The documentary, Innsaei by Hrund Gunnsteinsdottir, is now one of my favorites on Netflix. InnSæi is an Icelandic word that means the "sea from within" or "to see within." The film talks about how in a world filled with external noises and distractions, we're losing our ability to sense our inner selves and trust our intuitions to make decisions. As Bill George of Harvard Kennedy School explains, we're living in a left (brain) hemisphere world dominated by logic. The intuitions that our ancestors used to rely on for discoveries and innovation are vastly replaced by information and data.
The story of the Polynesian Navigators was a great example of the power of intuitions. For generations, the Polynesian Navigators have relied on their instincts to explore the vast unknown. They had to fully emerge themselves in the experience to sense, observe and conquer the dangerous sea. Using all their senses, they gained a deep understanding of the stars, the waves, the wind and even reflections on the clouds, which gave clues to whether or not there's land ahead. There were no modern technology but stick maps that documented their knowledge from explorations to past on to the next generation.
An average brain weighs about three pounds and neuroscience has shown that only 5% or fewer of it are used consciously in our day to day. Cognitive activities that relate to decisions, emotions and behaviors make up that portion. My own recent encounter leads me to believe that the memories that we "lose" are not always lost. They have been stored and buried in the untapped 95% waiting for us to retrieve through intuition.
I was at a birthday party about a month ago and saw a woman in her 40's looking very familiar. After hearing others call her name, I was convinced that I know of her. I then walked up to her asking her where we might have met before. We compared notes such as where we went to college, friend circles, places we lived but nothing jumped out. I spent the entire night wrecking my brains trying to figure out where this person may have showed up in my life. On the car ride home, I thought back on her answers and found one familiarity, which was the city that she used to live. I then connected with my best friend overseas who I used to spend our High School summers teaching English, at a school her aunt owned. It was located in the same city that the woman mentioned where she's from. Luck has it that her aunt called as we exchanged messages on Facebook. After some questions and validations, I became convinced she was one of the helpers who I met during one of the summer breaks. After finding her contact on a friend's Facebook directory, I reached out and confirmed. It was in fact the same person. Digging through 25 years of memory really drove me crazy but my intuition was so strong that I had to have an answer.
As much as we live in a society based on logic, rationale and hard facts, there are large amounts of silent communications happening from within that we're not tuned into. Sometimes it takes asking the right questions, other times it requires you to look within and trust your instincts. Our intuitions give us access to the years of experience, creativity and wisdom in life, made possible by the millions of connected neurons everyday. The next time you're faced with a difficulty, challenge yourself to take courage and trust your instincts.
Trusting intuition is in a way like taking a leap of faith and “if you don’t leap, you’ll never know what it’s like to fly.” (Guy Finley)