Mindfulness or Ritual? Which One Works Best?

Mindfulness is often most potent when combined with other practices. We shouldn’t employ mindfulness in our lives, naively assuming it is the most powerful problem-solving tool ever invented, while excluding other practical and useful methods and behaviors.

Imagine that you want to lose weight, but have a tendency to eat a little too much at your meals, and like to top your dinner off with a delicious calorie-laden bowl of ice-cream. Not surprisingly, you are finding the weight hard to take off. Desperate, you go to your local meditation center and ask the resident guru what you should do. After he adjusts his white robe, lights the incense and clangs a little bell, he pauses dramatically and peers deeply into your soul.

“You must be more present at your meals,” he announces, bowing his head slightly. “The art of eating is sacred. You must be mindful of each mouthful, and let the food fill your spirit, not merely your belly!”

You bow three times as you exit the room walking backwards, expressing your great thanks. A deep feeling relief fills your soul. But as you stroll mindfully to your car you notice a street sign on the opposite side of the road, indicating the presence of a dietician’s clinic. So, just to hedge your bets, you cross the road and enter the dietician’s office. You sit with her and share your problem. You mumble the bit about the heavy meals and the weight problem. She looks at you as if you are a little dull, but nods her head.

“When you sit for each meal, follow these three simple steps,” she says. “You must adhere to this ritual at every meal, and do exactly as I say. All meals. Every day. No exceptions!”

You listen, skeptical but excited. “Please do share. What are the three steps!?”

The dietician nods quizzically, a sparkle in her eye.

“First, you must cut the food.”

You nod slowly. “Uh huh. And…”

“Then, you must arrange the pieces symmetrically on your plate. In the shape of a triangle”

You scratch your head. “I see…”

“Finally, you must tap your plate three times with your fork. Only then may you begin to eat.”

“That’s it?”

“Yep. That’ll be forty-nine bucks, thanks. My standard consultation fee for ten-minute sessions.”

After flipping your wallet open, you walk out feeling a little foolish.

So, whose advice should you take? The spiritual guru’s, or the dietician’s?

The possible answer may surprise you. Harvard professor Francesco Gino and colleagues conducted a recent experiment, taking a group of people trying to lose weight and dividing them into two groups. The first group was told to be mindful during meals, and the second was told to follow a ritual similar to the dietician’s one, in the fictional story above. Surprisingly, the ritual proved to be more effective in reducing consumption of calories, fat and sugar.[i] As Nir Eyal notes in his book Indistractible, rituals can be powerful. They can help break bad habits and build an empowering identity.

Mindfulness is often most potent when combined with other practices. We shouldn’t employ mindfulness in our lives, naively assuming it is the most powerful problem-solving tool ever invented, while excluding other practical and useful methods and behaviors. Rituals, as indicated here, are very compatible with presence practices. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can also be combined with mindfulness, helping you manage thoughts and feelings more rationally, without undue hyperbole, catastrophism and generally neurotic thinking. And throughout this book I am suggesting the importance of emotional release as a means to help mindful states of awareness, and to heal trauma. I suggest you experiment with mindfulness, and seeing how it can operate together with your current knowledge base, beliefs and practices.

[i] Allen Ding Tian et al., ‘Enacting Rituals to Improve Self-Control’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 114, no. 6 (2018): 851–76, https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000113.

This post is an extract from my upcoming book Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponised World, which will be out by mid-2022.

Countdowns: A Cure for Mind Chatter

This strong tendency of the mind towards rumination is today a far bigger challenge than it was for mindfulness practitioners of yesteryear. The Buddha didn’t have to struggle with a daily dose of Twitterous twits constantly attempting to trigger him into emotional reaction. Lao Zi’s attention was most likely inward much of the time, aligned with the Dao, not battling opponents on Reddit. The ancient Chinese sage was quite happy to permit the dramas of king and courtiers to carry on as preferred. And Christ’s daily prayer sessions were not interrupted by smart phone alerts, notifying him to the urgent “breaking news” that he just had to read in order to stay informed and on top of his game.

The mind has a tendency to ruminate on problems, issues and especially grievances. In the Digital Age, where clickbait news and social media feeds are assaulting your amygdala on a moment to moment basis, trying frantically to get you to bring your attention to their causes and invest emotional energy in them, it has become more important than ever to be able to spot rumination spaces within your mind and to deactivate them as quickly as possible. A simple but effective tool I developed called “Countdowns” can be used to counter this problem. Countdowns are a simple tool that will quickly quieten the mind, and bring your attention back to the present moment, or to whatever focus you prefer.

The purpose of Countdowns is not necessarily to eliminate reflective thinking, although returning to silent, embodied presence may be the best option in any given situation. Alternatively, you may wish to take more control of the mind, and to focus on something more important. Rumination is typically upon subject matters that serve little purpose, or are perhaps completely pointless. At worst they keep us trapped in drama and conflict with others. In other words, rumination is disempowering. You cannot stand in your power if you do not have rumination in check.

There are obviously life problems and situations that require focussed or even urgent attention, but much rumination is simply not necessary, representing on-going inner babble, a running background TV commentary that serves little purpose other than to fill your mental living room with pointless noise.

You can think of rumination spaces as those bubbles of emotional projection that you regularly return to in your thinking, where you repeat the same topic over and over again in your mind. Quite commonly they involve an imagined opponent, a person or people who are bad and wrong, and who have to be silenced and/or defeated. These might include your political or tribal opponents, the president or prime minister, your partner, your friends, the boss, your work colleagues and professional competitors and so on.

This strong tendency of the mind towards rumination is today a far bigger challenge than it was for mindfulness practitioners of yesteryear. The Buddha didn’t have to struggle with a daily dose of Twitterous twits constantly attempting to trigger him into emotional reaction. Lao Zi’s attention was most likely inward much of the time, aligned with the Dao, not battling opponents on Reddit. The ancient Chinese sage was quite happy to permit the dramas of king and courtiers to carry on as preferred. And Christ’s daily prayer sessions were not interrupted by smart phone alerts, notifying him to the urgent “breaking news” that he just had to read in order to stay informed and on top of his game.

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Rumination has two common drivers. The first is simply the mind’s attempt to stay relevant, to ensure its continued existence. The drama that is entailed in rumination achieves that job nicely. There is a threat or an opponent that just has to be dealt with, or at the very least a serious problem that has to be solved. And we can’t just let that be, right? It’s too urgent.

For the mind, silence equals loss of control, and ultimately death.

The second driver is your story, and that story in turn probably emerges from your original pain. Rumination is often triggered by an external event which mirrors your story and its embedded beliefs, activating your emotional body. That means an instant upload of the usual emotional cocktail: any combination of fear, anger, guilt, shame and perhaps grief. The Countdown tool I share below is therefore best used in combination with some of the healing tools I outline elsewhere in this book. Countdowns won’t heal you by themselves. But if done with strong intention, they will pull you out of the drama and return you to the present moment, where you can focus on whatever is of greater value to your Authentic Self (including healing, if you wish).

Countdowns are simple. Whenever you catch yourself ruminating over someone or something, stop, still yourself, and count down from three to zero, focussing you’re your breath and counting one time on each exhalation. When you reach zero, affirm: “I choose peace.”

