Intuition or intellect?

“Surrendering to our inner knowing, which is not always logical, yields fruit that is easeful, joyful, and beautiful even in the face of circumstances not lining up the way we want.”

Brooke Sprowl

Rethinking rationality

In our culture, we put a major premium on logic. 

We tell ourselves to “be rational” and often attempt to override other ways of knowing. 

But conceptual, head-level knowing is only a small part of the equation. 

There are ways of knowing that supersede our logical minds.

In fact, the vast majority of our neurobiology is devoted to subcortical brain structures that are, by definition, not logical. 

These structures are responsible for processing elements of our experience that are deeper than our rational minds. 

Psychological and spiritual healing

In other words, a majority of our brain is driven by unconscious processes.

Which is why it can be so hard to be a person.

Because we have created an adversarial relationship between our logical and non-logical processing.

Put another way, often what we believe we want logically is at odds with how we actually behave and feel. 

The more we use our logical minds to suppress, deny, or supersede our inner knowing, the more anxiety, strife, and confusion we create. 

A major component of psychological and spiritual healing is integrating the unconscious and conscious minds to bridge this split, which can decrease anxiety, create more resiliency, and open us up to more empowered ways of living. 

Our intuition is a way of knowing that is intrinsically connected to our inner being and who we are at our core. 

It is our own internal compass.

This embodied navigational system provides us with the innate wisdom we all possess.

When we harness this wisdom, we begin to develop our somatic intelligence. 

And the more we rely on our bodily wisdom, the more we hone our intuition.

Effective therapy can change your life.

At My LA Therapy, our mission is to help you become more empowered, awake, and alive.

Overriding our intuition

By contrast, when we override our intuition, we become estranged from our essential selves and souls. 

For those of us who were raised in Western culture, relying on our intuition to make decisions can feel almost antithetical to our basic conception of how the world works. 

But neuroscience research is demonstrating that our culture has this all backwards: in the logical mind (left brain) is supposed to be a checks and balances system for the intuitive system (right brain), and not the other way around (see Ian McGilchrist’s work for a deep dive on this). 

We are indoctrinated into valuing logic and intellect over other ways of knowing, disregarding the intelligence of our bodies, outsourcing our validation, and relating with our life path as a problem that needs to be solved.

This paradigm can cause us to become alienated from ourselves and, at times, can even lead to a feeling of powerlessness and paralysis. 

Reconnecting with our bodily wisdom

Reconnecting with our bodily wisdom is not only an act of healing, but an act of internal revolution. 

In this, we bring the powerful and vital tool of the intellect back into its rightful and most efficacious role. 

Rather than pitting intellect against our intuition, we can allow our intellect to optimize it by ensuring our gut feelings are in alignment with our overall values and goals. 

Optimally, our task is to create a dynamic relationship between our minds and bodies in which our intuition points us in the direction we need to go and our logical minds help us ground our ideas, examine the consequences, and puzzle through the best approach to take. 

 

That is why I’ve been inspired to curate a once-in-a-lifetime experience centered around reclaiming trust in your intuition by cultivating beauty, awe, and present moment awareness.

This stunning retreat is located in a gorgeous natural reserve biosphere where the lush jungle meets the white sand coastline, where we’ll be floating in mangroves, waving hello to manatees, and swimming in the turquoise waters of cenotes (underwater caves). If you feel called to awaken your sense of awe, presence, and connection with your soul, please learn more our transformational experience.

Research-based, personalized therapy.

At My LA Therapy, our warm and experienced therapists specialize in anxiety, depression, trauma, & relationships.

Not your average therapists.

At My LA Therapy, our highly-vetted therapists are selected not only for their clinical acumen but for who they are.

Read More from Brooke Sprowl

Research-based, personalized therapy.

At My LA Therapy, our warm and experienced therapists specialize in anxiety, depression, trauma, & relationships.

Writer Bio

My LA Therapy - Brooke Sprowl (slider)

Brooke Sprowl is the Founder of My LA Therapy, a concierge therapy practice. With 15 years of clinical experience as an individual, couples, and family therapist, she is trained in a wide-range of approaches, from evidence-based therapy practices to peak performance and flow neuroscience techniques. Brooke is also the host of the podcast, Waking Up with Brooke Sprowl. She is passionate about writing, cognitive science, philosophy, integrity, spirituality, effective altruism, personal and collective healing, and curating luxury, transformational retreat experiences for people who are committed to self-discovery and using their unique gifts in service of the world.

