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Carolyn McDonough

Bypassing the Critical Faculty:
Accessing Intuition through Guided Imagery
by Carolyn McDonough, C. Ht. 

I'd obviously lost touch with my intuition, finding myself laying lifeless and stiff in the hospital approaching my 29th birthday, tethered to the bed by way of stitches, tubes and my "Saturn return" astrologers have since relished in telling me. With a simultaneous sense of gratitude and horror, I saw the really long way back to life ahead of me, physically and emotionally.

I had become increasingly alienated from my intuition through a seriously misguided career choice that turned into a stress and pressure hell. Working in sales, I was slowly worn down by the daily physical strain of hand carrying product samples along with a heavy briefcase of PR material on sales calls around Manhattan, as well as by the psychological intimidation of a sadistic manager.

Not surprisingly, the combined stressors of physical strain and psychological battery eventually disconnected me from my intuition altogether, though I was not really aware that this was happening. I just thought I had a lousy job and that after a year with the company, I'd start looking for a better one. What I didn't realize was that the abnormal had become normal for me, which is far worse and more dangerous than just having a lousy job, as I bought into the bullying and negative reinforcement straight out of the movie "Glen Gary Glen Ross" spiraling downward further each day.

One of the constant invasions to any moments of serenity I did enjoy was that the job required I work from my home, an invasion of privacy, which is true of many sales jobs today. The most destructive aspect of the job to my intuition, however, was the company's weekly Friday meeting during which we were verbally abused by various managers after the week's account calls, always sufficiently jamming my circuits for the weekend. My super suggestibility, a quality that I didn't fully understand until becoming certified in hypnotherapy, made me very receptive and had worked in my favor in academics and the performing arts, but was taken full advantage of by ruthless managers. Being easy prey for such individuals along with a conscious tuning out I'd developed as a survival mechanism to get through those Fridays, created a shut down response that in hindsight created the biggest obstacle to my intuition.

While in "life recovery" from my surgeries and this experience, I came across the phrase "bypassing the critical faculty" while reading an article on hypnotherapy and the hypnotic state. Something in me clicked. "That's what I need!" Something to get me back to my essence and override the ingrained self-criticism, which unlike my intuition was still highly active from the managerial brainwashing. I wondered if bypassing the critical faculty would be the Autobahn back to my intuition. A curiosity was born that dovetailed nicely with the meditation practice I'd developed in recovery, so I began the quest to find out. I've since come to believe that learning how to recognize and work with the critical faculty can indeed provide great access to intuition, simply because when you're not engaged in a constant inner dialogue of your own or another's making, you're essence is freed up and open to receive information from other sources.

I also learned that like computer software programs, intuition requires a lot of RAM so that it can be loaded up at a moment's notice without slogging through obstacles that can often cause it to crash before it can even launch. I've found that the really empowering moments in life to be when you're fully present in the moment with your intuition, engaging with it during the choice making process in whatever situation you may be facing.

One of the dreams I had in recovery which my guided imagery technique developed from and that assisted me greatly in re-establishing a deep connection with my intuition took place in a vineyard. Connecting with such a beautiful and symbolic place, even virtually, can be like a doorway to the fertile land of intuition, from which we can cultivate healing and new manifestations. Here then is the Virtual Vineyard guided imagery meditation to help you begin bypassing the critical faculty.

Get into a comfortable position, either sitting or laying down, preferably with spine straight, yet still within the bounds of your comfort zone to read or listen to the meditation. And now put your attention on your breath and find out where it is in your body at this moment. Bring your awareness to the belly area and start to relax by breathing comfortably in and out from the belly area, as a continuous stream of air and connected motion.

Inhale and exhale gently and slowly and repeat this for five rounds of breath while imagining you're breathing in a word like "energy" and exhale fully, preferably longer than your inhalation, while breathing out a word like "peace." Feel free to substitute your own "power words" especially those that come to you in this state. Breathe at your current rate and rhythm without forcing the breath.

