Intuition: it's instinctive by nature. It's that gut-feeling or 'sixth sense' independent of rational analysis or deductive thinking. But can we actively develop and learn how to better utilise it? Author Dr Cate Howell believes we can, empowering us to use our intuition in everyday life through these key principles and practical seven-step plan, so that we can experience an increased sense of peace, purpose and joy in our lives.
Dr Cate Howell is a GP, therapist, educator and author. She had a Year 2000 Churchill Fellowship and completed a PhD on depression. In 2012 Cate was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to mental health. Cate currently works as a General Practitioner with Defence, and also has a private practice focusing on mental health and various teaching activities. Cate is a co-author of Release Your Worries (with Dr Michele Murphy), and the author of Listening, Learning, Caring and Counselling . She is also the author of the the upcoming The Changing Man.
Author: Dr Cate Howell
Question: What originally inspired the idea for the book, Intuition?
Dr Cate Howell: There was not one single event that inspired me to write the book. I think two key factors led me to writing about intuition. Firstly, my focus in life is on helping people; and secondly, I am a very curious person. The topic of intuition has interested me for a long time. I was introduced to 'knowing without knowing how you know' very early on. My grandmother lived with us when I was growing up and she had strong intuition; knowing ahead of time when someone might phone or drop in, for example.
I learnt to trust my own intuition as time went on; for example, knowing in my gut when a situation or person felt okay, versus feeling unsafe; and experiencing intuition about close friends. I also had quite a few predictive dreams over the years and was curious about them.
I have often used intuition in medicine over the years, and found it added to my rational knowledge. It might mean having a sense that there is a serious health issue going on, although the history did not necessarily indicate it. Or knowing there was more to a story than was being told.
It is said that intuition provides a 'compass' in life. I have especially tapped into intuition in my work as a therapist, and it has provided useful guidance. For all of these reasons I was keen to explore all there is to know about intuition, and to help readers who wanted to understand their intuition more.
Question: What will readers take from reading Intuition?
Dr Cate Howell: I hope readers will have some of their questions on intuition answered, such as what it is, why it occurs and why it is important. We know that the mind is capable of learning and change, and that it has many abilities that we don't necessarily tap into. The research about intuition and my own life experiences led me to believe that we can develop it more over time.
In the book I guide the reader through a series of practical steps to enhance their intuition. The steps are based on growing in self-awareness, making space for intuition in your life and tapping into the abilities of the mind. There are skills we can learn to assist, such as meditation and mindfulness, and research shows us that a positive frame of mind and creative pursuits can enhance intuition.
By the end of the book, my hope is that readers will have more trust and confidence in their intuitive abilities.
Question: How has the concept and how we use intuition changed over the past ten years?
Dr Cate Howell: A number of years ago I was invited to give a talk to professionals on 'the art of medicine', and so I spoke about intuition. Several members of the audience became angry within minutes, saying that we have to focus on evidence. I responded that we have to remember that some of our patients come to us because they 'know' they have a serious illness or that their child is seriously unwell. The illness may not be obvious, but we find it because their 'knowing' was right.
I believe that there is a place for rational thinking in medicine as well as intuition. They complement each other. Interestingly after the talk, many other people came up and said "thank you so much" for talking about intuition. They said that they used intuition regularly in their work but did not feel able to speak out loud about it. As time goes on, it seems that we are more able to speak about it and this is a good thing.
In recent years there seems to be more discussion in the media about intuition, so I think people are becoming more comfortable with the notion of it. The work of researchers and educators who explore the abilities of the mind also assists, and although science does not fully understand intuition, we know that it exists and that it's not magic. It is part of life.
Question: What research did you do, prior to writing Intuition?
Dr Cate Howell: I was involved in academic research for a number of years, and so I studied the scientific literature on intuition, as well as popular literature. I looked at information from a number of fields, including philosophy and psychology, as well as business, teaching and nursing. I also interviewed a number of colleagues about their thinking about intuition and their experiences with it and included some of their comments in the book.
Question: What's next, for you?
Dr Cate Howell: I personally continue to make space for intuition in my life, keep working on developing it and using it in my work and life. I have broad interest in spirituality, and many related teachings incorporate intuition. I continue to explore the spiritual aspects of life and healing.
At the end of the book I talk about the importance of love in our lives, and how when we focus on unconditional love, we let more intuition into our lives. My focus in life is on 'hope, healing and happiness', and this is directed into helping people, teaching and writing. I can apply my intuition in all of these pursuits. In particular, I will continue to write books about emotional health and wellbeing, and will see where my writing and my intuition takes me!
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: Dr Cate Howell