Recognizing Signs in Everyday Life

When you see dark clouds roll across the sky and hear thunder roar, you know a storm is coming. Because you recognize these signs, you can predict what's going to happen next. Our ancestors were well versed in reading weather patterns, the ocean's tides, animal behavior, and so on; their lives depended on interpreting signs accurately.

Today, most people have lost the ability to understand nature's patterns, yet many of the judgments and decisions they make each day are still based on reading signs. Savvy investors watch the stock market's ups and downs. A mechanic listens to noises in a car's engine to determine what's wrong. When you meet someone for the first time, things like a handshake or other forms of body language tell you a great deal about the person.

If you pay attention, you'll also notice that the universe regularly sends you signs to help guide you along your path in life. It's a bit like relying on road signs along the highway. Signs tend to be personal and unique, which means that your sign will probably be different than your mother's or your husband's or your best friend's. You may hear a voice, feel a tingle in your left foot, smell a familiar scent, or see a meaningful object, such as the coins mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. A sign might show up in a dream, during meditation, or while you're washing dishes. What's important is that you recognize the sign and understand its meaning.

Ask to receive signs. You may choose to receive one sign each day, preferably in a way you wouldn't ordinarily expect, that will show you that your plans or goals are materializing according to your intentions. You can also ask to be given a sign when you get off track. Over time, you might develop a special “sign language.” Acknowledging the value and validity of signs encourages your intuition to keep communicating with you.

Hunches and Premonitions

Everyone gets hunches now and again. Perhaps you felt a strong urge to stop in a store, and to your delight you found an item you'd been searching for. Or you entered a contest on a whim and won a prize. Hunches are another method your intuition uses to send messages to you. Start following your hunches, and see where they lead you.

Premonitions are like hunches, only stronger and more rare. Many people have experienced premonitions that prevented them from taking a plane that crashed or a boat that sank. But premonitions do more than simply presage danger; they can just as easily guide you toward good fortune. You might receive a premonition in a dream, as a waking vision, through an intense emotion or sensation, or even via another person.

A good way to validate your hunches and premonitions is to keep a journal. Whenever you get a strong feeling that you should or shouldn't do something, make a note of it. Date each entry. Describe the sign that alerted you. Explain what action you took and what happened as a result. (Some results may not be immediately apparent and could take time to unfold.) After a while, you'll learn what certain signs mean and which hunches you should follow.

Paying Attention to Meaningful Events and Patterns

The old saying, “Things happen in threes” may have some truth to it. Start noticing things that happen repeatedly. Also notice when things out of the ordinary occur or when they occur in a way that's unusual. The universe may be trying to get your attention.

Here's an example. For several months, Katie noticed the numbers 11:11 kept appearing in her life quite frequently and in unexpected places. Often she glanced at the clock at exactly 11:11. Once, when stuck in traffic, she noticed the license plate on the car in front of her was 11:11. Another time she found an envelope containing $11.11. When she investigated the significance of this number, she learned that 11:11 represents a gateway into a higher level of awareness. Her intuition was sending her a sign that the changes she was experiencing would open doors for her and expand her knowledge. Today, whenever this sign turns up, she realizes that an opportunity for growth is being presented.

Animal Appearances

Seeing a robin is a familiar sign that spring is coming. The appearance of an animal, bird, or insect — especially one you don't ordinarily see — can also be a special sign from the universe to you. In his book Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews explains how to interpret these signs according to the characteristics and/or behavior of the animal. “In understanding the language of animals,” he writes, “we must develop the mindset that everything has significance.”

Start paying attention to the creatures (other than family pets) that you come across. Did a butterfly flit past your windshield on your way to work the other day? Did a snake get into your garage? Is a particular kind of bird nesting in a tree in your yard?

If you spot a swan, it could be a reminder to appreciate beauty, to awaken your creativity, or to handle a situation with grace. Seeing a beaver might be a sign that it's time to make repairs in your home or to work hard to bring your dreams to fruition.

Native American traditions recognize that spirit guides can take the form of animals. Individuals align themselves with certain creatures to which they feel a close association. These totem animals can help people learn about themselves and receive guidance from the invisible world. If you feel a strong affinity with a particular animal, bird, reptile, or insect, it could be your totem. When that animal appears to you, either physically or in a dream, its presence usually augurs something significant.

Smells, Sounds, and Visions

In the physical world, you receive information through your five senses. Smells, sounds, and sights draw you toward things you need or desire, and they warn you away from things that are potentially harmful. Your intuition might communicate with you through olfactory or auditory signs, too, although the stimulus you're being alerted to may not be physical.

Let's say, for example, that for several days you keep smelling an unfamiliar perfume, but you can't ascertain where it's coming from — the fragrance doesn't seem to emanate from any obvious source. Then, at the end of the week, out of the blue you meet the woman of your dreams, and she's wearing the very same perfume. You received an aromatic premonition that something wonderful was coming into your life.

“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” — Shakespeare, Hamlet

Clairvoyance means being able to see things that don't exist within the physical field of vision. Clairaudience means hearing things that don't have a physical correlation. When my sister went into a coma suddenly, I awoke to the sound of tiny bells tinkling, although there were no bells in my bedroom. If you experience a sensory awareness that you can't link to a physical source, it could be a sign. Look into it more deeply to discover what it means.

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