Intuition is always right in at least two important ways. It is always in response to something. It always has your best interest at heart. ­— Gavin de Becker

When intuition grabs our attention to warn us of danger in our surroundings, it often feels like an alarm going off in our body. When danger is present, the sensation we feel, in the words of some people, is like an electric current that starts in the gut and radiates outward. Others have described the feeling as a chill running up the spine or a generalized lack of comfort.

The commonality is a definite sense of unease, a nagging feeling that won't go away. There also might be a flash of insight or a sensation that comes to us, one that we never sought out.


All this is indisputable evidence that our body is picking up information, much like radar does, and that this information needs to be examined by our awareness. It happens faster than our conscious mind can fathom. In a situation in which danger is present or attack is imminent, our intuition encourages us to recognize what's likely to be in store so we can make a choice to steer clear. By trusting our feelings early on, we learn that we can avoid danger later.

In other words, intuition is our most important inner weapon. Built into our matrix, it's designed to lead us away from harm and toward what's inherently good for our well-being. When we take advantage of this foresight, we often can avoid an attack or a dangerous situation without having to get physical.The following are some questions that martial artists have asked me about intuition and its role in self-defense.

CAN WE ALWAYS TRUST THE VOICE OF INTUITION? Yes, provided that we're in the present moment and not reacting on an emotional level.

Remember that intuition is not worry or anxiety. We need to keep our emotions under control. We must recognize the alarm bell for what it is and take action by removing ourselves from the situation.

We should never doubt a gut feeling that tells us that we aren't safe. If we feel uncomfortable or unsafe, we must not proceed.

WHY DO WE OVERRIDE OUR INTUITION? In The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence, Gavin de Becker writes, "Denial is a save-now, pay-later scheme."

The warnings we get from our intuition can come at the most inconvenient times. We often get a flash of insight but have no evidence, so we start to second-guess ourselves.

Maybe we're running late and get a signal that the route we're taking is dangerous, then see an option to take a detour. Do we choose the longer detour or chance it with the regular route?

Maybe we're concerned about appearing rude to a stranger. It's common to feel guilty about being suspicious of another person, but when our gut tells us that there's something more here, we should at the very least pay attention.

Maybe we're starting a relationship with a seemingly charming person but develop a nagging feeling about him or her. Our desire to be liked, to conform and to be validated by others can cloud our perception of reality, as well as our situational awareness.

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW OUR INTUITION? Intuition doesn't waste our time. Something important is being revealed to us. Following the guidance of our intuition can help us avoid abusers, con artists and predators. We also can avoid injury, rape and even death. Understanding our intuitive self gives us ultimate power over our lives and our well-being.

So remember that the next time a "bad feeling" is gnawing at you, it's your intuition telling you that no matter how badly you might wish to talk yourself into a certain course of action, it's the wrong way to go.

Ultimately, we must learn to stand with our intuition.

Katherine de Boda is an Arizona-based martial artist and writer.

5 Ways to Build Your Intuition

Intuition is just like any skill in that it has to be practiced to be strengthened. The following guidelines will help:

1. Get in tune with your body. Practice mind/body exercises that synchronize the breath with repetitive movement. These physical actions can calm the cognitive mind and open you up to your intuition.

2. Dedicate time every day to listening and focusing on awareness. Make an effort to listen to your gut instinct throughout the day so you can begin to recognize your intuitive guidance.

3. Practice "reading" people when you meet them. See what you can glean from them by sensing their energy and observing the subtleties of their behavior.

4. Meditate. Doing this regularly will help you recognize impulses that come from within. Know that intuition can speak through words, images or physical sensations.

5. Release your resistance. Don't rationalize your way out of an intuitive hunch. Using your cognitive mind to override the wisdom of your intuition can, in the worst-case scenario, put your life in danger. Instead, allow your cognitive mind to support your intuitive hunches and take decisive action.

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