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Forget about “ tapping into your intuition”

A lot of people ask me “how can I tap into my intuition?” And, I’m usually a bit clueless about how to answer. I don’t think it’s possible to turn our intuition on or off. Let me explain. is a stupendously beautiful website dedicated to promoting gratefulness as a spiritual practice. They just started a Sound Sanctuary on their website. The Sound Sanctuary includes short recordings of natural settings such as a Spring Pond in the Adirondacks at dawn on summer solstice or of two wood thrushes singing back and forth across a creek in the Smoky Mountains.

When I’m feeling out of center, listening to these recordings brings me back. Now, I could have the sound playing in the background and pick up the phone and be deep in a conversation and totally unaware of the background noise – or I could sit by my computer, close my eyes and just listen to the sweet melody.

Intuitiveness is like that.

It’s never not there.

It’s not something we turn on and off.

It’s not something we either ‘have’ or ‘don’t have.’

It’s a matter of awareness….. Are we listening to the background, aware of our surroundings and the subtle and beautiful dance that we are partaking in? Or only partially? Or not at all?

And just like most of us are taught to write and speak with little attention to learning to listen, we are not generally encouraged to pay attention to the unspoken, unseen, non-physical aspects of creation. And yet, that’s a key.

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This summer, I went to one of my favorite music festivals. It has 4 stages, 4 days of music and dance and 20,000 people all enjoying the fun. The largest stage is set in front of a field and usually there are several hundred people dancing and standing in front of the stage. One day I was getting something to eat when I heard the most enchanting music wafting towards me. I quickly paid for my food and made a bee-line for the source.

When I arrived, to my astonishment I just saw people sitting on the ground in front of the stage rapt by a small group on stage chanting to the Wolf. I sat down and reveled in the sweet music and even sweeter atmosphere. A few people wandered towards the stage and felt the urge to dance but moved to the side to respect the gentle space.

Then a man came up and stood right in my line of vision and seemed oblivious to the fact that everyone else was sitting. I got steadily more annoyed and until a woman who was sitting near me, stood up and sat in front of him. Ah, perfect solution, so I followed suit (as I walked by him I did gently mention to him that he was blocking people’s view – didn’t go down too well - so her solution was the best :))

So, when people talk about ‘tapping into’ their intuition, I think what they are pointing at is going around those things/thoughts/beliefs/busy-ness that is standing between us and the source. Like walking around the obstructions.

It’s not that the music/wisdom isn’t there or that our capacity to hear it is turned off – it’s simply that we need to turn our awareness towards it and go around anything that is blocking our full reception.

Now, that is easier said than done and a challenge for most of us in our hectic noise-filled world that appreciates action over stillness and noise over quiet.

The more that we can take the time to do things that bring us to center such as meditate, dance, sing, and spend time in nature, the easier it is for us to distinguish that quiet ever-present whisper in our lives. What helps you to listen to the quiet?

So, even if you are in a busy, built environment right now…I invite you to enjoy the sounds of nature in The Sound Sanctuary. And express my gratitude for you reading this and for the folks at for such an inspired creation. Thank you for the bounty.

Photo Credit: Gina Inzinna, Ithaca, NY

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by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the mouth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.