Monday, February 18, 2019

When Intuition Becomes Psychic

I’d been thinking about how to teach a method for heightening intuition, struggled for two hours, reviewing books and articles, choosing quotes, feeling blocked, decided to take a walk, let my mind wander and suddenly thought, “You’re trying to explain it rationally. Use your intuition.” Duh!

We’re all trained to some degree to be analytical, and consequently to doubt intuition that isn’t tied to direct knowing or experience. In her introduction to Inner Knowing: Consciousness, Creativity, Insight, and Intuition, Helen Palmer admitted that her “anchor in intellectualism made it difficult to accept even profoundly convincing intuition as being meaningful and real.” Palmer was referring to several incidents of her own inner knowing, the first of which occurred when she was deeply involved in the East Coast movement of resistance to the Vietnam War: “my imagination became as believable and solid as the furniture in my room.” She knew, for example, that a friend must take a different route across the Canadian border than the one planned and later found that others who’d taken the original route were stopped and arrested.

Many people describe intuition as a hunch based on experience. A New York Times review by David Brooks (1/16/05) of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking summarizes the author’s opening story. The Getty Museum in California was going to purchase a supposedly ancient Greek statue for almost $10 million. A team of experts with state-of-the-art measurement tools took more than a year to assure its authenticity. Then several art experts looked at the statue and knew instantly it was a fake. When asked to explain how they knew, one said he “heard” the word fresh, which seemed odd to him – on further examination he realized the statue was too “fresh” to be that ancient. Another felt a wave of intuitive repulsion. The outcome? “The teams of analysts who did 14 months of research turned out to be wrong. The historians who relied on their initial hunches were right.”

Well, certainly I encourage you to develop trust in your experience-based hunches. But the intuition that has served me so well is the kind Palmer experienced, the kind that led her to found the Center for the Investigation and Training of Intuition. Here’s what happened to me (a version of this was published in Charles Tart's "TASTE: The Archives of Scientists' Transcendent Experiences"):

More than thirty years ago, I attended a Silva course in mind training. Over several weeks we were taught relaxation and visualization techniques, including the development of a mental laboratory complete with desk, calendar, files, visual screen, a door beside the screen, and healing medications.

We were also told we would have an experience of extrasensory perception on the last day of the training, which I found intriguing but presumed impossible for me. For the final session we were instructed to bring in slips of paper, each with the name of an individual who had an illness or physical problem.

We first practiced on our own by placing the body of someone we knew on our mental screen and scanning for problems of any sort. I was mechanically following instructions when suddenly I saw a car colliding with a motorcycle at an intersection. I couldn't see the person's face, but because the friend I was scanning owned a motorcycle, I was alarmed. The instructor suggested I visualize the date of the accident and, if it had not yet happened, to send healing, white light to my friend. I pictured the calendar in my mental laboratory and was surprised to see the pages turning rapidly until they stopped at June 8th. I assumed this to be in the future, as the session took place in February.

After a break we were assigned a partner. As instructed, my partner – whom I’d never met – handed me a piece of paper that bore only a man’s name and the city where he lived. I closed my eyes, visualized a man on my mental screen, and saw that his whole left side appeared darker than his right. Using one of the techniques we'd been taught, I imagined putting on his head, and was immediately torn by depression, sorrow, and resentment. I could feel that my left side was crippled, that I had no hearing in my left ear and no sight in my left eye. I knew that hearing was intact in my right ear, but vision in my right eye was limited in some way, though I couldn't describe exactly how.

Then my partner told me this man was the son of a dear friend; he was only 21 years old and very bitter because he'd been crippled on his left side in a motorcycle accident at a four-way stop where a car had failed to stop. He had no hearing in his left ear and no sight in his left eye; his hearing was normal in his right ear, but he had tunnel vision in his right eye.

I was spooked by this, almost afraid to ask when the accident had occurred. My partner named the same date I’d seen on my mental calendar: June 8th. The accident I had pictured earlier that morning, before being assigned to her as my partner, had occurred the previous year!

Like Palmer I found this hard to believe, but the accident I “saw” was as real as the flash of an ad when watching TV. It was visible on my mental screen and in Technicolor, with sound effects.