December 9, 2016

Brain studies add evidence for the existence of “women’s intuition”

By Joe Perez

Making sense of the intuition is a cutting edge frontier of consciousness research. We all obtain knowledge from parts of the self unfiltered by the rational mind, but how do we make sense of that knowledge? And how do we distinguish between authentic intuition and base feeling?

Scientists, offering what we call “third-person perspectives,” (meaning that they are looking at the topic as an “It” rather than an “I” or a “We”), see intuition as a puzzle. In recent years studies have looked at it as a response of the brain to past experience and external stimuli in decision-making processes.

According to an article by Colleen Oakley in WebMD:

Intuition, or a sixth sense, is something many of us rely on for snap judgments and often life-altering decisions. But what exactly is it? A 2008 study in the British Journal of Psychology defined intuition as what happens when the brain draws on past experiences and external cues to make a decision — but it happens so fast that the reaction is at an unconscious level.

But that’s only part of it, says Judith Orloff, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of Guide to Intuitive Healing: Five Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness. “Just like the brain, there are neurotransmitters in the gut that can respond to environmental stimuli and emotions in the now — it’s not just about past experiences,” she says. When those neurotransmitters fire, you may feel the sensation of “butterflies” or uneasiness in your stomach. Researchers theorize that “gut instinct,” which sends signals to your brain, plays a large role in intuition.

If male researchers have overlooked the topic of intuition over the years, it may be partially because sexist stereotypes. Oakley’s article continues:

And contrary to common belief, it’s not just women who harbor this mysterious instinct. “Men can be powerfully intuitive — they have the same capabilities as women,” says Orloff. “But in our culture, we view intuition as something that’s warm and fuzzy, or not masculine, so men have often lost touch with those feelings.”

As I see it, World Spirituality honors “trust the gut.” It asks us to discern the gut.

Authentic spirituality ought to reject reductionistic views which say that impulses arising from non-rational sources always come from irrational sources. In ways that we are still learning much about, scientists are discovering the “self” is wider and deeper than our usual constructs, for it includes not just impulses but actual knowledge usually beyond access to the ego. Such knowledge may derive from subtle and causal dimensions of the self, residing in the imagination and timeless realms. From this perspective, authentic intuition is a glimpse of the radiance of the Unique Self.

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About Joe Perez

Joe Perez is a spiritual mentor, author, poet, and scholar. He is best known for his 2007 book Soulfully Gay. one of the first memoirs in the tradition of World Spirituality based on Integral principles. He serves as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Integral Wisdom. His work in progress includes Gay Spirituality and Kalen O'Tolán.

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