Knowing and Honoring Through Intuition


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“You need to be more confident.”

“Be true to who you are.”

“Don’t worry about what others think of you.”

Receiving these words as a multi-racial child growing up in an international community was confusing. How could I be more confident without truly knowing who I am while constantly being questioned by others to explain my identity? The entirety of my being is ambiguous.  As humans, we typically enjoy labeling things, organizing, and placing them neatly into our boxes. So, when someone or something comes along that does not quite fit into one box, it becomes confusing or even problematic. We often turn to our community and society to help us recognize our identities, so when people around us have a hard time identifying who we are and where we ‘belong,’ it can reflect in our level of confidence in standing proud in our roots. However, unlike what many of us seem to believe, someone else’s perception of us is not equivalent to who we are at our core.

So why is it so hard for someone like me, an Okinawan, Ainu, Japanese, Caucasian American, to grasp this concept and feel confident of their roots? I believe that it has a lot to do with the disconnection between our ancestors and us, and our societal shift away from intuition.  It seems that much of the Shimanchu diaspora are also unfamiliar with their family trees and do not know much, if anything, about their ancestors from even just a couple generations ago.  This has been a disheartening thing for me to come to terms with because I want to truly know my ancestors.  I crave their stories, their dreams, and their passions.  However, with so much disconnection within my own family as well as society’s intentional erasure of Shimanchu culture and history, I wonder if I will ever get the hard “facts” that represent my ancestors and their time spent here on Earth.

This is where intuition can come in to bridge the gap that many of us feel between our generation and our ancestors.  What exactly is intuition, anyway?  In the context of connecting with our ancestors, it is a deep-rooted knowledge that runs within us—a type of knowledge that goes far beyond the need for concrete evidence.  Your intuition can be a simple gut feeling, or even as certain as a confident voice in your heart.  Still, the important aspect of this tool is that it comes from within.  In a world where tirelessly fact-checking for “fake news” is the default response, it is clear how we have been primed to value outside sources of information over our mere instinct.  To be clear, I certainly value speaking truth backed by science, numbers, and testimonies. However, I think the problem is that we are being led to believe that these external sources of information are always the superior or even the only path to discovering the truth.  This is a very detrimental way of thinking for me, especially in this process of uncovering my identity and connecting with my ancestors.  Placing the certainty and value of my being on unreliable external sources left me feeling powerless, unseen, and constantly misunderstood.

Once I started diving deeper into my spiritual practice and acknowledging that my existence is deeper than just my body and mind, I started to recognize a new sense of knowledge.  I started to give myself permission to feel and turn my attention to the voice of intuition that I was hearing.  For the first time, started to feel glimmers of confidence.  I finally started to be true to myself and to the collective experiences and stories of my ancestors that exist within me.  Slowly, I am letting go of my constant search for external validation.  I am able to do this because of my growing trust in my intuition—this internal voice of my ancestors, God, Spirit, all allowing me to reclaim my power, to unapologetically show up in the world without fear of not fitting in just one box.

The summer of 2015 was an emotionally turbulent one for me.  I was in the middle of my undergrad at the University of Hawaii at Manoa when a series of events led to some deep questioning of my identity, self-worth, and purpose.  I felt a major shift within me and craved an external mark to reflect my internal growth.  I got two tattoos in the course of just a few weeks.  My first one was a small cross and the second one, a special scripture: “You have turned my mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11).  They were both small tattoos, perfect for a first-timer… however, one might argue that the placement I chose for these tattoos was not the wisest as someone soon graduating and entering the professional world.  The cross is located on my right wrist, and the quote is tattooed on the top of my left hand along my index finger.  I considered how having a visible tattoo on my hands could affect my career down the road, but my concerns were not enough to overpower this deep feeling I had that it had to be on my hands.  I could not quite explain it, but I believe it was the first time I acted on my intuition.

I did not understand the power of following my intuition until after I learned more about the history of hajichi—the Ryukyuan tradition of tattooing women’s hands.  My jaw dropped to the floor when I made the connection between my intuitive desire and this revered tradition, native to my ancestors before having the mental knowledge of its existence.  Learning that hajichi was a beautiful coming-of-age ritual and later considered physical, emotional, and spiritual protection was enough for me to be filled with amazement.  My intuition had caught on that I was ready and determined to discover more about my identity and recognized my need for protection, connection, and strength.  I am still so moved by how deep my intuition can go into truly knowing what I need before I even know it myself.

Now that you know a little more about what intuition is.  An example of what it can look, sound, or feel like, you may be wondering, “well, how do I access this incredible tool?”  This part can be a little trickier to explain, especially since it can be very different for each person.  However, because intuition is always something that comes from within, there are a few reminders that can be helpful for us all.

Surrender

To tap into this internal voice, we must first let go of the many external voices that tend to dictate our choices.  Meditation is one way to practice this.  By meditating regularly and turning your attention inward, you may start to recognize the difference between your “voice” of intuition and the “voices” of society and obligation.  Another challenging way to practice shedding external pressures is by doing a social media detox.  Try logging off of social media, perhaps even turning all electronics off completely, for an entire weekend.  Take note of how connected you feel to your internal voice after disconnecting from the voices of others for a while—maybe you will even want to try it again for a longer duration!

Patience

Patience is an important virtue to hold in any circumstance, especially when learning to connect to your intuition.  Remember that it will take time and practice to understand how to identify your intuitive pulls just like any new skill.  Even if you are an expert, remember that some days will be harder than others!  Try journaling stream-of-consciousness style—just put pen to paper and write out any thoughts and worries to try to better understand the way your mind works and how you relate to the world around you, as well as the world within.  Where there is more understanding, there is more patience!

Trust

This is the key.  No matter how much work you do to recognize your intuition, it is pretty useless without trust.  Put in the work, first, to be more familiar with how your intuition shows up within you, then allow yourself to take action based on your intuition—again, start small!  Try using it to pick out a snack or whether or not you should go to bed, then take note of how you feel afterward.  The more you flex your intuitive muscle, the more you will find that you can trust it with bigger things like connecting with your ancestors.

There is so much information out there.  Maybe you will be able to identify your ancestors by name and DNA someday.  But until then, do not let that lack of knowledge stop you from using your intuition, your internal compass, from allowing you to know and honor your ancestors.

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

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