Why You Need Your Intuition

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I am presently reading a book about people who healed themselves of cancer either without conventional Western medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, or after their doctors and oncologists had sent them home to die. It was written by a researcher, lecturer and consultant in the field of integrative oncology.

The book was given to me by my patient, who is at the moment healing from pancreatic cancer. The book was one of the main reasons that he sought out what some people call "alternative medical treatments" but what I simply call medicine. These included reiki, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and massage therapy. He was using these treatments in conjunction with chemotherapy, both to combat the side effects and build his immune system while receiving chemo, as well as to build up his body and regain health after the chemo was finished. I am happy to say that he is doing extremely well and that his tumour markers are back to normal levels.

So far the book details many of the common threads that are shared between all the people who managed to heal their cancers without conventional treatment (or after conventional treatment failed), and one of them is intuition. This was surprising to the author as intuition is not something that can be understood in scientific terms, but when she started seeing that cases of what they sometimes call "spontaneous remission" occur, she thought that someone should investigate and see if there was anything that could be learned from the many people who had had this experience.

Acupuncturist. Mug : Chinese Medicine LivingThe Acupuncture Kit : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Herbal Medicine Cabinet - Basket : Chinese Medicine Living

I believe that many of us have lost our connection to our instincts. We have lost connections with so many things that used to be vital to our survival. The planet. Nature. The weather. Our bodies. Each other. And our intuition. Our intuition used to serve us in many ways. Our ancestors living in hunter gatherer societies (the societies we all lived in before the development of agriculture) relied on their instincts in many ways. Sensing a storm was coming and when to seek shelter, what foods were safe and which were unsafe to eat, and sensing that a predator was near were all ways our instincts kept us alive. We have insulated ourselves from our natural way of living in many ways so that the senses that evolved to serve us are now no longer being used and, like an old car that never gets driven, have fallen into disrepair. Intuition is like a muscle that you need to exercise, and many of our intuitive abilities have gotten flabby.

intuition can save your life

The Role Of Intuition In Healing

Intuition is one of nine things that the people healing themselves of cancer had in common. There were nine things that came up again and again in these cases, although, as she states, it often goes against the Western medical way of treating disease, it was one of the things that contributed to people actually getting better. Curing cancer, and that is something many Western doctors cannot believe happens without treatment, managed to happen over and over again, often without the use of chemotherapy and radiation. It seems that there are many things at work, and that perhaps we don't completely understand them all and there is always more to learn.

One problem with conventional treatments for any disease is that they often remove the patient completely from the treatment and healing process; the doctors are making the diagnosis and recommending the appropriate treatment. Many ancient traditions know and believe (like Ayurveda - the healing tradition of India, and traditional Chinese medicine) that the intuition is a vital part of the healing process. This is taken into account and a relevant part of the treatment plan and subsequent healing of the patient.

Intuition And The Brain

intuition and the brain

Humans have two very different ways in which they process information and make decisions. The first is the quick, instinctual and often subconscious way in which we process things. That is controlled by the right side of the brain in some of the very oldest parts of the brain called the limbic system, also called the reptilian brain. The other way in which we process information is the slower, more analytical and very conscious way, which is part of the left hemisphere of the brain in a part that has only evolved relatively recently called the neocortex. Intuition is part of the first way. It is quick, and often doesn't make sense to us, as it is operating at a level below our conscious mind, but it has evolved over a very long time and is the part that kept us alive throughout human history. It is part of the reason we are all still here today.

Some interesting studies have revealed that over a hundred million neurons - the type of cells found in the brain - exist in the GI tract. This explains why people often say that they have a "gut feeling' about something. Your gut literally is your second brain. Another fascinating discovery is that the human digestive tract is able to operate separately and independently from the brain, meaning that it can make decisions without any input from the brain at all. What this means is that there is now a scientific explanation for why many people have a very strong "gut reaction" to things. There are many, many things that ancient cultures have known for thousands of years, but science is just now able to prove their existence scientifically.

There are also many scientific studies to show that the intuition knows the right answer to things, long before our conscious minds do. Some studies even suggest that the intuition can allow people to predict the future, even if it is only by a few seconds. Another study shows that people using their intuition to make major life decisions, such as who to marry, where to live or if they should take a certain job are 60% happier with their decisions, compared to people who had a lot of time to pour over all the information and think through their decisions.  Their satisfaction with their ultimate decision was only 25%. Food for thought.

