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S1E17: The Power of Intuition and Energies

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Espiritualidad y Ciencia
Espiritualidad y Ciencia
S1E17: The Power of Intuition and Energies


In physics, Energy is defined as the ability to produce heat or do work, or also as the quantitative property of power that is conserved. I was looking for better definitions in many places but could not find any that was a little less ethereal. Even in some forum, someone had the same doubt as me. He was looking for a definition that reflected something more tangible and the answer another forum member gave him was that to find a deeper definition, he would have to turn to philosophy.

You would think that science would have a precise definition of something that is so basic to science, but the reality is that language evolved long before our understanding of the physical phenomena of the Universe. And in fact, the origin of the word Enegy is certainly philosophical. The word comes from the Greek “Energeia” which means ‘activity’ or ‘operation’. It was applied to many things including such ideas as happiness and pleasure.

This means that in reality spirituality did not borrow the concept of energy from science but the other way around. So we can understand that human beings have always related energy to certain states of mind. One is able to perform the work required when one’s energy level is high and when it is low, one has to “recharge”, rest, meditate or sleep.

Dual meaning of energy

So it is valid to accept that there are two meanings for Energy: a physical and a metaphysical one, although both are very similar: The first is the physical capacity to generate movement, heat or transformation and the second consists in the perception of personal capacity to perform some activity.

In mystical thinking, however, an additional dimension is given to energy and it is that of duality, which we have already discussed in other episodes: Good and Bad energies. Here, as in the other cases we have discussed before, the concept of good and evil are relative to the worldview of each group but in general we speak of good energies to the perceptions related to light, consciousness, love, kindness and happiness and bad energies to the opposite perceptions: darkness, unconsciousness, hatred, evil and sadness.

“Energies” are often referred to when these perceptions are not caused by some obvious cause. It is common to hear mystics say that a person has a “beautiful energy” or that a house has a “heavy energy”. In both cases, the observer manifests his or her instinctive reaction to the presence of the observed person or thing, an intuition about the intentions or values of the observed person or the desirability of interacting with the observed object.


The perception of this type of energies could rather be called “intuition” and from the point of view of science, it is one of the most important evolutionary processes that nature has given us to survive. From the point of view of spirituality, it is one of the most powerful tools of the initiate to face the unknown.

Wikipedia defines intuition as the ability to acquire knowledge without resorting to conscious reasoning. In some of the esoteric schools I knew it was also called “intuit”. In any case, intuition is considered in esotericism as the fundamental tool of the magician.
Eliphas Levi, the famous 19th century French occultist wrote in his book “Dogma And Ritual Of High Magic: “It is important for the magician to know the secrets of science; but he is able to know them by intuition without ever having learned them”. According to Levi, the magician can develop the ability to know all the secrets of nature without the need to study or analyze, simply by “downloading” the knowledge they require from a kind of mystical cyberspace known as the “astral world”. To achieve this, each author had his own techniques, including meditation, fasting, use of psychotropic drugs, prayers, mantras, invocations, incantations and even self-flagellation.

The truth is that science fully accepts the existence of intuition, but not as something supernatural but as a process of the human mind, which in its workings allows us to process much more information than we are aware of.

Programmed to ignore our senses

There is a scene from the 2013 movie “Man of Steel”, which tells the story of Superman, in which Clark Kent as a child locked himself in a closet in his school. What happened to him was that he suddenly began to perceive at the same time everything that his senses could pick up, X-ray vision, sounds from almost anywhere in the world. Of course, the child was scared and over-stimulated with all those images and noises. Then the mother arrived and started talking to him, telling him to concentrate only on her voice, nothing else, and so, little by little, the child calmed down.

In a way, the brain of all human beings works like that of Superman: All the time we are receiving hundreds of simultaneous external and internal stimuli: sounds, images, bodily sensations, memories, assumptions, fears, etc. What our mind does is to filter out most of these stimuli and concentrate on the ones it considers most relevant to the present situation. That is why we can concentrate on writing without having to be thinking about the noises in the street, the conversation of those next to us, the birds passing by the window, etc.

