Many people get premonitions, from the ordinary to the life changing. A week before the World Trade Towers were hit, I dreamed I was in one of the towers rushing about looking for an escape. There was a hole in the side and a dizzying drop below. People were rushing about trying to find a way down in the vast building. The dream was vivid, a quality I’ve come to associate with prophetic dreams.

Some premonitions are more ordinary and less emotion-infused. Yesterday morning  I was making coffee when  a client popped into my mind, someone I haven’t spoken to in years. This thought tells me she is thinking about me and will probably contact me, and sure enough, I get an email today. It tells me that we are receiving thoughts from people long before they actually contact us.  I have to wonder if I’m sending something to them too, like healing or a warm embrace.

Everyone including you, is hardwired with the ability to sense the future.  So even if you aren’t aware it, you have probably have had intuitive signals coming to you that get mixed in with your other thoughts. The more you become aware of the possibility of having premonitions, the more you will notice them happening to you.

Premonitions are part of our evolutionary advantage. Cornell professor Daryl Bem, one of the most respected social scientists of his generation, has been studying psychic ability in ordinary people for 20 years. His studies show that the average person does in fact sense the future before it happens. He noticed that men are especially adept at sensing future sexual opportunities and women at sensing future danger.   He calls this capacity an evolutionary advantage that has enabled our species to survive. In other words, we might not have made it as a species these 200,000 years without men’s exceptional  ability to sense reproductive advantage  or women’s ability to sense danger to themselves and their young.

The Difference between true premonitions and anxiety.  As security specialist Gavin DeBekker pointed out in his book, the Gift of Fear, when you are really in danger, there is a powerful knowing that fills you and directs you.  Signs of resonance will arise in your nervous system, like goosebumps,  hairs standing on end, or chills. You will become hyper alert, and you may feel that someone is guiding you through the danger.

The rest of the time, what you are feeling might be unnecessary worry, neurotic fears, or just plain anxiety.  Anxiety is energy in your body that has nowhere to go. You’re like a horse in the starting gate. It is not necessarily psychic.  More likely it’s an over reaction to something that originated in a trauma years before.

How can you increase your chance of having premonitions? Intuition happens when we are not distracted.  If you want to receive those signals more, then work on quieting your mind.  You do this by unplugging from the day to day stress.  Go into meditation where you are focusing more on your senses.  Take a walk or go for a jog or a swim.  Try closing your eyes and taking a nice breath right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel whatever your hands are touching; feel your feet on the ground;  and notice your breath going in and out.   You are now listening, via your body’s senses, to the energies of consciousness around you.  You now have a heightened awareness of the energies around you.

Your senses are like antenna to the world. The more you practice these moments of presence, the more intuitive you will become.  I get the strongest visions when I’ve been on a meditation retreat for several days, or when I sit in meditation before bed.  I use meditation to get visions of the future. But this is not the same as premonitions. Reading the future is a conscious process where you focus on a target, i.e., your country at a certain point in time.

Premonitions happen to you. You don’t just create them by meditating on the future.  When I get premonitions,  I try to react to them with wisdom and perspective. For that I need to be present and calm. Otherwise, I when I feel energies on the horizon, I may react to them fearfully which is not productive. In other words, if I don’t unplug and breathe, then the intuitions I get, will fly through my mind which will then take off like a runaway train.

Symbols that come in visions. Ever since I first started meditating for visions 35 years ago, I noticed that many came in symbols and metaphors.  Over time I began to understand the symbols. For example, I see a cactus as a symbol for drought. Last year I was returning to Massachusetts from Europe when  I noticed upon waking that I was seeing the cactus.  I thought, Mass in having drought. It turned out to be  true. I also see fire, rain, stock market graphs going up and down, tears (for public grieving), hearts, and square root signs for market corrections.  I also have a set of symbols for reading an individual’s personal future.  Carl Jung wrote about the symbols we get in Man and His Symbols. He suggested that we have universal symbols that we all get, cultural symbols particular to our culture, and personal symbols.

If you begin meditating for visions of the future, you are likely to also get a set of symbols.  Notice what thoughts you get when the symbols appear, and write it down.  You will learn an alphabet of consciousness.

Some people don’t see visions when they meditate on the future. Instead they hear words, or get a thought.  Whatever comes into your mind, write it down!

Dreams:  I know when I’m having a prophetic dream because it is particularly vivid and doesn’t seem to apply to my life. For example, in April I had a horrible dream of a woman being killed in a terrorist attack.  Just the one woman, no one else. I saw her vividly on the ground, with others trying to come to her aid. It was jarring, the vision was ghastly, but I didn’t feel fear for myself.  I posted it on my website and a few weeks later a British member of Parliament was viciously murdered in the street.  My hope is that I unconsciously sent healing to her in her terrible moment.  Perhaps others also felt the event before it happened and also sent soothing thoughts to her. But the reason for my seeing her tragedy is a mystery.  We are all connected, so her pain is everyone’s pain.

When we are dreaming, our intuition is not drowned out by everyday noise of people’s thoughts. When we are awake, there is a non stop ticker tape of thinking flowing through our heads, most of it is just junk we expose ourselves to in books, the Internet, and the media.

Most of the dreams we have are about our own lives. When it’s a prophetic dream about the world, it may feel different. You may feel like an observer. But this distinction is tricky since you are part of the world, and even when a dream is just about you, you can experience yourself as an observer.   The best way to tell the difference is to keep a dream diary and start checking it over time for accuracy.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic.