The Intuitive-Connections Network

Current Update as of August 06, 2002

Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies

Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.

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Awakening Intuition
(Anchor Books)

Book Digest
by Rachel Creager

This book is available from; For Details, click here!

(Editor's note: For many years--this book was published in 1979--Vaughan's book was THE spiritually oriented book on intuition. Still in print, it is one most often referenced in other books on intuition. Our thanks to Rachel Creager for her work preparing the summary of this book.)

The title lays out the purpose of the book, which covers the subject thoroughly, beginning with the first tuning in to intuition; a survey of types of intuitive experiences; the use of imagery in accessing the intuitive mode of thinking; dreams as they express intuitive insights; and finally the most advanced intuitive experiences in which one comes to know oneself and the nature of the cosmos.
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Tuning In

This book is experiential; there are many exercises in nearly every chapter. The opening chapter provides exercises for establishing the three basic, necessary conditions for intuition: relaxation, concentration, and receptivity. The most notable of the relaxation exercises is the "Open Focus" exercise as developed by Lester Fehmi. The participant is asked to imagine space between the eyes; then between the ears; inside the throat, neck, and between the shoulders; and so on throughout the body. Further, the participant is asked to imagine the space within the body as continuous with the space outside the body; and that all emotions, sensations, and thoughts are filled with the same space as well.  Going through this sequence and staying for a while in the open focus state of mind is good for relaxation, as well as preparing for the intuitive mode of thinking. One of the concentration exercises is deceptively simple. It is the visualization of a geometric shape, such as a circle with a dot in the middle. The participant simply holds the image still in the mind for up to three minutes. While this can be difficult, the reader is cautioned that attempts to force the mind to comply usually backfire; what is needed is rather more allowing than forcing. This idea of allowing rather than forcing is related to the third basic condition for intuition, that of receptivity, or what Vaughan calls "noninterfering alert awareness." To achieve this state, it is necessary to disidentify the self from the emotions, to learn to observe the emotions without making any attempt to do anything about them. The relinquishment of attachment to emotional states leads to greater openness to deeper truths. To this end, meditation is highly recommended.

What Is Intuition?

At this point it is useful to define intuition. While many people tend to reduce intuition to pre-conscious knowledge based on normal sensory evidence (as my Mother used to say, "Some people are very sensitive."); this explanation is inadequate. There are countless examples of people having knowledge about events in places and times to which they have no access. This book is about these kinds of experiences; i.e., experiences in which one accesses knowledge which is not available to the physical senses. Malcolm Westcott did interesting research in which he found subjects could be categorized in four ways: those who required little information before attempting to solve a problem, and were either successful of unsuccessful (the latter he called "wild guessers"); those who required much information and, again, were either successful ("cautious careful problem solvers") or unsuccessful ("cautious careful failures"). Those who successfully solved problems with little information--i.e., they drew on intuitive knowledge in order to find the information they lacked otherwise--shared a number of traits: they were unconventional, socially independent; they used abstract thinking; they explored uncertainties; they were risk-takers; and they were willing to risk criticism from others. Jung defined intuition as one of four basic psychological functions, along with thinking, feeling, and sensation. He also noted the difference between the introverted intuitive and the extraverted intuitive. The introvert is more focused on the inner world and his/her psychology; the extraverted intuitive is tuned to the outer world, exemplified in the highly intuitive person who becomes greatly successful in business. In defining intuition it is important to note the essential role it has played in human history. Intuition is an integral factor in scientific and mathematical discovery and in creative works as well. In Western philosophy, e.g. Bergson and Spinoza, intuition is a way of knowing ultimate truth. In Eastern philosophy, intuition is equally important. In Indian philosophy intuition is the means of achieving spiritual transcendence. In Tibetan Buddhism, through intuition one is able to experience oneness with the universe. Modern transpersonal psychology finds that the brain's left and right hemispheres are specialized; the left brain performs linear, rational functions, while the right brain is involved in non-linear, intuitive thinking. Thus we can see that as humans we are capable of two basic modes of knowing: the intuitive vs. the rational. Contemporary physicists such as Fritjof Capra teach us of the need to utilize both modes in our study and understanding of the universe. Psychologist Lawrence LeShan says of the two modes: "The deepest goal is to integrate the two in our lives, so that each viewpoint is heightened and sharpened by the knowledge of the other." Quoted p. 52, from The Medium, the Mystidc, and the Prophet, p. 100.

