1. Premonitions are extremely common. They probably arose early in our evolutionary history because they provided our ancestors with a greater likelihood of survival and procreation. They were thus likely to have been incorporated into their genes and passed down through succeeding generations. As a result, we now appear to be hardwired for premonitions. They have become our birthright, part of our original equipment.

2. Premonition means literally "a forewarning," indicating that they often announce upcoming events that are unpleasant e.g., a health crisis or a natural disaster. This is not absolute, however; premonitions may also foretell pleasing events such as a job promotion, the location of a parking spot, or even winning lottery numbers.

3. Premonitions can be realistic or symbolic. They occur commonly during dreams, but also during full, waking awareness.

4. Five rules of thumb aid us in knowing which premonitions to take seriously: (1) if the premonition warns of a health crisis or death; (2) if the premonition is numinous, highly vivid, or "realer than real"; (3) if a dream is recurrent, appearing often in the same night or in succeeding nights, as if clamoring for attention; (4) if the premonition is associated with physical symptoms; or (5) if the premonition is experienced independently by a spouse, partner, lover, or close friend.

5. There are four categories of scientific evidence for premonitions: (1) presentiment experiments, in which the body responds to a future event prior to one's conscious awareness of it; (2) precognitive remote viewing tests, in which a distant individual "gets" information from a sender up to a week before it is mentally sent; (3) online tests of precognitive functioning, and (4) global consciousness effects that are detected by random event generators stationed around the earth, which often react prior to the occurrence of a subsequent happening.

6. Premonitions alert us to impending problems and crises of those we love. These warnings are extremely common between parents and children, spouses, siblings (particularly identical twins), close friends, and lovers. Empathy, love, compassion and a sense of oneness mediate premonitions.

7. Although we cannot have premonitions on demand, we can invite them into our lives by setting the stage for them, so they are more likely to occur. We can become more premonition-prone.

8. The most effective way to become more premonition prone is to develop a discipline wherein we quiet our mind and attend to the subtle messages from within and without -- through meditation, contemplation, immersion in nature, or just "getting quiet." Courting mystery also helps. As Rumi said, "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment."

9. Keep a dream diary, in which you record your dreams on waking. This makes premonitions more likely to occur and insures that they will be remembered.

10. Premonitions are an indicator of the soul and a bridge to the transcendent. Their value goes beyond their practical benefit of warning us of upcoming dangers. They reveal the presence of a timeless aspect of our consciousness, and therefore point like an arrow to an immortal, eternal aspect of who we are.

©2009 Larry Dossey, M.D., author of The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives

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