If an old friend called you, and you hadn’t spoken to that friend for a very long time, there is a chance that you may hear the voice and not immediately recognize the person speaking. It may take you a few seconds, perhaps another word, a laugh, and you may then be reminded of this long lost sound coming through the phone. Or, perhaps, the sound will immediately take you back to a memory of the two of you, the memory of the face on the other end.

Recognizing the voice of intuition is like recognizing the voice of the old lost friend on the telephone line. The more you speak to it, the greater the chances of you being able to recognize its voice sooner.

Intuition, as a mental faculty, is something that can be exercised, improved and continuously evolved. But the question still remains, what makes some of us more in tune, more ‘tapped’ than others – how can intuition be truly exercised? And, also important – what is the role of reason if intuition is the all-knowing voice? When I exercised intuition as simply listening to an internal guiding voice, I was practicing awareness. To do that, I learned to meditate, and I learned to focus on my body more often. I also stopped trying to explain everything around me, with concepts, and stories. Practicing intuition  was a practice of staying present, and open. But, the place that took me deep into my connection with this guiding voice was more than awareness, it was a practice of deep self-love, self-compassion.

Unexpectedly, the loving of self’s bi-product is a heightened intuitive connection. Self love brought me to a place where the whisper of intuition has become a sound I can recognize and rely upon, at all hours of the day.

I am sharing a process of self-care that allowed me to connect with my intuitive self because with the help of this voice, my life has changed in ways no amount of cognitive learning could ever have done. And, because intuition is a powerful tool of success, not just in life, but at work as well. Intuition is the all loving servant we are each given, at birth. Its only job is to protect us, to serve us, to make our lives easier. The only thing we need to do to receive its help, is to first, become interested in it, and second, practice self-love. The beautiful thing is, once you get these two steps, your connection to this voice is instantaneous. Even if you have ignored it your whole life, it will be there, all willingly, all ready.

To build awareness there are some practices we can engage everyday. A simple first step is to turn up the curiosity volume and be interested in recognizing the voice of intuition when it comes. This voice, unlike reason, is not a judgement of current conditions, against past experiences, and it is not interested in ‘convincing’ us of anything. It whispers in unexpected moments, and its remarks may or may not have anything to do with what’s around us. This is precisely why we often miss, or dismiss this voice. It does feel at times, incoherent with reality. So we can start this practice with simple day to day actions. For instance, when we get up, we can start the day by asking what the body needs, rather than jump into the normal routine we may be accustomed to. Your body’s natural impulses are intuitive in a way, because your body knows what it needs. Note however, that intuition is a servant to our heart’s most sacred longings and desires. Addiction, which drives action, is a suppression to these desires, and therefore, cannot ever be the voice of intuition. To break past any addictive behavior, we must seek to learn what is underneath the desire for that action. Food addiction, for instance, is a great way of recognizing our normal way of being, versus our natural, intuitive way of being. Why are you getting that coffee, or that piece of cake, or the extra slice of pizza? What’s the desire being suppressed – if any? The voice of intuition will tell you.

Of course, meditations and any form of mindfulness exercises, heightens our intuitive senses. This is again, because we can clear up the mind from its ‘jumping monkey,’ as the Buddhists say – the thoughts that jump from branch to branch in chaos. When we contain our thoughts, we can focus better and reduce the noise pollution that clutters and blocks the passage way for intuition to be heard. Bob Proctor once said that the voice of intuition is the way in which the sub-conscious mind speaks to the conscious mind. Or, in other words, it is our link to the universal mind.

Once awareness practices are in place, we then can improve our recognition of this voice, by engaging in self-compassion, self-love practices. This means, engaging in a precise plan to discover and then love every bit of ourselves. As crazy of an idea as that may seem, most of us have subtle places inside ourselves that we despise, that we reject, ignore, and hide. As long as we reject, ignore and hide these places we are energetically suppressing the voice of intuition which resides within the dark crevasses inside of us. I like the analogy of the telephone line because it matches this idea of a blocked wire transmission. I was not aware of how much of this self-compassion practice was an important step towards engaging my intuition until I made self-love a priority in my own practice.

Self love is not self indulgence. Self love can actually be painful because it requires us to pass through our own sense of non deserving, or not enoughness as we get familiar with our dark inner spots. These dark places are only dark because we have chosen to keep it covered, hidden, tucked away. To me, my dark places included an incessant feeling of guilt – guilt for having more than others, or for not having been able to help people in need at various points of my life. Guilt is one of the most acidic feeling we may carry around. It truly, physiologically, burns healthy cells in our bodies. But, beyond that, it blocks our ability to love ourselves, to accept great things in our own lives, and to sustain love and joy for longer periods of time. And, if that wasn’t enough, guilt, or other such feelings that keeps dark places trapped within us, also block the voice of intuition from being heard.

My self compassion practice included nourishing myself with meals and spices I had not done before, spending long periods of times with supporting sisters – girlfriends who could hold the space for me to feel safe and loved, and even spa outings, being taken care of, and loving every bit of the process. True self compassion came from my speaking up my fears, letting others see the dark places in me, and then discovering that these places did not scare others. Light began shining back into the deep crevasses of my inner caves. Slowly, the voice of intuition became a strong guide. I can say, I let myself, for the first time, be guided by not only by my mind, but also my heart. This drastic change in my way of being, began to support me through significant choices in my life.

One of the most incredible outcomes from this process, was letting my voice of intuition lead me to see, within minutes, that a stranger sitting across from me at a coffee shop, was the soulmate I had been getting ready to welcome into my life for years. I know, without a doubt that the process of awareness and mindfulness, coupled with a deep practice of self-love opened myself up to recognizing true love, when it showed up in front of me, unexpectedly. No amount of rationalization could have ever explained that knowing. Intuition is the guiding servant, the all-knowing voice that has nothing to do with past experiences. It is a universal voice of knowledge. Reason is the mental faculty that draws from past experiences and allows us to discern true from false, good and bad, as the conditions unfold in front of us. Intuition is the mental faculty that speaks from the soul. Reason is an incredible faculty of discernment.

Intuition guides reason. Not the other way around.