But you will likely find that it won’t end there. The mind is a field of habits, and the same subject of rumination will probably appear again within short time. It is important not to judge yourself at this point. It is normal to feel some frustration when we encounter resistance from the mind. But that resistance is perfectly normal. So, each time a ruminating thought or drama enters the mind, simply gently notice it, and repeat the countdown; only this time with a single difference. Add one more breath, counting from four to zero. Continue with this process throughout the day. Each time you find yourself ruminating on the undesirable topic(s), add one more breath to the countdown. I call these expanding countdowns.

The key here is your intention. But intention is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. First you must have a certain degree of intention and set the action in place (countdowns). However, that action also helps reinforce your intention. As you become better at mental self-control, your sense of agency will increase, along with your sense of self-empowerment.

I personally like to use two forms of countdowns. I use the expanding countdowns for targeted dramas. These are the topics that I consider to be most wasteful of time and attention, and most disempowering. Amongst these I include anything to do with differences of opinion on politics, religion, science and so on, or any argument or dispute I might have participated in with a work colleague or administrator, or with a friend or family member.

For other less “serious” thought patterns, those which have little emotional power over me, I usually just use three breaths in the countdown, and I find that to be sufficient. The subject matters here might be everyday things like thinking about news stories and current events, my next workout, what I am writing about in this book and so on.

Therefore, whether I use the expanding countdown or the three-breaths countdown simply depends on the emotional investment my mind has on the topic at hand. I use the expfgvtttttttttttttttttttanding countdown for more serious or lingering ruminations which require attention and self-discipline.

When I first used this mindfulness tool, I sometimes got onto the twenties with my countdowns. That was a little frustrating at times, but I released all judgment and gently but purposefully persisted. After some days the countdowns became less common, and the ruminations began to drop away.

Still, I personally find that during times of greater psychological challenge, the need for deliberate use of mindfulness tools like these increases. But the best part is that they are simple, and once you learn them they will always be with you.

This article is a excerpt from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World.

Presentation: “Embodiment, Classical Intuition and The Future of the Metaverse.

This is my very recent presentation at the Society for Consciousness Studies, 2021. “Embodiment, Classical Intuition and The Future of the Metaverse.” My central argument is that it is vitally important that we retain a strong sense of embodiment & intuitive intelligence even as the 3D Digital Society evolves. To further diminish that awareness would represent the deepening & perpetuation of a major civilisational error that has engendered the crisis in sensemaking. It thus represents an existential crisis that is potentially catastrophic, literally &/or metaphorically. Establishing an Authentic Self via Embodied Presence is a vital component of all this.

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Below is the video of my very recent presentation at the Society for Consciousness Studies, 2021. “Embodiment, Classical Intuition and The Future of the Metaverse.” My central argument is that it is vitally important that we retain a strong sense of embodiment & intuitive intelligence even as the 3D Digital Society evolves. To further diminish that awareness would represent the deepening & perpetuation of a major civilisational error that has engendered the crisis in sensemaking. It thus represents an existential crisis that is potentially catastrophic, literally &/or metaphorically. Establishing an Authentic Self via Embodied Presence is a vital component of all this.

1. About Marcus T Anthony (1:15)

2. What is Critical Futures Studies? (5:10)

3. Context: The Metaverse, Embodiment & the Crisis in Sensemaking (6:45)

4. Deep Futures vs Money & Machines Futures (14:55)

5. Integrated Intelligence & the Extended Mind (16:45)

6. Scenarios: Four Possible Futures of the Metaverse (27:20)

7. Conclusion: Rediscovering the Authentic Self (33:10)

We become thing we hate… or the thing we love

The most terrible thing that the Internet does is that it brings into full display the shadow, the dark and nasty projections that were once only ever seen in our darkest moments.  The most wonderful thing about the Internet is that… it brings into full display the shadow, the darkness within us all. For as Jung once noted, long before Facebook and Twitter emerged from e-space, we become enlightened not by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Perhaps then, it is better to think of the Internet not a conspiracy designed to set us against one another, but the universe’s way of getting us to notice how we set ourselves against one another. How dark we can become.

Recently, one late evening, I came across a post on my Facebook feed. I have many Facebook “friends” whom I have never met, or whom I barely know, and this poster was one of those. The post was a political one, a very common find on that platform. We’ve all seen them. The post warned of the dangers of fascism and extremism in the “other” political tribe. Now, if we take a detached perspective, it is easy to note that these accusations are almost always made against the “other” political tribe, never one’s own. But most of us have at least some bias in this regard, and tend to see the darkness in the other more readily than in ourselves, in our own side. I responded to the post by chiding the writer and proclaiming something like, “Can’t you see that your side is the same, that your “fascist” enemies are writing precisely the same thing about you and your tribe?”

This wasn’t the most conscious thing I’ve ever written on the net, and after I’d written it, my projections lingered in my psyche. As I reflected upon it in bed a little later, I realised that I had not practiced what I like to preach, and that I had judged the poster and projected against them. In fact, I felt ashamed of myself (and shame does serve a useful function, when we develop the right relationship with it). So the next morning when I awoke, I went to the poster’s homepage and apologized. After all, it was their homepage and their sandbox, not mine. I was out of line.

Catching ourselves in moments of irresponsible projection can be embarrassing. But that sense of shame may serve a positive purpose if it emerges from the Authentic Self, if we acknowledge the truth of what happened, and if we act appropriately in response. A little shadow work can be invaluable in such situations. It can be transformative, helping us to shine a light inward, illuminating the darkness. But if we allow the darkness to linger without bringing the light of attention to it, that darkness can expand, embedding our hearts in shadow. The ocean of voices that is the Internet is awash with the murkiness of billions of souls lost in the illusions of such shadows.

Be careful lest we become the thing that we hate, or so we are told. It is an aphorism for the ages, reminding us that at some level our minds tend to mirror the consciousness structures that we project outward onto the world. Another way to think about this is that we become what we strongly judge. The process of judging – including hating or rejecting something – can shape our minds and our hearts.

There are two ways to look at this. We might note that our brains, and our mirror neurons in particular, tend to assume the morphology of that we imagine is occurring in another’s mind. Or a more metaphysical perspective is that consciousness itself is a primal force that may attract the thing that we focus upon. This later take on the old aphorism is more akin to the new age ‘law of attraction.’  

Regardless of whether we hold the mainstream scientific or the more esoteric version of this principle to be true (or, both, as in my case), when we hear the words ‘we become what we hate,’ we probably don’t stop to consider that if this is true, then logically the polarity  must also be true.

We become the thing that we love.

Or rather, we become the thing that we choose to love. The attitude or relationship that we have with others and the world can also transform us in beautiful and positive ways. It invites us to consider where our power really lies. And that locale is precisely the point in space and time where and when we choose to love (or not to love). My upcoming book Power and Presence: Rediscovering the Authentic Self in a Weaponsied World, contains many practical “actions” that can help us remain grounded in what I call Embodied Presence, and in turn help establish the Authentic Self. Below, I share one such action taken from the book. Its purpose is to transform hatred and projection into non-judgment and love.        

Loving the thing that you hate.

What is the thing that you hate the most? That you most often judge and condemn? Like an alchemist of the mind, you can take that one thing into your awareness and transform it into an object of love. In this alchemic transformation you may just find your greatest power.

