The Intuition Network, A Thinking Allowed Television Underwriter, presents the following transcript from the series Thinking Allowed, Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery, with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove.


JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. Our topic today is the cultivation and application of intuition, and my guest, Helen Palmer, is an instructor of psychology at John F. Kennedy University, and also well known throughout the United States as an intuitive and psychic. Helen, welcome to the program.

HELEN PALMER: Thank you.

MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to have you here. You know, you achieved an unusual kind of notoriety five years ago when Mother Jones magazine, sort of a social-reform, left-wing-oriented magazine, did a cover story about you as a psychic, and came up with the conclusion, in spite of their rationalistic bias, that you were doing things that they just couldn't explain. How did that affect your life?

PALMER: Very little, except that it was the most frightening thing I ever did. It didn't change my life any; my work is very much the same as it was then. I do sessions with people where I rely on my intuition as a source of information, and I teach both academic psychology and intuitive studies, and I don't see any real war between those two points of view. But the article gave me a great deal of personal strength, because I realized it was a risky situation.

MISHLOVE: Putting yourself in the hands of the cynical media.

PALMER: Well, exactly so; and yet, in some strange way my attention came to the fore, and it was actually a very exciting experience. I did a session for one of the then editors, who was the writer of the article, who was himself quite a cynic, I have to say. But I saw him as a fair-minded person -- if I gave some adequate demonstration, that in fact he would report that accurately. So with that sense of security, I went ahead with the article, although it could have been been very bad for me if it had turned out that I was not able to give some evidence of intuition.

MISHLOVE: Well, I can understand why they decided to do an article about you, at least in the sense that many, many years before that article came out, your reputation as perhaps the Bay Area's most accurate and competent intuitive psychic was well known to me, and I think it's marvelous that since that time you've gone ahead and completed your doctoral degree in psychology. You're bridging both worlds, in a sense -- the rational and I suppose one might say the irrational side.

PALMER: Well, the nonlinear; the irrational always has a tinge of madness attached to it. In fact my own intuition was born, or I recognized it, in sorting through my own neurosis, my own upsurgings of unconscious material, in which there was a great deal of buried and unrecognized intuition. So I understand when it is seen as an irrational function, but I don't see it that way once it's become stabilized, just as an integrated function that everyone has access to.

MISHLOVE: You know, I attended a brief workshop with you well over ten years ago, and you made it seem so simple. You handed each person an object sealed in an envelope and you said, "OK, here, describe the history of the object," with no preparation, you just said do it. There was something about the simple confidence that you expressed at that time. I remember I was very accurate. You have been working along those lines for quite a while now, and you help to train people. Is that your basic training approach?

PALMER: Well, I think we're not without guidance and teaching in this area. It's not like we're reinventing the wheel. When I teach I rely a great deal on traditional meditative practices, and I've made a study of those practices -- what is similar about the various traditions, how attention is described and organized through different practices of focusing or emptying the mind. And so what I teach really are historical, traditional focusing mental practices, and by following those I think very ordinary people like you and I are able to tap into what seem like at first extraordinary abilities. In terms of the capacities of the human mind, intuition is not a big deal. It's not a big-deal state of mind; it's a very available state of mind, if you have the confidence and the willingness to perform the practices that gain access to it.

MISHLOVE: Now, the exercise that we did together --

PALMER: This was ten years ago, Jeffrey. I don't remember the exercise.

MISHLOVE: It was psychometry, I think is the term for it. I held an object in my hand, and I just began to get mental impressions about the history of that object -- who had owned it, what kind of a person they were. Would you call that intuition?

PALMER: It's a form of intuition. Psychism, the information about the material world, evidential material, is an aspect of intuition, and it's one that people are very interested in because it gives an evidence and a kind of confidence to go forward into other realms of intuition. But the psychic aspect is a very flashy kind of arena. It's getting a great deal of notoriety now because business has found a great interest in psychic affairs because there's a great element of risk in business. Business intuition, and decision-making intuition of all kinds, is becoming quite -- how do you say? -- interesting to people. So the psychic world, I think, is a very intriguing one, and it's one that I travel into a lot. I like the study of what is possible in that world. But the realm of intuition has many, many aspects to it, and the psychic world is maybe the most easily available to people as they first begin to shift their attention into other states of consciousness.

MISHLOVE: Let's just provide an overview of what some of the other aspects are of normal intuition -- the kind of intuition that anybody could do, not necessarily a famous psychic.

