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What to Tell Your Kids about Intuition, Intention, and Psychic Abilities

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My Mind's Eye by Tracie Grimwood

As a research scientist and former president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, has studied intuition, intention, and the possibility of psychic abilities for decades. What she has experienced fills scientific papers, books, and workshops, but we asked her to reflect on what she would advise her own teenage son.

What is the source of intuition?

Just what intuition is or where it comes from remains a mystery. There are different theories. Some scientists argue that intuition is something that comes when we have learned a great deal about a topic, incubated the idea, shifted our attention to something else, and then experienced a kind of “aha” or illumination moment.

This speaks to the unconscious nature of intuition, busy working within us while our conscious thoughts are elsewhere. Then we may, with practice, bring our attention to the insight, bringing it into our awareness. We may pick up the pen and write, or find a brush and make a painting.

Within the creative intuition process, there is usually a judgment phase. Here we can decide if our intuition was correct. Of course, some of our intuitions can be wrong, so we need to learn to calibrate them to help guide us in positive and life-affirming directions. We can also learn from our mistakes, so long as we are willing to keep trying.

Some people feel there may be a kind of X factor that leads to intuitive insights or breakthroughs. Many people report having extended human capacities like telepathy or clairvoyance. These experiences suggest that people may gain information from something other than our known senses. A recent review of studies designed to cultivate intuitive experiences that involve telepathy or mind–to-mind communication showed that some people are able to know another person’s thoughts or feelings, even if they haven’t communicated with each other. The researchers reported that the intuitive information was correct more times than was expected by chance. This idea is controversial, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Maybe when we have a creative new idea, it involves our mind reaching out to connect with other minds in order to share information and reveal our fundamental interconnectedness. Again, a mystery.

Learning to trust your intuition can help you as you seek to discover your own unique life path. Be prepared to feel awe and wonder when you least expect it.

What is the power of intention? 

Intention is a fundamental organizing principle that underlies all our actions in the world. Like intuition, it remains a fundamental mystery. We know more about the outer world we live in than we do about our own personal impulses and motivations, even though we live with ourselves every day.

There are three basic types of intention that people describe, and all seem to me to be important for how we live our lives.

Individual intentions can be directed toward both our inner experiences and our outer actions. We may use intention to calm our inner turmoil, practicing focused breathing and affirmations that can keep us in a state of emotional balance. If we feel anger or frustration, we can learn to self-regulate and self-soothe. We can harness our intention to help heal our minds and bodies, visualizing optimal health and wellness.

Individual intentions often involve making a game plan for achieving our goals in the world, such as taking a class or going to the gym. There are also ways in which we can direct our intention toward qualities of being that we wish to live into, such as gratitude, love, and forgiveness. Making the effort to accomplish our goals involves working with intention, sometimes pushing against our own inertia or laziness.

Collective intentions allow us to galvanize our shared goals in a specific direction. The idea that men went to the moon when many people said it was impossible represents the harnessing of our collective intentions. Participating with a team to win at sports, or participating in a community service project, can feel good as we connect to others. When people rose up with a message of resilience and hope following the shooting in Orlando, this illustrated a shared intention to grieve together—and to move on in spite of the suffering and confusion.

In these ways, our thoughts are potent. They have an impact on the world in which we live. They can influence our minds and bodies as we share our meaning systems and values through our conversations and shared activities. The clinical benefits of placebos, for example, offer important clues about the ways in which intentions are communicated during interactions between people through subtle suggestions. We may not always be aware of the impact of our intentions on other people. This is another good reason why we need to pay attention to how we direct our intentions.

Transpersonal intentions are what I call the third form. People make use of prayer and ritual to bring about positive outcomes for themselves or their loved ones. In fact, prayer is the most frequently used form of alternative therapy. Praying helps us feel connected to a life force. It is calming and soothing, and may help us to heal our selves and others.

We don’t really know if distant intention or prayer actually helps people heal from diseases. Indeed, because prayer is so difficult to study, it’s simply been easier to dismiss reports of spiritual healing as a lot of wishful thinking. But there’s no question that praying, meditating, breathing, journaling, reciting affirmations, or holding positive intentions can help us feel better. Knowing we are connected to others who are also holding positive intentions may be stronger still. So if and when you are moved to pray or ask for guidance on your life path, do so with all your heart. We can all use a little extra help from time to time.

Can anyone know your path?

No one can know your path or your future. You can find guidance from trusted teachers or friends. In the end it’s up to you to find your soul’s compass and use it as a trusted guide. Take time to acknowledge your deep wisdom, polish up your intentions, find opportunities to experience the mysteries of life, and trust yourself to find a sturdy path in this precious life that is unfolding in and around you. You are your own North Star!


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