Now, in my life, listening to intuition is holy to me, but learning to trust it has been a long journey. I grew up in Beverly Hills the only daughter of two-physician parents with twenty-five physicians in my family. From age nine, I had dreams and intuitions that would come true. I could predicts illness, earthquakes, even the suicide of one of my parent’s friends. This confused and alarmed me, as it did my parents who were entrenched in the hard-core rational world of science. We had no idea that intuition was a gift, that it came from my early, natural spiritual connection. At first they tried to write my intuitions off as coincidence. Finally, though, after I dreamed my mother’s mentor would loose an election for judgeship–which to my horror, came true–she took me aside and told me, “Never mention another dream or intuition in our house again!” I’ll never forget the look in my dear mother’s exasperated, frightened eyes, nothing I ever wanted to see again. So from that day on, I kept my intuitions to myself. I grew up ashamed of my abilities, sure there was something wrong with me.
Luckily, I’ve had many angels in human form who’ve pointed me to my true calling as physician. In the Sixties I got heavily involved with drugs in an attempt to block my intuitions out. Following a nearly fatal car accident at age sixteen when I tumbled over a treacherous 1500 foot cliff in Malibu Canyon, my parents forced me to see a psychiatrist. This man was the first person who ever “saw” me–not who he wanted me to be, but who I was, the magic that therapy can be. He taught me to begin to value the gift of intuition, and referred me to Dr. Thelma Moss, a intuition researcher at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. She was to become my mentor and guide to developing my intuitive side.
While working in Thelma’s lab I had an amazingly specific dream which announced, “You’re going to become an MD, a psychiatrist, to help legitimize intuition in medicine.” When I awoke, I felt like someone was playing a practical joke on me. I’d never liked science, and I was bored around all my parent’s doctor-friends. I was a hippie living in an old converted brick Laundromat with my artist-boyfriend in Venice Beach, working in the May Company’s towel department. (I’ve had a great love of towels and sheets since!) The last thing I envisioned doing was medicine. But because I was beginning to trust my intuition from working with Thelma, I enrolled in a junior college just to see how it would go. So one course became two, became fourteen years of medical training–USC medical school and a UCLA psychiatric internship and residency.
The irony was, that during my medical training I strayed far from the intuitive and spiritual world again. Traditional psychiatry equates visions or even an extra-assertive inner voice with psychosis. Working in the UCLA emergency room, I’d keep seeing psychotics who were wheeled in screaming, strapped to gurneys, accompanied by cops with billy clubs. These patients professed to hear God and to be able predict things. They also felt their food was poisoned, and that the FBI was on their tail. A mishmash of claims no one even tried to sort through. Typically, these patients would be medicated with Thorazine, hospitalized on lock-down inpatient units until their “symptoms” subsided. Seeing this so many times I doubted whether it was safe or appropriate to integrate my intuitions in medicine.
When I opened my Los Angeles psychiatric practice in 1983, I had every intention of it being traditional; I’d use medications, psychotherapy, but I didn’t intend for intuition to play a role. My practice was extremely successful. Since I was a workaholic and also loved helping people, I had twelve hour days, though very little personal life. But then I had a heart-wrenching wake-up call that changed everything. It was an intuition that a patient, on antidepressants, was going to make a suicide attempt. Because she was doing so well–nothing in her life supported my hunch–I dismissed it. Within a week she overdosed on the antidepressants I’d prescribed and ended up in a coma for nearly a month. (Had she not survived I would’ve been devastated.) The hardest part, though, was that I thought I’d harmed her by not utilizing a vital piece of intuitive information. This was intolerable for me. From then on, I knew, as a responsible physician, I had to integrate my intuitions into my work.