On this week’s episode of Waking Up, I sat down with Helané Wahbeh of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), which is dedicated to the study of human interconnectedness, altered states of consciousness, and noetic states through scientific and experiential methodologies. 

We dive into intuition and intellect, using discernment, taboos related to spirituality, and much more. 

Check out our conversation here.

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want it to look this particular way and but often people find it I found this

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too when I engage in that intuitive process the outcome is totally not what

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I thought it was going to be and it’s like infinitely better than I could have even imagined and so just the process of

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engaging with our intuition I think brings forth opportunities that we

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couldn’t have thought of with our mind foreign

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hello and welcome to waking up with Brooke Sproul my guest today is Helene Walby she is the director of research

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for The Institute of noetic Sciences Helene welcome thank you so much Brooke it’s a pleasure

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to be here with you today I am really looking forward to diving in just before we get started just introduce our

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listeners to what noetic means I think some of them probably are well versed

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and others may have never heard that term so uh could you explain that that word to people and and what your

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Institute does yes so noetic actually originates from

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the Greek that means gnosis or inner knowing so it’s really about our inner

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wisdom our inner knowing and this kind of felt sense of understanding something

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and The Institute of noetic Sciences has a really cool origination story it was

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founded by Edgar Mitchell who was an Apollo 14 astronaut and the sixth person

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to walk on the moon he was an engineer by training an astronaut very linear

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thinking type person and he went to the moon he was standing on the moon he did

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his whole job and then he was in the Space Capsule coming home and the Space

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Capsule was spinning and he would see the Earth and the Sun and the stars and he just kept rotating and he moved into

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this incredibly Transcendent Oneness experience where he felt like he was

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part of everything and everything was part of him now

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this was completely foreign to him he’d never experienced anything like that before in his life and so when he came

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back to Earth he made it his mission to try to discover what this

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interconnectedness was and how we could study it and encourage people to feel it

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too so in 1973 he founded the Institute of noetic Sciences which has been

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fulfilling that mission of studying and educating about interconnectedness for

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50 years now we’re celebrating our 50th year anniversary which is really really

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exciting and currently our focus is on this beautiful blend of direct

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experience so teaching people to have noetic experiences to know what they

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feel like on some level and then the science which I’m the head of the science department doing rigorous

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research on on this interconnectedness and various aspects of it that is

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incredible I did not know that story wow how how amazing so tell me what are some

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of the practices and what are the uh kind of channels that you use to teach people how to access these states of

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consciousness so our experience Department

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Works in various ways to bring noetics into daily life and we have basic

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courses that are very much inquiry driven you know empowering each person

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as their own Explorer and their own journey to experience what the noetic

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means to them so we have a course they just created called the noetics 101 we

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have the possibility accelerator we have a new course

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um that will come up soon called the noetic signature and then another thing

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that we do is partner with already existing uh Workshop delivers to

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um bring forth programming for example we’ve partnered with Robert Wagner to do

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lucid dreaming workshops um just as an example so those are some

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of the things that are experienced department works on and then sorry we also have

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um webinars on Fridays that are no cost

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that anyone can attend to learn about this information and those often

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highlight our science and the various studies that we’re doing looking into these modalities

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amazing and what are some of the most compelling findings that you’re discovering in your research there have

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been some studies not a lot but some studies that pit one type of meditation

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against another and in general I think it’s an individual

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um preference on some level that there is benefit to be received from any type of

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meditation but that which one you kind of individually resonate with May

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support you to nurture that practice more consistently we also know that

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different types of meditation affect our bodies in different ways so you know

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concentrative meditation versus open Focus awareness affects the brain

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differently and so there’s some really nice reviews of

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um what’s called a functional magnetic resonance imaging fmri studies looking

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at how the brain is affected during different meditation types you know

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weight lifting your your brain into your mind you’re working out a specific muscle and based on the goals you want

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to achieve or the outcomes you’re expecting you could choose different types and the other thing that I share

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with people is it may not be consistent throughout your life you know let’s say you’re really into a specific type of

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meditation right now in six months you’d be like okay I want to do something different and that might be just your

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own intuition guiding you for what you’re needing in that moment for your own growth yes absolutely and uh

