and receiving information. Sending is by far the easiest. To learn how to send try the following experiment: For a two week period talk to your animal out loud as if he or she understands you completely. Tell your animal how you feel or how your day went; talk as you would to another person. Politely ask your animal to change any behaviors that might be bothering you, and if there is something you would like your animal to do, just ask for it.
Keep a written record of any changes in your animal’s behavior. If your animal complies with your requests and suggestions, be sure to give lots of feedback and thanks. Many people who try this exercise discover that it works so well they make it a permanent change in the way they relate to their animals.
After you’ve been talking for a few weeks, you can ask your animal to do something or act in such a way as to provide you with indisputable proof that you have been heard and understood. For example, my sister asked her food-obsessed horse to leave his hay and come give her a kiss, which he did to her complete astonishment.
Receiving intuitive information is harder than sending, because you have to learn to recognize the incoming information. It is helpful to try this with an animal you don’t know – then you can check your results with the animal’s person. Once you contact an animal intuitively and initiate a dialogue by mentally asking a question, all information that pops into your head at that point is potentially about, or directly transmitted by, the animal. Again, you could receive emotional feelings, images you see in your mind's eye, memories of other situations that have relevance to the present, words or phrases that pop into your head, and virtual sensory data like phantom physical feelings, smells and tastes. The art of receiving is to trust this incoming information and record it without question. Then you can check with the animal’s person to verify what you received.
Oddly enough, it can be easier to receive information intuitively from an animal you don’t know than from one you do. That’s because you know so much about your own animals that it may be impossible to get around the feeling that you are just making things up. Also, there is no easy way to verify the data you receive from your own animals. To counteract this, I recommend that you try this experiment: Ask your animal, “Do you have a question for me?” If a question pops into your head, no matter what it is, assume it came from your animal and answer it as best you can, either by talking out loud or sending thoughts. Ask for more questions and keep answering until your animal is finished. If you are successful, you will bypass your inner critic and experience what it feels like to receive information intuitively. You may even find that you and your animal end up in a back-and-forth discussion of a subject that your animal has chosen. If your animal doesn’t have a question or you just don’t get anything, let it go and tell your animal that you will ask again another day.