Intuition and Insight
The Oxford English dictionary defines the word Intuition as: The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.
And in the Britannica Webster dictionary as: Something known or understood at once, without an effort of the mind.
Scientific research has shown us that only 20% of the brain's grey matter is dedicated to conscious thought, the rest is focused on our non- conscious thoughts.
“The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.”- Sigmund Freud.
Have you ever had a feeling about someone, perhaps that you can't trust them, or perhaps a sudden feeling that you need to get out of a situation and you do not have a rational explanation as to why? This is your intuition speaking to you. It is up to you whether you ignore this, or take action based on information from your unconscious mind. Many people don't trust their instinct, their gut feeling and so ignore these intuitive feelings and instead rely completely on their rational conscious mind. In the decision making process, the ideal is to combine intuition and the logical mind.
The definition of insight is:
The capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something.
An instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding.
How mindfulness can encourage intuition
In mindfulness practice, we observe our thoughts and allow them simply to come and to go. By doing this we dis-identify from our thoughts as we avoid dwelling on them. This enables us to break away from previous habitual thought patterns and preconceived ideas about people or situations. This opens a creative door and leaves room for intuition to emerge. As the intuitive thoughts arise, we observe equally the intuitive thoughts or feelings and the logical thoughts, placing no more importance on either one.
What distinguishes insight from intuition is, (as the definition of insight states) 'understanding the nature of things'. This knowing is beyond thought and is not something which can be accessed by the conscious mind. Mindfulness is not a state of mind in which one intellectualizes thought, so in a sense it is also 'beyond thought'. To become intuitive you have to focus on your five senses plus your feelings, rather than your thoughts. The mind is usually too distracted by other thoughts to be able to receive the guidance of intuition.
By using mindfulness in your everyday life or in formal meditation, in each moment there is a possibility of both intuition and insight, which can be a wonderful asset when trying to make a difficult business decision as well as in personal relationships,creative inspiration, even at the cutting edge of science. Being open to our intuitive feelings can help point us in the right direction and give us confidence when we need it. It is a fantastic source of help and power if we can allow it to flow into our lives.
Einstein is a good example of how intuition can be used to achieve great things:
“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge.....all great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration......At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”