Intuition has always been an intriguing topic to me. That ability to be directed from within - or from a source outside ourselves, depending on your viewpoint - is so mysterious to me. I have lived so many of my years living primarily from my logical mind, quantifying and qualifying decisions at the expense of giving in to the little feelings which were never strong enough to get my attention, that I believed that intuition was something one either had or had not. And I believed I had it not. However, I am starting to uncover my intuitive capabilities. I will discuss this more in a future blog, but for now let's talk more generally about how intuition can be developed.
One of the benefits of meditation is that in the stillness which is cultivated over time, it is not uncommon to get more in tune with one's intuition. I believe intuition is there for all of us, it is just buried in those of us who don't experience it. We need only turn inward in stillness to begin to excavate it.
When asked how intuition can be developed, Paramhansa Yogananda responded:
"The best way is, every time you meditate, to sit calmly for a long time after doing the techniques. It is during this period that you will be able to deepen your awareness of God's presence within you. Go ever deeper in your enjoyment of that presence.
This quote tells us that sitting in the expansion phase of meditation will naturally develop our intuition. I have been taught that additionally we can directly ask for guidance before meditation and feel within during the expansion phase for the answer. Before meditating, send out the question or situation for which you need a solution, and then let it go while you do your techniques. Then, while in expansion listen or feel internally for a response at the heart center. Be sure to stay open and receptive. Don't have one part of you searching for the solution and the other part immersed in doubt about the possibility of receiving guidance. Avoid also seeing it as a problem, but as a situation which has your solution embedded within it.
You may be able to perceive the guidance/solution in that time while you are in expansion. If you aren't sure about what you are feeling, you can try to break it down a little bit. If there are two choices, present the first choice and see what you feel. If you feel an expansion in your heart or an upward rise of energy along the spine that could be an affirmative response. Or, you could have a feeling in the tummy that you associate with your "gut instinct." If you feel your heart contract/close up and notice a downward fall of energy along the spine this could be a negative response. Present the second choice and see what your physical or energetic response is. The body gives us so many clues which are there at our disposal when we open ourselves to them.
If you aren't able to decipher the answer in the expansion phase of meditation, it may come to you in a dream later or in your waking, non-meditative time in the coming hours. You may be surprised to hear the solution come from the mouth of a stranger. The person ringing up your groceries may unexpectedly say something which crystalizes things for you. Your teachers wear many surprising masks. So, stay open, stay receptive. Know that what you seek you will find - or it will find you!
I have a hard time sticking to my meditation routine when my everyday life gets disrupted. This happened most recently when my family and I went on vacation. We went on a cruise, and there was plenty to do from the time we woke up until we went to bed. It was difficult to find time to separate myself from everyone and venture within. Many days I did manage to meditate at least a little, but it was a far cry from when I am in my regular routine and can dedicate proper, focused time to it.
Meditation is very important to me, as you may have noticed! Because I couldn't dedicate my normal amount of time and energy to it, I sought other ways to remain connected to my inner self during my vacation time. I found a great way to bring my attention back to my inner self was to connect with my breath throughout the day. I would feel my breath running along my spine, following it with my attention. I might be walking from my lounge chair to the bar to get some water, but with each step I have my attention turned inward feeling the breath rise and fall with my inhalations and exhalations. I may look like I'm only watching my child swim, but I'm controlling the rise of the breath, holding it for a few seconds, and then controlling the exhale, staying connected to its feeling throughout each cycle. I may be listening to the events planned for the day, but I'm also scanning the energy in the spine for any areas of tension. I may be about to fall asleep or wake up, but I'm also taking a few moments to consciously scan the astral spine, really feeling it as I internally move slowly from top to bottom and connect deeper to it.
The breath is our pathway between the body and mind. The breath reflects our emotions - when we are anxious, the breath is quick and shallow, preparing us for action, and when we are calm the breath is slow and smooth. The breath also, conversely, impacts the mind. If we make ourselves breathe short, quick breaths it has an activating effect on the mind. If we take deep breaths which reach into the belly we activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect on the body. The breath also flows along with the cosmic energy which is a manifestation of our Higher Self. It is an important part of who we are as energetic beings - who we are beyond the body.
By tuning in to the breath throughout the day, I was able to stay connected to that higher part of me which is more than this body and personality. By making sure the breath was running fully along the spine and relaxing any tension I found, I was keeping my chakra centers active and open (that was my intention, anyway!).
Of course, meditation is the ideal for inner connection and turning within. However, in a pinch, when the practicalities of engaging in the material world presented a large obstacle in attaining my daily meditation goals, I did find this inward connection with the breath a nice bridge between my inner and outer worlds.
As I was preparing for my cleanse, I became aware of the healing effects of cleansing. Weight loss is obvious, but that benefit isn't enough of a driver for me to disrupt my life for nine days. Even considering the all-you-can-eat vacation, I was ok with my weight. But fasting and cleansing has been linked to all sorts of healing, which was very intriguing to me. Cleansing gives the body the chance to release the toxins it absorbs through the environment, processed/treated foods, products we put on and in our bodies, cleaning products, and even negative mental states. It gives the body the chance to convert from an acidic internal environment to alkaline, which is important for preventing and fighting disease.
On the first day of my cleanse I made a point of noticing any areas in my body which had been causing me pain or discomfort for any length of time. I have had pain in my right hip for many weeks. I also have had a sensitive elbow since I fell on it two summers ago. If I put pressure on it I get a stab of pain. Something has also been going on with my shoulder the last few weeks. When I breath deeply it makes a jagged adjustment, as though it is clicking into position (the feeling your knuckles make if you "crack" them). I wanted to see how those areas might be impacted by the end of the cleanse.