Perhaps the thing that you hate is your ex-partner, or the boss who fired you without perceived justification. Perhaps it’s the Russians, the Chinese or the Americans. The Jews, the whites or the blacks. The men or the women; the feminists or the men’s rights activists. The trans folk or the cis gendered. The Republicans or the Democrats; the liberals or the conservatives. Perhaps you despise the fence-sitting centrists for their failure to take a stand. Or maybe it’s the elites, the establishment, the New World Order, the illuminati, the NCPs, the conspiracy theorists, the anti-vaxers, or those mindless sheeple. Perhaps you loathe Russian bots, soulless AI or the luddites. The Stones, the Beatles or Madonna. Maybe it’s the cursed politicians: Xi Jinping, Trump, Hillary or Biden. Or in this age of the Human Extinction Movement, perhaps it is the human race itself.

That which you despise does not have to be a person, nor a people. It could be a thing, concrete or abstract. Perhaps it’s your job, or your lack of a job. The commute to work, or the ‘toxic’ workplace itself. It could be an institution: the bank, the library, the senate or the legal system. Perhaps it’s the media: CNN, Fox News, the New York Times or The Sunday Mail; Rupert Murdoch, Rachel Maddow or Tucker Carlson.

The most terrible thing that the Internet does is that it brings into full display the shadow, the dark and nasty projections that were once only ever seen in our darkest moments.  The most wonderful thing about the Internet is that… it brings into full display the shadow, the darkness within us all. For as Jung once noted, long before Facebook and Twitter emerged from e-space, we become enlightened not by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Perhaps then, it is better to think of the Internet not a conspiracy designed to set us against one another, but the universe’s way of getting us to notice how we set ourselves against one another. How dark we can become.

To practice Love the Thing That You Hate, find a quiet place to sit, preferably alone. Alternatively, you might choose to do this in the presence of another, or with others that you trust. One way to tame the shadow is to gently expose it before others. But these people will need to be well versed in shadow work, the murky machinations of the psyche. The ego tends to get triggered when exposed to the shadow of another, which often leads to drama. And needless to say, many projections are politically incorrect. Doing shadow work is not the time for social niceties and virtue signaling. It’s the time to delve into the darkness, no matter how unpleasant or debauched.

Begin by relaxing deeply, focusing for a minute or two upon your breath, feeling yourself settle deeply into your body. When ready, begin with a prayer or affirmation. Imagine the Great Light of Unconditional Love illuminating you.

‘I permit honesty and forgiveness, I hide nothing.’

Next, bring to mind the person or situation that you have been projecting against, then allow yourself to speak openly to it/them. If verbal expression is not possible, simply imagine or subvocalize the words. Allow any judgment or feelings of anger or resentment to simply express themselves. Speak to that person, place or situation, and let it know exactly how you feel about it. Judge, condemn, or even curse if that is what arises. Or shame, belittle, or berate. If the instinct is to strike or yell, you might like to imagine that, or even act it out for a moment. The key is to simply observe all this without judgment of yourself, without judgment of the projection.

Take no more than a minute or two to do this. It is not necessary to amplify or linger upon it. Gently notice any judgments you have towards yourself for what you have just seen about yourself. Imagine the Great Light before you, accepting it all without judgment. Then afform:

‘I relax and accept these feelings of (anger, rage, blame, judgment, fear etc.).’

‘I give them to the Great Light (or name a higher power).’

Then breathe and let go, safe in the knowledge that you are forgiven, free of any judgment. After all, it takes courage to honour the shadow.

Next, bring the object of projection to mind. Then say:

‘I fully acknowledge that I have judged and condemned you. I accept that I have lingered in resentment and blame. I ask for forgiveness. I allow myself to release all blame and judgment for both of us. I ask for grace and healing. I let go…”

Next, as you gently hold in mind the image of the object or person, imagine the Great Light enter your body, either from above or from before you, then project onto the other.

‘I accept you. I release my judgment and anger. I accept you. I accept you. I accept you.’

Feel yourself relax and fill with light. If feelings of anger and blame arise, do not judge or reject them, just gently permit them their moment, and give them to the Great Light.

‘Great Light, I fully acknowledge these feelings of judgment and anger. I share them openly with you. I choose forgiveness. I am forgiven. All is forgiven.’

When we let go and allow all that is within and beyond us to simply be without judgment, what often emerges is the experience of love and gratitude. If you feel this emerging as your feeling towards the other, give voice to it.

‘Thank you. I love you. Thank you, I love you. Thank you, I love you.’

If that does not emerge naturally, you might practice expressing this attitude. But there is no need to force that. If the feeling does not emerge, simply relax and permit that to be. Give it to the Great Light.

Ideally, practice Loving the Hateful Thing every day, or any time you find yourself strongly judging and condemning someone or something.

In this practiced,  you may just discover your greatest power, and your Authentic Self.   

A final note on this practice. Often when we judge and condemn another, when we feel genuine hatred, anger, blame and resentment, there is an underlying emotional or psychological issue that we have not addressed. The feelings that we have towards the person or situation may be a drama which emerges from some trauma or unfinished story that we have not resolved. Or we may simply be carrying anger and resentment over from other parts of our lives. There may thus be the need for some deeper healing work.

Becoming love
Assuming responsibility for our anger and projections is especially important in this time of tribalism and online drama. It is often true that we cannot directly change the people that we are in relationship with. But what we can do is transform our attitude towards them. We can become love, to use the words of Leonard Jacobson. Or to put it my way, we can become the thing that we love.

The kind of love I write about here has to be a genuine. It has to come from the heart. And for that to occur we will likely have to acknowledge the shadow. That is how we allow the possibility of love. In a sense we don’t control that outcome. We merely permit the possibility of its emergence.

A logical objection to deliberately releasing blame and anger towards another is that our deep feelings of rage and the judgment may be justified. What if the other person really shafted you? What if the boss really is an asshole? What about Chamberland’s appeasement of Hitler in 1938?  There’s no point in waving a white handkerchief when the Nazis are at the door, is there? But the truth is that most of the time the people that we hate are not  Nazis, the situation is not the holocaust, and nor are we getting fed to the machine guns at the Battle of the Somme. Are we really in Hell, dealing with the Devil himself? Or is the bigger problem actually within ourselves?

This is why we must be careful with our language as well as our attitude towards the other, and towards life’s circumstances. We have to be mindful of the images we employ, and the stories that we tell. When we unnecessarily throw around terms like “fascist,” “communist,” “supremacist,” “racist” etc., we are often engaging in hyperbole and catastrophic thinking, permitting ourselves to become something fearful and hateful. Sometimes we must ask ourselves whether we are the ones who are becoming the haters.      

Many of us are starting to realise that this is true. We are starting to realize that that we have to begin to tell new stories. Our media, social media, social justice and social science discourses are badly in need of introspection. There is a great need to teach cognitive responsibility. We cannot merely focus upon what is at fault with the other and with the system. The wisdom journey has to begin with ourselves. Ideally that should be the foundation of our lives. When we are well-established in the capacity for Embodied Presence we can then address what is “out there” in rersponsible ways; beginning from a position of personal empowerment, and releasing the illusion that somebody else is responsible for how we experience the world.

This post is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence.

Why the Current System Will Not Heal Itself

The emergence of a self-generated solution to tribalism in the US and elsewhere is unlikely to emerge from those currently embedded within the system. The system itself promotes division and drama, which in turn sustains the minds within it (in their current small-s expression). In a kind of pathological, dark feedback loop, the system is then perpetuated by those minds and their projections.

