photo: Photo Dharma on flickr

photo: Photo Dharma on flickr

How do you access your intuition?

Do you experience it as an inner knowing? Or a gut sense? Do you see images and pictures that guide you in the right direction?

Or maybe you’ve made a habit of ignoring your intuition and, as a result, your life looks like this:

photo: Daniel Oines on flickr

photo: Daniel Oines on flickr

I know, it’s not pretty. And I’ve been there, believe me.

My experience with intuition is that the less I listen to it, the more it withers away – like a muscle that’s never used. Actually, my intuition doesn’t really wither away, but my access to it does.

And whenever this happens, I tend to get lost.

Luckily, I’ve gotten better and better at listening to the still, small voice inside me. Indeed, the more I listen to it, the less still and small it gets. Sometimes it’s downright loud and raucous.

And there’s nothing like a rowdy and insistent voice telling you what to do.

Kinda like having Richard Simmons as a spiritual guide.

richard one done

I had a recent experience with my intuition – aka my inner Richard Simmons  – that I wanted to share with you. What was especially fascinating was the way in which the wisdom of Richard was revealed over a series of weeks.

As some of you know, Melissa and I recently were forced to had the glorious opportunity to take our senior exams for Holmes Institute.

The senior exams are a series of six tests on the subjects of Education, Leadership, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, and Science and Spirituality. Each exam is two and a half hours long and consists of three essay questions.

Basically, you need to review all the class material in the subject of each exam and be ready to spew it up articulately discuss it at length.

In spite of the potentially grueling nature of these exams, there are some perks.

The window for taking the tests is approximately seven weeks long. You get to choose the order in which you will take the exams and when you will take each one.

Okay, it’s not a huge perk, but given the daunting nature of the task, I was determined to be a Perk-Finder Extraordinaire.

As recommended by our classmates, Melissa and I decided to take one exam a week. That way you stuff your brain with copious amounts of data luxuriate in the profound teachings of each subject for a week, and then vomit data share your knowledge on exam day.

photo: Cushing Memorial Library

photo: Cushing Memorial Library

Once we decided on the once-a-week approach, the next question was the order in which to take the exams.

I am, by nature, a nerd. This means I have a well-oiled reliance upon my intellect. Though my intellect often serves me quite well, it can also be an unreliable guide.

Indeed, my intellect is often the biggest obstacle to listening to my inner Richard Simmons.

For the purposes of comparison, let’s call my intellect Smarty McPants.

photo: Andrea Allen on flickr

photo: Andrea Allen on flickr

When it came to picking the order of exams, I had a choice. Allow Richard to lead the way? Or let Smarty do it?

Given that the exams are for a degree in Consciousness Studies, and given that Smarty often gets me in trouble and Richard never steers me wrong, I elected Richard to be the picker of the exam order.

Smarty was immediately offended.

I can’t believe you’re going to let Richard do it! I have all the data to allow you to make an enlightened and informed choice, and you’re going to allow a histrionic fitness instructor to choose for you? You’ll be sorry, mark my words!!

In spite of Smarty’s protests, I knew I was doing the right thing. Richard and I had a clear agreement – he knew what he was doing, and I trusted him.

richard two done

Following my inner Richard, I picked the order in which Melissa and I would take our exams. (Melissa also has a strong relationship with her intuition, and her intuition told her that, in this case, she should follow my lead.)

Soon after the order had been established, Smarty began to weigh in.

Even though Richard is an idiot, I still approve of this order. You’ve chosen the easiest exams first. This will help you ease into the process. The last two exams are the hardest, but by then you’ll be used to studying and you’ll be almost done.

You’d think, after allowing Richard to choose the order, that I’d ignore Smarty. But I didn’t. Like I said, I’m a nerd. Smarty and I go way back. I just assumed that Smarty was picking up on the wisdom of Richard’s choices.

What was fascinating was what started to happen as I took the exams.

As it turns out, Smarty was totally wrong. The first two exams were by far the most difficult to prepare for. (In the interest of abiding by the confidentiality oath I signed before each exam, I am being purposely cagey about which exams I’m referring to.)

I have to admit that I got a bit freaked out when I had to prepare so much for the first exam. But this wasn’t because of anything Richard was telling me.

It was because I was listening to Smarty.

Nerdy woman

Smarty had told me the first couple of exams would be easy. But they weren’t. I could only imagine how hard the rest were going to be!

In spite of this angst, I powered on through. As I did, Richard’s wisdom became more and more apparent.

The first two exams took the most preparation. They involved classes we hadn’t taken yet and documents that weren’t covered in class. Exams three and four, by contrast, were subjects Melissa and I both knew really well. Studying for them was less taxing. Exams five and six, contrary to what Smarty had told me, were the easiest to study for by far. Our last exam was so easy, Melissa and I both finished in half the time.

It was a perfect sequence, a process that got easier and more freeing as it went along.

photo: Vinoth Chandar on flickr

photo: Vinoth Chandar on flickr

Other amazing elements of the process were revealed along the way. The exam order allowed the practical subjects and the cerebral ones to be perfectly balanced. In any given week, the amount of time Melissa and I had available to study the subject of the week perfectly matched how much time we needed to study the subject of the week.

Watching the exam process unfold, I couldn’t help but notice the poetic nature of the sequence – exquisite, intelligent and refined. 

There’s no way that Smarty would have been able to cough up such a beautifully intricate order.

But Richard did!

I’m not saying I’ll never listen to Smarty ever again. Smarty can be helpful at times. But the exam experience reminded me just how powerful my intuition is.

I may not know why Richard is telling me to turn left – and Smarty may give me a million reasons not to turn left. But the exam process reminded me that if Richard tells me to turn left, then turning left is both a practical and poetic choice.

Plus I get to go there with the sassiest guide in the land!

richard three done other

How do you contact your intuition? Share your comments below!

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