EMBRACE YOUR SENSE OF INTUITION
Don’t discount your gut feelings just because they can’t be substantiated. Science is now beginning to prove that there may be a lot more to our sixth sense. By Carrol Baker
If you had a strange feeling that you shouldn’t take the bus to work, would you? What if a new acquaintance puts you on edge, but you can’t work out why? Call it a gut feeling, hunch or a random guess, most people have experienced niggling feelings they can’t explain. Is it just a lucky prediction, intuition or can we harness the power of a sixth sense?
According to instinct researcher Dr Marta Sinclair from Griffith University, most people are naturally intuitive. “They receive messages through different channels. Some hear a voice, feel a strange physical sensation or have a funny taste in their mouth,” she says.
Once mocked as new-age babble by much of the scientific fraternity, more and more people now believe intuitive messages can in fact guide the heart, mind and body. And the research to support this belief is growing.
Experiments at the Institute of HeartMath in the US have shown intuition to be a quantifiable phenomenon. When participants in a study were shown calming images, interspersed randomly with violent or sexual ones, their physiological indicators registered upsetting emotional responses five to seven seconds before the distressing images actually appeared.
Intuition may also be what separates the successful business person from the pack. Professor Gerard Hodgkinson, from Leeds University Business School in the UK, describes intuition as the brain processing previous experiences and other cues to help it make a decision, a process which takes place at a subconscious level.
He believes intuitive insight can work effectively alongside other decision-making processes. “Humans clearly need both conscious and non-conscious thought processes, but it’s likely that neither is intrinsically better than the other,” he says.
PLAYING BY NUMBERS
Intuition can also aid rational or analytical problem solving. Professor Marius Usher from Tel Aviv University in Israel conducted experiments involving participants being shown pairs of numbers in quick succession.
They then had to select which of the two groups of numbers had the highest average. Two to four pairs were shown every second, so subjects had to rely on intuitive arithmetic. The more numbers they were shown, the better they became at predicting the averages. In fact, subjects scored accuracy rates of 90 per cent when shown 24 pairs of numbers.
The notion of intuition to problem solve might seem a little abstract, but other cultures have been doing things this way for centuries. In Africa, children tending herds of cows count livestock simply by looking at them, Sinclair says.
“They aren’t taught to count in the traditional Western sense; they look at the herd to intuitively estimate a sense of the whole,” she says. “Intuition then becomes a different way of seeing things.”