Ways Intuition Is Experienced

Having defined intuition, Vaughan goes on to survey the varieties of intuitive experiences. An important element in intuition is simply knowing whether a hunch is actual intuition, or an ordinary thought caused by wishful or fearful thinking. To this end, Vaughan recommends keeping a journal of these kinds of thoughts, and noting whether they bear out or not. With practice, one can learn that the two types of thinking feel different, and know which is which. Some influencing factors include strong familial and/or emotional ties, which seem to facilitate intuition; and dreaming, which seems to enhance telepathy. Also, belief plays a role. In tests, people who believed they could exercise ESP consistently scored better than a chance score; while unbelievers scored lower than chance. Unfortunately, our society applies great pressure toward the suppression of intuition, especially in children. Intuition is key in mystical experiences, in the transcendence of the perceived separation between oneself and other; for this, too, is an apprehension of knowledge that is not available to the five physical senses. When one's consciousness expands beyond the physical self, and further, beyond space and time, one is engaging the intuitive mode. To this end, yoga, especially with meditation, is recommended.

Levels of Intuition

From a more mundane perspective, there are levels of intuitive experience. We begin with the physical. This is the intuition which gives one a "gut feeling," particularly physical sensation. (Note that physical intuition is differentiated from instinct, which in unconscious.) An example might be a woman who suffers an inexplicable headache all day and later finds out that her daughter fell and injured her head. Vaughan points out that most people tend to ignore or be completely unaware of physical symptoms until they beome painful. A higher degree of physical awareness is desirable. Many of her exercises, starting with relaxation, include taking a moment to note how it feels to be who and where one is in the moment. Is there tension or discomfort? Noting these sensations before actively entering the intuitive mode can help one to identify intuitive sensations from symptoms caused by fear and/or anxiety. Emotional intuition is that which is evidenced by an emotional impression, as when people fall in love "at first sight." Or, when one takes an instant liking or dislike upon meeting a new person. Intuition is also occurring at the emotional level when one feels a "vibe" about a person or situation. What we commonly call "women's intuition" is emotional intuition; and of course it is not limited to women, but our society teaches boys at a young age not to express or feel emotions, and therefore emotional intuition. Developing an awareness of this particular level of intuition leads to an increase in experiences of synchronicity and psychic abilities. The third intuitive level is the mental. It may take the form of a flash of images or sudden pattern recognition following a long exercise of logic. Mental intuition may be useful in problem solving or policy-making in business. It's also usually the level at which scientific discoveries occur. Considered the most advanced level of intuition, the spiritual level consists of mystical experience that occurs independently of sensation, thought, or feeling. It is pure awareness, transcending the personal experience.

Using Imagery

In developing intuition, it is greatly useful to use imagery, as the two are deeply interwoven. The mental-emotional state (evoked by imagery) and the physical state are mutually influenced by one another; and both are informed by intuition. To bring full awareness to the process, it is improtant to work from a state of relaxed awareness, with as little ego involvement as possible. The ideal state is one of allowing the unconscious to surface, while maintaining consciousness. It is a combination of allowing and controlling at the same time. Bringing these elements together allows the intuitive process to bloom. In beginning to work with imagery, one must completely immerse oneself in the experience. For example, one must be willing to fully feel any emotions triggered by the imagery that arises. (Though eventually it may be useful to detach and observe as simply a witness.) Here's an exercise for evoking imagey. After relaxing, centering, and noting any pre-existing physical sensations, imagine a house. Note the exterior appearance, then enter. Notice the furnishing, the rooms; any basement, upstairs, etc., until you have fully explored the house. It's always a good idea to immediately write down everything remembered from an imagery exercise. Then, interpretation is the next step. In this case, the house symbolizes the personality. Much can be learned by examining the house and its furnishings, as metaphors for elements of the individual's state of mind. The basement is typically the subconscious. Here Vaughan notes that self-interpretation of one's imagery is beneficial and leads to intuitive thinking, while interpreting the imagery of others can deprive them of this experience. Sometimes people have a feeling of "just making up" the imagery they experience. This feeling indicates not that the experience isn't "real," but that it is simply not very deep. The "made up" images occur in a more superficial state of consciousness; the more dreamlike images come from deeper in the consciousness, carrying more significance and meaning. Once again, the mind can operate in one of (at least) two modes: active or receptive. The receptive mode is the mode conducive to awakening intuition. Physiologically, the receptive mode occurs when the brain is in a state between alpha and theta waves, and it occurs in the right hemisphere, from whence arise both abstract concepts and visual images. An example of how the mind visualizes abstract concepts can be found in the following exercise. Relax and center. Think of a long time. Then think of a longer time, then twice as long. Continue expanding the time span you are thinking of, until eternity. Invariably, the concept of time is seen in images. More importantly, the exercise can be useful in changing one's concept vis-a-vis the linearity of time. "In meditation the function of form is to carry the mind beyond form, and in working with intuition, thoughts, concepts, and imagination are the vehicles which carry awareness beyond themselves into the realm of pure intuition. (p. 99.)" It is always important to remember that, during any imagery work, interpretation, and/or any attempt to control the images--including bringing back a fleeting image-- diminish the receptive mode. This leads to a drop in the accuracy of the information. One should keep this in mind while practicing the following exercise with a partner. Relax, center, etc. Open your eyes, and, in the receptive mode, take a thorough look at your partner. Then close your eyes. Remember not to interpret the images as you ask yourself these questions: if the person were an animal, what type of animal would s/he be? What type of plant? Ask the question for the following categories: landscape, body of water, light, geometric shape, type of music, tool, historical character, child, old person, energy field, and any other images. Relate the images without interpretation. Then, change roles with your partner. Willingness to risk being wrong leads to learning more and faster. Many traditions have symbols of intuition, such as the farsighted eagle, or the third eye. Vaughan recommends developing/discovering one's own symbols, learning what intuition means to the individual. A good exercise for this purpose is as follows: Relax and center. Visualize stairs going down to a door labeled "Intuition." Someone may give you a key to the door. Go through the door and look around. Sometimes fearful imagery arises. This is a sign of what the participant needs to work on, and there are a number of ways it can be approached. First, one can simply open the eyes and discontinue the exercise. But there can be great benefit in continuing, so these suggestions may help. Call on a friend, guide, or deity whom you trust, for support, protection, and/or guidance. Examine and describe the imagery. Engage the image in dialogue. Ask it what it wants. If it is animate, ask it what it likes to eat and feed it. Take it from darkness to sunlight. It may change, becoming less fearful. Become it, feel what it is like to be it. Utilize tools, such as a magic wand. Add white light, around and throughout the image.

