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"Intuition can show us how to arrange a certain product, give us a sense of fashion, or what words to say to comfort somebody."
Joel Metzger is the founder of the Online Noetic Network (ONN), which offers free email articles on living consciously.
The Online Noetic Network can be visited at wisdomtalk.org (site will open in new window).
Joel Metzger, "Gifts from the Sea:
interviewing Marcia Emery"
Marcia Emery, Ph.D. is a respected psychologist, lecturer and professor who has devoted more than a decade to the study of the workings of the intuitive mind. She has conducted workshops and presented numerous papers and lectures on the subject of intuitive problem solving. Dr. Emery is the newly appointed Education Director of the Intuition Network
ONN Joel: I'm sure you get all kinds of people in your workshops. How do you work with skeptics in your workshops?
Marcia Emery: In a very interesting way. First of all, I go around the room on the first day and ask why the people are there. I hear all kinds of reasons, and some people in particular are very adamant, and say, "I don't know why I'm here, except it was a Saturday and I had one more class to take." And I look at them and I say, "Good, you're my test case, because if we can move your intuitive meter, we'll know something is happening, and if you can get the information, the answer to something you couldn't solve and that's been elusive for months -- we all have problematic situations that are elusive -- if you can get the answer to something, then we know there's something else at work."
And another way I address a skeptic is I say, "Look around the room, look up at that light bulb, how is that connected?" Then we talk about that, and I ask, "When's the last time you used a Post-it Note?" And I tell them the story how the post-it note was invented -- because the guy kept losing his place when singing in the choir, he worked for 3M, and he needed something and he went back to 3M, and there was this adhesive substance, they had already junked, it was a failure that wasn't working, and he played around with the adhesive. And that's how the Post-it Note was invented.
I show them all the nay-sayers that persisted, how Ray Kroc brought McDonalds. And I ask if anybody wears Reboks and I tell them about Paul Klierman and how Reboks got invented. He invested in Reboks before aerobics was even well-known. Everyone told him not to. But he had a hunch and he disregarded everyone's advice. He scored something like 8.5 billion in the first five years, by listening to his hunch. So you know, to look around, everything around us that was a spark of intuition -- the computer, the Xerox, the light bulb -- a person had to have something.
I like to quote Albert Einstein who said, "No problem is solved by the same consciousness that created it." All we have to do is change our consciousness around. So when I'm addressing a skeptic, I know if you try to prove it to them, it doesn't work. If you tell them facts and figures, it doesn't work. You have to show them the examples all around them of things that were born of the intuitive mind.
ONN Joel: Once skeptics start to use intuition and discover that it's worthwhile for themselves, do they have trouble admitting to themselves that it's true? And do they admit it to other people?
Marcia Emery: Do they admit it to themselves? I have collected some remarkable stories over the years from my students and from other people, especially the graduate students. As they work with intuition, they begin to recognize there's a signal beyond the body. As they become comfortable with that, they just go for it.
One of my students was working on an $80,000 cost justification. He was going through all his data and he started feeling queasy and uncomfortable, and because he was taking the course, he said, "Gee, there's something to feeling uncomfortable, I better go check the data." And he did. And he found an error that no one else could. And he saved his company $80,000. This is just a little example -- but you see, he was tuning in.
Another of my students had an attitude that was more logical than intuitive. He was jumping up and down one morning, watching an aerobics program, and suddenly a flash came into his head, which he normally would have ignored, that something was wrong with the new product they were displaying. And he looked at the new product, and sure enough, there was a glitch that no one else had caught. So he brought it to someone's attention. He was happy, but the product still had to be fixed. His company had given him a five-day extension, and my student asked himself what his feelings say to do. He decided to stand back, to change his consciousness around from the logical mind to the intuitive mind, and see how that could be fixed. He was able to fix it in twenty minutes.
These examples began to multiply. For another exercise my students had to keep a diary for three weeks. As they became more aware of their intuition and how it was being used, they were absolutely amazed -- in working with people, and interviewing people, or when they had to offer new ideas, or anticipate what the boss was going to call upon them for -- all of them were absolutely amazed.
Another quick story -- one night, one of the men in class, while I'm talking, suddenly jumps up and runs out of the room. We all look at each other wondering what happened. He comes back and we all look at him. It was so dramatic. And he said, "I've got to tell everybody this, I can't believe what I just did." He was sitting in class and getting a strong impression to call his wife, which was something he would have normally ignored. But it became so strong, and since he was sitting in a class about intuition, he called his wife. She said, "I'm so glad you called me. My friend just had an accident, you have the insurance card, there was no way I could reach you, so I kept thinking about you and how I could reach you." So you see, he got that message!
ONN Joel: A quote from one of the articles you sent me, from USA Today by Stuart Tobias, says, "Intuition is basically a reflection of what we have expressed in the past. There is no special power associated with it. There are better ways to make decisions." What are your thoughts about that statement?
Marcia Emery: I think it's only half the story. And it's half-brained to say something like that, and I'll tell you what I mean. I don't like to use the terms left-brained and right-brained because our logic and intuitive minds are in our whole body.
So I like to say it this way: we are of two minds and we need both to be complete. We have an intuitive mind. We have a logical mind. The logical mind is the facts and the figures, that which we know. Our intuitive mind is a complement to that. It's a dynamic duo. In partnership with the logical mind, the intuitive mind picks up the thing, sees the structure, and allows us to see what's coming, to vision something, to see what's coming up for the future.
