The intuitive mindset. What does it take to achieve this?
We can compare the mind to a lump of clay. When the mind is flexible, it is like wet clay which we can shape into any form. An inflexible mind is like clay that has dried and fired in a kiln, giving it a fixed and permanent form. When the clay is dry and hard, we cannot reshape its form without breaking it and starting all over again from a lump of shapeless wet clay. Similarly, a rigid mind can’t be bent and shaped. When we try to do that, it breaks. An intuitive mind is a flexible mind.
An intuitive mind is a flexible mind.
When the mind’s energies are free-flowing, it is like water that keeps a lump of clay soft and malleable. As long as the mind’s energies are free, we are not held down by specific patterns of thoughts. We are free to soar into blissful inner emptiness or descend into finite thought-forms while remaining flexible and at ease. The mind becomes a useful tool in our hands.
Habits and conditioning which make the mind hard and inflexible, are like the heat and fire of a brick kiln. They destroy the creative potential of raw thoughts by confining them to the solidified mental grooves determined by our habit patterns. Without exercising free-flowing creative potential, we cannot develop an intuitive mindset.
Without exercising free-flowing creative potential, we cannot develop an intuitive mindset.
The faculty of intuition is of little use unless the mind’s energies are pliable and ready to respond accordingly. The soft breeze of intuitive understanding is no match for the hardness of habits and conditioning. The best use of intuition is to create or discover something new and unique that will be of lasting benefit to others. It cannot operate in isolation. Moreover, an inflexible mind, set in its ways becomes like a wall that does not allow us to access the faculty of intuition.
An inflexible mind, set in its ways becomes like a wall that does not allow us to access the faculty of intuition.
The intuitive mindset implies a mind that is mostly free of habits and conditioning. The energy of such a mind is always fresh. We experience such a state of mind immediately upon waking up in the morning. For a few moments, the mind is very pliable, and we can “talk to the mind” rather than habits dictating to us. The early morning hours are especially conducive for the inner work necessary to break previously ingrained habit patterns. The mind may feel as light as the air before dense thoughts related to habits and conditioning begin to populate the mind space. During this time, rather than deepen the grooves of habits and conditioning, we can start to erase them.
The early morning hours are especially conducive for the inner work necessary to break previously ingrained habit patterns.
We can unlearn habits and decondition the mind by building inner awareness. We cannot quickly achieve this when the energies of the mind are already moving through established grooves of conditioning and habits. The best we can do is substitute one habit for another, and by doing so, we end up trading the mind’s energies from one habit to another. Such a mind becomes a transactional space rather than a creative space.
We can unlearn habits and decondition the mind by building inner awareness.
Besides the transitional points from sleep to wakefulness and vice versa, there may be other times during the day when our habits do not capture the mind’s energies. These moments are brief, and if we remain alert, we can catch them as we transition from one train of thought to another, or from one habitual pattern to another. Efforts in identifying such transitional moments wherein the mind’s energies are free, and fluid does not go in vain. The benefits of remaining alert during these moments may not be readily apparent, but the results are cumulative. In time, the value of such alertness in building inner awareness will be known.
Wet clay in the hands of a child and the hands of an expert potter take very different shapes. Similarly, our mental potential and energy are in our hands and what happens to this potential differs from person to person. Our alertness and awareness shape this potential.
Our alertness and awareness shape our mental potential.
If we are unaware of how to use and direct this immense potential, the course that the mind takes may be unpredictable. It may take chaotic new turns and ultimately lead to new habit patterns. The outcomes may not be to our liking or satisfaction. It may also follow a predictable path carved out by prior habits. The net result is that we end up competing with or fighting with the mind.
Like learning any new art, managing the mind’s energies and painting a future course takes time, effort, patience, and skill. All of these are in our hands. The art of handling the mind’s energies does not come ‘pre-loaded.’ Everyone has the seed of awareness. Growing that awareness is more of an acquired skill. However, anyone can master this, provided they are open and willing to step back from the mind and observe the movements of the mind rather than be entangled with the contents of thoughts. It takes time and effort to grow in awareness.
Like learning any new art, managing the mind’s energies and painting a future course takes time, effort, patience, and skill.
The rigors of everyday living offer many opportunities that give us instant feedback on our progress in reducing or eliminating habit patterns. For instance, let’s say we have anger as a habit, and we decide to work on reducing or eliminating anger. Anger is a label we attach to a particular pattern of the rise and fall of the mind’s energies. Just as we watch giant waves crashing onto rocks on a beach without naming individual waves, we can watch these energies rise and fall without calling it anger. By doing so, these energies will smoothen out over time, and anger will gradually disappear from our inner experience.
