• Maura McCarley Torkildson

What Does Emotional Awareness Have to do With Intuition

I like to say, how we know everything in this world is through our bodies. Yes, information may be coming through to us from another place, however you name it, but here on earth in 3d world, how we know what we know is with our bodies. Our bodies are an exquisite awareness vessel. There are so many ways to know which include – emotions, sensations (our nervous system), body functions, our heart, movement, health and more. Age old wisdom from many traditions guides us, “know thyself!”

He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened. Lao Tzu

A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.

Meister Eckhart

Know thyself!

Oracle of Delphi

I love that quote by Meister Eckhart, as he alludes to exactly how difficult it can be to know oneself. We have many hides that obscure ourselves from our knowing, one of them being our ego, another fear, and the ultimate – societal prescriptions and training to always look outside ourselves for answers, depend on others to tell us what we should do, and how we should be. Of course, one major cultural instruction is to overcome your emotions and be logical, as if our emotions are nothing but demonic forces in our lives that need to be slayed. It is a relief that contemporary science and philosophy is finally leaning into emotional intelligence. When we know and understand our emotions, we are less reactionary and make better choices for our lives and relationships.

For most of my life, I thought of emotions as some kind of foggy mental condition. I was not aware of my emotional body, instead in the story in my head about them. I felt the physical impact, but lacked awareness of it. How I dealt with emotions was a mental practice of avoidance, stuffing them deep down into subterranean caverns inside me where they fester and contaminate my clarity. As long as I stuffed my emotions, I ignored the messages they imparted and was unaware of their ongoing impact on my day to day life. As Meister Eckhart alludes to in the quote, how our emotions show up can be like the skins and hides that cover over the core. Jealousy, anger, and spite, are upper layers over the primary emotion underneath: hurt or fear. It takes some curiosity and courage to look under the surface. When we get to the hurt, the opportunity to heal presents itself, but not until we can experience the physical sensation and love ourselves through it. Of course anger can also be a warning or protective. Women learn we ought not to get angry and that setting boundaries is not ok and men learn to not show vulnerability.

In a world that does not accept and embrace grief or the challenging emotions, anything, including spirituality can become a methodology for avoidance. Western spirituality in particular has a way of instilling spiritual bypass. “If I just become good enough, then I won’t experience the pain of loss.” This leads us to distrust ourselves and our experience. I have seen this kind of spiritual bypass all my life and have become inherently suspicious of any whiff of it, as it obscures the truth of living in a physical world and what we are here to learn as human beings. Let’s face it, life is full of loss. Little understood is the truth that embracing loss and grief leads to true wisdom. This is exactly the next step we need to take on our human soul path. I don’t know what lies beyond that next step, but I do know we won’t get there until we learn this lesson. All the challenging emotions relate back to loss in one form or another, whether it is worries about future loss (fear), loss of dignity, autonomy and self-worth (shame), or the loss of something dear to us (grief). Loss is going to occur. The choice to embrace this truth and accept it can be incredibly freeing.

How does this relate to your intuition? Well, if you are ignoring your emotions, judging them as “wrong”, what are you going to do when your intuition is warning you or pointing you to look at something that is potentially painful or includes a loss – like a message to leave a relationship or make other changes in your life? If you avoid your emotions, you may ignore the message. Understanding your emotions is one way to understand how this vessel, your body enlightens you. Understanding bodily signals (from loud to subtle) results in self-trust, self-acceptance and leads to self-love. When we can love all of ourselves, new vistas of possibility open up. Trusting ourselves is critical to the empowerment of our intuition and if we don’t trust our own emotions, how can we trust enough to listen to our intuition?

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