My formula for decision-making or problem-solving is: logic times intuition, minus the emotions, equals decision-making or problem-solving. Most of us don't identify this component with the intuitive mind. We don't label it that way. The picture that comes in our head is that intuition can show us how to arrange a certain product, give us a sense of fashion, or what words to say to comfort somebody.
ONN Joel: Logic times intuition minus emotions. I like your formula.
Marcia Emery: For me, this formula is complete. Let's take something like brainstorming, which is familiar to people in business. Sometimes people turn to me and say, "We're trying to brainstorm and we're not doing very well, we just keep chasing our tails and going round and round in a circle." And I say, "You're using your logical mind. What you're not doing is relaxing enough and becoming receptive, so you can switch to that intuitive mind."
Joel, when I was a kid in school, we had Show and Tell -- I like to use the Show and Tell analogy for the intuitive and logical mind. The logical mind tells us; it's very vocal. The intuitive mind shows us -- with a symbol, picture or image, it shows us what to do. And that's how we put our whole thinking apparatus together, with the intuition and the logic. It was Dr. Jonas Salk, who said, "The intuitive mind tells the thinking mind where to look next."
ONN Joel: What are the best steps to begin to use intuition? Let's say I don't have a decision to be made or a problem to be solved. I just want to proceed based on a deeper knowing. There's no dilemma or big decision between two choices. I just want to proceed with more depth and sensitivity. How begin? With what steps?
Marcia Emery: I usually start with the person getting clear on what the issue is. You say you're just trying to get a sense of deeper knowing. Maybe there's an issue and you want to get a sense of a deeper knowing. So first get very, very clear about it. It has to start with that clarity, that focal point. Then we begin to center ourselves.
The centering is releasing the mental tension that's all around. We try to shift from the logical mind to the intuitive mind. You can center by saying an affirmation, or a simple statement like "my intuitive mind will lead me to the right answer." That's just a basic affirmation. Or we could say a mantra, a word, or look at a mandala, a balanced picture. To me, looking at a geometrical picture immediately steps down the talkative mind and starts getting me into the other quadrant.
So, that's step two, centering. Step one was getting clear. Step three is the receptivity. And there are two parts in receptivity -- one part is breathing, the other is relaxation. For breathing I offer any one of four exercises, for example, the yoga breath or the energizing breath. I teach one of those breathing techniques and I also teach any one of six relaxation techniques. As we begin to get into that receptivity, we're taking the stress out of the physical body.
Step four is to go back to that question you started with. You pose that question to the intuitive mind, and the intuitive mind responds by sending a picture, a symbol or an image. The image comes up, and it might be a little quixotic, a little puzzling. Here's an example, I may be wondering if I should start a new health practice, say, a new vitamin therapy. And after I become centered and receptive and I pose that question and my intuitive mind comes up with an image of a turtle. Just a turtle.
What does that mean? Well, after I get that image, that lucid imagery, I do to the next step, interpreting the imagery. Here I usually use a practice called amplification. An amplification is an association. I look at that turtle and I start associating it. I associate it with being an animal, as green, as slow, as sticking its neck out ... aha! That's it. That strikes a chord in me. Sticks its neck out. And then I have the answer. Stick your neck out. Try the vitamin therapy.
ONN Joel: Are these tools that you use yourself?
Marcia Emery: Oh, yeah!
ONN Joel: Are they tools you become more adept at?
Marcia Emery: Yes, yes.
ONN Joel: Are they like second nature to you?
Marcia Emery: Yes. Because the images pop up so quickly in my head. Somebody might spend a longer time interpreting what those images mean, but they jump out at me very quickly. It's like an image in a dream. Sometimes, we have puzzling symbols and images in a dream. It's the same thing. I may not always see it right away, but I'm pretty good at having them speak to me symbolically.
ONN Joel: What if someone said to you "I used my intuition, went on a hunch, made a big decision ... but it was wrong!!"
Marcia Emery: Yes, I hear that all the time. Then I tell the person one of the culprits that got in the way might have been wishful thinking.
Here's a good example. I just produced a conference. In planning this conference, I told Jeffrey Mishlove, the President of the Intuition Network, that I see the conference and I know. Intuitively I just know there will be 300 people there. We had half that number. That was my wishful thinking. So my intuition only gave me part of the story in giving me that number.
Sometimes wishful thinking gets in the way and it is a positive emotion. We see it as we would like it to be, ego can get in the way, rather than seeing the big picture. Or there may be a fear of something. We don't see something because we're afraid. That will color our perception. Projection: we project onto someone else what is true for ourselves. And then of course there are times when we are just very tired or stressed. It's very hard when people are stressed or on burn-out to separate intuition from wishful thinking.
ONN Joel: It sounds like these are all obstacles that we all come across, that as we refine our lives and become more at peace with ourselves, then we're in harmony with knowledge, so the intuition would come naturally.
Marcia Emery: Yes. And I like your phrase, to be at peace with ourselves. Because if I could get my students to meditate on a regular schedule -- I don't want to say at the same time every day because that may seem too scheduled -- to at least make a commitment to different periods of silence throughout the day, of contemplation, of introspection, of going within, because it's during that time we really get in touch with that inner space, that intuitive voice.