As our conversation wound down we decided to meet Friday night. The guy—whom I’d met online—said he’d be in touch about the exact time and place.
“It was great talking to you,” he said. That’s when I heard it. A sliver of sound. Really just one note. A subtle shift in tone. HE DOESN’T MEAN IT flashed through my mind.
The alarm bell of intuition cannot be un-rung, so I was only mildly surprised when I never heard from him.
I’m spookily good at predictions. I turn corners and inadvertently pull into parking spots. I think of a person at night and they appear the next day. I have a hunch my roommate’s writing partners are coming over and receive a text alerting me of their arrival time.
While not flawless, it is handy. And I cannot guarantee any results for you, but there are ways to develop your intuition. Mainly separated for organizational purposes, these suggestions are interrelated and overlap: you can't meditate without being quiet. Or do yoga while spacing out.
They also share the premise that once you tune in to yourself you can't help but pay more attention to others. It's a natural effect from one social creature to another. At their core, the tips are based on the transferable skills of observation and stillness. Learn them once, use them forever. For everything.
BE QUIET: “Whenever things were going well for me, there was silence.”—someone, in New York, quoted in the Humans of New York book. I can’t believe there’s nothing about this quote online in 2016!
But I love it anyway. Because it’s true. Silence is the white space between paragraphs. It exists for clarity. @@Accept silence as mental digestion time@@. Treating it this way, instead of as a void to fill at any cost will pay off in unforeseen ways.
MEDITATION: Sure, it’s infuriating to watch your mind. To endlessly drag it back to your breath. Suddenly a minute feels like an hour. But the challenge of building self-awareness ripples outward: get used to capturing your mind as it floats away, and you’ll scoop up more information across the board.
OBSERVATION: Once you start noticing, notice the fact you're noticing. Use your senses to explore your environment. Some of my recent reflections: Look how beautiful these apples are! The sun is so toasty. That microwavable burrito smells fantastic (it did). You’re present and aware, observant and partaking in life.
Here’s the level of wonder I encourage you to discover. I was sitting in the car with my dad. It was the wild and crazy 80s, so as a five-year-old freshly liberated from a car seat, I rode shotgun. As we waited to make a left turn I watched traffic pass. I held my hand up to my face and studied my fingernails. Then I glanced across the street to a sycamore tree’s dusty tan leaves. I can see, I thought.
This wasn’t news, not exactly. But it was fascinating. I blinked and got a different picture every time. I decided to share.
“Dad, I can see!” I exclaimed. “Yeah! You can!” We were turning now and I knew I was being weird. But I couldn’t help it. A miracle was occurring. Right there in the gray Ford Fiesta, with manual transmission and no heat.
Textures. Depth Color. All of it blew me away. There was always something to see. So, although I was a creepy kid, I was on to something: this is a satisfying way to live.
YOGA: Many people begin yoga for fairly shallow reasons:
- “One yoga butt, please.”
- “That’s where the girls are.”
- “I love the clothes.”
But if you stick with it after accumulating muscle tone, women’s phone numbers, and a snazzy wardrobe, deeper changes occur. Your attention transcends the physical (my right foot goes here in Warrior One) up the pyramid of existence to the mental, then emotional, and eventually the spiritual plane. People call it a moving meditation for a reason.
What to do once you accumulate observations? No need for grand pronouncements. In my case, I simply tuned into the change in his voice instead of ignoring it. I observed my observation. Just make a little note to yourself and see how it plays out. The reason is two-fold.
Anything else might be a waste of time. Why advertise a superpower? Comic book heroes don’t. A lot of girls would’ve said, you should’ve contacted him! To which I ask, What on earth for? To convey a lack of self-respect? He showed me everything.
Also, sometimes you’ll be wrong. Just this weekend a friend walked nearly a mile (!!!) for rosewater saffron frozen yogurt. After he set off on his trek, I thought, “Uh-oh, I hope they have it…” They did.
Have your gut feelings turned out to be right in cool ways? Let me know in the comments!
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