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collaborative of mine John verbiki talks about uh having an Ecology of practices so and that to me is like it’s almost

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like diversification right like having a very Diversified portfolio of practices where you can actually be nimble with

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your practice and you can begin to develop the awareness of when to use what practices right like in some

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moments you might need to to do some somatic work in some moments you might want to uh be in nature like there’s

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different practices that can suit you at different times in your life or even in different moments moments in time uh

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during the same time of your life and so I think it’s really wonderful to understand what the effects of each type

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of practice is so that you can optimize them to to what you’re needing in any given moment in time absolutely and that

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really helps us cultivate our flexibility and resilience if we have this little tool bag of you know

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practices that we can tap into then I personally feel more research

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resourced knowing that in times of stress or you know if I’m facing

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difficult decisions then I can choose what seems most effective and most

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supportive in that moment and that really beautifully dovetails with my

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channeling and intuition work because I Empower people to

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tune in well what is my best practice right now for me in this moment knowing

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that I have this large tool bag of modalities that I could use which one is

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going to support me the most right now and people who begin along this road

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find that it’s so it’s like a adventure because you never know what is going to

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show up for you and what your ego mind might tell you is what you should be

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doing right now is actually not what you intuitively come to right absolutely

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that’s so important in our culture in Western culture we emphasize the mind

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you know the left brain kind of rational Consciousness but actually the research

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shows that in Neuroscience that the left brain is really meant to be subservient to the right brain to the intuitive to

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the um you know aspect of our Consciousness that’s much more spacious and open and

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you know some might call it spiritual and we’ve inverted the Paradigm and in my experience as a psychotherapist that

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inversion causes so much damage and self-alienation and difficulty

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navigating life through kind of an intuitive ability to trust oneself now

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culturally we also are seeing this other extreme that’s happening too where there’s people who are kind of

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conspiratorial and and overly trusting their intuition but I think that’s a reaction to this history of being told

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that everything should be logical rational um and that in some ways isn’t that’s

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just not working for people uh it’s not supposed to work and but and and it sets

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up a sort of adversarial relationship with ourselves when we are trying to operate from a place of logic when logic

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is more supposed to be a checks and balance right it’s it’s supposed to be like okay I’m having this intuition but

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let me make sure that makes sense let me look at this let me step outside side of it so it’s meant to be a an ancillary

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tool rather than kind of the in the driver’s seat and so it sounds like part of your work is really getting people

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back into that inner knowing bodily intuition kind of uh capacity to

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navigate their lives and you know not that we don’t there’s of course the ego has its place

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um but that it’s not it’s no longer the voice that we’re listening to primarily does that does that sound right did I

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get that right absolutely I mean the intellect is a profoundly useful tool

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and is just so incredible that are you know as humans we have this astounding

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intellect that can support us in so many ways and I think you’re absolutely

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correct in the imbalance that we have been in um historically in the west and that

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there is I think right now we’re being called to come into greater balanced

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with our right and left sides with you know honoring our intuition exactly like

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you said doesn’t mean you throw your intellect out the window we must be incredibly Discerning about the

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information that’s coming in and where it’s coming in from and yet not giving

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one you know necessarily more power over the other but I feel like we really

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Thrive when there is a Synergy between the intellect and the intuition

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absolutely that yin and yang that optimal dynamic balance and tension and

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conversation between those two parts it’s it’s wonderful to hear you say that because I think most people kind of

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either glorify one or the other in a way that feels unhealthy and it’s wonderful to hear you say yes that you know inner

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knowing is is profound and necessary but also this intellect is beautiful and has its own purpose at the table and so you

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know the more we integrate all of our parts the more you know profound our experiences humans are the more

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effectively we can navigate our lives so say more about channeling you know what what is channeling for those of us who

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may not be familiar with it yes so I Define channeling in kind of a

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unique way I use this broad umbrella term which you could also equate

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essentially with Intuition or extended human capacities but it’s this process

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of accessing information and energy from beyond our conventional Notions of time

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and space and they can appear receptive or expressive now that’s a big mouthful

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I’ll just kind of tease that apart a little bit um most people have experienced some

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type of channeling phenomenon and the way that it shows up is quite diverse

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and it exists on a spectrum so on one side you have intuitive hunches that

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just about everybody could say they’ve had some intuition I just knew it or I just felt it or I just had this got

