Chapter 3

Perception is inherently participatory. To the body, the world is not ‘object’. There is no ‘me’ apart from an ‘other.’ Everything is animate for the sensing body. Touch a tree and the tree is touching you back.
            – David Abram

Spontaneous Shifting States

Whenever you attend to and describe a perception or feeling you are experiencing, you are increasing your ability to shift in and out of different states of consciousness. You are building bridges in your mind and body so you can travel back and forth with ease. As I mentioned, you build a healthy flexibility in your mind and body. Being able to shift into your body and be with a feeling will help you relieve mental stress. It will also help you validate and release emotions you’re carrying. You can communicate what is alive in you this way. You are making your mind/body system more responsive and healthy. It doesn’t matter if you write, speak or gesture with your body; if you’re expressing something of your living energy it will enliven you.
    Here’s a very simple bridging exercise to try:

The next time you find yourself daydreaming, enjoy it and allow a part of yourself to observe your experience as it’s happening.
Then afterwards, write down what you remember.

The challenge is to learn to allow daydreaming to happen while being aware. It’s easy and, at the same time not so easy. Daydreaming is one place in most people’s lives where the unconscious leads. It’s enjoyable, natural, and familiar, yet it’s truly an altered state led by the unconscious. Practicing this exercise can be a tremendous help in recognizing your intuitive information. If you try to be aware when you are daydreaming, you may first only catch yourself after you’ve returned. If so, then you can still track where you went. Can you remember when you shifted, or what stimulated the shift? With practice you will begin to sense yourself daydreaming as it’s happening.

You can do the same thing with sleeping dreams. When you become conscious after sleeping, stay with the sense of the dream as you remember it. At first it may seem like a delicate balance. As your conscious mind becomes activated, it may seem to chase your dream perceptions away. But with practice you can stay with the felt sense of the dream and the threads of memory, and write legibly and concisely what you remember. Then you can even go back into the dream again.

That ability starts now, in this moment, with the sensory exercises you’ve been doing. Can you allow a part of your awareness to stay in touch with the sounds you’re hearing? As you read and hear simultaneously, you build your bridging ability. Other sounds or sensations, when they arise, can then be attended to, and recognized.

If you pay attention to your body, you will have more access to what is in your subconscious. For example, your body tells you when you’re hungry. Is that intuition? I would say so. It is a direct communication from your unconscious. You may not think of it as intuitive because it’s so familiar. What other ways is your unconscious already communicating with you? Unconscious intelligence and energy pervades your being and flows through every channel of perception, every thought and feeling.

Most information received through sensory channels is processed unconsciously. Then it bubbles up to conscious awareness. It doesn’t matter if the information is received intuitively or directly through the physical senses. When you are fully present with your perceptions, much more complex information becomes accessible.

If you were to eat an apple with your full sensory presence, your experience may become incredibly rich. That richness may be directly caused by the physical transfer of information through the sense organs, but there also may be intuitive information. For example, while chewing you may perceive an image of a place and a landscape that might be where the apple came from. With this image, you may also feel a sense of warmth and moisture indicating where it grew. Similarly, you might perceive how old the tree is, who picked the apple, or what they were feeling. The immediacy of sensory awareness takes you out of what you think and moves you into direct perceptions not limited by your conscious beliefs and thoughts. You connect with what is, beyond the limitations of your physical senses.

And, I suspect, while making no such claims for myself, a great deal of the world’s most significant thinking has begun just like this, with the body, in the heart of the night, coming, for all I can tell, from a place so far within us that it is very likely common to all of us.
                – David Brooks 7


It doesn’t matter what channel of perception you focus on. When allowed to unfold, all channels of perception will take you into the realm of direct knowing. If you allow yourself to be fascinated, to enjoy what you are experiencing, your sensing will take you deeper.

How do you enjoy something?
Does it take will or effort?
Remember the feeling of enjoying or being fascinated by an experience.
Describe what that feels like.

How does remembering a pleasurable experience make you feel now?

How do you enjoy a hot bath? You fill the tub with water and perhaps light a candle. You set yourself up for the experience with conscious intent. But in order to get into the experience of the bath you have to let go of the preparation and the doing and get into it. At some point you have to let go and get in to what you have created.

How about a sunset? When evening comes, you can sit on the porch and watch the sunset happen all by itself.


It takes no effort. In fact, when you release any idea of doing anything, then greater enjoyment and satisfaction comes. When you follow your fascination, you will naturally immerse into what you’re sensing. A sunset may begin with an image, but quickly it blends into your other senses. The feeling on your skin becomes part of the equation, as does your breathing and other sounds or smells. Perhaps past memories or significant feelings surface as part of the present.

As you allow this sensing, your conscious mind lets go. All these aspects combine, without effort, guided by your unconscious intelligence. (Remember the daydreaming exercise. You may start to daydream while you’re watching the beauty in front of you.) As you allow your experience, your letting go may not be passive either. You may feel like moving or talking or engaging in some other creative release of energy.

Learning to allow and to let go is an integral part of coming to your senses, finding health and balance in your body, and developing intuition. Your deeper intelligence will always take you where you need to go if you allow it.