With body and mind now focused on breath allowing it to center you, find yourself in a spectacular setting like a vineyard. The sun is very brilliant, high and hot and its warmth relaxes you completely. As you rest in this beautiful setting, really notice all the details. Perhaps you see the lush green hills and valleys of the landscape, hear birds singing, and the grass rustling with colorful vibrancy, as you smell the sweetness of the bounty all around you.

In the distance you see a path that stretches out before you. Take notice of your path here. Is it paved or foot trodden? As you explore your path, you come upon a guide, so allow yourself a few moments here for a clear image of your guide to come to you. This may be a friend or mentor, human or perhaps animal, who has come to visit you here. Just allow yourself to open to all possibilities and if no guide appears don't force an image, just continue and be open to communication from your guide later on, such as in a dream.

If you do encounter a guide, see yourself communing with this being who you may already know or may have never met. You exchange thoughts and feelings, you admire and respect each other and as you spend this time together, you gain insights about yourself. You may even come to embrace your flaws and negative experiences, because you have now met this mentor who you can call on anytime you need support, to remind you of these valuable lessons.

In this beautiful place, you are free to explore your hopes and wishes and also to let go of anything that you sense may be blocking you. So let's take a moment now, to breathe out anything you'd like to let go of, without judgment, to create a space for intuition. Notice all the mind and body sensations as you repeat this breathing exercise three times, breathing out anything you are letting go of and breathing in consciously to create physical and emotional space for your intuition. And take a moment to allow the energies and experiences that have been brought forth to resonate deep within you, so that you may bring them into your day and life vision with you, returning to them whenever you want or need. As you prepare to transition out of meditation feeling purified, centered and energized, you may want to reconnect with your body by moving your hands, feet, head and neck slowly, allowing yourself some time to adjust.

Summary with Tips/Tools/Reminders to access your "Intuition Program"

- Connecting to intuition is easy once you have a tool for getting the critical faculty out of the way. A favorite of mine was and still is simply saying to myself the very phrase "bypassing the critical faculty" anytime I feel a lack of clarity and need my intuitive faculties to remain sharp.

- Conscious tuning or blocking out constricts intuition, which thrives in the opposite environment of openness or release. It's likely that wherever you're consciously blocking, your critical faculty is fully engaged and needs to be set aside so your intuition can have room to help you in this area of your life.

- Become aware, that is--Beware--of stressors in your life. Taking an accounting of them is often a good idea to avoid their harm in the short term and the gateway to intuitive-based action in the long term. Decisions rooted in such intuitive clarity may be the most powerful we ever make.

To hear Virtual Vineyard in RealAudio: http://www.desktopmeditations.com/meditation/vine-1.html

Virtual Vineyard, Desktop Meditations and Bypassing the Critical Faculty: Accessing Intuition through Guided Imagery © Carolyn McDonough. All rights reserved.

Carolyn McDonough, C. Ht., is Founder and Producer of DesktopMeditations.com and was Associate Producer for the Spirituality Channel of Beliefnet.com, a multi-faith religion and spirituality website. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School and holds a BA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Vassar College where she graduated cum laude. She also studied at the University of Florence and was awarded a museum fellowship to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, where she became Assistant to the Director.

In 1993 a major health challenge and subsequent life transition led Carolyn to study meditation and yoga for self-healing. From this experience her singing voice re-awakened and she began recording again while also becoming a Certified Hypnotherapist, developing Desktop Meditations, a spoken word guided imagery technique based upon night dreams of her recovery and genesis of the WellNet with Carolyn RealAudio/Video netcast of online meditation now located at DesktopMeditations.com. Carolyns technique was created to assist others in self-healing through the guided imagery modality from her positive result with it. As the netcast and its website content expanded to include mind/body wellness, the original mission remains and has been featured extensively online as well as by The New York Times MindBodyHealth E.com Directory, Working Mother Magazine, PC Magazine Online, The Silicon Alley Reporter Winter, and CNNFN. You can email Carolyn at carolyn@desktopmeditations.com. Visit her website at: www.desktopmeditations.com


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