Here is the second part of the magical interview with, Sophy Burnham author of, The Art of Intuition.
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Shaheen: We are receiving conflicting messages. We are being told to be independent, self-reliant, and separated. Yet we want comfort from all the things happening in the world. Some people think they are being brave by disconnecting, but really they are cutting off source. But people are beginning to ask questions. They are wanting more. Spirituality is rising.
Sophy: I want to say one more thing about the fear, Shaheen. I think that fear is a part of the human condition, anxiety is a part of us and the way to conquer it, if I can use that term, is to not resist it, but to go very deeply into it. What does it feel like in my body? Go physically into the fear. And try to feel it more and more deeply. And the more you do that, the more it disappears.
That’s another aspect of how we are not taught to trust the language of our hearts. Here comes fear, it is a gift that is being given to us. What is it about? Can I look at this gift, or do I want to run away? Or do I want to get out my Glock pistol and shoot the fear dead. But if we can just face it, it vanishes. And it will tell us something very important if we allow it to. And that’s a little piece of what intuition does. Intuition tells us things that are really important.
Shaheen: So where do you feel like that comes from? How do you know what is a creative hit, what is imagination, what is intuition? Are they the same thing? Are they different things?
Sophy: Well, first let’s make some definitions. Creativity is the basic nature of the healthy person. And there are many, many forms of creativity. You could be building a garden or playing the piano or drawing a picture or writing a book or doing a flower arrangement or raising your children or cooking a wonderful meal. All of those things are aspects of creativity. And they come out of the central life force. And when we’re healthy, you cannot help but be creative. Now when you’re recovering from surgery, when you’re in chronic pain, number ten pain, you cannot be creative, because you don’t have the resources. And this is why I add this caveat of health. But even there someone like Proust, who was very, very ill most of his life, was intensively creative.
So now going to the other two things, imagination and intuition. I think they’re slightly different, and I’d be interested in what you think. I can go into daydreams and in my imagination I can have the most wonderful life. I can make things happen. I can have lovers adore me who actually in real life don’t. And I can have tons of money and spend it the way I want in my imagination. But it’s not the same as having an intuitive gut feeling, a hunch, the hair rising on my arm with information that is coming to me not through the senses necessarily, but through some mysterious heart. I keep going back to the idea that we know this with our spiritual eye or we know it with our emotional eye. We don’t know it with our logical and analytical mind. And so you see someone enter the door and you think, boy, I don’t want anything to do with him. This is not your imagination. This is information that has come to you.
And creativity uses both intuition and imagination. They’re wonderful gifts and all three of these qualities that you name, all three are enhanced and increased by meditation, by just sitting quietly and breathing. And allow a thought to rise up in your mind and fall away. If we first, before meditating, send out a request, ask for the solution to a problem, we will get it in the meditation. Just as if you ask for the solution, go to sleep on a problem, you say, and in the morning you’ll know the solution, because the subconscious mind knows everything. And it will present it to us. And many, many of the things that I write I find the solutions in…to the creative process, if I’m blocked, I find it more in meditation than by sleeping on it. Give it to the subconscious mind. Turn it over and walk away and let the divine center of my being bring it up out of the deep depths of this ocean of information. And it will present itself to me.
Shaheen: I’m fascinated by the concept of creativity being something that you do as a healthy human. It seems like intuition and imagination are the channels that bring creativity to life.
Sophy: I am so struck by the quotations in my chapter on creativity in The Art of Institution that I’m sure of even what page they’re on, but Mozart being quoted and Tchaikovsky and yes, it’s on page 59 of the hardcover of the book. And Tchaikovsky and then the playwright, Neil Simon, “I dip into a state, I don’t write consciously. It’s as if the muse sits on my shoulder.” And we all have this idea of being guided by something greater than ourselves. How did I ever write that? Or you look back at something that you wrote 20 years ago and you think, my God, I don’t even know that now, this is just amazing.
I loved what Mozart said about how, if he can’t sleep, or if he’s traveling in a carriage, his ideas start to flow abundantly. Where they come from, he has no idea and he can’t force them. “Nor do I hear in my imagination a part successively, but I hear them as it were all at once. What a delight this is I cannot tell.” I have often found that, for me, creativity is enhanced if I am rocking in a train or on an airplane and if I can give myself a pad of paper at that time I can write brilliantly, there’s something about the rocking motion that is very encouraging to the creativity. Anyway it’s something we all want. And when the muse goes away, it’s terrible. And sometimes, the muse goes away and then you’re left on your own.
