What Is Intuition?


If you are like many people, you may already have a good idea what intuition is and the role it plays in your life. Perhaps you have had experiences like these:

  • You had a sense of the best decision, like who to hire or when to make a career change.
  • You had a feeling or a sense about a situation or person, for example you knew something was wrong with your child or that you could trust a particular person.
  • You knew in advance who was calling on the phone or what someone was going to say.
  • You encountered intuition as part of your religious or spiritual life; perhaps receiving intuitive guidance in a variety of circumstances.

Look over the words or phrases listed below. If you have used them, you were probably describing an intuitive experience.





Gut feeling

I had a feeling


My heart told me

Sixth sense


In a flash



I saw the light

Knew instantly


In the zone

An inner voice



Felt one with life

Even people who are very familiar with intuitive experiences find intuition and how it operates hard to describe. One helpful way to understand intuition is as direct knowing or an inner knowing without thinking it through.

Is there a difference between psychic and intuitive experiences?

Yes. Basically, psychic experiences are a subset of intuitive experiences.

Intuition describes a wide variety of ways you get information without using known logical or rational processes. Here are a few examples from the full spectrum of intuitive experiences:

An aha! experience


I intuit a creative solution

An instinctive knowing


My body intuits I need to do this

In the zone experience


Our team intuits what to do when

A psychic experience


I intuit what you are thinking

Psychic experiences are just one of the many ways some human beings intuit information and knowledge. And many intuitive people don't experience intuition in this way at all.

In her book, Hidden Channels of the Mind, Louise Rhine, the wife of famous Duke University parapsychologist J.B. Rhine, analyzed thousands of intuitive and psychic stories that the public sent to her. She noticed that the psychic experiences occur most frequently in emotional situations or where there are emotional connections.

Is intuition related to spiritual experience?

Intuition is understood in many cultures as fundamental to religious and spiritual experience. Consider this: no one can point to God as a material object or describe the physical dimensions of prayer. Worship is inherently an intuitive experience, a spiritualized dialogue among people and what many call the divine.

However, it is important to remember that people who do not believe in God or aren't sure of God's existence can also have strong intuition but may experience it in different forms.

© 2006 Charlson Meadows, used with permission.