The following excerpt from the book The Intuitive Spark, by Sonia Choquette. It is published by Hay House (November 2007) and available at all bookstores or online at www.hayhouse.com
So many people have the false notion that following your intuition means tuning out the real world, but nothing could be further from the truth. As strange as it may seem, in order to become aware of your sixth sense, first it’s necessary to be mindful of the environment around you and fully conscious of what’s here and now. My spiritual teacher Dr. Tully taught me that the key to developing inner knowing is to pay attention to what’s happening in the world around you. He told me that those who think that receiving spiritual guidance is about tuning in to some otherworldly frequency are confused.
"Genuine intuition," he explained, "is founded on accurate observations of current reality. It’s this information, when turned over to the higher mind, that leads to the most advanced insights." In other words, you need to be completely present in the moment to activate your vibes.
Many of us today, especially parents, are so overbooked – juggling too many things at one time, constantly playing catch-up, and racing around like crazy – that we often end up diminishing our awareness to nothing more than a whirling gray fog. When we’re so overwhelmed and exhausted, we can’t see the most obvious of details, let alone tune in to the more subtle, intuitive aspects of life.
I truly believe that one of the bedrocks of helping people – especially your children – develop their sixth sense is showing your interest and care. I’ve noticed that a number of immensely creative and highly intuitive people had at least one nurturing, dedicated adult to guide them. Steven Spielberg, for example, had a mother who was very supportive of his passions. She helped him make his earliest movies, even taking him out of school at times to do so. And in the case of Jane Goodall, the famous primate anthropologist, it was her mom who cleared a major obstacle that allowed her to go to Tanzania to study wild chimpanzees in 1960. At that time, it was unheard of for a young woman (Jane was 26) to go by herself to live among the animals in Africa, and the British authorities refused to let her go until her mother volunteered to accompany her for the first three months.
Of course I’m convinced that my own upbringing provided the foundation for the strong development of my gifts. My mom was always present and listened to and enjoyed being with her children. She laughed, joked, danced and talked with us for hours. We looked forward to telling her about our days after school because she truly wanted to know how they had gone. Even the neighborhood kids came over to our house to have conversations with her. She and I shared a special passion for all things psychic. One of our favorite pastimes was discussing vibes and spirit, and to this day, we continue to enjoy it.
I recently heard a National Public Radio report on orphans in Romania that mentioned how a lack of interest and attention had affected their lives. The first thing researchers discovered was that, on average, when these children grew up, their IQs were 50 percent lower than those of adults who’d been raised in loving and affectionate families. The orphans – even those who’d received some remedial help later – also had smaller brains and heads than their peers unless they’d gotten support before the age of nine.
If lowered IQs and decreased brain size are the result of inadequate attention, we can hardly expect a children’s higher intuitive faculties to thrive unless they receive excellent care. It’s no wonder that kids are so good at getting attention, because they desperately need it. When we give them genuine, positive encouragement, delighting in their spirit and sharing their world with them, their inner awareness blossoms like a flower in the sun – and so does ours.
Be creative in finding ways to be more present for your children today. Talk with them, not at them. Ask them how they feel, especially about their vibes regarding the things happening in their world. Explain to them that their sixth sense is natural and that we all have a quiet inner voice that speaks in our heart, guiding and protecting us throughout our lives if only we listen and follow it. Don’t be surprised if your kids readily understand what you mean. After all, they’re born with a strong connection to this innate wisdom, and you don’t have to do much to get them to talk about it. They’re conscious of their intuitive feelings and will be glad to share them with you if you’re interested and open about your own.
If your life is jam-packed with obligations, get out your appointment book and find time to be with your family members before you commit your entire schedule to everyone else. Take a few moments to be with your loved ones before you fall exhausted into bed, letting them know that they’re worth your time and attention. Make it one of your top priorities to have the energy and presence of mind to listen to their experiences and concerns before they go to sleep.
Play, play, play
I know that many parents today were raised with the belief that you can’t play until your work is done. However, today we know that our to-do list will never be finished and that we must carve out the time to have fun. As a matter of fact, one of the most brilliant intuitive thinkers of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, considered play his most important pursuit. After he died, several scientists examined his brain to see how it differed from others and discovered that both the left and right hemispheres were far more highly developed than most people’s and that he had grown many more glial cells, which help in the transmission of signals in the nervous system and play a role in intuitive awareness.