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hunched to turn right instead of left you know most people can say that they’ve experienced that and I would

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call that channeling then on the other side of the spectrum you have things like mediumship or trans channeling

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which are more rare and mediumship is the belief that you can communicate with

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supposed deceased humans and trans channeling the Channeler believes that

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they act as a vehicle for a supposed non-physical being to speak through them

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I also call that channeling and then there’s everything in between like

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having a dream and then having that dream come true or just somehow knowing

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what someone was thinking um for who’s like lives in the next

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state you just got this impression of their mental thoughts or just knowing

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what someone’s feeling there’s such a wide variety of this

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knowingness beyond our five senses and there have been numerous names ascribed

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to this human uh experience and in this situation I call it I channeling and

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we’ve done a number of different studies looking at the variance nuances of it

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how common it is how it works is the content useful and we have a whole

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program at ions that delves into that yeah I think it’s so tricky so many of

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these terms have a lot of baggage attached to them right psychic or Channel like there are these

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connotations of basically con artists claiming to know things and manipulating people out of money how do you deal with

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that you know how do you kind of um I guess get people to trust that what

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you’re often offering is sincere and that you don’t fall into one of those categories of of some of those kind of

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associations that some some people have yeah the taboos are really intense and

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you know one of the first things I noticed when I started working at ions

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was the number of terms that people had for these experiences and even the terms

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themselves like if you said psychic to someone and said hey what does that mean you know you ask that 10 people that you

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might end up with 10 different definitions or medium you know what’s a

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medium you might end up with so many different definitions there’s a lot of confusion around

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um what I think is an innate human capacity of being able to tap into this

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inner wisdom and the tab is unfortunately block us from

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having transparent conversations about experiences that most of us are having

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and those taboos exist um you know I have deep compassion for uh

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the taboos because a lot of it I think is fear because if you think about what it means to us as

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humans to be able to read other people’s minds or pick up on others emotions

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there is a uh fear around that because maybe we don’t trust our neighbor to know what

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we’re thinking Etc and it also doesn’t align with our current dominant Paradigm

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so materialism or the idea that only the physical exists is what is King right

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now and it is Shifting we’re kind of in this transition of moving from a

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materialist World View to a post-materialist worldview that does

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allow for the non-physical to exist we

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see that in cosmology and quantum physics all these incredible

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um uh experiments and research that has come true about our uh

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interconnectedness like you look at entangled photons and all of that research that we can get into if you

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want to but before we move into fully this new world

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view um all of these channeling experiences shouldn’t exist there are impossible

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according to a materialist worldview so often the taboos are because people it

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just doesn’t there’s a disconnect it’s like oh that’s impossible so you are

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making it up or you’re having a hallucination or there’s some sort of mental health issue that’s happening and then

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the third major reason I think for the taboos is you know Humanity has

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persecuted people who have exhibited these capacities for Millennia and so I

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think there is this you know ancestral uh PTSD if you will it’s like no no I’m

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not going to come out of the closet about being able to see colors around people because I’m going to be harmed in

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some way so that’s what we’re facing right now and it’s little by little that we can

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open that up but that wasn’t your true question I’m gonna get back to your question now which is how can you tell

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the difference between a charlatan and someone who’s truly offering these gifts

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and I think it is the same way you would discern any

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sort of good practitioner so you know you yourself are a therapist how do people know if you’re really good you

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get recommendations word of mouth you’re incredibly Discerning about the information they give you to see if it

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resonates if it’s actionable if it supports your well-being or maybe it

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doesn’t and you know we have this discernment in every field you know

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that we uh try to engage with right now there’s Bad actors and then there’s

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authentic genuine people so right we have to use the same skills there are

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good dentists and bad dentists and they’re good psychics and bad psychics you know good lawyers I mean it’s it’s

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like it’s just like anything and of course you hear about the edge cases um you know that are extreme and then

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there’s this baggage because of our materialist Paradigm as you mentioned um so it makes sense that people have a

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little skepticism you know and and rightly so in terms of you know wanting to be Discerning I think one of the

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conundra of you know our professions is that people who are coming to us are

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often in a very vulnerable States not always but often and they’re actually in a state where their intuitive knowing is

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a bit compromised and so they may not have they may not feel able to discern

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um for themselves and those situations so I hear stories all the time where people go to therapists for many years