The Ways Intuition Can Manifest

developing your intuition

There are many different ways in which your intuition will communicate with you, and it will be different for everybody. Some people hear a voice that tells them very clearly when to do or not do something. Others have feelings, such as "gut feelings" that tell them if a decision is right or wrong for them, others say their intuition comes to them in circumstances, such as speaking to a friend who tells them exactly what they need to hear or for others it is serendipitous "coincidences" that help them choose the right path. Another way that intuition can communicate with us is through dreams. Many people communicate with different parts of their subconscious through dreams, and this is a common way to get the information you need for whatever situation you are contemplating.

I have to say that reading through the chapter on intuition in my book was wonderful because of all the documented cases of remission from cancer because people listened to their intuition (even when other people thought it was a crazy idea), but none of it was SURPRISING. When it comes to things like that, the author was essentially preaching to the proverbial choir. But, it did yield two other very excellent results. One was that this researcher, someone who had never even considered that intuition had a role in healing now KNOWS that it does. I am always so elated when people who have come up through the annals of science are open to things that perhaps do not fit within the confines of their chosen profession or world view. And the other thing is that my patient had his world broken open. These concepts, as he told me, had never occurred to him before. The contents of the entire book were a departure for him, and reading it was both a profound experience and gave him something that Western medicine couldn't, HOPE that he could get better. And there is nothing in the world more healing than that.


why you need intuition

* Lead image from The Emotion Machine
* Brain image from Conscious Life News
* Eye image from Reality Pod

Painful Periods? Why You Don't Have To Suffer.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Painful periods are what got me into Chinese medicine. A strange thing to say maybe, but it is true. I hated them then, but when I look back, I am so grateful for them. It is because of my horrible cramps that I became an acupuncturist.

Horrible cramps are what led to my introduction to Chinese medicine when I was a teenager. I had been suffering with them for years, and the only thing that doctors would ever tell me was that I would have to deal with them, that this is what came with being a girl. There were also prescriptions for hard core painkillers which could knock out a horse, but that was it. This was the treatment.

period cramps : Chinese Medicine Living

I was always amazed, even then, that there was no investigation. No tests, no ultra sounds to determine what might be happening. My doctor suspected that I might have endometriosis, but said that there was really nothing they could do about it. They could do an exploratory surgery through my belly button, but there was nothing to be gained by knowing.

At one point I asked if I could please be referred to a gynaecologist. I figured, this is what she DOES, so she might have some answers, or at least ideas of what I could do for my debilitating cramps. I was excited to see her. I was hoping that she might help me. I went in and explained my situation. And this is what she told me. She said why don't you come back when you want to have children, have tried and failed to conceive, then we will know that it was probably endometriosis (which, if left untreated can lead to infertility and the eventual inability to have children). So... let me see if I get this straight... you want to wait, and see if the thing you think I might have (endometriosis) renders me infertile to get a correct diagnosis? Really? Wow. I was stunned. Nothing about how to deal with my cramps. She didn't even ask me if I ever wanted children. I walked out of there with my mouth agape, wondering how this approach could be called medicine. It got worse.

It was after it was suggested by, not one, not two, but three separate doctors that I have a hysterectomy (that is the removal of the uterus) that I knew the world had gone mad. Could this really be a viable solution? I knew then it was crazy. I was fifteen years old.

hysterectomy : Chinese Medicine Living

I feel like I have told this story many times. It was the story that I told when I applied to Chinese medicine school. I wrote an essay answering the question - "Why did I want to be a doctor of Chinese medicine?" This experience with Western medicine was profound and transformative. It was also devastating and disappointing. I was experiencing first hand how broken the system was, and I knew there had to be another way.

I am grateful to my parents for teaching me to think for myself, and to question everything. This made for some frustrating interactions with many of my teachers growing up, but I was stubborn, and always looking for the truth. I didn't take anybody's word for anything, I always wanted to figure things out for myself. Every fibre in my being told me that the "solution" that these doctors proposed was insane. This was no solution at all. So one day my mother asked me if I wanted to see an acupuncturist. One of her musician friends was seeing one and said she had helped her a lot. I didn't know anything about acupuncture but I said yes. Of course. I was open to trying anything.

