Discerning shadow Intuition from balanced Intuition: a mini memoir

Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of the eagle has been given him?
— A Course in Miracles


Things I love (a non-exhaustive list):

  • Love
  • Food
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Reiki
  • Tarot
  • Just about any Netflix docuseries
  • A good memoir

a story

One of my favorite memoirs: Mackenzie Phillips’ High on Arrival. If you don’t know who she is, her father was the creator and front man of The Mamas and the Papas, and she was a singer/songwriter and actress who got her first big break in American Graffiti when she was a kid. And, in the midst of that, she was über famous for her drug use. She was somewhat of a misfit, a fringe member of society — characteristics I’m always intrigued by.

In her memoir, Mackenzie talks at length about her recovery and her many trial runs with it before the recovery experience that changed the course of her life. In this experience, she realized that her solution was not to “relinquish her power” over her addiction, to follow her gut, and listen to her intuition — all methods that earlier recovery stints promulgated. This last straw, her life-changing recovery experience, was rooted in recognizing how and why her behavior patterns led her to use and cover up the wounds; how her drug use was her coping mechanism and how it made up the foundation of her gut reactions. And she says, “if I were to follow my instincts then every time I encountered difficulty in my life, I’d get high.” 

My past drug use and Mackenzie’s are about as alike as if Rick James and I shared a likeness. Hers — reaffirmed by the glitz and glam of Hollywood stardom, grew mostly unaffected by fear of end result. Mine — defined by teenage angst and ambivalent rebellion, appeared in short bursts, and was easily concealable and stoppable. I was afraid. Call it my control complex or the early stages of my spiritual path, but I could never let go enough to not care about what happened to me. I look back and see myself already subconsciously wondering something akin to “into whose hands do I commend my spirit?”

Still, my gut feelings in the face of difficulty were embodied by some form of escapism — as a kid, into an odd combination of drugs, booze, and perfected schoolwork; as an adult, into work and fixing others so I could concentrate less on my own problems. 

When we have always used our intuition as a calling card to move away from the things that we don’t want to feel, any gut feeling will most likely cue the same result. That’s what I call the shadow side of intuition. Taking notes on how to approach our lives from this space is rough because our intuition in its whole form is our best teacher. Who else can tell us how we feel, what we like, what we wish to do but us? And if our guide is blanketed by fear, our actions will be built on that foundation. The question becomes how do we discern what a gut pang of shadow intuition, illusion, ego, false self is and what a gut pang of truth really is.

a takeaway

The best way to deprogram our intuition from living solely in its shadow to dwelling between the light and dark is so simple: Love.

A Course in Miracles tells us that love is the only truth. If our gut gives us a fearful vibe in the face of a potential great change, we notice it with a nonjudgmental eye, feel it, say hi to it, and give it a big lovely squeeze. I’ve had plenty of gut resistance to things that helped me grow in ways unimaginable as events unfolded. The key is to love and accept the resistance and let the voice of our balanced intuition take the stand to let us do that. If the doubt is still present, we can ask, “Am I physically and emotionally safe in this moment?” If we are challenged, yet safe, we breathe. If we’re clearly not safe, let’s exit stage right. 

In our challenged yet safe place, we remember that all fear is of future events, and if we are in the now, we cannot be afraid.

Create or fall back on your “present practice” — this is where we do something that makes our souls sing. Singing, playing an instrument, reading a passage from a favorite story, writing, drawing, painting, gardening, cooking, magic, a walk or a run, yoga. We let our balanced intuition guide us to the activity that will put our souls at ease in the present. 

An infinite loop of continuous presence and lalalove. Oh so simple. And all it takes.