An Excerpt from First Intelligence by Simone Wright
The third facet of the foundation of intuitive intelligence is perception, which is defined as the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
Perception is the interface between our biology and the environment; it’s the conscious awareness of our external world as it’s experienced through our physical senses. Perception begins even before we’re born. It occupies a powerful position in our lives because it influences every action we take so that we can more readily fit into our environment. In this way, it helps to ensure our survival.
Physical perception includes the five bodily senses: touch, smell, sight, taste and sound. It also involves the senses that allow us to be aware of our body as it occupies space, and to be aware of movement within a given environment.
Perception is common to every living organism, from microscopic to macroscopic. In simple life-forms, it influences the automatic actions that shape reproduction, respiration, digestion and immune function; and in more advanced life-forms, it has evolved to influence the actions that shape relationships, prosperity, success and well-being. When we stop to look more closely at these functions, we recognize that even the smallest cell, in its quest for the highest level of survival, desires all those seemingly advanced things as well.
Consider all the things you consciously perceive at any given moment. The sensation of the sun on your face, the sound of traffic through the window, the smell of your coffee in the morning and the sight of a bird flying past your window. Every one of these sensory experiences defines how you experience, participate in and take action in your life. This process is continuous and largely unconscious and automatic; we do not have to stop and think about how we perceive. We just do it.
The phases of perception
There are three phases involved in the process of perception, and whether you are using it to experience something as mundane as a car travelling past you or something as mystical as an intuitive bit of precognition, the process is the same. The three phases of perception are awareness, recognition and action.
When we navigate through our everyday life experiences, we flash through the process without thought. But when we adapt it to serve our First Intelligence, it’s important to understand the mechanics of it so we can be certain to empower our intuition in the most potent way possible.
Phase 1. Awareness
The process of perception begins when something in the environment gets our attention. The energetic information that lets us “notice”—whether it’s the light reflected from a balloon into our eyes, the frequency of Mozart as it hits our ears, or the smell of a hot-dog stand registered by our nose—is at this point simply information in the field of possibility that has bumped into our sensory organs. It has not yet been processed by the mind, so it has no meaning or reality.
Once the energetic impression has been received by the sensory organ, it’s translated into electrical signals that flow through the nervous system and into the brain and body to be interpreted. The actual moment of perception is when our body has gone through the lightning-quick processes of receiving and transmitting the electrical information, and not a moment before.
But awareness isn’t the complete picture. We are aware of many, many things as they blur in and out of our present moment of reality, but not every single one of them is something we need to isolate or process.
We perceive only a tiny percentage of the millions of energetic impulses happening around us each second. The things we do notice tend to be the things that align with our level of consciousness, that are equal to the beliefs we have about the world and our place in it, and that are relevant to our well-being and survival. The rest gets filtered out—either it’s ignored or it doesn’t even register.
Phase 2. Recognition
There is much we are aware of, but mere awareness isn’t enough to affect our physical processes. For awareness to have any impact, our brain must interpret what we’re experiencing so we can give it meaning. This allows us to categorize and understand the world around us, which puts us in a better position to respond to it.
This part of the process is better known as recognition, which literally means to show awareness of, to acknowledge or appreciate. At the moment of recognition our brain identifies the stimulus and then categorizes it as, say, a rose or a hot dog, a fish or a bird, dangerous or safe, life affirming or life denying. The category or meaning we assign to that stimulus determines how or if we take action.
Phase 3. Action
The actions you take in response to the meaning you have created may be conscious, like jumping out of the way of a moving car, or unconscious, like scrunching up your face when you bite into a lemon. They may be major, like slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian, or subtle, like waving an insect away from your face. They may be life advancing, like introducing yourself to an important person you meet at a dinner party, or life denying, like staying in a relationship you know is not healthy for you. Regardless of the impulse or impression received, an action is always the final piece of the perceptive puzzle, even when the action is taking no action.
To simplify this even further, the process of perception is: What did you notice? What did it mean to you? And what action did you take? Misperceptions can threaten survival, and accurate perceptions encourage success, so these three questions hold great value for you as you develop your intuitive intelligence.