A Shaman’s Tool: Intuition

by Greg Rowe April 25, 2021

Anyone who deals with people on a regular basis, whether as a salesman, a customer service agent, or a nurse, just to pick a few, gets a ‘feel’ for who will be a problem customer, who will seek a constructive solution, who might be coming to the clinic only in hopes of obtaining pain medication. Even persons who do not think of themselves as intuitive often have a ‘gut instinct’ or would tell you that a directive from management that ended up being a costly mistake “just didn’t sit right when I read it.” That, too, is intuition.

Intuition is like a sixth sense, one not informed by our normal sensory apparati. Like any sense, if one wants to develop it, exercise and discipline are helpful.If we want to strengthen our vision, best we look away from the computer monitor and force our eyes to focus out at a distance, and that we remember to use blue blocking lenses, if a glasses wearer, or a blue blocking screen cover if not.

in iterajar training, the Teachers encouraged us to start taking an intuitive first impression of things or people and to later compare it to an empirically knowable unpression. If I met someone and he had invited me to his home, I tried to picture in my mind the appearance of that home. If it turned out to be a one-story brick home and I had pictured a two-story wooden home, I knew that I had to keep working on how I intuitively grasped things. Later, I tried using it in graduate school classes. As soon as I signed up, was the professor a good, organiz4d presenter? Was her English good and readily understood? Would the course entail extra work over what one expected or the normal amount? Would the class be large, or a cozy study group around a few tables? These questions may seem trivial, but it is best to start by using one’s intuitive faculties on inconsequential matters before using it to make big decisions or to inform important impressions of people or events.

Egotism, or self-importance, is the enemy of good intuition. I had a friend who, viewing a video of a band with me, said, “I can tell they don’t like each other.” I knew she did not like the folk song, which spoke of the hard life of the high desert and its trascendent beauty, its indifference to human presence. She says “I always get it right when following my first impression,” only as with her impression of the band, this is sometimes not true. As with most who have an inflated view of themselves as infallible, the inconvenient, incorrect impressions are ignored and the correct ones celebrated. As it turned out in this instance, the family band had been established for over twenty years, were well-known in their genre, and even the adult offspring who had received a good education, chose to keep performing, so, clearly, she projected her dislike of the ballad, which she described as “depressing” onto the band and the quality of their relationships. I don’t personally know the band members, but the external evidence would not support her impression.

The first condition of developing our intuition is humility. Check why you have a visceral dislike for someone, especially when the person ends up being a compatible coworker. Did you project a memory of someone who was a negative influence in your life onto that person because they physically resemble each other? Was it that his mannerisms or style of speaking reminded you or someone who proved toxic, or was there something really of substance in your impression?

This is the mental discipline of developing good, accurate intuition, using critical thinking to question the impression that you received and to verify its accuracy. The egotist who confidently tells you his “first impression is always right,” is probably deluding himself, or, worse, it might become a self fulfilling prophecy, wherein, if he likes a person’s appearance, he expects them to be positive in their interactions with him and he changes the interpretation to match the first impression, doing the same with persons who give him a negative first impression. This kind of confirmation bias is anathema to accurate intuition.

When we were in training and had enough years of study to begin working with clients, we were encouraged to write in pencil our impressions, if any, on doing Intake, then compare them with what we later found in working with them. We were then to rewrite a corrected narrative of the client. After a while, I had to erase fewer and fewer notes.

In the end it always comes down to humility in the face of facts and the willingness to be wrong, to acknowledge wrong impressions and correct oneself, become aware of why one had a wrong first impression, or got the wrong impression on the “back story” of a problem that a client presented. It is also important to realize that some people, situations, or experiences that are ahead of me will Not give me an impression and that is okay. I don’t have to fantasize a picture if I’m not forming one organically.

So we learned what Johannes called “the internal conversation,” where we form the impression or intution only as a hypothesis, question its origins and its objectivity, then dig for facts that support or refute it. When the intuition is incorrect, we learn a lot about our subconscious processing of events or situations in our lives or in our practice as tietaja. By learning to question, hold the intuitive impression in suspense, awaiting verification, we can become ever more accurate and this important tool for navigating the disorders or disturbances of our fellow humans can be used then more accurately and effectively for their betterment.

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