It’s 2004. I’m in Sri Lanka, two weeks after a devastating Tsunami swept through. I’m here as an aid worker. The hotel I’m staying in is right on the beach. I watch the waves out of my window. Lightening doesn’t strike twice, I say to myself, a mantra that feels hollow when chanted over a pile of rubble.
Many times, a day I hear the shriek of villagers yelling Tsunami! Tsunami! This village, full of generations of fisherman and people of the sea, are now afraid of the waters that for so long have sustained them.
They are sure a second wave is coming.
I nod at their warnings, but the truth is, I’ve stopped caring. I’m exhausted.
At 1am, I hear a bashing on my door.
Madam! Madam! Tsunami! Tsunami!
It is my friend and compadre in Sri Lankan adventure, Aruna. He has left his family, come down from his home in the dense jungle trees to get me.
I’m grateful but again, exhausted. I wonder for a moment what it would be like to swept up in the wave. Maybe then I could sleep? I think.
I snap myself out of it. I climb in next to Aruna.
It’s been a long haul of short nights and long days. I’ve been working with a group of children. I’ve been trying to work out what they need, beyond the expected and the practical.
I buy packets of coloured pencils and paper and offer them to them. In return, they hand me back drawing of black waves with angry faces and floating bodies. I thank them, not sure what to say.
This is so big, I think to myself.
Aruna takes me to the jungle, and they offer me their bedroom. I refuse but they insist. Aruna’s wife gives me a nightie that buttons right up to my chin, its thick cotton hanging all the way down to my feet.
It’s stifling. I wonder how this Victorian dress came to adorn a body that had no use for it.
A couple of hours later, I can’t take the heat. There’s no breeze. I’m drowning in the warmth of my own breath. I bust through the mosquito net and sit on a plastic chair, under the trees, in the middle of the Sri Lanka jungle.
The insects feast on me. I let them. I’m a different kind of tired now.
There are some states of being that invite your intuitive self forward. They are the states when you are at your most raw. When death, and life seem very finely separated. Like you can taste the difference between them.
In these states, when you lose your social niceties, you realise that you are not equal with the trees, the water, the earth, but perhaps ranked slightly below them. That you are most in touch with and most trusting of your inner voice, your internal guidance system and you follow it in these places, where the stakes are high.
Because to think too long has consequences. You just don’t linger.
I look back on the version of me that in between work trekked alone through the middle east, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and I recognize I’ve used more than the nine lives owed to me. But the irony is, when I was out there, dancing on the edge of the volcano, I had the biggest sense of self-trust. My instincts were intact.
In the cocoon of our comfortable lives, it’s often our horses that give us the biggest sense of connection to a sensory base that is our birthright and yet often feels very far away. We ask ourselves, how do we develop our intuition?
As though we aren’t intuitive beings to begin with. So far removed we have become.
When I first started studying anatomy, physiology and the nervous system, it felt so reductive. It felt as though the mystery and magic of being human had been reduced to bones and muscles and fascia and a pile of red blood cells.
But the more I learned, the more I understood. Our body and our nervous system are a portal to access our intuition. In a world where we no longer run as hunter gatherers, but instead our bodies have been units of production in a capitalized, colonized world, we need tools to find our way back.
I understand now that my body, your body, is the way back.
I get asked often, how do I trust myself? How do I develop my intuition?
And the answer is, you start where you are.
You start with the knowledge that to be intuitive is who you are. You don’t need to earn it. You just accept it.
And then, the practice- or my practice- is one of the body. Of noticing, observing, of activating my sensory system so I can feel my way through the world, not think my way through.
If there are three things that get in the way of being able to hear the sound of our own intuitive voice, it is:
- Judging the outcome
- Attempting to control
Instead, we simply decide. We take an action. We see how that action lined up with our intention- with no judgement. And then we repeat.
You are intuitive. That’s never been in question. What you need to look at is everything that caused you to think that wasn’t the case.