Shaheen: That leads me to my next question, is there ever a time when you think that people should tap out of their creative channels or their imaginative channel or their intuition? Is there every a time when you almost should disconnect from that? And I know that there are experiences as someone who is very intuitive, who is very psychic, there are psychic experiences that people have, whether it be seeing things or picking up on too much.
Sophy: I don’t know about should. I can really only speak for myself and I find that I go through long periods sometimes of lying fallow in which nothing is engaging me. I do not want to be creative. I may at that time go and do other things. Things that I can’t do when I throw myself into writing a book and when I’m writing a book I don’t see my friends, you know, I’m completely absorbed in this creative project and not a good friend at all. And then there will come a period where I finish it and it’s like I’m woken up and I don’t want to be writing right then. I can’t just continue it that way, like Dumas, who, when he had finished writing The Three Musketeers, he drew a line midway across the page and he wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and continued writing on a new book. I can’t do that. I can’t do that. Now, he did have a whole host of researchers working for him and plotting and laying out the book so he knew what he was going to say next and he was writing on deadline and for money, and needed the money desperately for his addictive elements. So what I have discovered is in these periods when I’m lying fallow, I never know if I am lying fallow or if I will never write again. My kids…my kids tease me that I always say this, “Oh, I’m never going to write again.” “Oh, we’re heard that before, they say.” And in another few months, or in a year, there I am doing something again. But it always feels as if you never will.
You need to unplug. You need to go live. And get out of the state of readings and intuitives, of right-brained hemisphere; it’s too great…it’s too much for you. And then I start doing chess puzzles or writing or doing crossword puzzles and playing Scrabble and doing things that feed the left hemisphere, the logical, analytical part, because I’ve just gone too far along the other side.
And I think that’s helpful, I think that’s good. We’re supposed to use all of our gifts.
Shaheen: I think that’s a great point though, because some people go to one extreme or the other.
Sophy: And it’s all about balance, it’s all about balance. If you’re too intuitive, you’re going to start imagining things. And then…
Shaheen: That’s interesting. That’s a really great way to understand the difference between intuition and imagination.
Sophy: And yet, on the other hand, I’m not knocking intuition at all. Whether it comes with the external voice or whether it comes with the hair rising on your arm or your gut roiling or your heart beating faster, this is information that is being given to you. And it’s very meaningful; you have to pay attention to it. I know some people who are so unintuitive that they have to practice being intuitive. They are so smart; they are such Mensa scholar, scientific, mathematical types that they have almost no intuition. And they’re very hard to be around because they’re not sensing anything. They can come into a room and not have any idea the energy field. They’ll go out of a party and not have any idea that the host and hostess are having a quarrel at that moment and splitting up and you think, how could you not have picked up this information energetically. But they’re so closed, or narcissistic, that they can’t get it.
But it’s all balance. Because the other person who is so intuitive has trouble, the trouble with that is they can’t separate their feelings from the feelings that they’re picking up from other people. And therefore the boundaries become so merged and permeable that they don’t know what is there’s and what belongs to someone else. And they’re constantly being depressed or elated or dismayed or fearful without knowing that they’re just picking it up from people around them.
Shaheen: Yeah, that is really a good point; I think that speaks to the idea of fear.
Sophy: It really comes back to that fear doesn’t it. I was talking about how we pick the fear from the television or the newspapers or whatever. But it’s all around us and if you’re intuitive, you’re picking it up from them. And enhancing it, because if you pick it up and they are picking it up, you’ve just exponentially increased the fear level in that room by not being able to say, oh, this is their fear, well, I can counter balance it with my trust, with my calmer energy. It’s all about energy, isn’t it, Shaheen?
Shaheen: It is, it truly is about energy.
Sophy Burnham is the author of twelve books, eight plays, and numerous essays, articles, profiles, and pieces of investigative journalism. Her books have appeared on the New York Times, Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, and she has appeared on such esteemed television shows as Oprah, Larry King Live, The Today Show, and Good Morning America. Burnham currently divides her time between Washington, D.C. and Taos, New Mexico.