The researchers had been inspired to study Einstein’s brain by an earlier experiment, in which scientists had placed one group of rats in a sterile environment that provided only food and water and offered no playful stimulation. A second group was put in a virtual Disneyland that included wheels, mazes, and other entertaining activities. As suspected, the deprived animals not only didn’t grow any new glial cells in their brains, but they actually lost 20 percent of the ones they’d started with. Furthermore, their awareness and intuition diminished, and they became sickly and weak. In contrast, the rats that were given fun things to do experienced a 30 percent increase in their number of glial cells. They were far more resourceful, creative, and healthy than the rats that had been put in the impoverished setting. It was an amazing discovery!
The scientists who investigated Einstein’s brain concluded that his intense and relentless pursuit of play had led to the development of the all-important glial cells, an essential component that contributed to his intuitive and creative genius. They also inferred that anyone who adds more enjoyable, stimulating activities to their lives will also grow more glial cells, thus significantly increasing their imaginative and sixth-sensory capabilities.
By engaging in daily play, Einstein changed the face of the world. Who knows what marvelous achievements will come about if you encourage your own little geniuses, and even yourself, to experience more pleasure and recreation. With this potential in mind, don’t you think it’s worth rethinking your lifestyle? If you put off the joys of sharing creative time with yourself and your children until you’ve finished your work, you risk missing out on everything, including the chance to develop more amazing glial cells. This would be an irrevocable loss for all of you.
You don’t need large amounts of time to have fun with your kids and share their world. Even five minutes of quality presence and play is worth hours of preoccupied effort. For your own spiritual well-being and intuitive growth, allow yourself the leisure to actually get to know and enjoy these light beings who are your children.
The family dinner
One of the simplest yet most overlooked ways to be present for your family is to recapture the tradition of the evening meal. It’s remarkable to me how many people today have thrown that custom to the winds. Some have completely forgotten the ritual of togetherness and spiritual bonding that can unfold at the table. They erroneously believe that meals are only about physical sustenance and that any drive-through will do. The prevailing attitude is: "Everyone for him or herself!"
On the contrary, the family dinner should feed the soul as well as the body. Ideally, it offers an opportunity to notice, enjoy, celebrate and encourage everyone’s experiences, challenges and contributions. It can be a time of genuine connection, when you and your kids have the pleasure of delighting in each other’s company and communicating what’s going on in your lives. It shouldn’t be an occasion to air your differences, and is never the place to argue.
When I was growing up, the dinner table was a place where we shared stories, told jokes and discovered what each of us was up to. It was central to our developing a sense of ourselves, and we looked forward to it. With nine of us, it required real cooperation and attention for everyone to feel heard, but we managed. It was not only an opportunity to practice presence, but to learn to listen as well.
"But I’m too busy to cook!" is the despairing cry of many overworked parents. Take heart: The meal doesn’t need to be home-cooked (although fresh food that’s lovingly prepared is no doubt the best). Nor must it be put together by one person. You can order in, go out, or whip something up together. Make it a democratic event, asking everyone to participate. The point is to value and preserve the family dinner as a time for healing your bodies and spirits. Let it be a chance to share ideas, stories, and news and to be present. Create this ritual to stop the clock and be here now…don’t throw away this precious opportunity!
Presence provides protection
The importance of really being present for your children can’t be overemphasized. I once worked with Detective J. J. Bittenbinder, who had a TV series called Tough Target. We both are adamant that awareness and paying attention are the keys to personal safety.
I take it a step further. I believe that criminals are very intuitive in their own way, because as predators, they "sniff out" their victims by noticing who isn’t paying attention and is therefore vulnerable. If you’re preoccupied, in a relentless hurry, and rarely (if ever) truly aware of your children, they’ll emanate an aura of vulnerability that the "bad guys" can sense.
I discovered this as a child of 12, with my two girlfriends, Jane and Deborah. Both Deborah’s mom and mine were very attentive, always checking on us and making us report in with them every so often when we played outside. Jane often complained bitterly about our restrictions because they cramped her style. Her own mother was a single parent who worked at a dry cleaner’s all day. And as Jane proudly said, "She lets me do whatever I want."
One day, the three of us were hanging out in front of my house when a car pulled up and a man who looked about 40 years old leaned out the window and beckoned.
"Hey, you!" he called, pointing to Jane. "Come here a minute. I’d like to talk to you."