The emergence of a self-generated solution to tribalism in the US and elsewhere is unlikely to emerge from those currently embedded within the system. The system itself promotes division and drama, which in turn sustains the minds within it (in their current small-s-self expression). In a kind of pathological, dark feedback loop, the system is then perpetuated by those minds and their projections.

Tribalism is both a cause and an effect of the system. Social media platforms like Twitter publicly display, concretize and immobilize our thoughts and projections, many of them poorly thought-through. This exacerbates the tendency to identify with those thoughts, even as others either affirm or attack them. Further, those public thoughts are often also tribal markers. It is not merely that I am for or against illegal immigration. The very fact that I have revealed that opinion and left it hanging eternally in virtual space means that I cannot simply let it go, as is the case with most random thoughts and opinions that come and go from my mind. Suddenly, the tweet is who I am, and who I belong to.

The current system (Memeworld) and its drama-driven tribalism was not developed deliberately, but this is what it has become. In the US, both the Democrats and the Republicans need each other as enemies (mirroring the human mind’s need for opposition and drama to sustain its existence). An immoral and intellectually lesser other is required in order to perpetuate each tribe’s power over its constituents. That is the drama. An enemy is needed, one that we must unite against, crush and eliminate. In this way those in authority maintain attention and power (at least over their own tribe). The words to “unity” may be mouthed by those leaders, but the politics of division remains, a necessary drug to feed the habit of projection and drama.

The problem is more than merely that the drama is self-replicating. It is that the arrangement is not sustainable. If you need to sow division and stir up projection to maintain power, eventually it is going to blow up in your face. It is just a matter of time before the system becomes violent.

This game is as old as politics itself. And as old as tribalism.

It is interesting to note that many of our institutions – notably political parties, the media, the universities, the intellectual class, and big tech – are largely silent on the idea of unity, of coming together (except along preferred ideological lines). I suspect this is because of the inherently self-stultifying fact that this possible future (this is, peace) is a vote for disintegration of the tribe, and thus their tribal identification and very likely their power base. Too many have a stake in the current drama. The problem is not so much that their founding ideals are bad, but that media, social media and big tech need drama for clicks. And for the profit that flows from those clicks. They need the bad guys. For the intellectuals, the reputation and livelihoods of many in the institutions and the university system depend financially on the perpetuation of their politics and group struggle; or the cost of dissent is simply too great.

In other words, for these people and institutions, the overt, noble narrative of “compassion, justice and tolerance” is subverted by the inherent self-contradiction that on MemeWorld those values often express themselves via tribalism. It is difficult to truly embody these values via the mind in a state of ungroundedness, without deep connection to the present moment and to the body. Conversely, those values tend to naturally express themselves when we are in a state of embodied presence. Then they do not need to be enforced, top-down via regulation, censorship or even violence.

As I have argued throughout this book (Power and Presence), the need for drama is a function of the small-s-self and its constricted experience of “mind.” That mind needs a constant drip-feed of problems, including enemies to crush, in order to perpetuate its existence. For the mind, peace – like silence – equals death. Without conflict, it cannot recognise itself. I believe that this is in part biological. We humans have evolved to fight for survival against outside threats, whether they be other human tribes, wild animals, or environmental hazards. This is built into our hardware (neurophysiology). Therefore, in the current age, the task of we twenty-first century humans is to employ our software (intelligent self-awareness) to disarm that hardware. We have to develop the self-awareness to reduce our predisposition towards conflict and drama – the story we have written (or been written on) over millions of years (and now made worse by the shift towards life online).

So how do we address that?

One means is to intervene physically with the hardware. By this I mean to begin to tinker with human genetics, the body and the brain. This might be something akin to Elon Musk’s Neuralink, where we could implant wireless brain-machine interfaces into our skulls. The aim of Neuralink is to enable people to operate computers and mobile devices directly with their thoughts, but it isn’t hard to imagine applications for similar hardware/software which helps modify our thoughts, behavior and feelings. For example, the University of California has developed a “personalized, biomarker-based” treatment for depression. The process requires drilling electrodes deep into the brain and leaving them there for a year. When the device reads the bio-markers of depression, it stimulates the right ventral capsule/ventral striatum, which in turn reduces gamma brainwave activity in the right amygdala. Yet to date, studies have been only minimally successful, while the therapy is costly and labor-intensive, needing two days of testing and two cranial surgeries.[i]

Such invasive techniques are mostly in their formative stages. Yet over time we can expect the application of such technologies to improve. Physical interventions could potentially help us regulate our neurochemistry and thus our behavior.

Genetic engineering of human babies is another possibility, at least in theory. Perhaps we can tinker with our bits and pieces to create people that are less aggressive, more agreeable and less prone to create drama.

Oh, Brave New World that has such people in it! And then there are the tempests which might follow. The problems with all these physical and technological interventions are multiple, not the least of which are ethical and legal. Are we ready to accept the risks in becoming a truly cybernetic species? Or in producing genetically-modified citizens? Where might that lead to? Where would we set the boundary in terms of how far is too far? It would seem that in the short to medium term the legal and ethical roadblocks to this option are simply too great. Genetically engineering humans is currently illegal, even in China where in 2019 doctor He Jiankui received a three-year prison sentence for editing the genome of three babies to promote their resistance to HIV.[ii]

Not the least, most people would probably find futures peopled by such modified humans to be dystopian.

This is why my preferred future is that we work with the physiology that we have inherited from nature and develop greater mastery of our “hardware.” Grounding ourselves in the Authentic Self through embodied presence directly defuses the power of the mind and the dramas that tend to emerge from it. We can say this is a bottom-up solution. Top-down solutions feature a host of problems. Regulation of online behaviors and information control, as well as physical interventions to human bodies, delimits the opportunity to encourage transformation and empowerment of the citizenry via the six pillars of effective sensemaking. With such top-down processes, there is no embodied presence, no cognitive responsibility, no mastery of society or digital awareness, and no integrated intelligence. And there is no opportunity to use the knowledge that potentially emerges from all that to develop wise actions in the world.

Most notably, top-down interventions also potentially invoke the specter of authoritarianism. This is because there are always going to be at least some corrupt or power-hungry-leaders, and people who wish to give their power away to them. And then there is the problem of those people who resist being controlled. If the number of resisters is significant, what are the authorities going to do? This is the dilemma that all idealistic, utopian philosophical and political movements eventually face. Top-down social and political movements almost inevitably lead to the persecution of dissenters. We have even seen this during the COVID period, where those who have protested the vaccines have faced significant stigmatization in the media and from politicians and public figures.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World (2022).

[i] Clare Wilson, “Woman’s depression treated by an implant responding to brain patterns,” New Scientist, Oct 4, 2021, https://www.newscientist.com/article/2292182-womans-depression-treated-by-an-implant-responding-to-brain-patterns/

[ii] Sui Lee Wee. “Chinese Scientist Who Genetically Edited Babies Gets 3 Years in Prison.” The New York Times, Dec 30, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/30/business/china-scientist-genetic-baby-prison.html

The Two Paths You Can Go By

Let me confide in you that I wouldn’t get out of bed either if I believed this story. But I just don’t believe it. I reckon it’s mostly bullshit, the nonsense of click-bait journalists and bloggers desperate to get the hits necessary to generate a bit of attention or income.

