Our own GPS

Watch many a programme about the natural world and we’ll hear about the ability of many species to navigate over hundreds or thousands of miles as the complete their annual migration. There are numerous theories as to how they do it and probably many different approaches across the range of creatures, from using the sun, the earth’s magnetic fields, smell, infrasound and so on. Why would they rely on just one! And, as human-beings share many of the same underlying animal systems, is it not reasonable that we, inherently, have similar abilities?

It’s also reasonably to see how, with so many technological tools at our disposal, how we’ve lost touch with such abilities. But is that wise? Look at this comparison between an established technical solution – GPS (typically used in conjunction with a mobile phone map app) and our equivalent to a migrant species’ ‘inner GPS’:

  GPS Inner GPS
What Global Positioning System Intuition & inner knowing
How Receiving signals from satellites gives precise location Tuning into the cosmic consciousness
Requires Receiver (with power) & signal Personal ability to tune in
Use Tells you where you are; relies on pre-generated maps for guidance Knows where you are, where you need to be and where to go next
Cost Of phone, connection & aps (for map aspects) Free
Availability Depending on reliability of GPS and phone signals Anytime, anyplace, anywhere


Don’t get me wrong, the IT solution has its place. For example, we were in Manchester last year and I was feeling really tired and, as a result, unable to tune-into my sense of direction. I didn’t know where I was nor how to get back to the train station to get home. I switched my phone to data (I normally save £s by using data only in free WiFi areas) and allowed GPS to tell me where I was and a map app to guide me onwards. It all worked as it was intended to, and all was well. But what if it hadn’t worked? As technology does so often let us down! Or what if I’d run out of charge or credit . . . or had no high-tech phone with me?

I could have asked the locals!

In Bristol, last week, I tried that approach first. I was wondering around just exploring. As the whole intent was to ‘get a feel for the place’ I didn’t want to rely on technology. But, as it was getting dark and beginning to rain, I realised that I wasn’t where I thought I was and hadn’t come across any bus-stops lately (from which to catch my intended bus back to my hotel). I stopped a number of locals as they passed me in the street, all of whom were friendly and would have liked to have helped: but they did use the buses so couldn’t guide me.

At one road junction my logic told me to turn left. I ended up at a bus stop: going to nowhere I recognised! Common sense told me to retrace my steps.

Back at the junction, logic had to agree with intuition: try turning right instead. My rational mind still wasn’t sure: I didn’t recognise any of the street names . . .  and still no bus stops. But an inner surety kept me walking in that direction, even across another junction. Eventually I reached a bus stop, on the route I needed . . . and a bus, although schedules only every 30 minutes, arrived a few minutes later. My inner GPS had not only got me to the right place, but at the right time! It may even have allowed logic it’s free reign earlier, knowing that to have taking this walk then would have left me waiting for ages at the bus stop. As it was, my ‘wrong’ bit of exploring has actually filled in a very useful bit of my mental map and given me just the feel for the larger area I needed!

And that’s my point: when it comes to evolving our consciousness, developing our inner GPS gives us not just a useful aid to knowing where we are on the ground, it also connects us into our wider location . . . and place in the world generally. Our inner GPS gives us far more than a satellite or digital map can: it knows where we need to be as well. Why not give it a chance!

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