Nature & Health, 2010

Hospitals were nothing new to my dad. In the five years that he had courageously battled his cancer, he had numerous surgeries and, while each hospital stay was stressful and worrying, I felt inwardly calm and sure that he would recover. Except for when he was admitted to hospital late last year, I had an overwhelming sense that this time was going to be very different.

As a child I would often close my eyes and ask myself, How long will I have my daddy for? I don't know why I asked this question: perhaps it was a way of countering that universal childish fear that one's parents are going to suddenly leave. Each time I asked this question I got to the same answer: 68. Dad went into hospital five days shy of his 69th birthday. He died two months later.

While losing Dad has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life, the sense of somehow knowing when his passing would occur meant that I was able to appreciate him more in the last few years of his life as well as prepare myself as best as possible for life without him in physical form. As a result there was nothing unfinished and nothing left unsaid between us. I was blessed to be able to say goodbye to my father before he passed.

The word 'intuition' originates from the Latin inter, which means 'to see within'. When following your intuition, instead of your rational brain, you simply feel that something is the truth, without really knowing why. We all have intuitive capacity - that 'gut feeling' or inner voice which guides decision-making when we listen to it. However, from childhood we are taught to base our decisions on facts and logic, progressively overriding our natural instincts and feelings. So, while for some people the ability to tun into their intuition, like an internal compass, remains as easy as breathing, for others it becomes a disused skill and an under-utilised resource.

The good news is that, like any skill, you can strengthen your intuition by working at it. Start by asking your sub-conscious for guidance. Close your eyes and bring yourself to a state of relaxation with a few deep, calming breaths. Bring your focus to the centre of your forehead - the area yogis call 'the third eye', the seat of intuition - and as a question about a problem you are facing. Pay attention to what you're feeling in the rest of your body, not just your head. For example, you might feel warming excitement in your belly, or an uncomfortable, cold feeling. As these messages and feelings come through, resist the temptation for your rational mind to analyse and dissect them. Be patient. The answer always comes.