I am going to share with you a secret. A family secret. It's one of those secrets no one has to tell you to keep -- you just know not to speak about it. I am beginning with a family secret (you may have one like it) because often where there are secrets, there are treasures to be found. For me, the treasure was my intuition. There's a good chance that much of your intuitive power lies hidden inside you, like a treasure waiting to be discovered.
I knew this secret for a long time, but I didn't fully understand what I knew until my early twenties. When I was seven years old I began to have this sense, this feeling, that someone was missing in our family. Every time we gathered for our occasional family dinner or for a holiday I would be very aware of this missing presence. I would look around me at the dinner table, asking myself, Who is missing? and Where is this feeling coming from? Years later, when I began to keep a journal, I would write these experiences down. Even though this perception was persistent, I never spoke about it to anyone.
Where in our culture are we taught how to respond to such feelings? Not in most schools, churches, or homes. However, there was a time when people were taught to value, trust, and develop these feelings. There was a time -- and I believe it is returning -- when young people entering their teens were given special instruction to develop their intuitive and spiritual powers. They were taught to understand their bodies not only as muscle, blood, and bone, but also as energy and containers of the spirit. They learned how to use their own intuitive experiences to reveal the truth about themselves and their world. Understanding these mystical truths was an essential part of the journey to adulthood in ancient cultures.
Being Deeply Attuned to the Body
This ability to access inner wisdom is still valued and practiced in some areas of the world. As Arnold Mindell, author of The Shaman's Body, explains, intuitive wisdom relies on being deeply attuned to the body.
"Indigenous healers have taught that the quality of life depends upon body sensations that are linked to dreams and the environment, to what I call the 'shaman's body.' According to medicine people living in native settings around the world, and to mystical traditions, the shaman's dreaming body, when accessed, is a source of health, personal growth, good relationships, and a sense of community."
What Mindell refers to as the shaman's body I will call the energy body. To understand the language of the energy body -- your intuition -- is to find great strength, wisdom, and freedom.
When I was a teenager, I had no such understanding -- but my energy body was constantly sending me signals just the same. I began to notice that I was often aware of things that were hidden under the surface of my everyday interactions with other people. I had a strong sense of what others were feeling; I felt as though I was seeing into other people's secret worlds and glimpsing their hidden treasures. I seemed to know a lot more about what was going on around me than people were telling me. I often had psychic dreams -- dreams that gave me more insight into what was happening in my life. And perhaps the most perplexing signal, the sensation that someone was missing from our family, only increased as the years went by.
At age twenty-five, I had an opportunity to test the validity of this particular feeling. My father was visiting me, and it felt like the right time to share my secret. I began by telling my father what I understood at the time about intuition (I had by that time investigated this topic in a variety of ways). I told him of the many intuitive markers in my life, when my feeling sense -- my wisdom body -- had alerted me to the truth about something. And finally I described my intuitive experiences during family time.
He listened and I could sense his heart open to me. He sat very still with his full attention on me as I spoke. Then I asked him the question that had troubled me since childhood: Did he have any other children? His answer was open and kind. I could see that in this moment he, too, needed to speak his truth. He told me that, yes, he had another daughter. She was born when I was seven years old.
The Validation of my Intuition Opened a Door
I felt such love as the truth in my heart was finally validated by my father. He gave me the greatest gifts a father can give -- his truths and his recognition. A weight I carried in my heart and body lifted, and a great peace entered and filled me. We sat and ate together, but nothing at that meal tasted as sweet and wonderful as my father's honesty.
So much came together for me then. This validation of my intuition opened a door within me that has remained wide open ever since. The truth really does set one free. Now I was free to fully trust my intuitive self. I knew that there would always be truth to be discovered if I had the wisdom and courage to listen for it. Now I was free to decide what it meant to me to have a half sister. Later in my life, I would go in search of her.
The gift of intuition didn't come without its problems. Being intuitive often meant experiencing an overload of psychic energy from my surroundings, which sometimes made life more painful and difficult. Nothing in my formal education or spiritual practice taught me how to use and control my intuition. As a teenager, it helped me a great deal to begin a meditation practice and to consult the I Ching. I also found it useful to write down my dreams and reflect on their meaning. I kept a journal of my psychic as well as my more mundane life experiences.
Yet, this was not enough. These practices did not speak directly enough to my intuitive feelings and experiences. They didn't advise me about how to use my own energy body, or how to respond to the energy of other people, or how to recognize intuitive wisdom. Books on intuitive development, such as Caroline Myss's Anatomy of the Spirit, didn't come out for another fifteen years.
Psychic Development 101
I was already in my mid-thirties when my spiritual adviser and psychologist told me about a local psychic and healer who taught a yearlong psychic development class. At the age of thirty-five, I attended this class and finally got the instruction I needed. A void in my life was being filled. I came to understand so much about myself, my feelings, and my intuitive body -- my wisdom body. I felt so strongly that the material in the class should be shared with more people that I began to teach the class myself, and to this day I continue to teach it.