Whatever you do, don't try to kill it. It doesn't work. It's important to note that attachment to positive images can be just as inhibiting as negative images.

Working With Dreams

Intuition and dreams go hand in hand. Dreaming is the most common altered state in which ESP experiences occur, especially precognition. If dream recall is a problem, there are a number of steps that can be taken. Firt, lie quietly upon awaking, reviewing any dreams or fragments of dreams. Immediately write them down, or relate them into a tape recorder. It may help to set an alarm to sound during the night, so that you awaken during dreaming. Or, nap during the day. Autosuggestion to remember dreams, made just before sleeping, can be effective. Read about dreams, talk about dreams, value them. With practice, one can have lucid dreams, i.e., in which the dreamer is conscious of being in a dream state. With lucidity, control is possible and can lead to positive change in waking life. The next step in dream work is interpretation. In the Gestalt method of dream interpretation, everyone and everything in the dream is seen as a symdol of the dreamer. Owning every aspect of oneself in the dream leads to integration of divergent, sometimes conflicting, aspects of the personality. Furthermore, being willing to identify with an image, rather than simply to describe it, is an important step in activating intuition. From recalling and interpreting dreams, it is possible to go on to working more actively with dreams. One method is to continue the dream in fantasy. One can also talk to images; or ask questions; or draw images. It is good to remember that, while symbolism is obviously important in dream work, there are some times when the symbolic approach is not the most useful. Vaughan notes that such work with dreams can lead to precognitive dreams, which raises the question: is it possible to change the outcome of a precognitive dream? While it may be possible, she recommends working on oneself as a better approach. For example, a dream in which someone dies could lead to fear of dying; or it may be a symbol of transformation. Seeing the dream image in this light could lead to a lowered anxiety about dying as well as living. Various traditions have viewed dreams in many ways. In Native American shamanism, dreams are used for healing and divination. In Malaya, they are a source of daily guidance. In the Bible, God speaks to humans through dreams. In contemporary western psychoanalysis, Jung described dreams as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious. And, throughout history, dreams have played a role in scientific discovery and creative works.