After this episode, my journey to bring intuition and spirituality into my medical practice began. I didn’t know how I’d do it, but I put out a silent prayer to the universe to help me. Soon, I began meeting people, more angels, who showed me the way. Gradually I grew comfortable with my intuition, set out to write my first book Second Sight about my struggles to claim my inner voice. This took me seven years to complete because I had so much fear about coming out of the closet as an intuitive. I was afraid of what my physician-peers would think, that they’d mock me or blackball me from the profession. My mother warned, “They’ll think you’re weird. It’ll jeopardize your medical career.” Ah Mother: I loved her, but thank god I didn’t listen. Finding my voice as a psychiatrist and intuitive has been my path to freedom.
Sure, there’s a risk when you stretch yourself, but the rewards are enormous. Now, I’m blessed to travel around the country giving workshops on intuition to auditoriums full of extraordinary people–health care professionals and general audiences alike–who long to embrace their inner voice in all decisions, health and otherwise. I’m heartened to see that an increasing number of physicians are eager to deal with patients in the new way I offer. Recently I gave an intuitive healing workshop at the American Psychiatric Association convention, a annual gathering of the most conservative psychiatrists in the world. I’m pleased to report the response was wonderful.
To my great sadness, though, my mother didn’t live long enough to see this. In 1993 she died of a lymphoma. However, right before her passing, she decided to tell me our “family secrets.” At her deathbed, she said, “I want to pass the power onto you.” I was astounded to learn that I came from a lineage of intuitive healers on her side of the family–my Jewish grandmother who did laying on of hands in a shed behind the pharmacy she and Grandpop ran in Philadelphia. East coast aunts and cousins I’d never met since I grew up in California. Also, my mother, herself, had a strong inner voice which told her how to treat patients for over forty years. She’d listened to this voice and secretly used her innate healing powers to keep her lymphoma in remission for many years. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked her. She said simply, “I wanted you to lead a normal, happy life, not to be thought of as weird like your grandmother was.” Oh Mother… I’ll always be grateful beyond words for what she shared, but, still… she’d waited so long. Even so, I believe in the wisdom of the paths we’ve been given. Mine has been to fight for what I believed in despite what my parents or anyone said. An invaluable but rugged lesson in empowerment.
These days, no matter what I’m going through, especially when my heart is torn in a million pieces or I feel isolated and alone my intuition and spiritual connection has sustained me. Whether a situation appears promising or downright dismal, I now have the resources to look beyond the obvious, to achieve a deeper understanding of the picture. I always strive to hear the greater message–not acting hastily out of fear but driven by a sounder sense of truth. The great gift of intuition is that it allows us to tune into an authentic inner authority, offering us an alternative to acting out the negative scripts in our heads.
I hope you are inspired by my story, that my struggles and triumphs can help you trust yourself too. We’re all fellow-travelers on this spiritual path. One thing I’m certain of: if you follow your intuitive voice, you can’t go wrong–it’s the best friend you’ll ever have. Stay true to it. Intuition is about empowerment, not having to conform to someone else’s notion of who you should be. It’s about being true to yourself, and all the goodness that comes from that.
Judith Orloff, M.D is a board certified psychiatrist and practicing intuitive, author of the bestsellers Guide to Intuitive Healing and Second Sight. She is assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and an international workshop leader. Find out more about Dr. Judith Orloff and Judith’s books, Guide to Intuitive Healing and Second Sight. For her workshop schedule, articles, and information visit http://www.drjudithorloff.com
About Judith Orloff, M.D.
Transforming the face of psychiatry, Dr. Judith Orloff asserts that we are keepers of an innate intuitive intelligence so perceptive that it can tell us how to heal – and prevent – illness. Yet intuition and spirituality are the very aspects of our wisdom usually disenfranchised from traditional health care.
In response, Dr. Orloff advocates ‘a democracy of healing,’ wherein every aspect of our being is granted a vote in the search for total health. It is our birthright, both as health-care givers and health-care recipients, to reclaim our intuition, restore it to full standing in the medical realm and thereby carry medicine into the future.