These are subjects of great importance not typically taught to young people. Many of the teenagers I come in contact with are troubled by social anxiety and feeling overly sensitive. Some speak about feeling some kind of "instinct," but they doubt themselves too much to act on it. Many talk about getting "signs" but are not sure how to interpret them. All of these concerns can be alleviated dramatically by understanding and developing your intuition.
To some degree, you and every other person on earth has this spiritual perception, this skill. For me it was very intense; for others it is quite subtle. It doesn't matter if it is strong or faint -- what matters is that you learn how to listen to it.
Some Basics about Intuition
It doesn't benefit anyone for you to be less than you are. To not use your intuition is to be less than you are. To not know and live by your own truths is being less than you are. To ignore your energy body is being less than you are. To be everything that you are, and were meant to be, you need to begin by understanding some basic truths about everyone's intuitive powers.
Truth One: Intuition is an ability that we are all given at birth.
Truth Two: You have a right to develop and use your intuitive/psychic ability, particularly at this pivotal time in your life.
Truth Three: Your intuition is your direct connection to spirit (God, Higher Power, the Creator, Goddess, Buddha, the Tao, etc.).
Truth Four: Your intuition is part of the creative energy that flows through us all and through everything.
Truth Five: Your intuition increases as your understanding and love for yourself and others increases.
Truth Six: Emotional intensity is part of your intuitive nature.
Truth Seven: Your intuitive/psychic journey is meant to make you feel powerful and good about yourself.
Truth Eight: When you use your intuition, it benefits everyone.
Truth Nine: Some people are more easily able to use their intuition, just as some are more able with music, but everyone can develop his or her intuition.
Truth Ten: Intuitive wisdom and intuitive/psychic development are not New Age"; they are very "Old Age," respected and taught in ancient cultures in many forms.
In our culture, it can be difficult to access and trust our intuition. Shakti Gawain, author of Developing Your Intuition, offers this explanation:
"One of the reasons that many of us do not learn to trust and follow our intuition is that we are taught from an early age to try to accommodate those around us, to follow certain rules of behavior, to suppress our spontaneous impulses, and to do what is expected of us."
Sound true to you? In school we are constantly reminded to accommodate teachers and authority, to follow the rules, and to suppress our intense emotions -- in essence, to do exactly what is expected of us. While these guidelines have an obvious purpose and are in some measure necessary for us all when we are in school, the fact is that they do hinder our intuitive abilities. When we habitually look outside ourselves for direction, we don't get to exercise an important life skill: that of listening for -- and acting on -- our own inner wisdom.
We all need the help and guidance of others. But never should you follow the advice of others when it means to ignore your own inner guidance. There are times when teachers are wrong. Sometimes a friend's advice is misguided. Clergymen and others in positions of trust or authority can abuse their power. We need to listen to our inner guidance while we consider the advice and direction of others. When our inner voice says "No" or "Think about it first," we must listen to it, and find out what it is trying to tell us. As you develop the intuition that is inside of you and learn to think more for yourself, you can go out into the world more aware, confident, and strong.
A Quiz: How Intuitive Are You?
This quiz uses a scoring system to give you a general idea of where you fall right now within a range of intuitive awareness.
There are twenty-three statements below for you to read and respond to. On a separate sheet of paper, write the numbers 1 through 23 in a vertical column. Read each statement. Then, next to the number on your paper that corresponds to that statement, write the word that best describes how often you experience what the statement says. Choose one of these words for your answer: often, sometimes, or rarely.
1. I am aware of others' feelings.
2. I experience social anxiety.
3. I sense things before they happen.
4. I remember my dreams.
5. I have recurring dreams.
6. I am afraid of some of my feelings.
7. I experience a lot of coincidences.
8. I have gut feelings about decisions.
9. Friends seem to come to me a lot for advice.
10. I know my dreams mean something.
11. I have been told that I am too sensitive, that I overreact.
12. I have deja vu experiences.
13. I believe I am intuitive.
14. I believe or sense that a greater power watches over me and helps me.
15. I am scared of what I know.
16. I have sensed things were going to happen before they did.
17. I have high self-esteem.
18. I can speak up for myself to my peers.
19. I can speak up for myself to adults.
20. I know how to ask for advice.
21. I have a strong sense of purpose; I know what I am going to do with my life.
22. I use drugs and/or food to avoid my thoughts and feelings.
23. I know when someone is not telling the truth.
Now use the following list to assign points to each of your answers. Determine your score by adding up all the points. Give yourself:
1 point for each time you wrote "rarely"
2 points for each time you wrote "sometimes"
3 points for each time you wrote "often"
If you scored 23 to 35:
You aren't often aware of or tuned in to your intuition. You may sense some inner voice inside of you but you're not sure how to access it. Possibly you don't feel very good about yourself or trust the way you do feel, but this will improve quickly as you practice the exercises in this book. The first step for you will be to start uncovering your hidden intuition and making it more available to you. Soon you will begin noticing a stronger awareness of yourself and your surroundings. You will find that you trust your intuitive self more often and feel more energized and positive. Keeping a journal while you read this book will be very helpful.
