A Conversation With Judith Orloff
What do you mean when you describe intuition as a "dynamic therapeutic tool"?
As a psychiatrist and intuitive, I meet each patient with all my skills. In the first session I immediately get an overall grasp of what a patient's issues are; it doesn't take months of intellectual probing to "figure the situation out." Then, after I teach my patients to get in touch with and trust their own intuition, we work together very efficiently. I watch them gain confidence and skill confronting their problems, and the treatment benefits in unbelievable ways.
It seems that we, as a culture, are out of touch with intuition. Why is it blocked in so many people? Why don't people "trust their gut"?
Western culture reveres technology and the mind above all else - at the expense of intuition. As children we aren't trained to connect with and respect our intuition; so we can't tell what is truly meaningful because we don't know what, or whom, to trust, including ourselves. We lose touch with our instincts, and thus lose access to vital information about ourselves - physically and emotionally. Many people with depression or anxiety have blocked intuition; and biochemical imbalances, if present, make accessing intuition even more difficult. As adults, we need to be guided back to our inner knowledge.
How does the body play into intuition?
Our bodies express an intuitive code with which we are born, the inner knowledge that we all possess as part of our DNA. Tapping into our body's intelligence, listening to our bodies, feeling our bodies, gives us a direct line to this information. If we take this information seriously, we can prevent illness by seeing the signs well before we are ill, or if we are already sick, we can tell what is working - and perhaps more importantly what is not working - in the healing process.
How can people awaken their intuition?
By taking time to tune into the stillness inside. I can't say enough about meditation. It quiets the mind so that the intuition is easier to hear. One can ask for guidance and then listen carefully to how the mind and body respond over time. Listening to dreams is another critical tool for awakening intuition. It is also important to sense the subtle energy coming from other people.
How important are dreams to intuitive work?
No dream is insignificant. Dreams are pure truth. If you have a dream about broccoli, it may be telling you what nutrients you need - don't dismiss it! With respect to careers, dreams can signal to each of us about our true calling. They can change our lives.
People are afraid of so-called "nightmares," but these dreams are asking us to look at our anxiety and fear. And I promise you one thing: If you face the fear expressed in your "nightmares" in waking life, the dream will disappear.
Given their importance, it is no surprise that people love to talk about their dreams. I am constantly amazed by the intelligence, eagerness, and compassion participants in my dream workshops express when evaluating their dreams.
What are the types of dreams people have?
People have all sorts of dreams, but they all fall into one of four categories. Psychological dreams aim at working through issues of fear, anxiety, and depression. Guidance dreams are intuitive dreams in which people receive information about how to heal or live life well, how to solve problems. Precognitive dreams are dreams of the future. And healing dreams show how to heal or accomplish the healing within the dream itself.
In order to reap the wisdom in our dreams we have to be able to remember them. Do not to wake up too fast in the morning, and keep a dream journal by your bed. Write down every detail as soon as you wake up. Then, put the guidance in your dreams to work.
What are the practical applications of intuitive work?
If we pause long enough to hear, our intuition will key us into what is happening physically; this information can help us prevent illness and heal the body.
Interestingly, intuition also can help us control pain. If we stay open, we can learn to listen to the signals the body is sending us, messages telling us how to decrease pain and illness.
Intuition can also lead to empowerment, because once we learn how to trust our inner voice, we are given a roadmap that tells us how to lead our lives. The confidence that comes with this inner trust is immeasurable.
How difficult has it been to get your ideas across within the medical establishment?
The American Psychiatric Association is reluctant to embrace new therapeutic tools that aren't statistically proven. Yet, I have been invited to give Grand Rounds on intuition at major medical schools and find there is an openness and longing among many doctors in the medical community to grow intuitively and spiritually. I'm convinced it is the new wave in health care.