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and they sort of defer to the person as the expert even though something doesn’t feel right with them they kind of go oh

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maybe that’s my problem I better just stick with it this person has these credentials and so it’s a little

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challenging when somebody is coming to someone for help to heal their intuitive system and that

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they don’t even possess the kind of capacity to navigate that in a way that

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protects themselves and I think that’s one of the ways that therapy gets a bad rap is is because of that

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um and so I I don’t know if it’s similar in your field but I imagine there might be some parallels there

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yes it’s so important I mean I speak to this point quite a bit about this

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projection of authority outside of ourselves and I think that’s one of the beautiful gifts about the message of

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channeling is and noetic wisdom that you know even if it does feel uncomfortable

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or very new or different or you don’t feel a sense of trust in your own inner

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guidance that there is a path to help strengthen that and that’s not to say

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you don’t get feedback from or support from people outside of you but that you

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have your own inner compass that you can nurture and nourish and learn how to

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work with that also gives you information to be able to support you

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um you know in the mediumistic and trans channeling field you know you hear all

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the time oh this was channeled or oh I got this from a medium like everything

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that they say is true and should be acted on it’s like no no no no no you know just because it comes in that

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form doesn’t mean that you project your Authority onto it you still use your

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discernment to see if it’s useful for you yeah I like to see it as just one

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data point you know if I’m working with someone in in energy healing and they’re giving me feedback or messages I go okay

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let me let me see how my system feels about that let me let me be open to that

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as a possibility without making it Sovereign you know so I love that about

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you know not giving we should never give away our inner Authority and yet I think there’s a little bit of a challenge there too because you know some of the

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spiritual life is about surrender and trust and sometimes

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um kind of letting go of our ego based knowing as we talked about earlier and and so sometimes you know when you’re

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apprenticing yourself to someone there is an element of suspending your own judgment to an extent though it has to I

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think there has to be that trust and there always has to be some part of you that’s kind of checking in and making

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sure that um you know that you that you’re not going down the wrong path because otherwise that’s how people get you know

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enrolled in Colts so exactly and there’s always a reassessment you know so just

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because you tune in and you said yes it’s important for me to be working with this person doesn’t mean that that’s

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true forever you know you keep checking in a month later someone’s not feeling quite right and it’s like okay it’s time

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for me to move on I got what I needed for that month and now it’s time for me to shift and you know people often ask

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well how do I know if it’s my ego mind just you know giving

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me direction or if this really is you know my inner wisdom guidance and um

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I think it really is a practice and yet what I found in my own practice and

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hearing from others that when you um follow actionable wisdom

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and it is really kind of your highest and next best step that you will find

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greater ease Greater Joy synchronicities opportunity increased feeling of flow

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and it’s like like you’re taking this nice breath of fresh air it’s like wow okay this is

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really moving and when it is ego driven it’s like you’re like hitting your head

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against a wall and it feels difficult and it’s not working and those are kind of those micro

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um you know those micro decisions to feel okay am I really like on this guided path or not I love that yeah I

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think that you know there are heuristics and you’re talking about some of the heuristics of how do we you know know

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which is which and for me it’s like what you’re talking about in terms of the feedback and the experience of it you

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know as part of how we discern and part of it for me is also qualitative it’s like I can tell when my mind is talking

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to me and when it’s all up here and I can and and so for me the the ego is

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often kind of thought based and in the mind and the inner knowing inner wisdom is more it’s not logical it’s more of a

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feeling um and a the sensation or something in the body and so that’s

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another heuristic that I use and then kind of to add to what you were saying

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in terms of that kind of feedback piece of you know what happens as a result of you operating from each space I kind of

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think of it that yeah let’s see I always say you know when you do when you make decisions out of the

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ego or out of anxiety or fear you kind of fail even if you succeed because your

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experience even if you get the outcome you want you’re not actually at peace you’re not actually happy you’re not

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actually following your kind of true destiny and what your soul really needs whereas when you follow your gut when

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you follow your intuition and your you know what your soul is calling from you you succeed even when you fail even if

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the outcome that you want doesn’t happen you find that you have a sense of peace and flow and ease and so that feels in

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some ways like the essence of spirituality is that surrender

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to this inner knowing that isn’t logical kind of yields this fruit that is useful

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and joyful and beautiful even in the face of circumstances not lining up the