She walked over, and he asked her if she wanted to be a model. He handed her a business card and told her that he worked for an agency. He also said that she was prettier than Deborah and me and that he wanted to sign her on. Needless to say, Jane was incredibly flattered.
"I’d love to model," she answered breathlessly, "but first I have to ask my mother."
Then she ran over to us and very excitedly said, "I have to go, you guys. That man’s from a modeling agency, and he wants to hire me! I can’t believe it! I’ll see you later. I’m going to call my mom and tell her the great news." Then she was off, racing home before we had time to ask a single question. We watched as the man in the car followed her, feeling jealous and left out.
We waited patiently for her to return and give us all the details, but after a while, when she didn’t come back, Deborah and I got nervous. I told my mother what had happened, and she phoned Jane’s house. When nobody answered, she immediately called Jane’s mom at work, who was horrified when she heard that her daughter had taken off alone with a stranger following her. She contacted the police right away, and a search began, but Jane was nowhere to be found.
We were all worried sick, especially Deborah and me. My friend and I were also thinking how lucky we were that the man hadn’t gone after us, too.
Later that evening, Jane was found, naked and disoriented, wandering alone in the mountains. Apparently the "modeling agent" had convinced her to get into his car, and then drove her to an isolated area, where he forced her to undress and photographed her in the nude. Then he molested her and left her there. Luckily, she hadn’t been raped or murdered as well, but the criminal was never caught.
Knowing more now than I did then, it’s not surprising to me that the man didn’t beckon to Deborah or me. I’m sure he sensed the difference in the parental presence surrounding us. As Deborah said, "I wouldn’t have even asked my mom. I was sure what the answer would be!" It was as though the man had intuitively known which of us was the most vulnerable and easiest to prey upon.
Establishing new habits
When you’re overworked and buried in tasks with no time to do them, you’ll find it very hard to be patient with anything, let alone with your children. Parenting these days is a full-time job that most of us juggle on top of our demanding careers and other obligations, leaving us stressed, strained, and moving in hyperdrive. This is precisely the time to do the following exercise:
You can do this exercise sitting down or standing up, with your eyes closed. Place both feet flat on the ground or floor and let out a long, slow exhale. Imagine everything that’s bothering you draining out of your body and into the ground through the soles of your feet. Then, very slowly, place your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your belly. Take in a full, luxurious breath while saying silently to yourself: I am present. Repeat this affirmation as you breathe out.
Do this five times whenever you feel overwhelmed or in need of space. Avoid the tendency to rush through this exercise, even if you feel you must. Doing the entire process at a VERY leisurely pace only requires four minutes at most, and will expand your sense of time. Taking a few moments to quiet your nervous system and nurture yourself can save you hours of fruitless anxiety, sudden blowups, potential confrontations, and costly oversights. This brief centering technique will also alleviate pressure and allow you to engage with your children in a more loving and peaceful way.
Here are some other exercises:
Take 20. Allow yourself 20 minutes every day just to be with your child (or children) – playing, talking, and listening to them. You can divide this time into two 10-minute segments, one in the morning and one in the evening, but try to set aside 20 minutes altogether.
Expand your awareness. You can develop your ability to pay attention just by taking small steps. Even little changes can help you deepen your intuitive skills. Try this!
- Notice one new thing about your children.
- Take a moment to look at your partner from a fresh angle and see something different.
- Observe some aspect of your neighborhood that has never caught your attention before.
- This week: Discover something unfamiliar at work.
- Notice one new quality about yourself.
- Identify how you waste your time and ask yourself what you can do to change this. Also ask yourself if you’re willing to do so.
- Creating deeper family connections. You can become more present to your spouse and children by following these suggestions:
- When you leave work, leave work.
- Go for a walk with your child, holding hands if possible.
- Enjoy a family meal (preferably home cooked) with everyone present a minimum of once a week.
- Have a story time after dinner at least once a month. Share memories and anecdotes from your own childhood and your parents’. Let your children ask questions, and follow their line of curiosity.
- Don’t answer the phone during dinner.
- Say no to work-related calls in the evenings and on weekends (or at least during the hours designated for family).
- Make up a bedtime story to tell your children.
- Set aside one day a week to rest, relax, and connect with one another.
- Do projects with your kids, such as: planting a garden; working in the yard; painting their room; decorating cookies; and baking a pie.
- Avoid using television as a substitute for true together time, and have real conversations instead.