This does not mean that our brain is not processing all other stimuli. In fact, our brain has the ability to relate the events that occur, to the unconscious stimuli that we perceived moments before those events happened. I will explain this better with a fictitious example:


Let’s say you live in the countryside and it is common to hear dogs barking. They are so frequent that there comes a time when you don’t hear them anymore. They are still there, but they become part of the sound background of everyday life. But it happens that dogs bark unusually loud when certain species of birds flock to the area where you live. It’s a subtle difference so you don’t pay attention to it but your brain does. Then, minutes after the increase in barking, the power goes out in your house. It turns out that the birds have landed on the wires that carry electricity, caused a short circuit that overloaded the grid and the power went out in the area.

This happens say, once a month, so your brain starts to associate the coordinated increase in barking with the power going out, but you are not aware of it, you have not consciously paid attention to the event. Then one fine day, you feel a hunch and start to save your work on the computer when suddenly the power goes out again. You don’t know why, but you already sensed that the power was going to go out.

This is very common in romantic relationships. Very often, the “hunch” that the partner is having an affair arises as if by magic, although in reality, it is simply the unconscious mind processing many signals that the unfaithful partner starts to give off, even if ever so subtly.

The science of intuition

Energies therefore are actually the accumulation of signals that we perceive unconsciously which enable us to form an almost instantaneous judgment about something new that is presented to us. This is very important from an evolutionary point of view because for hundreds of thousands of years, before civilization, we depended on our intuition to survive.

Yuval Noah Harari explains this with an example in his book Sapiens: A hungry primate in the forest comes across a palm tree full of bananas but at the base of the palm tree there is a lion lying down. The monkey does not know mathematics or statistics but his brain has to compute, in seconds, the probability of him managing to jump onto the palm branch, how high the lion can jump, how ripe the bananas are, how hungry the lion will be, and whether he could survive a while longer without eating those bananas.

This whole process becomes a torrent of sensations in the monkey’s brain: an urge to jump mixed with a fear in the belly that holds it back. Monkeys that evolved with too much bravery surely fell prey to predators more often than more careful monkeys, but overly fearful monkeys starved to death more often than more daring monkeys. The monkeys with a good balance between courage and caution lived longer and left more offspring, so the genes predisposing to the ability to analyze situations and calculate risks were passed on, more successfully, to the next generations.

What mystics call energies, for indigenous people is the voice of nature and for religious people the voice of angels or of God himself. We meet someone and immediately our mind begins to identify familiar features, characteristics that can tell us if that person is reliable, if he/she has good intentions, if he/she belongs to our social class, if he/she interests us sexually or not, if he/she can be a threat, how educated he/she is and a number of other variables, but all this happens in three or four minutes, while we smile, shake hands and cross a few words. Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to remember the name of a person when you have just been introduced to him/her? Well, that’s because your brain is working at full capacity processing all that information unconsciously.

After those initial few minutes we often say “that person has something that doesn’t add up for me” or ” hey, they have a nice energy.” This observational ability is the superpower shown in the Sherlock Holmes movies and series, when he analyzes a suspect and can tell that he just recently walked by a construction site because a faint trace of cement on his shoe and that he used to have long hair because the back of his neck was unusually white compared to the rest of his skin or things like that.

Energies and deception

This ability is, in fact, the tool used by seers and fortune tellers: A highly developed intuition that allows them to read many subtle signs that would be hidden to most people. They mention your mother to you and without you having to answer anything, they can sense whether you have a good or bad relationship with her by a twinkle in your eye, a slight gesture of displeasure, a look of sadness, and so on. Many coaches and spiritual guides use this ability constructively to guide a person in their process of growth and self-knowledge, but there are those who take advantage of their intuition being perceived as a supernatural power, to enrich themselves or to manipulate their followers.

The same explanation applies to the phenomenon of the energy of places such as houses: In those places there may be a number of chemical or natural substances that our senses perceive unconsciously. An unusually cold or dark house gives us the feeling of something negative. There may also be allergens such as dust, fungi, dust mites or cockroach dung that we perceive unconsciously and give us the feeling that something is not right about the place. Or there may be subtle signs that there was violence in the house or that the neighbors may become a problem and if we are sensitive enough, we may simply conclude that the house has a vibe we don’t like, so we keep looking for another place.