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.”
Led Zeplin, Stairway to Heaven.

We live in troubling times. Daily, we twenty-first century hominoids are bombarded with disturbing news about the increasing number of perils that await us as individuals, and as a species. This is a volatile world, and we just have to live with fear and rage, knowing how it may all come to a screeching end at any moment. You want a disaster? Take your pick. North Korea is about to explode, and the kid-empower will take the rest of us with him. There are not only colluding Russians out to desecrate our precious democracy, but there are also them damn Nazis hiding under the bed. Indeed, the brown shirts are around any and every corner.

But even if Adolf’s latter-day descendants don’t dare show themselves, there are storms of unprecedented magnitude bearing down on us, threatening to blow away our houses and our existence. Then, if the gods disappointingly steer the typhoons elsewhere, we can still pop into the cinema where Al Gore will reassure us that the climactic end is nigh. And you betta stash some of that popcorn and coke, because it’s probably too late to do anything. Be careful on the way home from the movie, too, because we live in a rape culture (say some feminists) where a quarter of female university students are sexually violated before their leacherous professors let them graduate.

Finally, if all that doesn’t finish you off, you can just turn on the news and see for ourselves that Donald Trump, the man leading the free world, is Hitler incarnate. Such is the level of pure evil emanating from his black veins. This horror, the horror! And this is the tangerine tyrant with his finger on the atomic button! Oh, and he’s really, really stupid!

In such a world why would anybody even bother to get out of bed?
Let me confide in you that I wouldn’t get out of bed either if I believed this story. But I just don’t. I reckon it’s often bullshit, the nonsense of click-bait journalists and bloggers desperate to get the hits necessary to generate a bit of attention or income.
And those foolish enough to click on such stuff mostly do so because the narrative is what they have come to believe. It’s what they want to hear. “Ain’t it awful! I told you so!”

Look, I know the doomsday story is really popular. It’s a ratings winner. And it gets all the awards at Golden Globes time, where some crusty celebrity (who has taken the precious time to leave her gated community to condemn leaders who build walls) will shed a tear for what has become of the world, and to rage against the monsters who lead it.

Meanwhile, what didn’t make the papers is the story about the old guy who walked down the street whistling, a skip in his step, smiling at babies and the pretty girls he knows fully well he shouldn’t be smiling at (because, as all decent human beings living in this rape culture know, only perverts do such things). No, that old bastard was enjoying himself far too much to make the news. Or perhaps he was just happy that he’s lived so long, given that less than two centuries ago the average lifespan globally was just 28 years of age, with one in three children dying before the age of five.

Consider these strange facts, mentioned by Stephen Pinker in his new book Enlightenment Now. Surveys show that people often think that their country’s economy will get worse in the next year, but they are relatively optimistic about their personal financial future. They tend to believe that crime rates are deteriorating across the nation, but not near their home. And they believe that the environment is going to hell – but you guessed it, not around here.
Why is that? Could it be that the world of experience (our real world) is nowhere near as bad as the narrative that we are sold in the media and in many of our education systems?

Intentional Optimism
So… there is that other story – or those other ten thousand stories. They are the tales that I prefer to listen to. They are stories driven by intentional optimism. And by life itself. Not by the spin of media and social media and their enraged audience.

Intentional optimism is the decision to be fully present in the real world of experience. And the decision to stay there.

The price to pay is a small one. Tune out of the electronic news media and social media and learn how to be present to life.

But make no mistake, this other narrative is not a story of delusion (relatively speaking, as compared to the doomsday narrative that we have all come to know and love). It doesn’t deny evidence or data regarding global warming, rape or political extremism (realizing that problems should be addressed, not obsessed). But neither does it get sucked into the collective projections of the masses, preferring grounded experience. Instead it makes a commitment to withdraw from the fear-driven narratives and their doomsday noosphere and to make lived presence and intentional optimism the basis of life, whereupon an entirely new world unfurls before us as if by cosmic grace. The painful pasts and fearful futures that obsess the minds of the many suddenly disappear, seen as the illusions that they typically are. Abstract narratives are replaced by the fullness of life.

And what is it exactly that becomes real? It is whatever arises in the moment. It is the mother and her baby that you stop to smile at as you walk home. It is the song you choose to sing, regardless of who cares to listen. It is the tang of the orange upon your taste buds as you bite the fruit.

And in such moments these things are often joyful. And enough.
We all know that life is not always “happy.” We all experience a full range of emotions, including fear, anger, sadness, guilt, shame and so on. Intentional optimism doesn’t reject those. It simply addresses their root cause and permits them their natural expression (perhaps crying if you are sad). If action is needed, such as acknowledging that loneliness is creating sadness, then one commits to such action (for example, developing more warm relationships). If addressed in such a way, all such feelings pass in time.

The best thing is that this other story that we can choose comes with a very different attitude, and typically a different experience of life. You don’t live in fear of expected doom. You don’t blame anyone or anything for what is missing. You are just thankful to be here, now. There is little need for affirmation, visualization, or imploring prayer to the deity. Instead there are words that form spontaneously: “Thank you. I love you.” Such words have more power to transform the world than any social justice narrative one can possibly imagine.

Thus, there is a generosity of spirit that seeks sharing of experience.
Will the world be here tomorrow? Will you and I be here tomorrow? To be honest, I just don’t know. But one day soon, and in but the blink of the cosmic eye, the sun will rise and both you and I will not be here. That is an absolute certainty.

”But Marcus!” I hear you say. “My world is going to hell and you just don’t care!” And you would be (mostly) right. Unless you are my wife, someone I’m directly involved with or some twerp knocking on my door trying to sell me some contraption I don’t need, your hell is none of my business. I can’t save you from your misery, and even if I could, I’m too busy having a good time of it to give it much thought.
So, am I against social activism? Against seriously tackling political and ideological extremism? No. Not at all. If we are to consider this from a spiritual perspective (and I realize most people won’t) an essential aspect of engaging such problems is the consciousness that underpins that activism. Social activism can be like the “liberalism” that often drives it. The latter is a nice idea, but not actually commonly practiced – not even by liberals. As far as I can tell, a great number of social activists in 2017 are too busy being morally superior and beating up enemies to truly demonstrate the justice and compassion that their souls (and all our souls) call them to actualize.

Human societies need people to develop good ideas and sound policies to create preferred futures. That includes having to deal with the darker side of human nature and of human propensity. World and local leaders do have to deal with psychopaths, extremists and despots (often in the mirror, it must be said), including those within our societies. My main point here is that working at the essential foundation of problems – their expression of consciousness – can help all of us make more intelligent and wise decisions. It can enhance insight, where upon we can pull out of the psychic dramas that we are so prone to engage in if we do not bring things to full awareness. If we fail to assume responsibility for our fear-based projections, we may fail to tackle perhaps the most essential aspect of the problems we experience. We may end up creating conflict and suffering – a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

What I am saying is that the most logical attitude to take in this mad world, under most circumstances, is this. Stop judging and condemning everyone as stupid and immoral. Instead, give thanks, dance and celebrate this moment of existence that the cosmos has very generously granted you.

Yes. Let us give thanks. Let us forgive those damn Trump supporters and those stupid libtards. But most of all, let’s love everyone and anyone who is so generous as to cross our paths and smile, who cares to talk to us or just be present with us for a moment in time. For this moment in time is all any of us have.

