You don’t need to wave a pendulum or carry crystals in your bra to channel spiritual guidance (but like, you can if you want!). Call it your gut, your intuition, or universal guidance, but your inner voice acts as an insanely powerful GPS to guide the decisions you make—whether that’s following the internal nudges to ditch your corporate job and sign up for yoga teacher training or just knowing when you need more sleep in your life. You just have to learn how to tap into your intuition and then act on those whispers, even when they seem to make no logical sense.
Okay, but what if crickets is all you hear? How do you actually hear that inner voice? To help us answer that question, we sat down with Los Angeles-based life coach and breathwork teacher Gwen Dittmar to ask for her tips on how to hear your inner voice.
1. Create space for your inner voice to come through
“One of the reasons why people aren’t hearing their intuition or trusting it or following through on it is because there is no space for it to come in,” Dittmar says. The solution? More quiet time.
“Prayer is actually asking [for guidance] and then meditation is the space that you create to be able to hear the answer,” she explains. Whether you sneak away for a brisk nature walk or meditate in your car before work, incorporating more quiet time into your day to just be present and listen to what’s coming up for you will make all the difference.
And you don’t even have to go out of your way to carve out the quiet time, just squeeze it in alongside mindless activities you’re already doing like washing dishes, showering, or exercising. You’d be amazed at the wisdom that can come through when you’re elbow deep in dish soap.
2. Pay attention to your emotions
Although we refer to it as an “inner voice,” your intuition might not manifest itself as a voice at all. It might just be a feeling. “Intuition often comes through your emotions,” Dittmar says. “Your emotions are simply feedback. It’s a part of you attempting to get your attention.”
So, when emotions bubble up, Dittmar advises that you not shrug them off or feel guilty for having them. Instead, try to decipher what the emotion is really trying to tell you. You can even have a conversation with the emotion.
Also, pay attention to any bodily sensations like digestive issues, a lingering cough, a headache, or fatigue. All of these can also be ways that your inner guidance system is trying to tell you something.
3. Look for your inner voice patterns
Whether you realize it or not, your inner voice has a pattern. It will usually speak to you in similar ways so that you can learn to tune into it. “It’s about cultivating a new relationship with that intuitive voice,” Dittmar says. “Similar to any other relationship, you have to get to know it. You have to understand how it sounds and the things that it says.”
To strengthen your intuitive muscle, she recommends a simple exercise. It involves taking a look back at your life and collecting some intuition data, if you will. Notice how your intuition has popped up for you in the past by remembering a time where you felt pulled to do something for no logical reason. Maybe you had an inner knowing that you shouldn’t attend a party and later found out some drama went down. Or, maybe you had a gut feeling to not work with a certain person and didn’t listen to it and it turned into a big headache. Make a note of how it felt to receive that intuitive hit and whether or not you followed through with it and what the outcome was.
Your notes are literal proof of how intelligent and all-knowing your inner voice is. For some people, it’s really helpful to see the data right to really believe in the power of intuition.
4. Set the intention to tune into your inner voice
Learning how to listen to your inner voice can be as simple as setting the intention every day to tap into it, Dittmar says. “It’s like you plant a seed in the garden and it will start to naturally grow,” she says. That willingness to listen to it is sometimes all you need to awaken your awareness of your inner voice.
5. Don’t let your mind take over
Many of us are so conditioned to go straight to our heads when we’re looking for answers. In our minds, it makes more sense to make a decision or choose our life path from a logical perspective instead of going with our gut and what feels right.
The problem is there are so many voices swirling around in our head, which makes it difficult to know which one is actually our intuition. Your mind, your fear, and your intuition are all battling for your attention, Dittmar says. It’s this noise that creates confusion and prevents us from following through on what our inner voice tells us to do.
Pro tip: Dittmar suggests paying attention to the first answer that comes through when you’re making a decision. That’s usually your inner voice talking before your mind has had time to actually process it.
6. Take a moment to pause and breathe into it
If you need to make a decision in the moment but can’t figure out what to do, Dittmar suggests doing an easy breathwork exercise. You simply breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold for seven counts, and then exhale out of your mouth for eight counts. You can take three of these breaths and then just sit in that space.
“It brings some clarity and washes out the cobwebs and the fog in the mind,” Dittmar says of the technique. “When you exhale out of your mouth, it connects you to your heart and your lower chakras. That’s really where you want to connect to when you’re in a state of confusion, not the mind.”
You can also use your hands to help you connect even deeper. Just put your left hand on your stomach and your right hand on your heart. “The left side is the feminine side,” she says, so it allows you to connect to your gut and intuition. “Your right hand is associated with logic and the mind. So when you bring the right hand to the heart, it connects you to what is the truth.”
7. Talk to your confusion
Can’t hear your inner voice? Ask it to speak up. Start by pinpointing where you feel the confusion in your body; this helps separate yourself from the feeling. Maybe it’s tension in your shoulders or pressure in your head. “This starts to create that space between your higher self and the confusion,” Dittmar says. “The confusion is not who you are.”
Imagine you’re talking to your confusion as if it were a person in front of you and ask it, essentially, what’s up. Listen to what it tells you. The response might be that you’re just too tired to go to that event or you don’t feel like that decision supports your highest evolution. By giving yourself the time and space to just have the conversation, you’re giving your inner voice more power.
In short, just like building a muscle, learning how to listen to your intuition takes work. But as Dittmar says: “The rewards are going to be huge.”
Trusting your gut when you have anxiety, however, can be even more difficult—here’s what mental health experts recommend. And this is why your intuition is the most powerful tool in your relationship toolbox.
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