Sleep is a good example of the relationship between the conscious and unconscious. Can you make yourself fall asleep? No, not without ingesting a medication to help. Sleep is a process where the conscious mind lets go and surrenders to the unconscious intentions of the body. You may consciously want to sleep, but you only fall asleep when the conscious mind lets go.

Have you struggled to fall asleep? In our society so dominated by conscious control and will, sleep is one place where many people struggle to let go. Anything you can do to shift into a more receptive and open connection with your body and your senses will help you sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, do the full body focus before you go to bed. Take your time. Sense and describe everything you are experiencing in all of the channels of awareness you can attend to.

Personal Validation

Being present with yourself is especially important if you are experiencing uncomfortable sensations or feelings. How often have you been wanting to sleep and rest, but found that your body was too tense or uncomfortable. Perhaps you realized that you were holding anxiety or anger in your body. The body focus will help you name and release even these uncomfortable sensations.

Here is another simple, yet profoundly valuable exercise you can use in conjunction with the body focus to help you release anything you’re holding that is uncomfortable, awkward or fearful. I call this exercise the Personal Validation Process.

Sense and perceive what is alive in you. Then describe your thoughts, sensations and emotions to yourself. (Body Focus.)

For anything you’re experiencing that is uncomfortable to you, say to yourself, “I am feeling (describe what it is) and I’m OK.” Speak those words into the feelings and sensations in your body, wherever you experience them.

It can be helpful to describe your discomfort with sense words. For example, if you’re feeling pain in your back, what color would it be? What sound would it have? Would it have a texture? Then use the words in the sentence above. Repeat that phrase several times. Speaking it softly with your breath.

Even if you don’t believe that you’re OK, try it. Saying you’re OK doesn’t mean you want it to continue. It means that as it’s happening you’re still here. You’re still breathing, thinking and feeling. You are OK!

A helpful variation of this is to say, “I am (your words) and I’m OK”, leaving out the word “feeling”. Again, this may seem strange, but it helps you connect with the experience more directly, which is often what your unconscious mind does not want to do!

Then, if after repeating that phrase several times, you don’t feel OK, or you don’t believe you’re OK, ask yourself, “What am I needing now? Whatever comes to mind, ask yourself, “If I had that, how would it make me feel?” That feeling or need becomes the focus for the next step.

Then take some deep relaxing breaths and tell yourself, “With each breath I am breathing, I am becoming (the feeling or need you’re wanting).”

Lastly, if you need to actually do something to take care of yourself, do so!

This validation process can be incredibly effective for releasing whatever it is you’re experiencing that you resist. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, it will help you let go and come into your body in a safe, relaxing way. Often just saying “I’m OK” will start to shift you into a more comfortable and relaxed place. Using your senses and being with your feelings will take you out of your mind and allow your unconscious to guide you into sleep.

This Body Focus/Validation Process works just as effectively any time during the day when you are struggling or feeling uncomfortable. You can use it as a very effective means of self-soothing when you’re stressed or anxious, calming yourself when you’re angry, or even re-energizing yourself when you’re tired.

If you do the body focus and you notice discomfort, you also have a perfect opportunity to validate the messages from your unconscious and incorporate the information you receive. Say you have a discomfort in your gut. You describe its color, texture, and shape. As you’re describing it, you feel an emotion. A sadness comes or an anger. Staying with the flow, you comment to yourself on each piece saying, “I am…. and I’m OK.” As you comment, you may feel a shift in the intensity of the sensations in your body. You may also have emotions that arise. A release of emotion may be what your unconscious was wanting or needing all along. Think of it as a rebalancing of energy in your mind/body system.

When you respond to these signals with conscious attention, you may gain insight or awareness of an action you need to take for your health and well-being. If so, be sure to respond to that information. When you get in the practice of attending to the messages of your unconscious, the communication becomes more direct and clear. Perhaps the next time you won’t need to become so uncomfortable to hear its solicitations.

Conversely, there may be many times when there is no conscious awareness why a sensation or a feeling comes into your body, heart or mind. It may be that just being present with yourself, validating and releasing is all the meaningfulness you need. In the same way you wonder or marvel at a sunset, you can let a discomfort or irritation move through you. If it has more meaning that you need to know, you will find out in another session. Your body is the perfect vehicle for the expression of your unconscious.

What the body is moved by are energies that it does not control. These are the energies that control the body. They come in from the great biological ground, whatever it may be. They are there. They are energies and they are manners of consciousness.
                                    – Joseph Campbell

Coming out of your mind and into your sensing, living body can unlock the wisdom of your whole being. When you awaken in the morning after sleeping, your letting go moves you against gravity, into an upright position. Think of dancing. In the joy of the moment there is no resistance to body movements. Dancing becomes more enjoyable the more you allow a spontaneous flow of movement. When your movement is aligned with your whole being, letting go can become even more active than you’ve experienced before.

What is your body telling you now?
Is there something you could be allowing to happen?
Then let it happen!

