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Sharpen Your Intuition


Hands up—how many of you have heard that little voice in your head that somehow tells you what to do when you're stuck between two choices? Guess what—it's not just in your imagination; that voice is very real and it's called your intuition.

Why is it important for you to listen to it? Even Oprah Winfrey herself said, "Follow your instincts. That's where true wisdom manifests itself." While it may seem to arise from a mysterious inner source, intuition is actually a way your brain accumulates knowledge to help you form unconscious reasoning, a process known as chunking by the late social scientist Herbert Simon, PhD.

Research will also show that women have an edge when it comes to listening to their gut feeling. (Which is why some of us know deep down inside when our guy is telling us a lie.)

Our advice? Listen to your gut feelings instead of just brushing them aside. It may not be right all the time… but our instinct tells us that it can come in handy.

Here's how you can hone them to develop killer instinct.

1. Learn to trust it

Your intuition won't come in handy if you don't trust it. So the first step to honing it? Listening to what it has to say to you about the situation you are faced with.

Here's something to get you thinking: A University of London research team found that people who went with their initial response on a test of visual perception did better than those who were given more time to ponder. The team put this down to the brain's subconsciousness of being able to "spot" answers almost immediately.

In other words, when your gut 'tells' you that you should, for example, take another route instead of walking to that dark and empty street corner, learn to listen. Teymara Antonio-Wright, life coach and the founder of the popular "Born to be Free' seminar, says that our intuition is with us all the time. "Learn to trust your initial feelings. After you do this for a period of time, it will become second nature."

2. Tune into your senses

Says Laura Day, author of Practical Intuition, our instinct is actually an extension of our senses. So to nurture it, you should start paying attention to what you smell, hear, taste and touch throughout the day. This way, you'll be indirectly inciting your intuition to work harder and lead you to the right direction.

3. Give it a moment of peace

Think about the time when your brain switches from one thing to another? Or the time when you find yourself completely swamped with too many things at a time? Chances are you'll be in a state of funk where nothing seems to go right. For your intuition to work, it is important to give it a calmer and more peaceful "surrounding", says Lynn A. Robinson, an expert on intuition as well as author of LISTEN: Trusting Your Inner Voice in Times of Crisis.

"Intuitive answers often come to life's questions through self-reflection. Prayer and meditation are two ways we have of slowing down enough to listen to the still, quiet voice of our Higher Self." Her suggestion? To spend at least 15 minutes a day meditating (or praying). Choose a time when you won't be disturbed and make sure you switch your phone off. Clear your mind during the 15 minutes and simply pay attention to your breathing. As you come to the end, speak to your intuition, says Robinson. "Ask your intuition whether there is a message for you, and listen for answers that may come as a word, phrase, feeling, knowing or a physical sensation," she says.

4. Note down when your intuition was right

Keep an intuition notebook. Whenever your intuition came true, make sure you jot down details of the situation in the notebook. Why is it important to keep count?

Says Susan Apollon, intuitive psychologist and author of Touched by the Extraordinary: An Intuitive Psychologist Shares Insights, Lessons, and True Stories of Spirit and Love to Transform and Heal the Soul, "Intuition and confidence go hand in hand. And nothing builds confidence like a written track record of your intuitive abilities." So go on, track your intuitive wins!

5. Take small steps

Like with everything else, the more you use your instinct, the better you will become at it. Says Robinson, "If using your intuition is new for you, it may be best to use it in relatively low risk situations at first. This will help you develop your 'intuitive muscles'."

So take small steps. You'll find that as you become better at understanding at your intuition is trying to tell you, the decision will become clearer and you will be more confident of trusting yourself.By SC Chua for Yahoo! Southeast Asia

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