In the days following my first reiki session this spring, I felt as though energy was bubbling up in my forehead. It wasn’t a physical feeling I could name, I just knew I felt a little more in tune with that specific and not previously thought about area of my face.
“Sounds like your third eye is activating,” my practitioner emailed me after I reached out. “I’m confident you are indeed more intuitive, especially if that’s where you’re feeling the energy right now.”
The ability to connect this feeling to a hopeful, “heightened intuition” was comforting, not to mention a little chic. How cool, I thought, that our bodies can alert us of changes taking place in the mind.
I’d forgotten about butterflies, of course. Pits in the stomach. Shivers and goosebumps. All of the things that clue us in on something more happening, that help us make decisions, that aid in self-understanding.
Intuition is something we all have, and—though we may not yet have a name for it—we learn about it early. Something about your locker partner in elementary school might have just felt right to you, leading to a lifelong friendship. You’ve heard someone say, “Trust your gut” before, right?
Our intuition is not necessarily mystical, but sometimes it feels a little magical. It comes through differently for different people, and I must say I don’t feel qualified to fully define it for you.
I can, however, offer up a reading list. Much like every feeling we have in a given day, the following books relate to intuition in one way or another. For some of these books the connection is obvious; some cover themes of self-discovery and personal freedom; others, well…read on if it feels right.
Practical Intuition by Laura Day
What better place to start than a fully purposed guidebook? A recommendation by my beloved reiki practitioner, Laura Day’s Practical Intuition: How to Harness the Power of Your Instinct and Make it Work for You has offered those curious about intuition the exact jumping-off point they’ve needed since its publication in 1996. If you’re looking for a sign, this is it.
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
I’d pin New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino as the perfect example of someone who knows how to follow their gut; it seems to lead her to the best stories. A recent fan favorite, Trick Mirror is comprised of nine essays covering themes from sixteen-year-old self-understanding to religion and athleisure. In one essay, Tolentino laments on differentiating characteristics of novel heroines of different ages. In another, she discusses the Internet. Know thyself and the world we live in, the book urges. But also be willing to reevaluate.
The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Translated beautifully from their original Italian by Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante’s pseudonymous Neapolitan Novels span the lifetime of two girls—Elena (Lenu) and Raffaella (Lila) growing up in Naples, Italy. As the two brilliant little girls grow up and their once-parallel paths begin to unfold separately, narrator Lenu discovers—both softly and harshly—what it means to know yourself and your path, and what it means to know—or think you know—someone else.
The Clean Plate by Gwyneth Paltrow
A gut feeling requires a functioning gut, and while this recommendation could be swapped out for any number of cookbooks, Goop, true to her brand, offers a number of recipes specifically chosen to help “reset and rebalance.” (The chia pudding is a personal favorite.) There’s a good chance you know which foods make you feel good and which don’t; that’s intuition!
Signs by Laura Lynn Jackson
There’s no right way to connect with your intuition or go about self-discovery—maybe the confirmation that you’re on the right path is more often symbolic than physical? In Signs, Laura Lynn Jackson recounts stories of “putting the universe to the test” and simply asking for messages outright. In doing so, the author discovered a certain language the universe utilizes to offer important information. Spoiler alert: We all understand it.
Role Models by John Waters
Every person you meet comes into your life for a reason. People you don’t meet can have an impact, too. In Role Models, filmmaker John Waters details his adoration for a number of people he both knows and feels like he knows. Though the role models detailed have little to do with the author, it’s through these declarations of idolatry that you begin to understand Waters himself. A bunch of tiny pearls of wisdom factoring into one larger understanding of self? Sounds about right.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Part of healthy self-discovery is having empathy—both for the different facets of your being that you’re uncovering and for others. In The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison examines the concept of empathy through a number of essays. “Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to,” she writes. Swap “empathy” for “intuition.”
You knew it already.
Sophie Vilensky (@sophiavilensky on Instagram and Twitter or if you met her in second grade) is a Real Housewives scholar and naturopath’s daughter. At this point in time these things are very important to her.