Butterfly by Berit Watkin
Butterfly by Berit Watkin

What is intuition? How does it compare to gut feelings or instinct?

I read an article recently (not online) distinguishing different ways we get information. To summarize, with my commentary added:

1) Instinct: an innate inclination to act a certain way. For example, to jump out of danger. This is automatic.

2) Gut feeling: a sense, based on past experiences and rooted in fear or survival. This is more conscious than instinct, but still subtle.

3) Intuition: a feeling or knowing that doesn’t involve past experience or critical thinking. It’s less “solid” than concrete thoughts – more like a feeling. With enough clarity, it comes with information.

Clearly, these are inter-related. For example, a survival signal can be felt in the gut and be instinctive. A gut feeling can also come with intuitive knowing. A friend associates gut feelings with clairsentience, subtle body awareness.

Some associate intuition with the heart and some as an “all-over” sense. I’m in the first camp but see the heart as a field that extends outside the physical body, thus giving the second experience.

We can learn intuition. Mainly, it’s healing enough of the noise to hear the nudges plus learning to pay attention to them. Self-reflection is helpful.

Being able to trust our body helps. If we feel uncertain or betrayed by our body from early experiences, we’ll want to heal that. For example, we may have had awkward growing years that were not understood, had a serious childhood illness, or took other children’s criticism personally.

We can also learn respect and trust.

Healing is very valuable for quality of life, but it also brings gifts online that we may have forgotten we have. Life can grow in ways we may not have considered. Our potential is vast.

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  1. Richard

    Hi David,

    Where would you place “emotions” (defined as “bio-chemical translations of thoughts”) in this framework? Would that equate to “gut feeling”?


    1. Hi Richard
      That definition of emotions is assuming they’re a byproduct of the body (materialism). Actually, they’re the subjective experience of the movement of different flavours of energy. Certainly, those interact with the body and can be triggered by the body. They also do the same with the mind, triggering thoughts.

      The physical body is the outer layer or kosha. The energy/ emotional body is the next most subtle and interpenetrates it. The mind is next. And then the heart. The heart is the level of intuition, fine feelings, the intellect, subtle/ sacred geometry and so forth.

      So intuition is a function of the 4th kosha. The solar plexus is the mental body, also where we have our self-defense functioning (this is the last “personal” chakra). That’s the home of gut feelings. And instinct is primarily bodily, although there is aspects with the 2nd chakra too.

      Thanks for asking. Didn’t explore this in the article.

      1. Richard

        That’s an interesting angle. I hadn’t made that connection with the subtle bodies before.

        About your definition of energy, do you mean that the hormones that follow after someone, for example, makes an insult are not preceded by thoughts?

        It’s really not a big deal. I was just wondering how you would categorize the near-instant reactions we tend to make as a result of (fundamentally) our egoic point of view. I’d used to think in terms of instinctual, emotional and intuitive (or gut-feeling), and label those “emotional”, but I’m getting the feeling that this might not be very accurate and that my framework could use some revision. I’m just not sure yet how.

        1. Hi Richard
          The details get complex and variable by time and person. The conscious mind that notices thoughts and choices is quite slow compared to the subconscious mind. The latter runs “programs” much faster. Much of that is automatic.

          So we get a sensory impulse and react in a fraction of a second. Then the conscious mind notices and claims it made the choice. (laughs) That obscures what’s going on a little.

          There are subtle thoughts and reactions to the example before there are concrete thoughts. Hormones may be in the initial response or can arise as an effect of an emotional response. It’s all intertwined and inter-reacting.

          Energy and emotions are broadly synonymous, although we can experience energy (prana) without emotions. Energy is closely related to the breath too. Hormones are physical.

          The subjective side of bodily sensations are energetic also. Touch itself though is a sense, feeding the mind.

          Our reactions are not egoic. Ego is that which claims them as mine, that “I did this.” When we wake up, we realize I am not the doer. It was only ego claiming that. We are the observer of the doing. Ego muddies the water.

          Best to build a framework based on your experience rather than concepts as concepts are the mind. Mind can label emotions but can’t experience them. The emotional body does that. Keep it flexible as your experience will evolve.

          It can be useful to discriminate distinctions, just realize it’s a spectrum that’s interpenetrating. There is no separation.

  2. Bill

    Hi David. I really enjoy how your mind moves through these various less discussed aspects of experience. In this case your discussion in my opinion is not just timely, but exactly what may be being experienced by many because of the acceleration of various aspects of awareness and the increasing expansion in the depth of the collective on our earth. I feel that many more people are noticing feelings, initially possibly merely by organically reacting to the obvious Trump “spike” and the virus, but others in a deeper more self reflexive way.

    It seems that those various experiences you present in many ways are learned, although always having been there and it is through experience that we learn to recognize the internal voice or see the image and more. As we move more deeply into this “new” time what will be necessary are more discussions by those teachers like you, who are presenting information in such an understandable way, so that readers can recognize and then trust their openings in whatever way they arise. As more people open into the collective, it is so important to have this information available so that they can comfortably accept and then utilize this grace.

    1. Hi Bill
      I quite enjoy where life takes me. And yes, it’s the collective that drives our experience. The more in tune we are with that, the easier it is to reflect and express it. It’s an interesting dance – you need enough of the person to do the expressing but as little as possible to be an open stream.

      And yes, current events are obliging many to be more self-reflective, and to reconsider their priorities. I was surprised to realize how much we learn from our family by mirroring their energy patterns. It’s a way to adapt and fit in but not all of that is healthy.

      I am seeing that happen. More teachers who reflect new aspects that are unfolding, like Andrew Hewson attracting students who are unfolding in a way I’ve not seen. Many styles of shifting need many styles of guide.

      Agreed. I do see examples of people over-estimating their progress in the stages because the language can seem familiar. But it’s important to have it out there to support those for whom it is unfolding. I’ve seen many times how progress can stall if it’s not understood there’s more and what that looks like. I’ve seen people repress unfolding God Consciousness, for example, because they thought that was delusional.

      Some people do wake up solo and work through the process with inner help. But the vast majority of us need an awake catalyst to shift and to understand unfolding vistas.

    1. Hey Anthony
      Davidya is just a pen name. What I share does not come from me, as I touched on in the comment above. Maharishi’s approach is better. He offered everything back to his teacher, a teacher who was the linage holder but also a living embodiment of the teaching. A teaching that brought people home. Jai Guru Dev.

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