I went to see this acupuncturist in her home that was incredibly quiet and peaceful. I walked into her office and felt instantly calm. It was serene. She asked me questions and listened to my answers. She was kind, compassionate and gentle. She did a very detailed intake and asked me about my entire life, going back as far as I could remember. She took my pulse. She listened for a long time. She looked at my tongue and wrote extensive notes. I remember feeling that she was really LISTENING to me. She was listening to me explain my experiences and creating an overall picture of my health.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Cabinet - Crate : Chinese Medicine LivingSilver Om Earrings : Chinese Medicine LivingThe Acupuncture Kit : Chinese Medicine Living

The acupuncturist then looked at me and told me that she would help me resolve my cramps. She said I had some imbalances but that with acupuncture and some herbs I could rebalance and my cramps would go away. It took me a minute to process this information... yes. This is what she said. I think I fell in love with her a little. She was going to help me so that I would not spend one week out of every four writhing in pain and unable to function. I was so happy I was speechless.

After a few months of acupuncture treatments and herbs my cramps went away. I went for treatments a couple of times a week and they were an enormously wonderful and healing experience. I fell asleep on the table almost every time. When the session was over I would be gently awakened and brought out to sit down and given tea.

Acupuncture : Chinese Medicine Living

I saw my lovely acupuncturist for many years. When anything came up, I would go to her. She always helped me and healed me. She told me what to eat, and what to avoid and I asked her a million questions, trying to understand.

It was after that experience that I realized that this is what medicine should be, and that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. If I had had this experience with Western medicine, in theory, countless others had as well. I wanted people to know that they didn't have to suffer or have organs removed. Chinese medicine offers a tool we can use to regain health, and maintain it. It offers not just healing from illness, but a way of life. Chinese medicine looks at things in a different way. You need to be whole to be healthy. It treats the person and not the disease.

I feel very blessed to have had this experience. It bought me to Chinese medicine. Because of what happened, I am passionate about it and deeply committed to sharing its wisdom with whomever would like it. I know that there are probably many people out there who are suffering with all kinds of ailments and some have been told that nothing can be done. I believe that there is ALWAYS something that can be done, and what happened to me is proof. :)

Yin Yang : Chinese Medicine Living

Self Love, Baby...

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Treating patients every day is an interesting look into the human condition. When I started my acupuncture schooling, I thought I was getting into medicine, but really, I was getting into a career that would teach me about people. Their struggles, their pain, their illnesses were what I would see every day at work. In my first few years as an acupuncturist I was amazed at the things that people would tell me in our sessions. I was amazed at all the difficult things that people were dealing with in their lives. It was humbling, and helped me to be more empathetic to the humans that I encountered inside and outside of work.

Love Yourself

On the way to work in the morning, when everyone looked so tired and grumpy, I would sit on the subway and imagine what was happening in the lives of all these people who often looked so exhausted, like they hadn't been living life, it had been living them. Based on the things that my patients were telling me on a daily basis, I knew that everyone was dealing with hard things, and that although this is a part of life, it is so important to not only be kind to others, but it is supremely important to be kind to ourselves. We all need a little self love, baby.

Eating properly, exercising, drinking clean water and getting enough sleep are what we all know we need to be healthy, but they are only one part of a much larger picture. How you feel, and how you treat yourself are just as important, and these are the parts that are most often neglected. Most doctors aren't going to tell you to be kinder to yourself because its good for your health. There is no test that can be ordered that will determine that you are deficient in self love. But, I can tell very quickly when someone comes into my office if they are in need of self love. And the interesting thing is that this is sometimes the cause their illness.

Love Yourself

One of the things that I tell my patients who are in need of some self love is that they should do one nice thing for themselves every day as part of their treatment. This can be as simple as having a bath, going for a walk, making yourself your favourite meal or curling up with a good book. And I ask them to really think about these things. What makes you happy? What gives you energy? What feeds you? That is what you should be doing. Taking some time every day to do it, and doing it MINDFULLY. :)

As we move into the future, life becomes increasingly complex and difficult for many people. There are increasing pressures on people to survive and thrive in our society. This struggle takes its toll on us as a species and as individuals. This can be seen in the terrible news stories about school shootings, escalating violence and a rise in mental illness. We live in a society where populations are exploding and we are living in huge cities, but we have never been more isolated or alone. I am not suggesting that a little self love will solve these global problems, but I believe that it is the foundation of many of the problems we presently face. A little empathy for your fellow human being, the people in your community, your family, your friends, strangers you encounter day to day and perhaps most importantly some self love would be a step in the right direction.

Learn to Love Yourself

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Happy Earth Day!

Chinese medicine is all about our harmonious relationship with this wonderful planet. Today is a day to celebrate how amazing it really is and help us remember to cherish it forever and always. <3

Words of Wisdom...

A lovely thought from Thich Nhat Hanh. Truly words of wisdom. <3