Who knows, maybe in a day or two I’ll be singing a song, dancing in the park with some old Chinese ladies here in Zhuhai (South China) or helping myself to a nice big piece of chocolate cake… and I will look up to the sky and see a large missile with a beaming image of our Dear Leaders Kim Jong Un or The Donald on the tail. There will be just enough to think “What the hell was that all about?” before every molecule in my body is incinerated. Maybe the Nazis really will ride into town upon their murderous tanks. Or perhaps the damn Commies will ride in upon black horses, with a bare-chested Vladimir Putin leading the way.

And that will be it.

But at least I’ll know that I stood by what was of the greatest importance for this spiritual journey as an individual, and for this human species. I will know that I refused to live in fear, anger and blame. Not even for a good cause. I will know I took the time to share a little joy and laughter with just a few other souls. All without charging a cent.

And it will be enough.

Peter L Nelson and How You Can See the Secrets of Life

What if when you enter a room, instead of looking about with your eyes and listening with your ears, you first employed your feelings to get a sense of the place? If you did this every time you entered a new space, how would it change your perception of place? How would it transform the way you relate to the world, to people, to your experience of self as a conscious being?

This article also appears on Conscious Life News

What if when you enter a room, instead of looking about with your eyes and listening with your ears, you first employed your feelings to get a sense of the place? If you did this every time you entered a new space, how would it change your perception of place? How would it transform the way you relate to the world, to people, to your experience of self as a conscious being?

There is a man who teaches people how to do exactly this, and his name is Peter L Nelson. A clinical psychologist with a PhD, Peter is no ordinary scientist. He is also a “seer,” a person who has been trained to sense what lies within the spaces that we normally do not look upon.


Peter’s recent book Way of a Seer makes bold claims. The volume is founded upon the conviction that the human mind is connected to “second-stream of consciousness,” and that the information that this provides for the individual can be practically applied in our daily lives. This spiritual intelligence is innate, but our society and education system has forgotten it, instead conditioning us to tightly focus our attention on a very narrow range of perceptual experience. We are taught to push, to compete, to win. We are not taught to relax and look. We are not taught to listen. Instead, we impose ourselves upon the world, and in doing so miss its subtle essence and much of the information contained within places, experiences and people.

Peter’s induction to the world of seers is as remarkable as the teaching itself, as he told me recently on my podcast The Consciousness Files. In his early twenties Peter was a disgruntled postgraduate student spending his time cutting open rats’ brains in the university lab. He found the entire programme distasteful. Despite his inquisitive scientific intelligence, Peter never felt quite at home in society and modern education. He had long had disconcerting psychic experiences, which he tended to push aside.

One night he had a dream of flying over green hills, and had the profound sense that he knew the place he was seeing. The following night at the cinema he saw the exact same scene again, which was in Devonshire, England. He had a profound sense of longing to travel to the country.

In a series of coincidences, he soon met a wealthy woman who offered to take him there. He made the decision to quit his studies and soon found himself in London. To try to make sense of the experiences he was having, Peter visited the British Society Psychical Research (15:45 mins). It was there that the librarian began to act a little strange. She insisted that he read a letter, which she stated was very important. Peter declined, but he struck up a friendship with the woman. Eventually she convinced him to read the letter. It turned out that it had been written ten years before. It was apparently addressed to Peter himself, even though Peter had never met the writer. It described details of Peter’s life that appeared to be too accurate to dismiss as coincidence.

At first Peter thought it was some kind of scam, but the disorienting effect of the experience stayed with him. Despite his fear and the unsettling effect on his life, he maintained his relationship with the woman. She would, over a period of years, teach him how to become a seer.

According to Peter Nelson, perhaps the most important aspect of “seeing” is that it transforms our way of relating to people, the world and the cosmos. It is vital to helping us rediscover the connectivity that we have lost in our modern, economically-developed cultures.

What I particularly like about Peter is his honesty and the “scientific” approach to what I prefer to call “integrated intelligence.” He does not profess to know all the answers to life, the universe and everything. Indeed “not knowing” is central to his personal philosophy. We humans are very limited in what we can understand about the universe, he says. Yet even the simple act of noticing what we don’t pay attention to can be transformative.

Take a look around you now. What did you first pay attention to when you entered the room? What do you never pay attention to in this space? A minute of quiet meditation on these two questions can reveal much about what you have become – and what you have not become.

Perhaps Peter L Nelson’s way is not for everyone who works with the extended mind, but I think all “seers” can gain a great deal from his “critical” approach. Peter is not so much interested in laying down dogmas and certainties, as in problematising the way of the seer. He is sometimes critical of false or naive approaches to seeing, but I think this is a good thing.

The world needs people with the courage to speak and write openly about this often-maligned area of human perception. Seeing deeply is not merely an interesting aside to the human story, like attending a psychic reading or playing with a ouija board when you have had a few too many drinks. I am in full agreement with Peter L Nelson that non-ordinary perception is central to rebalancing the greater story of our civilisation and our species. Peter L Nelson makes an invaluable, fascinating and very accessible contribution to human knowledge.

What is Integrated Intelligence?


I often refer to the term “Integrated Intelligence.” For example, it is a central part of The Future of Consciousness project and book of the same name, as well as my podcast The Consciousness FilesHowever, not everyone who visits this blog has read my books or knows what I mean by this term. So in today’s post I am going to give a succinct little summary of what Integrated Intelligence (or INI) is. I’m also going to outline what you can actually do with it, and give some fascinating examples.

Before we even begin to define Integrated Intelligence, we should stop for a moment to ask what intelligence is.

Intelligence is the mental ability which allows you to function successfully in a given situation

– and nothing more. Academics and philosophers have been arguing about this for centuries, and still can’t agree on much more than the definition I give you.

It’s from this definition of intelligence that I define Integrated Intelligence as:

The ability to draw on the extended mind and all its intuitive capacities to function successfully and solve problems.

The extended mind, in turn, is:

Consciousness that extends beyond the individual’s brain, and connects us with spiritual realms.

So basically Integrated Intelligence is using more of your mind, including the intuitive, to do what you really want. This does not exclude the “rational” functions of the mind, because both the intuitive and the rational have their valid functions.

It also follows that Integrated Intelligence is not the same thing as “enlightenment” or spiritual evolution. Nonetheless, Integrated Intelligence can be employed towards these ends. INI is typically described as being part of higher states of consciousness, as reported in many spiritual traditions. And the more acute these states, the more developed Integrated Intelligence tends to be.

Using INI
Let’s get a little more practical. How can you actually apply INI? There are at least seven core mental functions that INI allows you to perform.

Connectivity. This is the ability to sense the connections between and amongst things. Connectivity has several forms, and is probably not a single cognitive process (perhaps I will break it down in later writings). It includes the higher order enlightenment experiences where the individual‘s sense of self expands out beyond her immediate body.

A classic example comes from Maurice Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness (1905), where he reported a profound mystical experience.

I was losing my consciousness, my identity, I was powerless to hold myself. Now came a period of rapture so intense that the Universe stood still, as if amazed at the unutterable majesty of the spectacle! Only one in all the infinite Universe! The All-loving, the Perfect One! The Perfect Wisdom, truth, love, and purity! And with the rapture came the insight. In that same wonderful moment of what might be called supernatural bliss, came illumination… What joy when I saw there was no break in the chain — not a link left out — everything in its time and place. Worlds, systems, all bended in one harmonious whole. Universal light, synonymous with Universal love!

