A few years ago, I went with my friend and his boyfriend to an art show. I opened the door to my usual spot on the passenger side of the backseat. Then for no apparent reason, I shut the door and moved to the car’s other side, behind the driver’s seat. It started to rain as we approached a freeway interchange, and I noticed that we were going faster than what felt safe. My friend lost control of the car, which started to spin. I covered my eyes and cried as my favorite song at the time, Björk’s “Wanderlust,” played loudly on the stereo. I remember thinking, Am I really going to die to Björk right now? FUCK THAT.
After what felt like a million years, the car slammed into the wall by the freeway. Everyone was OK, but the part of the car that was completely fucked up was…the passenger side of the backseat. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d been sitting in my usual place. I was traumatized but thankful for whatever it was that made me switch things up that night. And really—what the eff WAS it that told me go to the car’s other side?
You could call it an inner voice, second sight, a gut feeling, or even psychic powers, but that mysterious thing was intuition. Intuition is like a special gift that humans have to help us arrive at answers without using our rational minds—a conclusion appears when we’re not even thinking about it. It’s when you just know something without understanding how, or when you suddenly get a feeling that you instantly trust.
You’ve probably experienced something like that before, too, like when a voice inside you saves you from some sort trouble you didn’t see coming, or you get a nagging feeling that something, or someone ain’t right. Some of us are able to tap into our intuition more easily than others, but we can all train ourselves to get better at it.
Marcella Kroll, an empathic medium, describes intuition as being “like any muscle in the body: The more you use it, the stronger it gets.” The strength of your instincts depends on the relationship you have with yourself, and how well you can read your own intuitive signs. “Getting to know yourself in this way varies from person to person,” says Kroll. “An overwhelming emotion might come over you when you’re thinking about something or someone. You also might get a sensation in your physical body. The key is trusting that inner voice.”
Do you want to get up close and personal with your intuition? Here are some tips on harnessing the power of that inner voice.
Ground yourself. Keeping yourself firmly in the here and now is one of the best ways to access your intuition. (If you’ve ever done yoga or watched Oprah, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of “being present.”) If you’re constantly stressing about what happened earlier that day or what you have to do later, you could be missing out on what your inner voice is saying about what’s right in front of you. “We can’t listen to ourselves when we are always filling up our time with things that don’t allow for some inner reflection,” says Kroll. “Meditation is a great way of getting your brain and body into the mode of tuning out the world and into the sensations of your second sight.”
There are no rules for meditation, which can be intimidating. The cool thing is that there’s also no right or wrong way to do it, and you can literally do it anywhere. Try closing your eyes and hitting pause on your conscious thoughts by listening to your breath, noticing the sounds around you, or concentrating on something tactile, like how your sleeve feels against your skin. That last one really helps me when I meditate—until I notice the feeling of my bra, too, and get annoyed. If that also happens to you, try moving on to bra-free meditation (like yours truly).
Read energy. Have you been introduced to someone who acted friendly enough but whose vibes gave you the creeps? Or someone who was shy but somehow felt like an instant pal? First impressions are surprisingly accurate. Training yourself to be aware of the feelings you experience when you’re near a person (as opposed to just weighing their words or actions) can help you decide whether your inner voice is telling you to open up to them or slowly back away. When I’m picking up on a person’s energy, I like to imagine that I’m inside a big, clear bubble—kind of like this!—that I expand or contract based on how close my instincts say they should get.
Keep a dream diary. Dreams and intuition come from the same part of the mind—the unconscious. A lot of us forget our dreams after we start our days, which is a missed opportunity to connect with what’s going on in that general brain-space. Writing down dreams as soon as you wake up can help you recognize similar signs your intuition might be sending you when you’re awake.
Practice tarot. Tarot cards, which you can find at most occult or magic shops, as well as some bookstores, are a fun tool for divination that have been around for centuries. According to Kroll, they’re “a beautiful way to build a physical relationship with your intuition.” Each tarot card is covered with pictures and symbols that have different meanings. When you draw a specific card (like this one with a dude and swords, which can mean that you need to deal with fear or a problem, EEK!), you can apply its meaning to a real-life question such as, “Should I ask my crush on a date to 7-Eleven to try Doritos Loaded?” Chances are, the answer is already inside you, boo. Tarot is there to help.
Pay attention to synchronicities. Synchronicity is a term that describes “a meaningful coincidence.” One time, for example, Lola and I were heavy-duty discussing the video for Paula Abdul’s “Rush, Rush,” and a week later she found a homemade cassette at a Goodwill thrift store of a little girl singing the same song, karaoke-style. How weird is that? Some people, including me and Carl Jung, like to believe these are encouraging signs from your subconscious showing up IRL, as if to say, “I got your back. You doin’ good, BB.”
Intuition can be a really powerful tool if we try to understand and use it. I’m not saying it’ll give anyone psychic powers (though I do believe in them), but if we learn to be more in touch with ourselves, we could at least solve some problems, or maybe even glimpse the future…you never know! ♦