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way we think and so I think that that is a really you know those are some really helpful ways to frame

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this discernment process that we’re talking about this navigational you know process and how we use various aspects

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of ourselves to make decisions and to engage with our lives in ways that are the most meaningful and joyful and

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useful that’s such a beautiful point and such an important point because so often we

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can be attached to the outcome you know and it’s like okay I want it to look this particular way and but often people

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find and I found this too when I engage in that intuitive process the outcome is

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totally not what I thought it was going to be and it’s like infinitely better than I could have even imagined and so

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just the process of engaging with our intuition I think brings forth

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opportunities that we couldn’t have thought of with our mind because we didn’t even know they existed and it’s

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like oh okay I mean just me sitting here where I’m sitting doing the work if

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you’d asked me you know 15 years ago what are you going to be doing for your career where are you going to be living

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never in my wildest imagination what I’ve said I would be studying channeling

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living in Washington state on this beautiful property like never I never would have

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come up with that so it’s it’s a really magical process I think absolutely yeah

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and and so much of the spiritual life is that surrendering the ego surrendering

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control understanding that our plans are not necessarily what we think is best

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for our lives is not necessarily best uh David White says what you can plan is

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too small for you to live yes I love that and and I actually wrote a poem

28:49

that said um offer your heart to the unknown it is just stating within you a life larger than you can dream yes you

28:56

know so that that apprenticeship to the unknown to the mystery to the

29:01

uncertainty to the um to our own powerlessness in a way the

29:07

Paradox is that the more we surrender and kind of assume a disposition of you

29:13

know powerless doesn’t quite feel right but a disposition of of faith and surrender there’s this power that

29:20

emerges this experience of being more empowered that’s quite paradoxical right it’s like we don’t we don’t experience

29:27

empowerment by trying to grab control we experience empowerment and freedom

29:33

through surrender and control and so um yeah I just I just love this

29:38

conversation I love um just kind of trying to you know trying to remind ourselves

29:46

which tools to use and um and what is actually most effective uh these parts of our lives

29:54

you know when people hear the word surrender they can often feel really frightened or overwhelmed by that and

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I know in my own path that word really scares like well what do you mean how

30:08

can you actually surrender and let go and you know just committing and

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intending um to be on that path of and and like you

30:21

said when when you surrender it’s not a powerlessness it is a uh a felt sense of

30:28

just trust I’m gonna let go of the outcome of what it looks like but I’m

30:33

setting clear intentions of how I want to be and how I want to lead and guide

30:39

my life and and letting go of the results and I’ve just been shown over

30:45

and over and over again so many instances that letting go of the outcome brings me

30:54

what I need and more and so now the idea of surrender doesn’t scare me anymore

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because I’m absolutely trusting that what will show up will show up and it’s

31:05

often not when my ego mind thinks it should you know it’s always like right

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exactly when I need it which is not six months ahead of time it’s like right exactly when you need it and so I guess

31:18

what I want to share with the audience too is that you can do micro practices

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of surrender you know with a simple commitment and intention around you know

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some simple decision in your life I don’t know like what you’re gonna have for dinner or when where you’re going to

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go with your friend there’s ways to with intention Clearly say I want to practice

31:43

this in some small baby step away so that I can become I can exercise my

31:49

trust and surrender muscle that it doesn’t have to be this big huge thing or big life decisions

31:56

um it’s funny that you said that because that was exactly what I was thinking is this is a muscle that’s built over time yes with practice that gets stronger and

32:04

stronger and so you start small and then you start to see uh kind of the results and then you can trust it more and more

32:11

yeah so it’s so wonderful well um it’s so wonderful to have you today thank you

32:16

so much for your time any final words for uh Before We Say Goodbye

32:21

I would just like to Inspire and invite the audience to get

32:28

really curious about their own intuitive capacities that if you haven’t already

32:34

and just maybe if it’s a minute or two a day just sit in quiet and

32:42

um be inquisitive about what your specific channeling abilities look like

32:49

do you feel it in your body like Brooke does do you see colors do you

32:55

um uh have intuitive dreams what does it look like for you and

33:02

uh have fun with what you get I love that well thank you so much Elena uh

33:09

wonderful wonderful being with you today and uh please like comment or subscribe to waking up here and uh check out the

33:17

Institute of noetic Sciences for more information on Milani’s work thanks so much thank you

33:34

thank you

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