Location. This is the capacity to sense where things are, without necessarily having prior information.

This can occur through a feeling, or might be visual in nature. Once I lost my credit card, and couldn’t find it for days. So I did meditation, putting myself into a light trance state. I kept asking where the card was, and after a few minutes a clear image came to me of the back pocket of a black pair of jeans. I got up immediately and went to the cupboard where my only black pair of jeans was hanging, and found the credit card in the back pocket.

Diagnosis. Diagnosis is the ability to intuitively find the cause of problems.

A friend of mine who worked for steel giant BHP some years back, reported that he used his intuition to repair machinery. Rather than trying to rationally analyse why a machine had broken down, he would often just stop, and allow the answer to come to him. He claimed he could do this anywhere, and referred to an incident when he was on a friend’s boat, and the engine stopped. He told the boat owner what he felt was wrong, and as soon as the problem was investigated, his hunch was proven to be correct.

Recognition is being able to immediately know some­body or something without ever being told about them or it.

In Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda tells a story from his childhood. One day he was walking along a street and saw a yogi (Indian wise man) walking towards him. He was filled with a deep and immediate knowing that this yogi was to be his master. He fell to his feet, and was full of tears. This began a teacher-student relationship which lasted many years till the yogi’s death – and even after, according to Yogananda (He was able to communicate with his master in spirit form).


Precognition. When you sense what is going to happen in the future, this is Precognition.

A few years ago when I was on the phone to a friend of a friend. We were trying to arrange a meeting to discuss a certain issue which could help my wife. The guy in question told me he’d ring back to see if he could find the time to meet me that afternoon. When he hung up I asked my wife if she felt he would meet us (I was encouraging her to develop hr intuition). She said she had no idea. I then told her there was more chance of Dalai Lama becoming the next president of China than that guy taking the time to meet us. I could feel his complete lack of intention. He called back three hours later to say he was busy.

Evaluation. Evaluation involves being able to intuitively determine the wisdom or value of different options and choices.


In Discover Your Soul Template I tell the story of a very long and protracted meeting at a school I worked at in Hong Kong, where we teachers and administrators sat through a tedious four-hour meeting, listening to representatives of text book companies give their pitch. After a couple of hours, and almost falling asleep, I simply felt the energy of the four options, and saw straight away that there was only one real choice. There was another meeting the following week before the admin finally chose that same book.

Inspiration. This term refers to creative knowledge and ideas that come to you from spiritual sources, not your conscious mind.

Many creators, artists writers and even scientists have reported being guided by inspiration that was beyond their conscious volition. William Blake, for example, said that angels inspired his poetry. For the writing on my thesis, I used a process I call Integrated Inquiry, which allowed me to write prolifically.


There are also two outcomes which emerge from the successful application of INI.

Wisdom. Wisdom results from the capacity to use INI to create a life that is deeply meaningful and in alignment with a person’s highest needs.

Transformation. A core shift, lifting the person towards greater wisdom and intelligence, and creating a higher level of consciousness. This causes a transformation of hisa/her entire being.

So that, in a nutshell, is Integrated Intelligence


The Future of Consciousness

I have clarified the title and the audience for my next book: I am now calling it “The Future of Consciousness: Towards an Integrated Intelligence.”

Some of you might recall a book I was working on which I was tentatively calling The Great Mind Shift. I then changed the title to The Great Transition. The main idea of the book is to explore the futures of the extended mind – and especially what changes might occur once this idea becomes accepted by mainstream science. I kind of became stuck on this project for a while. I didn’t give up, just put it on the back burner.

Well, I’ve had a genuine breakthrough recently, and am going great guns on the project. The shift has been simple. I have clarified the title and the audience. I am now calling it “The Future of Consciousness: Towards an Integrated Intelligence.”

Rather than try to make the book water-tight for the scientific community (which would make it too dry and detailed) I am going to aim at a more popular audience. I am going to address the science, but also move beyond scientific convention. I will focus upon practical applications of integrated intelligence in education, business, IT and social development, and even bring in a few extraneous futures such as with mental health and the military. This will allow me to combine research, critical futures studies and personal insight.

I am in the process of interviewing experts in relevant fields. I will turn the first 12 of these into podcasts – probably under the title “The Consciousness Files” – which will be made available to the general public. If the podcasts go well, I will continue to produce them. You will hear more about this soon. I hope you can join me in this adventure. It should be both fun and a great learning experience for me and my audience.

PS, if you think you have something to share in this area, especially in terms of possible practical applications of integrated intelligence, send me a message here on Facebook, and I will see if we can turn it into a podcast – and if not, it might be able to incorporate your ideas into my book, fully referenced to you, of course.

Feel free to share this post! Marcus.

The 12 Secrets of Profound Intuition

If you have ever wanted to develop incredible intuitive intelligence, here’s how.

This post is part of a series I am writing here on consciouslifenews.co about how to develop powerful intuitive skills (integrated intelligence). Integrated intelligence is closely related to the classical idea of intuition, connecting us with a stream of consciousness which transcends the limits of immediate space and time. Each of these posts is an extract from my upcoming book “How to Develop Profound Intuition.”
I have been employing intuitive intelligence for many years. During this time I have learned a great deal about how it works, why it sometimes doesn’t, and the common pitfalls people make when using such “integrated intelligence”. Normally I wouldn’t give away these hard-earned secrets for free (or for the mere price of the little upcoming book this article is taken from, How To Develop Profound Intuition). But I need the good karma.

So here we go. You may have seen some of these stated or implied in earlier articles, but it won’t hurt for you to see them again in this context, as a little repetition will help you realise how important they are.

1) Not all feelings are intuitions. Feelings arise from the mind-body system for various reasons. Some are conditioned or biological responses, like sexual attraction, fear of snakes, disgust, or physical pain responses. Just because you get a feeling deep in your loins for a beautiful woman or a handsome guy doesn’t mean it is an instruction from God to begin fornicating with them.

Your biological conditioning generates feelings, and these sensations may bubble up from the subconscious of their own accord. If a dog bit you when you were seven years old, it’s quite likely that you will have a conditioned fear response to dogs. This fear may be detected by any given dog you meet in your current life, and the dog may even respond aggressively as a result. Yet the key point in this scenario is that your initial feeling may have nothing to do with any threat or intention the dog initially has – the feeling emerges from your own biological conditioning. The dog just plays along.

Thoughts also produce feelings. Imagining something desirable or fearful produces an emotional reaction, for example. Conversely, intuitions (at least as I define them) emerge from an empathic connection with a person, entity, collective consciousness field, thing, event, time or place (and often a mixture of several of these at once).

And here is what you must realise. Feelings that emerge from the imagination, conditionings, biology etc. are largely indistinguishable from the feelings produced by intuition (although many intuitions tend to be more subtle). Therefore, the best way to develop profound intuition is to first quiet the mind, then focus upon the thing you wish to “know”, while in a state of presence.

Secondly, if you have a spontaneous “intuition” about something, simply relax and reflect upon how that feeling emerged within your mind. Were you imagining a fearful or desirable future? Do you have any bias, conditioned attitude or beliefs about the object of your intuition? If so, you might like to question the validity of the feeling.