Problem Solving

Intuition can be highly useful in problem solving on a practical level. In this usage it is to be seen as complementary to intellectual reasoning. Intuition can be an integral part of the creative process, as inspiration, and also for knowing when a work is "just right." It can also be advantageous in business, when one is willing to take risks based on intuitive understanding of information. In order to utilize intuition, it is important to know yourself and the ways you shut yourself down. A person should look for patterns in his/her behavior. Awareness facilitates change. One way that people often get shut down is in the secondary process, i.e., what happens after the initial inspiration. Excess focus on practical execution can lead to a decrease in receptivity to intuition/inspiration. To reaccess the intuition, it is helpful to image what one wants, while letting go of attachment to the status quo. An exercise for this is to imagine oneself at a crossroads. Read the signs; choose a road; observe the terrain encountered along the way, as well as the vegetation, the clothes one is wearing, other people who appear, etc. Images reveal psychological truth. Another problem-solving exercise begins with imagining oneself in a boat drifting from shore to open water. The boat drifts into a tunnel which eventually opens to light, then a stream in a meadow. The participant visualizes getting out of the boat. In the meadow, answers come--someone or something brings a message. Then the participant gets back in the boat and drifts back up the stream, through the tunnel, and back to the shore. When faced with a choice, another exercise is to visualize oneself in two years, after choosing one of the alternatives under consideration. Then do the same for another alternative. Intuition can help when rational means are limited. It must be noted, however, that intuition is not a substitute for moral and/or reasonable judgment. At the same time, both metaphysics and contemporary physics show the intertransmutability of matter and energy (the mind being energy). Hence the universe is really one entity, and as a part of it we can access all information, via intuition. Intuition, like ratiocination, is one integral aspect of decision-making, whether acknowledged or not.

Wisdom and Intuition

Many spiritual teachings consider enlightenment to be an intuitive experience. The Sufis see intuition as the highest attainment; but also that ordinary, mundane intuition is of lower quality than transcendence. Once again, Vaughan reiterates that meditation is one of the most important practices in developing intuition, and can take the pratitioner much further than the exercises so far described. While meditating, observations often occur. It should be noted that, paradoxically, observation of oneself and one's behavior can sometimes interfere with the meditation; or, it can lead to positive change. In the words of Ram Dass, in a lecture at Naropa Institute, 1975: "Ambition does to intuition what a weevil does to a granary." (Quoted p. 181.) One must withdraw energy from trying to change the external world to changing one's internal consciousness. This shift can lead to changes in the external world. Knowing that the individual is only a part of a much greater whole implies that there are truly no limits to possibility, and ultimately one can come to experience a balanced, non-dual interplay/synthesis of both worlds. Through self-awareness, one can realize that the limits of consciousness are self-imposed. It can be overwhelming to expand consciousness far beyond the individual. At times it is enough to fully experience being in the body in the present moment, with a silent mind. Self-awareness enables one to learn to recognize intuition from imagination. Imagination takes its proper place as the vehicle of intuition, giving form to the formless, and conceiving of alternatives in the physical world. Moving to more intuitive knowing leads to change in one's sense of identity. The following are exercises that facilitate exploration of identity. First, write at the top of a page, "Who are you?" Then free-associate answers for at least five minutes. Or, meditate on the same question, without writing. With a partner, one partner can ask the question while the other answers. If there is no answer, pause, then ask the question again. Contiue for a minimum of five minutes; 10-15 is even better. Another exercise is to imagine yourself as an infant. What did it--or might it have--felt like? Then go to ages 12, 25, 40, 65, very old. Imagine your own death experience, and rebirth. These exercises are about experiencing one's truest self, outside of roles, time, and attachments. As self-knowledge deepens, one must take responsibility for creating the life one wants. Intuition allows one to see internal resistance to change. In another exercise in self-knowledge, the participant is asked to write down nine words or phrases describing her/himself, each on a separate piece of paper. The papers are put in reverse order of importance, most important on the bottom. Then the participant takes the top piece, and meditates on the word or phrase written on it, experiencing what it means to be that. The participant imagines that this phrase no longer describes him/herself, letting go of that part of the identity. Then the process is applied to the next piece of paper, and so on, until every element of the identity has been released. The participant meditates on what it is feels like to be, without being any of those things. Then, one by one, each part of the identity is brought back, noting how this process feels as well. This exercise, among other things, helps one to confront the fear of death. It also is an exercise in transcendence of the self. The transcendent experience is ideally acknowledged and integrated into the person's consciousness; sometimes, especially when it occurs spontaneously, without any framework for understanding the experience, it is not acknowledged by the person who experiences it. It is important for everyone to learn to acknowledge thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc; and, further, to learn to disidentify with them. That is, to cease to see oneself as being defined by one's emotions, thoughts, etc. Eventually one learns to control thoughts, and perhaps to quiet them. At this point, one experiences the stillness and silence within, the place that is the source of intuitive knowledge of truth.

This book is available from; For Details, click here!

To thank Rachael Creager for her digest, or to comment upon it, email her at

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