PALMER: Well, it depends on what object you focus your attention on. Intuition is about something; you have an intuition about something. It's not something that is very abstract; it's usually functional. You have an intuition with respect to music or painting or an invention or a business deal, or an intuition in relationship. Very commonly people experience a kind of precognition or a kind of empathy in relationship that they realize did not come from their thinking personality part of themself, and so they become curious as to how to stabilize or get re-entrance into that kind of experience. And so people have a range of, you might say, entering experiences. The most common, I think, is the exchange of feelings with another person, which is a little different than the close approximation -- like a therapist who sees a close approximation in the client of something that they have gone through in the past. Empathy is really the exchange of feelings, so that you are as the other is to themself, rather than a close match between what the other has described and your own close approximation. So people when they've entered that kind of unifying experience with another person -- say a family member; people commonly have an experience of unification with someone who has died; that's not uncommonly reported. Precognitive dreams are really very much more common than I think most people realize -- being able to enter a dream state voluntarily and be able to know ahead of time an event as it will be played out. Now, they sound from the conceptual part of the self like very advanced abilities, and when you start training or working with your attention, you go inside, they're actually very simple things. They're not so far out or so difficult to achieve.

MISHLOVE: You know, what you're saying reminds me of an exercise I did. It was so simple and yet so profound. It involved identifying, not even with another person, but with any object --

PALMER: Ah yes, the psychometry exercise.

MISHLOVE: A little different. In this case -- I'd like you to comment on it -- I was asked to think of a problem I had, a major problem in my life, and then to take an object, anything -- it could be a twig, a paper clip, a toothpick
-- and identify with that object, and then say, "What would that paper clip, or that twig, have to tell me about my problem?" And I found -- it was with a group of people -- that there was wisdom in any object you would choose.

PALMER: I'm not sure it's in the object. I could give a parallel example. In so-called primitive societies, which are certainly not very primitive along the lines of intuition -- they are superior in that function -- very often there's a sense, "The rock told me," or "I got the message from the clouds in the sky." What it is, is a specific focusing of internal intelligence, internal attention, that focuses on the problem, and then the inner stream of reverie, the inner stream of impressions, is played out on the objective surface with your eyes open.

MISHLOVE: Very much like a crystal ball, perhaps.

PALMER: Well, yes. The clouds in the sky are an excellent moving surface. Crystal would be a nice pointed, focusing surface. They lend themselves, these external objects, as devices, you might say, to focus the inner mind in specific ways. But it's not really the trees or the rock or the clouds in the sky or the paper clip; it's the quality of attention that you bring to your problem, and you use the external object as a device to focus your attention.

MISHLOVE: That's different than identifying, say, with another human being.

PALMER: Not exactly. Well, different in the sense that the mode is different. When you focus on another human, very often the quality of connection is through the feeling state, the sensate state. When you see, when you view internally, even though your eyes may be open and the view is externalized, the capacity to pay attention is internal. There are two ways that people commonly experience intuition. One is through inner reverie, vision, and the other is through sensing. Often those that are inclined to have empathic experiences, they're sensitive through their feelings, and so the attention moves into the feeling state and so closely identifies with the other that there's a transfer of information in that way. My own proclivity is inner vision, so my inner sight is the strongest modality that I have. And so I was attracted to the historical trainings that teach gradated, methodical steps to developing inner visualization. The task in visual intuition is to be able to immerse your attention completely in the object so that you lose yourself for the time in the reverie, in the internal vision associated with the object. And this is how the information comes to you, through the contact of inner vision. Empathy operates through the contact of inner sensing. But it depends on the capacities of the intuitive to be able to focus attention; that's what's common to all of these different kinds of experiences.

MISHLOVE: I should imagine one of the real tricky things is then to take that intuitive insight, that inner vision, and translate it into some form of useful behavior or activity in the world.

PALMER: You know, there are two liabilities in spiritual practice, if you're applying it to intuition, trying to gather specific intuitive information. For some people it's hard to enter the state. The ego doesn't want to let go. It's hard to get past the thought barrier. It's difficult to shift the attention into a nice clean state of mergence with a person or situation that you're trying to tune in to. And for others, they very easily slide into the state; they're not blocked or inhibited in that way. But the recovery of information is the task, and it's a source of big problems in the psychic area. Sometimes you get people with extremely accurate experience, and then they project all over the place when it comes to the interpretation. So in a sense it doesn't have a kind of touchstone in the real world. I think this is illustrated in the myth of Cassandra, who had great accuracy, but somehow was not believed. I think the metaphor in that is that people have very accurate psychic experiences, and then when it comes to metaphorically closing the gap between the dream or the empathic merger and making it useful in the world, having an accurate piece of information, that's where the liability occurs. Therefore I think gifted intuitives would work very well with people who have a particular interest, like scientists or inventors, where the scientist or the inventor, if they could lend themselves to the metaphoric imagery, the stream of internal clairvoyant imagery or inner empathy, could perform that function of bringing the translation through more accurately.