If you scored 36 to 58:
You are often in touch with your intuitive sense, although you may not fully understand what it all means. Some people may experience you as oversensitive but friends are likely to come to you for advice because you often have good insight into their problems. You may experience some social anxiety due to your very real sensitivity to the energy around you. You may not always trust or understand your abilities. You may oscillate between times when you have very good feelings about yourself (high self-esteem) and times when you bottom out and your self-esteem is very low.
You will quickly benefit from this book because you will find the guidance contained here makes you feel safer, more balanced, and more confident in your intuitive abilities.
If you scored 59 to 69:
You are very aware that you have psychic abilities although you have not received instruction on how to skillfully use them. Your self-esteem is fairly high most of the time and you are ready for and excited about using the guidance in this book. Your confidence and skills will build quickly as you work through the activities in the ensuing chapters.
Before we go any further, I would like to be clear about what I mean when I use the word psychic. Psychic comes from the Greek word psyche, which is translated as "the soul." It is defined as "sensitive to nonphysical or supernatural forces." So, to be psychic means to be able to hear the language of the soul, to understand the language of energy. It is not about fortune telling, although having a sense of what the future holds may be a skill of a gifted psychic. Our psychic abilities enable us to tap into the wisdom and power of our souls and energy bodies, and to open up to the spiritual world.
Keeping A Psychic Journal
You may want to keep a special psychic journal. Use your journal to document and reflect on your psychic experiences, your dreams, and your intuitive insights.
If you want the truth,
I'll tell you the truth:
Listen to the secret sound,
which is inside you.
-- Rumi, SUFI POET
Opening the Door: A Beginning Meditation
Use this exercise to open the door to communication with your body, and its energy. It is adapted from a variety of yoga practices, which assist you in awakening the vital energy that is in you.
Lie comfortably on your back on the floor, on a yoga mat or rug, with pillows under your neck and knees. Place your hands loosely at your sides or on top of your belly. For a few moments simply lie still, breathing and relaxing while at the same time staying in tune with your body. Instead of daydreaming, notice the sensations of your body . . . the rhythm of your breathing, the touch of clothes against your skin, the images that appear in your mind's eye . . . relax, breathe, and remain present, just lying on the floor, relaxed yet present. Notice the different parts of your body and, without judgment, bring your awareness to them. Begin with your legs, relaxing them even more, letting them rest from their constant exertion. Now bring your awareness to your waist and lower torso, perhaps noticing the breath and how it makes the belly rise and fall . . . Notice the arms relaxed at your sides; allow them to sink into the floor. Relax even more . . . yet maintain a presence in the body. Bring your awareness to your entire torso and then up to your chest. Notice your spine and relax it into the floor . . . continue to breathe and relax. Notice your shoulders and neck, inviting them too to relax as you bring your awareness to them ... Allow your head to rest heavily on the pillow, breathing and relaxing in awareness of your body...
After a few minutes of this relaxed presence in your body, take a moment to notice what it feels like to be alert and relaxed at the same time . . . without judgment (no right and wrong), just notice. Rest as long as you like in this state of awareness. Then take a couple of deep breaths and sit up. You may want to take a moment to write what you experienced in your journal.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Bindu Books, a division of Inner Traditions Intl.
Teen Psychic: Exploring Your Intuitive Spiritual Powers
by Julie Tallard Johnson.
In Teen Psychic, award-winning author Julie Tallard Johnson provides a fun, meaningful process for developing your intuitive powers, as well as practical guidance in applying those powers to your personal spiritual journey. The wisdom teachings of numerous traditions blended with activities--such as meditations, exercises, journalizing, and quizzes--will help you tap into a reservoir of inner strength and knowledge, increasing your confidence and self-esteem.
About the Author
A licensed psychotherapist and creative writing teacher, Julie Tallard Johnson has kept journals since the age of sixteen discovering how the writer and spiritual path are one and the same. She has spent the last thirty years working with individuals and groups to help them discover a spiritual practice that brings them a sense of purpose and happiness. The author of many books for teens including Teen Psychic, Spiritual Journaling, The Thundering Years, I Ching for Teens and Making Friends, Falling in Love, which was recognized by the New York Public Library as one of the best books for teens, she lives in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Visit the author's web site at www.Julietallardjohnson.com