The second brain

Intuition has something very interesting to it that not many people know. Part of intuition happens not in the brain but in the gut. Hence the expression “gut feeling” which is something we all recognize: situations, people or places that produce a particular reaction in our gut. As it turns out, we all have a system of trillions of bacteria in our body, known as the microbiome. Part of this microbiome are the famous probiotics that we need for our digestion but science has discovered that the microbiome has other functions related to our immune system and most interestingly, in our emotions and mental health.

These microbes that we have in our guts communicate through a network of over 100 million nerves found in the inner part of the intestines, which is known as the enteric nervous system. These nerves are what gets triggered when you feel “butterflies in your stomach” or when you feel a “twinge” of displeasure. These sensations often occur unexpectedly and what both science and spirituality tell us is that we should pay attention to these signals.

So complex is the chemical and nervous function of the microbiome with the enteric system, that it is said that in the intestines we have a second brain. A brain that is also connected to our main brain and they work together all the time. That connection between the two systems involves the endocrine, immune and neural systems. Several studies have shown a link between poor gut health like microbiotic imbalances, and neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders such as multiple sclerosis, autism, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, there have been experiments with animals in which manipulating the intestinal flora has produced behaviors related to depression and anxiety.

Intuition trivia

There is also scientific evidence for something that popular culture has always said: that women have a greater natural capacity for intuition: Scientists have found that intuition operates primarily in the right hemisphere of the brain, the hippocampus and the enteric gut system, which is what we just talked about. It turns out that the white matter connecting the two hemispheres of the brain is thicker in women than in men. So, this wider avenue between the two hemispheres allows to connect more quickly the intuition with the logical part of the brain. This is not just in one direction but in both directions, so women are better able to feed their intuition back into their logical processes and therefore have a better ability to make decisions, especially under pressure.

It is no coincidence that we are seeing that women leaders and heads of government around the world are making better decisions on average in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

But not everything is rosy with intuition. It also has its dark side like everything else, and in addition to the possibility that we have already mentioned that people use their intuitive powers to deceive and manipulate others, it can also lead us to mislead ourselves.

Michio Kaku says that superstition has evolved in human beings because although nine out of ten times it is wrong, one out of ten times it is right and can save our lives. I think it has happened to all of us, we have a bad omen, the feeling that something bad is going to happen but nothing happens. Obviously when it happens, we become more alert, we become more careful and we safeguard ourselves for the duration of the feeling. This happens hundreds or thousands of times and of course nobody goes around saying “I had a bad omen but nothing happened”, no, all those events are forgotten. But once in a thousand times we have the omen and it comes true or we manage to avoid it for very little and then we attribute the incident to a divine revelation or a supernatural power.

The dark side of intuition

The problem that sometimes happens is that a person with a tendency to anxiety can end up turning those misguided intuitions into constant paranoia or lead to crippling phobias or panic attacks.

I have also often seen people call intuition what are actually mental biases or prejudices. Particularly when a person is prejudiced because of their physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Surveys show that in the United States, for example, Caucasians tend to distrust black people, or consider them lazy or less intelligent. I have personally seen so-called spiritual teachers belittle people of diverse sexual orientation by saying they have dark spirits inside or a dense vibration.

Well, to conclude, we now know that intuition is real, that it is useful, that it is there to help us, sometimes to save us. Is it okay for us to call the enteric system, the right hemisphere and the hippocampus “angels” or “spirit guides”? Is it okay to call the subtle signals of people and places, energy or vibrations? Totally valid, that’s what poetic naturalism tells us: We can create stories to give purpose and meaning to physical realities. Well, at least in sofar as we don’t lie to ourselves.

But let’s beware of prejudices, let’s be aware of our mental biases and let’s not use intuition to deceive or mislead ourselves. In addition, we now know that we must take care of our intestinal health to strengthen our intuitive brain. If you are a woman, cultivate and honor your inner wisdom, believe in your intuition and use it to empower yourself. If you are a man, recognize and honor that aspect in women because we have other strengths that we can team up with them and achieve great things together.


Meet Your Second Brain: The Gut

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