MISHLOVE: In other words, teams of people might work better than individuals, because it's a lot for a person to have all of these skills in one person.

PALMER: Yes, and a lot of very, very gifted intuitives are not seen as such because their language base is not very good. They're not able to bring the message through in a coherent conceptual framework, and so it's dismissed, and the person himself dismisses a large source of their own information. So yes, I think if the academics could move a little more into the metaphoric language of vision and sense, and the intuitives could get a little off their biases of trying to make things evidential -- you know, often intuitives don't like being pinned into evidential material -- I think your concept of teams is a very worthwhile one.

MISHLOVE: You mentioned earlier the resurgence of interest from the business community, and the fact that there are uncertainties in business and a need to resolve that. Do you think this is healthy, for people in business to want to move in this area, working with psychics and intuitives?

PALMER: How do you mean, healthy?

MISHLOVE: Well, I think a concern has been expressed by some people that business is essentially based on greed, on selfishness, and that the psychic powers should be used for more spiritual things.

PALMER: You know, it's a tremendously difficult issue. I wish I had the answer. I recently was at a conference of practicing intuitives, that I felt were very gifted people. We met to exchange methodologies, and what we really came up with was our concern about the ethics of the field. It's a tremendous area. I can only give you a view, because in a way I'm split, I'm kind of on two sides of the fence. On one hand, to empower ordinary people with these abilities is a great desire of mine. Actually, non-intellectuals, I think, have an edge in the possibility of accessing intuition. They're on so many biases and constraints to entering a nonlinear state. So I don't think academics and intellectuals really have an edge on this at all, and they certainly didn't invent mysticism; it was a very ordinary, proletarian kind of activity. On one hand, I want to empower people, and on another hand, you see the practices that are high-powered, actual sacred technology methods, which are gradually leaking into the public domain. Over the last ten years we've had kind of an influx of really impressive sacred technology, completely taken out of context -- and this is where I'm on one side of the fence; I'm responsible for some of this teaching -- being taught out of the context of the ego reduction that was part of the original basis of training. So you see, these intuitive and psychic openings were seen as the side effects of higher spiritual practice, which were ego reducing.

MISHLOVE: That's right. There were many warnings about don't get caught up in the psychic level; you'll distract yourself from the path to enlightenment.

PALMER: Yes. So on one side of the fence there are the practitioners of sacred tradition who are saying, don't get near the psychic-intuitive world, and on the other hand, here we are in materialistic America where the major entrance is in the lower case, in the intuitive manifestations, minus the upper case, the higher practices. So both, I have to say. You can't stop the teachings, because we're alerted now to how to use the mind, what the functions are. There's no way of stopping the flood of teaching.

MISHLOVE: It seems that the ancients also, though, the shamans and the Tantric practitioners, use psychic powers for healing, for finding lost sheep and dogs and goats.

PALMER: Yes. Dead bodies and lost children has never been my specialty, I'm afraid, but yes, it's always been used in a way to support ordinary life. But the question is still an open one -- who to train, under what conditions. And I think we're in a position, Jeffrey, where all we can do is shape it. I don't think you can stop it, but you can shape it with a kind of basis of ethical framework, and a very interesting set of warnings, which I feel in some way protect the teachings from falling into too much disarray. My experience with people who develop strong intuitive proclivities without some basis of ethicality, is that the ego, or the personality, starts to backfire. I've seen several outstanding examples of this, where the personality became so glamorized, or on the other side of the coin the personality became so paranoid, as a result of the opening experiences, that they cease to exist; the personality just rejected them. That doesn't always happen, but there is that safeguard. The integration is the task, I think -- to integrate it into the personality.

MISHLOVE: I like that term integration, because it seems in a way that we're at a point in history where the prime imperative for us is to integrate. We have a world that needs to get together, and if we can bring to bear the higher powers of the mind in making the world work better --

PALMER: Yes. I have something to say about that. I have one student who had, I think, the most interesting application of intuitive training that I've ever heard. This was a black woman, and she wants to use the intuitive practices as a way of helping her students -- she's a clinician -- work with minority clients. She's using the sacred technology to help them work with unconscious projection. This of course is the basis of any good intuitive training -- to tell the difference, to discriminate between your projection, your false empathy, your false inner vision, and the truthful impression that comes from the unknown situation.

MISHLOVE: A projection, in other words, might be where I attribute certain --

PALMER: Falsely attribute.

MISHLOVE: Falsely, because they're really my own qualities. Maybe I think you're angry at me, and I'm really angry at you.

PALMER: So she is applying the sacred technology of how to tell the difference between a projection and a truthful intuitive impression, so that her students can work more easily with Third World people.

MISHLOVE: It would be nice if we could introduce that into the political arena, where we're so often pointing our fingers at other political factions.

