I was studying up on HeartMath™ research studies—The HeartMath Institute has sponsored a diverse array of peer-reviewed research pertaining to HeartMath techniques and their effects on the body—and came across their “intuition research.” This is research to better understand how and why HeartMath techniques seem to aid intuitive insights.
People associate several kinds of mental activity with intuition. According to Merriam-Webster, intuition is “direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.” I like that because it encompasses not only non-rational thought, but also non-rational knowledge.
Asking some friends what they thought yielded some great insights. One suggested that intuition is tapping into the huge amount of unconscious data our brain has stored over the years. Another suggested it was our brains’ combining of rational, emotional, and social thought or knowledge. I find that social aspect to be great insight because our social circle hugely influences us subconsciously. We rationalize lots of our knowledge and decisions based on what everyone else is saying or doing. It is the famous “groupthink” that politicians and advertisers take advantage of—“don’t go against the crowd.”
I also like intuition having an emotional aspect because I’ve hung around plenty of people that claim, “Emotions don’t play a role in my knowledge or decision process.” This always seemed odd to me; just look at all the saying we have about emotions and decisions and knowledge: “cold-hearted decisions,” to “know in one’s heart,” or “I know it cause I feel it in my gut.” It seems to me that denying that emotions have their part in the process is just a matter of not acknowledging what the emotions are.
Should we trust our intuition? Every person is different, but I find it perilous to ignore or go against my intuition without a compelling justification. But overconfidence in my intuition leads me to regrets afterward when I am wrong. I ask myself, “What was I thinking?” And my intuition answers back, “Maybe rational thinking is overrated.” What do you think? Add your thoughts and insights in the comments below.
Doug Hahn is available for1-on-1 HeartMath coaching to not only better tap into intuition, but even more, to improve resilience to stress and anxiety.
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