Why Meditation Is Essential For Developing & Strengthening Intuition
The Ultimate Guide To Intuition & Meditation
The Monumental Importance of Intuition & "Gut Feel"
Intuition. Bill Gates trusts it. Steve Jobs said it's "more powerful than intellect." It powers every market decision Warren Buffett makes. Richard Branson prefers it to stats and data. Albert Einstein called it the "only real valuable thing."
While most of us think a "big ol' brain" (hard work is assumed) is the key to making it in this world, successful people believe otherwise. In a study where thirty-six major CEOs were asked to name their decision making's most critical component, 85% responded with "intuition" or "gut feel."
Whether we are mulling a career change, sensing our first date's compatibility, or feeling (for no reason at all) that we should wait an extra few seconds at the stoplight (as we watch a car barrel through the intersection) — we have all been magnetically guided by our magnificent inner compass.
While we are generally taught to throw our "spidey-senses" to the wind, those of us who learn to harness this all-knowing "inner-GPS" can, with pinpoint precision, use it to navigate the great ocean of life, finding success at every turn.
Intuition Is Most Definitely Real
Is intuition a "real" thing? While a potential human "sixth sense" is not something most scientists want to touch with a fifty-foot pole (anything resembling "woo woo" is generally an academic research "no no"), perhaps the best proof for intuition comes from the work of Cornell University's physicist turned psychologist, Dr. Daryl Bem.
You know how, in the opening scene of the original Ghostbusters movie, Dr. Venkman (as played by Bill Murray) tested the participants' ability to "sense" which card was in his hand, whether a circle, star, square, or else? Minus the electrical shocks (of course), Dr. Bem's studies were a bit like that.
In his 1,000 participant, decade-long series of experiments, Dr. Bem showed that humans do indeed have the ability to "sense" (NOT predict) the future. So, how strong are his findings? Because of the paradigm shifting implications, he waited until his intuition studies had reached a "74 billion to 1" (!) statistical certainty before releasing the results. Yeah, he's pretty sure.
Dr. Bem told Cornell News "It violates our notion of how the physical world works. The phenomena of modern quantum physics are just as mind-boggling, but they are so technical that most non-physicists don't know about them."
While we not dare tackle how or why humans can feel something before it happens (though theoretical physics's Multiverse Theory & Quantum Entanglement give us clues), it appears that the human "spidey sense" is alive and real. And that, people with a stronger antenna may naturally be great decision makers.
The Brain's "Axis of Intuition"
So, where does intuition live in the brain? According to a team of University of Iowa researchers, the brain's so called "axis of intuition" is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). The pop culture depiction of the vmPFC's location is surprisingly accurate.
In the X-Men comic books and movies, how did Professor X summon his psychic powers? He would put his fingers on his temples, close his eyes, and then, from the middle of his forehead, energy waves would beam in all directions. The vmPFC axis of intuition is right there, dead center on the forehead. X marks the spot.
Back to the commonly held "high intelligence is the key to success" false belief. Well, studies have shown that people (even with high IQ) with damage to their "intuitive" vmPFC have loads of problems. Like what?
These "broken intuition" folks often make poor decisions on repeat (e.g. often have addictions, are bad with money), are quite gullible and easily deceived (e.g. tricked by advertising, can't detect irony or sarcasm), and don't learn from mistakes. At least not like the rest of us. Most of us went to high school with that super smart kid who, down the road as an adult, can't keep his life together.
How Meditation Cranks Up Intuition
"So, if I want to be a super-successful, highly intuitive person, then I need a stronger ventro-whatchamacallit?"
Though your spelling is off a bit, yes. If you want to be more intuitive then upgrading your ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) will do the trick. If only there was a way... Actually, there is!
A 2014 Wake Forest University study (Zeidan et al) looked at the brains of 15 volunteers before and after just four days of mindfulness training. What did they find? In addition to a host of other wonderful brain enhancements, the freshly minted meditators seriously increased their vmPFC's "activity" and "interconnectivity."
For those of us who want to "make decisions with precision," what does this mean?
By hitting the switch on our brain's "axis of intuition," meditation links us directly to our ultra-powerful (yet elusive) sense of "inner-knowing." While the ancient practice may not turn us into an overnight Richard Branson, Marissa Mayer, Oprah Winfrey, or Warren Buffett, meditation most certainly can magnify our "gut feel" for a lifetime of "soothsaying" financial, relationship, health, and career choices. Meditators often find success in everything they do, you can too.
How Meditation Fixes "Broken" Intuition
"It seems that my intuition is great at leading me down the wrong path. If meditation magnifies this (obviously) faulty ability of mine, won't it just steer me off a cliff?"
No. Either your intuition is weak or its signal is clouded. It's not forever broken. Here are the two main reasons for "faulty intuition," and how meditation fixes both:
#1: Intuition Is Never Developed — If you thought your legs weren't real and therefore, didn't trust or believe in them, what would happen? Idle atop your wheelchair, they would quickly dwindle away. Likewise, people who see their intuition as "sorcery" will watch as it shrivels up like a raisin in the sun.
If life were a simple math problem, using your logical / analytical mind all the time would be fine. But it's not. Life often requires finding your way through the dark, figuring out things as you go along. Many decisions need to be made on "gut feel" rather than "this happened to me before so I know what to do now" experience.
Thankfully, whether you believe in intuition or not, meditation can change your brain to make better decisions. Then, if you still don't believe in it, you can call it something else. Like "success magic." Because your friends and family will be asking about the wonderful improvements in your life.
#2: Cloudy, Murky Intuition Signal — If you are depressed, anxious, emotionally blocked, and/or simply not feeling your highest and best, then your conscious mind's voice will be loud and proud. Learning to quiet down this superficial "monkey" mind layer is the key to unlocking your deeper, far more powerful subconscious mind. The home of intuition.
Luckily, once meditation's never-ending benefits begin to snowball — anxiety, depression, and the chattering monkey-mind are the first dysfunctions to get buried. With a quiet conscious mind and easy access to your deep thinking subconscious mind, intuition flows like a river.
Magnify the "whisper of your soul." Guide yourself to an incredible life. Discover meditation.