After working with intuition for some time, it is often unnecessary to be so deliberate with checking them. You will become quite adept at discerning the distinctions amongst all these mental operations. Then you will often be absolutely certain of an intuition without needing to analyse it in at length.

2) Not all intuitions are feelings. I believe feelings are the most important kind of intuitions, and the kind that can be most readily developed. Intuitions can also be visual, auditory and olfactory, but these tend to be most pronounced in the gifted. The good news is you don’t need to be gifted, have opened your third eye or reached enlightenment to have feeling-based intuitions. They are innate to the human organism – and to many animals – and they probably emerge from evolutionary imperatives, at least in part.

3) The best intuitions to act upon are those that are either strongly positive or negative. I have found this to be true from experience. When your intuition tells you the situation is clearly good or bad, trust the process and follow through.

Nonetheless, many situations and problems are multi-faceted. Any given thing, place, past or future may have both positive and negative components. For example, some years ago I travelled to Thailand for a week’s holiday. I had a fun time, most memorable indeed. However, on the first day the ATM machine must have been a little hungry, because it ate my bank card – leaving me largely penniless, and without even enough money to pay for a hotel room. It was an absolute nightmare trying to get money wired through to a Thai bank. It took a full week. Yet serendipitously, I met a Thai woman who let me stay at her place for free. Well, almost for free, as the were one or two “requirements” on my behalf. Let’s just say the arrangement was highly agreeable to both of us.

I wonder what intuitions I would have gotten if – before travelling to Thailand – I had used an intuitive process to ask the universe “Will I have a fun time travelling to Thailand this summer?”

When intuitions are mixed or vague and you have time to spare, either wait for clearer guidance or begin to conduct research so that you gain more knowledge of the situation. Then you will be able to analyse the problem and make a more informed choice.

4) You do not need to be psychic to develop intuition. Some people have innate psychic and visionary capacities, and this may include the ability to connect with realms of being that normal humans just can’t see or hear. At least in some cases, including my own, this may involve the opening of the third eye. Major life events such as near death experiences or crises may also trigger an opening of those psychic channels. Such people may communicate with spiritual entities, or be able to perceive the thoughts within other minds. I know this seems incredible to sceptics, but I know it to be true from my own experience.

The key point is, you do not need to become the next Uri Geller to develop great intuitive abilities, because the simplest and often most profound intuitive capacities emerge from the feeling sense, and we all have that capacity. It’s just that most people have never spent the time to develop that intelligence. You too can develop that capacity, regardless of your sex, age or other abilities or non-abilities.

5) You do not need to be an enlightened master to develop profound intuition. You merely need to develop the capacity to trust your intuitive prompts and act wisely, based upon them. One of my favourite teachers, Leonard Jacobson likes to say that anytime you are fully present, you are an awakened being. Yet the difference between the awakened master and the novice is that the novice soon allows his mind to drift back into the world of thoughts, projections and stories. But even if you are a novice, you can develop the capacity to be fully present at will, where genuine intuitions are best accessed.

6) You strengthen intuition by trusting it and acting upon it. To do this you are going to have to be prepared to be wrong – because you WILL be wrong at times. Intuition is a fuzzy intelligence. It isn’t completely reliable. When you are wrong, simply admit it. Go back in your own mind and analyse the process you used. Did you allow the projections of your mind to influence your decision?

Begin practicing intuitive decision-making by investing in situations that have minimal consequences. Don’t begin by investing your life-savings on a hunch – for obvious reasons. You need to make lots of little intuitive choices at first – possibly making lots of mistakes – so you get good at the process, and begin to understand your mind better. Decide which movie to see, book to read or place to visit based on intuition – then see how correct your feelings are.

7) Intuition is compatible with reason. You just have to learn the strengths and limitations of both. Yes, intuition has its limits. It’s a fuzzy intelligence and it is not always easy to correctly identify and comprehend the feelings and images that emerge from the intuitive mind. This is why you also need to develop a strong analytical capacity to complement intuition. Careful planning and analysis of problems is often necessary. For example, deconstructing the learning process involved in learning a second language can be very helpful in optimising learning. Don’t make the mistake of devaluing the so-called left-brained learning and cognitive processes because you think your intuition is great. God gave us all these capacities so that we can use them. So use them well, and use them wisely.

When you develop profound intuition you will tend to allow it to lead your decision-making, because intuition often grants us insight into the big picture. But you will then also employ reason and analysis to complement the process. Lead from the right, manage from the left, as Stephen Covey used to say.

8) Intuition does not make you omnicient, and it does not grant you a free ride through life. Intuition offers you potentially transformative insight into the nature of things, people, places, times and life itself. But this does not mean you will become some kind of awakened avatar. Most people I know who have advanced intuitive skills are all-too-human, and they have the common strengths and weaknesses found in the general population. Nor does intuition necessarily free you from suffering. Don’t place these expectations upon the intuitive mind, for the promise can never be fulfilled.

9) Intuition can make you delusional. I deliberately use strong language here because the ego tends to like the idea that it is smarter and superior to others. So when you develop strong intuitive abilities your ego will tend to identify with the process and begin to see itself as special; superior to others. In the most problematic cases it leads to the Christ complex – the spiritual ego. And once the spiritual ego has a hold of you, it is very, very difficult to escape its grasp.

Developing some degree of spiritual ego is almost inevitable to some degree, so the key is to facilitate your capacity to witness the mind as it plays this game – and assume responsibility for the drama. Having an ego is just part of being human, so there is no need to feel ashamed or beat yourself up about it. Merely take the ego by the hand and offer firm and loving discipline – a bit like you might guide a child as he or she matures.

10) Don’t expect acclaim and public recognition for being intuitive. In fact, it is far more likely that you will meet strong resistance from others, especially if you try to explain to them how you came to make up your mind using intuition. So don’t even try to explain yourself, unless the other person has a strong understanding of such things. This is particularly true in corporate and academic settings.

You are just going to have to get used to disguising your intuitive decisions and communicating your insights as being driven by reason. What else are you going to do? Tell them you have a good feeling about it? Describe the vision you had during meditation? Communicate that the message came into your head while you were napping?

I don’t think so.

11) Intuitive intelligence expands with expertise. There are some expressions of intuitive intelligence which first require you to develop mastery over a subject matter, and this is particularly true of creative intuitions. Many people claim that Michael Jordan was a very intuitive basketball player, a real natural. Yet without the thousands of hours of practice and court time, such intuitive intelligence could never have flourished within him. The same can be said of the genius of Mozart, Steve Jobs, Einstein or my spiritual teacher Jessica (whom I spoke about in my TEDx talk). In short, hard work and deliberate practice may be necessary in many fields before you can apply your intuition in profound ways.

12) The true value of intuition cannot simply be reduced to material, measurable outcomes. The greatest value of intuition is that it potentially transforms the way you relate to the world, other people and to your own mind. It is a quintessentially spiritual cognition. Yet some people see integrated intelligence merely as a ticket to get rich or achieve power over others. And if they cannot utilise it to achieve these ends, they see it as worthless. A prime value of intuition is that it can help you awaken from the dream of mind, the illusion of separation. Never forget that.

So there you have the twelve keys to developing profound intuition. If you enjoyed the article or found it useful, please like this page and feel free to share the link. And do keep your eyes peeled for my book How To Develop Profound Intuition on my Amazon page.