Many of us have had some form of intuitive experience at some point in our lives. One of the most common experiences is having a strong sense or feeling relating to something happening in our lives. For instance, you may be contemplating a new job, a new relationship, or a new travel experience. You may have a strong sense or feeling supporting your intention, or you may suddenly sense foreboding. You may pay attention to the information or not.

Whatever your response, the memory of that event stays with you. You may be intrigued, puzzled, or even changed in some way. You may consequently have similar experiences at other times. These experiences may not fit in with the logic and sensibility of the rest of your life, but in some way you find them valuable. There is a quality to them that is compelling. One intuitive experience can stay with you for years and have life-changing effects.

Whether or not you consider your intuitive experiences deeply meaningful or exceptional, they may have subtly transformed your perception of reality. Perhaps they led you to exploring intuition and reading this book. If you follow the lead of your intuitive body, you will approach the edge between what you can know in your mind and what you can perceive through direct experience. How much you learn may directly relate to how much time you spend extending your consciousness out to the edges of your experience.

Experiences at the Edge

Experiences at these edge territories have a quality that is compelling, captivating, and sometimes bewildering. But we sense they are valuable; that is partly why they linger. The conscious mind struggles with them though, not being able to put them into a neat box. Specific conscious understandings do come with experience and familiarity. Paths can be mapped. With familiarity, experiences gained at those edge territories can be trusted.

When I was a young man, just out of high school, I was attempting to expand my consciousness with hallucinogens, meditation, and yoga. One evening, following an altered state experience, I decided I wanted to telepathically communicate with my brother Matthew. I crept up the stairs and sat outside the closed door to his room. I could easily hear him playing his electric guitar through the door. I focused all my energies, willing him to become aware of my presence. I said his name inside my head many times. I commanded him to notice me but nothing happened. I started to get tired. Then I started listening to the music he was playing. I liked it. I fell into the music and lost my sense of sitting by the door.

In the midst of this flowing music the door jerked open and Matthew stared down at me. “Ah ha!” he said. I was just as surprised as he was. I asked him what happened. He said that while he was playing he became aware of the door to his room; his attention had been drawn there. He said he put down his guitar, stood up, walked over to the door and jerked it open. He had sensed me. My experiment worked. Logically, I figure he could have sensed me by registering the sounds I made coming up the stairs. Was it “true” telepathy? I don’t know. I do know that it was an energetic, meaningful experience for both of us.

One thing that has always fascinated me about this experiment was what I experienced. I basically let go of my desire and found myself flowing into the music. When Matthew stopped playing and came to the door, the music I was hearing didn’t stop. I had melted into the music and stayed there until I was jarred out of it by the door opening.

I now believe my experiment was successful because of my strong intention followed by my letting go and forgetting it. This is true with all of my experiences at these edge territories. There is a relationship between the known and the unknown at the edge of our conscious awareness.

When you perceived the picture on page 25, there were responses in other, unconscious parts of your being. The image may have activated memories, feelings, and even physical sensations. It may still be stirring you in a subtle way.

The unconscious aspects of ourselves are fundamental to who we are; they provide the ground on which our personality and our sense of self reside. Intuition, creativity, wisdom, and spiritual awareness come into our consciousness through the unconscious.

In this book, I use the term unconscious to refer to the vehicle through which these abilities come into our consciousness, and I tend to refer to the source as the Larger Self or Higher Self. You can approach that guide in whatever way is meaningful to you and fits your beliefs. Regardless of what framework you use, psychic functioning, intuition, creativity, soul-knowing and spirit are accessible to you. Developing intuition can help you develop your transpersonal and spiritual parts.

Practically speaking, with intuition, you can know who’s calling on the telephone before you answer. When your car breaks down, you can discern if it is something simple you can fix before you call a tow truck. You may even be able to tell the mechanic what to look for. You can protect yourself and change your course of action, when you pay attention to a feeling of danger before you walk down a certain street or get into a car with a stranger. You can find lost objects, animals or people. You can make life transitions easier by gaining a different perspective or a clearer sense of your life purpose. You can ask a question inwardly about your body or health and receive a clear image of what action you need to take. You can start to validate your ability to know and trust yourself. The self that you learn to trust is much larger than your conscious mind.

Perhaps even more importantly, you can move into a way of being that feels more congruent, healthy and alive. Charlotte Selver 30, who was a pioneer in work on sensory awareness, described how we could remember and reawaken a sense of wonder and awe in the living of the present moment. She also suggested that when we come into a subtle connection with our senses and our living bodies, we can achieve a higher level of functioning and tap into our innate abilities for healing, renewal and balancing.

Exploring intuition is one way to recover these innate capacities and to restore our health and well being. Being open and receptive at a threshold and noticing what you sense starts the process. Trusting your response, even if it’s not rational, is the next step. You can open the door to larger parts of yourself.

 Can you imagine having an intimate understanding of intuition that is entirely formed by your own experience?

Having practical intuitive experiences where you get feedback can help your learning. In the following pages we will dive further into practical ways to learn to use intuition. Your inner awareness can lead you to useful applications in every day life.