Along with eliminating the habit of anger, we also grow in awareness. This can be applied to any habit. The first step is removing the labels from our habits and then watching how those energies move. Such tags are a signal to the mind that makes its energies move in a specific manner.
Habits imply that a portion of the mind is hard and rigid. Habits are like calluses on soft skin. Calluses serve to protect the skin, but they grow harder with time. We cannot shave off soft skin that easily, but we can easily shave off a callus. When we begin to shave off habit patterns, the mind as a whole becomes very flexible.
Habits imply that a portion of the mind is hard and rigid.
It is essential to keep the mind flexible and malleable. The uniqueness we bring to the world directly depends on how we use the mind’s energies. Creativity comes in two ways. One is using preexisting knowledge stored in the mind and basing insights on what is already known. The other is bringing forth a brand new idea, the likes of which the world has never before seen. Intuition helps with both but is more influential with the latter.
The limits of the conscious mind vary from person to person. The boundaries of the conscious mind expand or contract depending on the level of attentiveness and awareness we maintain. The more attentive and aware we are, the larger are the boundaries of the conscious mind.
The boundaries of the conscious mind expand or contract depending on the level of attentiveness and awareness we maintain.
When attention is scattered, it cannot penetrate deeply into the mind. Our awareness then lives in the surface layers of thoughts. To sustain a habit, it does not require deep thinking. It happens automatically. Information related to habits is stored on the surface of thoughts. We don’t need to dig deep to retrieve that information.
To sustain a habit, it does not require deep thinking.
Habits close the mind’s space to new ideas. New insights require us to mine deeply into our being. Once habits set up shop in the mind, they take over the mind’s energies. Habits leave no room for anything new to seed or sprout in the mind. Most of our habits don’t require us to be very attentive.
For instance, if we are in the habit of eating and watching television, we can unconsciously eat without paying attention to the food. Eating, although it becomes an effortless activity, the visual and auditory inputs coming from the television occupy the mind’s energies. Consequently, there is no spare capacity in the mind for anything else, especially of a creative nature.
Habits are put on alert once we begin to become aware of the mind as if a third person is witnessing the mind. The first to go are recently formed habits, followed by the older ones. Awareness of the mind makes its energies flow more freely.
Habits are put on alert once we begin to become aware of the mind as if a third person is witnessing the mind.
Awareness is like applying heat to hard plastic, which melts and can be reshaped easily. But awareness must be of a witnessing nature without trying to intervene actively. Just as heat from a distance melts plastic, awareness of the mind while keeping a distance from thoughts has a transformative effect on the mind, making it soft and pliable.
Awareness of the mind while keeping a distance from thoughts has a transformative effect on the mind, making it soft and pliable.
Being attentive and alert is like having the hands of the expert potter. It helps open up a creative space in the mind. When creativity takes centerstage, habits are pushed to the periphery. As a lump of clay takes shape on a potter’s wheel, the excess clay is pushed to the edges of the wheel. Similarly, once the mind’s creative potential begins to flow and be productive, habits will be pushed aside and will seem like a waste of time and energy.
Once we establish the space in the mind for creativity to blossom, the next step is linking it to our intuitive potential. Intuition adds a fresh spark to creativity, bringing with it a great joy when we discover something new and unique. It does not have to be groundbreaking or a life-changing discovery or invention. A new approach to old ways and habits is also a form of exercising creativity. The goal is to experience freshness and spontaneity in every moment.
Intuition adds a fresh spark to creativity.
If we maintain awareness of the creative spark moment to moment, in all probability, one or more ideas will eventually take root. It may then turn into something beneficial and unexpected. A river at its source may seem like a trickle coming out through cracks from a nondescript rock. But, hundreds of miles downstream, that trickle turns into a source of valuable water that can feed millions of people.
Intuition is like the trickle of water at the source of a river. Just like a river flows downstream, the flow of intuition is also downstream into the mind. The amount of water available at the place of origin of a river may not be enough to feed one person’s thirst. However, it is the source of something much bigger. Similarly, we cannot live off our intuitions. It only provides the spark. How we use that spark of intuition to ignite the rest of the mind determines its value to the world.
How we use that spark of intuition to ignite the rest of the mind determines its value to the world.
The bed of creativity in the mind, along with the spark of intuition is an unbeatable combination. There are no limits to the possibilities that can come out of such a combination. The question is, are we ready to put in the time and effort to work on the bed of the mind to enable the spark of intuition to ignite our potential?
Once intuitive ideas begin to flow, it turns from a trickle at first, into a flood. It is useful to carry a notepad or a smartphone with note-taking functionality. Ideas once they appear, stay in the conscious mind for a few seconds before disappearing. By learning to pay attention to the mind, we also gradually train ourselves to capture these ideas. A good way of doing this is to put it down into words for later study and reflection.