PALMER: That's what I mean by shaping it. If this technology is solid, and I certainly believe it is, and it can be brought into the concept of an empathic merger with a so-called enemy, or the correct internal view of the intentions of another, though the thoughts may be traumatized, afraid of the other, aggressive toward the other -- if a discrimination as a result of spiritual practice could be made, so that I know the other as they are to themself -- and maybe they are aggressively inclined toward me, and maybe they're not -- but if I could trust that I had a truthful source of information, so that I didn't have to rely on my projections or my information from the news service, then I think we'd be in a better position as to how to understand each other. So I'm optimistic in that sense of being able to shape the material in a useful way.

MISHLOVE: Do you ever work with businessmen for simple things, like what's the best time to sell a piece of property, or what's the stock market going to do next month, things of this sort?

PALMER: What I teach them is the same body of material that I teach to somebody who isn't the least interested in intuition, but wants to open themselves through meditation. They get the same set of practices. My hope -- and again, my spirit is slightly divided on this, I have two opinions -- my hope is that the practices will work their magic, and so the business person, who may be vitally interested in the timing of the stock market, will when they enter the appropriate state of mind become as vitally interested in something else, like an empathic merger with a so-called enemy. So my hope is that the practices themselves work their magic. The individual uses of how people apply these practices is really up to them, but there I have to say that if the personality starts to get a little too on the glamorized side, or a little too on the paranoid side, -- you simply cannot reenter the state with any reliability. It's as if the ability closes down.

MISHLOVE: What are some of the other applications that you've seen or worked with directly, in your own practice or with your students?

PALMER: Well, the majority of my students are clinicians, so they want to develop their intuition with regard to their clients' situation so that they can understand the other as they are to themself, rather than simply a close approximation based on similar cases that they might have studied. The other large group of people are artists, who are very interested in stabilizing their attention in a state where the work appears before their thinking self is directing. So they're very interested in a specific shift of attention, where they can apply their mind to -- let's say it's a graphic artist -- toward a painting, so they can stabilize their attention, so the painting is produced from a state of mind that is separated from the thinking self. So I would say artists of all kinds.

MISHLOVE: Now, when you say are produced from a state of mind separate from their thinking self -- as if they were the instrument of some other higher intelligence?

PALMER: Why make it higher? Why not make it ordinary human? It's higher in the sense that it's different than the thinking self.

MISHLOVE: All right. Some other part of themselves, that they block off in their normal intelligence.

PALMER: Yes, or move into spontanteously, and are more than anxious to get back there. They want to restabilize their attention in that altered state.

MISHLOVE: I want to get back to this other term that you've mentioned a few times -- empathic contact with another human being, to see a person as they experience --

PALMER: To feel, if it's empathic.

MISHLOVE: To feel, to experience another person the way they experience themselves. It seems so rare. You know, the classic version is when two persons meet they're really six people. There's who I think I am, who you think I am, who I think you are -- rather than just you and me.

PALMER: Yes. I think the most moving example of people who are moving in toward the idea of experiencing another truly are parents, who wish not to project their expectations and their false beliefs all over their children, but would just as soon let the child be as they are to themself, to allow that freedom. I find that is a very worthwhile arena for the training of intuition, in family situations. The sense of things is not a thinking state. It has nothing to do with one's thoughts. It's a shift of attention into a state of merger, where the experience is of the other, transmitted through one's own sense of things, one's own feeling state. And you know, it sounds so far-fetched and so magical when it's coming from the conceptual side. In terms of spiritual practice and the shift of attention, it's not that far away.

MISHLOVE: It's as if it's apprehended, not comprehended.

PALMER: Yes, where the experience precedes direction from the thoughts. Now, a good example of that -- let's take not the sensate but the visual experience, the voyant experience. In a dream you have all of the aspects of what is necessary to enter an altered state, and people dream all the time. At night the attention goes away from the thinking state. Well, in meditation you can withdraw attention, you can detach attention from thoughts, and focus attention on a relatively empty field of perception. That's not a big deal in meditation; it's relatively simple.

MISHLOVE: You can focus attention on the void.

PALMER: On a relatively empty perceptual field. So you can do voluntarily what happens at night in a rather automatic way. And then at night, after attention has moved from the thoughts and has gone empty, no thinking, the dream happens spontaneously, and it is not directed by the thinking self. But there is a state of awareness, there is an observer, so to speak, and in the morning it's recalled. The observer was awake enough to remember the dream. And then when the attention shifts back to the thoughts, then the dream is recovered and submitted for analysis, so to speak.

MISHLOVE: Helen, we're going to have to stop now. We're out of time, but it's been such a pleasure having you with me. Thank you very much.

PALMER: Thank you, Jeff.


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