The first few days I noticed that none of these areas got better - in fact, they got worse! My hip pain flared right up, to the extent that my hip was the first thing I noticed for 2-3 days when I stepped out of bed in the morning. I also had pain all through my back for a day or two. Not muscular pain, but general pain running throughout my back. I noticed, too, that my gums were terribly sensitive when I brushed my teeth. I do experience some sensitivity from time to time in small areas of my mouth, but this was greater pain than normal and covered a larger area.
Most of this pain subsided by the halfway point of my nine day cleanse. The gum sensitivity went on a little longer. I attribute those pains with the toxins being released from my body and moving through to be eliminated.
It's funny how sometimes things get worse right before they get better. You can see this even with meditation or other similar practices. I went to a breath work clinic a couple of months ago, and some people have very emotional experiences with that experience. You breath deeply for an hour and things get released in various ways, and that release manifests in different ways for everyone. In order for it to be released it has to be really seen.
As I write this I am in my final day of the cleanse. Yay!! So, it's really too early to say exactly what the verdict is on my pain points. My hip is feeling fine at the moment, but I know even as recently as a couple of nights ago it was sore in the evening so I will keep watching it. I do feel improvement in the elbow, but it's not totally resolved at this point. My shoulder is still making it's adjustment with my deep breaths, but it is not as pronounced. My gums feel a lot better when I brush my teeth, but there is still a bit of sensitivity in some small parts.
So, from a healing perspective I have not found the cleanse (so far) to have completely cleared up everything, although I do think it has provided a noticeable difference. It has had a wonderful impact on my energy. I normally feel tired in the afternoon and have not felt that little crash I normally have. When I meditate I feel much lighter energetically and feel that I am coming to my meditations from a higher point - I begin my meditations from a place I normally achieve after I've had my mind stilled for a while. And, yes, I definitely have lost weight. I don't know how much because I didn't think to weigh myself (and I don't think I have a scale anyway), but I can see in my face and by how my clothes fit that I am lighter than before I started.
I still have a few hours to go until I have completed the cleanse. I would imagine as the benefits took a few days to build up as my body turned more alkaline that I can ride the wave for a few more days even as I bring more variety into my diet. Let the healing continue!
Spring has arrived, and with it my family and I enjoyed a much anticipated spring break vacation. We went on a Caribbean cruise. It was a really great trip - we enjoyed the warm sun, saw some islands, enjoyed the plethora of entertainment options on the ship, and we ate. And ate. And ate. The food was delicious and abundant. When my podcast partner, Alessandra, mentioned while I was away that she was ready to begin the cleanse we had talked about doing together for many months she had my full attention. Although I was making mostly healthy choices on the cruise, I was eating much, much more than normal and knew my system was working overtime trying to process everything. The pendulum had swung way out regarding my consumption, and I thought it was a great idea to swing it back the other way to try to get back to center.
Thus, the day after our return I began Paramhansa Yogananda's Nine Day Cleanse. I had never done a cleanse before, so I have been pretty intimidated by the idea of doing one that lasts for nine days. However, my mind was eased a bit when taking into consideration that amount of food one is able to eat for the duration of this cleanse. Although the variety of food is pretty small, the quantities seem quite generous. In fact, I thought it was somewhat of a loophole that the cooked vegetable could be in an unlimited quantity. Then when I began the cleanse I realized I only wanted a limited amount of one unseasoned cooked vegetable! :-D
I am in Day 4 of the cleanse, so not quite halfway yet. I plan to have a few blog posts about it because it seems a very dense topic, and as I was preparing for the cleanse there was a lot I wanted to know so I would like to try to share as much as I can think of which might be helpful for future new cleansers who may be looking for more insight. That said, it's important to always note that we all have different body constitutions and chemistries which make each individual's experience different. Also, there is a lot open to interpretation with this particular cleanse, so there's always a chance I have practiced it in a different way than someone else. For instance, I am part of a forum where a handful of us are going through this together. We were talking about the details of the cleanse and were questioning whether avocado was ok to use in the raw salad. Someone had said was ok (the author of the blog I've linked to the details of the cleanse says in the comments avocado is ok), and someone else didn't recommend it because it has a high oil content and wouldn't be as cleansing. I myself have had avocado in the salad the first 2 days but decided to skip it yesterday because I wasn't very hungry (somehow) and didn't need it enough to "take the risk." The first 2 days I did need the creaminess of the avocado to help me get through a salad with no seasoning or dressing.
I hear from others with more experience than me that the first 3-4 days are the hardest. For me, the first day was certainly the hardest so far. It is recommended to do a pretox to prepare the body, so if possible begin avoiding caffeine before you start so you don't experience caffeine withdrawal as you are adjusting to the new diet. It was lucky timing for me because I do have a cappuccino every day or so, but I wasn't having them on the cruise. I don't notice physical symptoms anyway if I take a break from cappuccino, but I had already gotten through that longing for my habitual cappuccino before I began. The first day was mostly getting used to the taste of the food with no seasoning or dressing. I also had to just get used to the limitations. I would feel a bit of hunger and my mind would immediately go to having a snack like a bit of cheese or some nuts, or I would see that my son hadn't finished his breakfast and mentally already be eating his leftovers before I remember the cleanse. My mind was very, very centered on food - not so much what I was missing (although there was a bit of that) as trying to navigate the limitations while not getting crazy hungry. My energy level and mood were ok; my main hurdle was getting used to not feeling substantially full. I had some stomach pains for about 5-10 minutes after my dinner of raw salad and the vitality beverage, and some hip pain which had been coming and going for a few months became very pronounced in the first couple of days than normal. I believe this was due to the effects of the toxins being released and feel it was a good sign.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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