We may begin to see a pattern in regards to when and where most ideas appear. For some, it may come during activities such as running. It is well documented that running can increase the sense of well being, the so-called ‘runners high.’
What running does to the mind is interesting. The physical effort of running and the repetitive nature of the activity can become a type of meditative experience. Attention is taken away from fixed habitual patterns of thinking and preconceived notions. Unknowingly, we open up the creative space in the mind which allows for sparks of intuition to come into the mind space.
For others, this may happen just as we are drifting off to sleep. Here again, the mind’s habitual activities diminish, while the mind’s energies are still available to conscious awareness. Every individual may have a different trigger for opening up the creative bed in the mind. Finding the sweet spot for creativity and intuition to come together maybe trial and error at first. But, as we gain more insight and experience about what triggers this process, we can replicate this process at will.
Every individual may have a different trigger for opening up the creative bed in the mind. Finding the sweet spot for creativity and intuition to come together maybe trial and error at first.
An intuitive mindset involves many different variables, many of which are under our conscious control. Developing an intuitive mindset will make us happier, more content, and more curious about life. We become child-like in our approach to life. There is much to learn from children; they are always happy and are continually exercising their creativity.
Developing an intuitive mindset will make us happier, more content, and more curious about life.
No matter what type of occupation we are in, building an intuitive mindset can be an advantage. A frequent cause of burnout in any job is repetition and lack of stimulating work. One of the reasons such burnout is a lack of attention paid to the mind. Any action, if it is repetitive, becomes just like any other habit. Along with this, we may not consider it a pleasurable activity — the combination of the two leads to disinterest and burnout.
We can turn this type of situation to our advantage. When work becomes second nature, and boredom starts to set in, we can make a conscious decision to become watchful of the transition of the mind into boredom. It is like waking up internally while allowing the mind to continue on its habitual ways.
Habits make the mind ‘sleepy,’ and its guard is let down. By becoming watchful, we begin to separate awareness from the mind. Rather than become unconsciously bored with work, awareness helps us become consciously engaged with work. The quality of our work will improve, along with productivity. Simultaneously awareness will also strengthen. If we are in a line of work that requires innovation and new ideas, there is no place for boredom. We will have to create a stimulating internal environment.
By becoming watchful, we begin to separate awareness from the mind. Rather than become unconsciously bored with work, awareness helps us become consciously engaged with work.
Awareness is a unique quality we all possess. Awareness that comes about through watchfulness and witnessing is another way of making the bed of the mind creative, which, as we discussed, is indispensable to an intuitive mindset.
When we are no longer deeply entangled with the activities of the mind and thoughts, we begin to create a separation between us and the mind. The mind is like a battery. We charge it through identification with thoughts and experiences that come through the mind. At any given point in time, we are identified with a variety of thoughts. This ensures that there is a residual charge of identification in the mind.
While growing in awareness, the mind may be allowed to drift according to the habit patterns it carries. The movement of the mind won’t affect us as long we remain centered in a place from which we can stay alert and watchful. It is like sitting on a couch and watching a television show with movement and action. We can see all that action, but we are not moving along with what we see. By turning off the television, we remain as is, while the action disappears. Similarly, when the mind turns off, we stay as a watcher, fully aware, and conscious.
When habits and conditioning disappear, emptiness takes their place. This emptiness is potential energy that comes from an inexhaustible source. With the mind and its habit patterns no longer a dominant user of that boundless energy, it becomes available to us as the bed of creativity. Full of energy, the inner space where we maintain awareness is ready for the intuitive spark to light it up with ideas.
Just as electricity once generated cannot easily be stored, the creative energy of the mind needs to be used up as it is generated. The beauty of exercising the mind creatively is that the mind becomes more active, agile, and fresh. The more we use this energy towards creative ends, the greater is the flow.
The creative energy of the mind needs to be used up as it is generated. The more we use this energy, the greater is the flow.
In contrast, when the mind uses up creative energy to fuel habits and conditioning, the mind tires quickly. Once a critical threshold of creative energy accumulates and begins to flow freely, the mind starts to manifest new ideas through intuition, which is like a lightning bolt. It lights up the mind for a second or so with a brand new idea. Using that revelation, the hard work we have put in to prepare the creative bed in the mind comes to fruition.
In summary, developing an intuitive mindset involves several variables.
Weaning our attention from the grooves of habit patterns
Turning our attention towards creative potential
Learning to be watchful and becoming a witness to the mind thereby growing in awareness
Being ready to act on the spark of intuition whenever it arrives.