Dr. Orloff is accomplishing for psychiatry what physicians like Larry Dossey and Dean Ornish have done for mainstream medicine – she is proving that the links between physical health, mental well-being, and spiritual connectedness cannot be ignored. Affirming that intuition is the bond between these seemingly disparate areas of our lives, Dr. Orloff presents workshops and lectures at medical schools, hospitals, alternative health-care forums, and mainstream and experimental educational institutions – venues where she can offer hands-on, workable intuitive tools to medical practitioners, patients, everyday people.
In her work as a board-certified psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA, Dr. Orloff exhibits great courage in drawing upon her own intuitive abilities, evident to her since childhood. Her struggles acknowledging and then finally embracing her gift of heightened intuition are chronicled in Second Sight (Warner Books). In her subsequent book, Dr. Judith Orloff’s Guide to Intuitive Healing: 5 Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness (Three Rivers Press), Dr. Orloff explores the impact of her ideas in over fifteen years of psychiatric practice. By discussing patient profiles, she shows how breakthroughs are accomplished by awakening intuition: how intuition can heal our body, emotions, and sexuality, as well as helping us accept the transition from life to death.
Dr. Orloff begins lectures and workshops by creating a bond of warmth, trust and intimacy with participants, within which they can hear and explore her ideas. Her sincerity, humor, and joy bring everyone in the audience with her – leaving everyone certain of their own intuitive abilities, as well as Dr. Orloff’s contributions to a radically new kind of medicine.
Dr. Orloff has found that intuition and psychiatry create a profound synergy, even though traditional medicine still looks at intuition and subtle energy as heresy or nonexistent. Dr. Orloff teaches her patients and workshop participants how to cultivate their own intuitive abilities, read energies, listen to the truth of their dreams. As a highly valued lecturer on intuition and spirituality, her warm, compassionate and humorous voice is welcomed at venues ranging from prisons, to medical societies to integrative health conferences.
How does one know if we have the “gift” of intuition? If I do have it how do I overcome the fear of letting it “work” through me?
Everyone has the capacity to tap into their intuition at any age. It is a human gift. Some children are more talented than others, but as adults we access it. In Western Culture we’ve be taught to revere the rational mind above all else. But intuition is far more primal and satisfying an impulse. The key to tuning in is always to try to calm the mind–not by trying to turn it off–that never works. But to use the breath to switch channals. Do some deep breathing exercises, and practice stillness. Then tune into your gut and see what it says. It’s an ongoing process of getting still and tuning in. If fear comes, keep breathing the fear out too. It’s also useful to explore your fears through journaling to acertain what they are so they don’t stop you.
How do you tell the difference between protective intuition and a boundary?
Example: Faced with a situation which is new (i.e. I have no experience of), I may feel my feelings saying ‘no’ to it. That could be intuition saying ‘Danger! Not good for you’, and it could also be just a natural human reluctance to change – i.e. to try something new…
In general, protective intuitions come from a neutral place inside, and doesn’t have an intense emotional charge. In my book, ‘Guide to Intuitive Healing’ I go into detail about fear VS intuition and give five steps on how and what to listen to with your intuition. Also do this: If you have any doubt about a situation go into meditation. Get quiet. Ask yourself, ‘Am I scared to go ahead with this?’ Then listen to the inner response. Then ask yourself, ‘Is there real danger here for me?’ Then tune in again. My sense of you is that you’re ready to begin to explore new relationships and stretch your heart. This is good. Even if you get hurt–we all do when we risk for love, friendship, romance, or work–we must feel strong enough to pick ourselves up again, and keep moving forward with an open heart. Keep doing work to strengthen your heart so you feel the inner power to handle anything.
Judith Orloff, M.D is author of the new book Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength and Love (Harmony Books). She is also author of the bestsellers Guide to Intuitive Healing and Second Sight. She is assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and an international workshop leader. For more information visit www.drjudithorloff.com.