What Is Intuition?

An overview

There are many answers to the question 'what is intuition?'

The first group of answers use other similar, related but also vague terms such as hunches, sixth sense, instincts and insight.

The second group points at an answer by describing what it is not. It is not a conscious process. Nor is it a step-by-step procedure that can be justified using logic. Or it is said to be the opposite of analytical and rational thought.

And the third group will answer 'what is intuition?' by saying how it works or what the results of it are. It's a process of being open to information, or a way to process lot of information very quickly. Or it's a feeling that things are right, or a finely tuned psychic ability. Or it's the ability to make decisions so that your life works out well.

Oftentimes, people will give seemingly contradictory explanations when asked 'what is intuition?'.

Some say it's natural, others say it's a learnt skill. It has been described as something you are born with, but also as requiring a lot of education and experience before it can be applied. It's a spiritual thing. Or it's related to a high level of practice and skill.

Even the various definitions of intuition available don't always agree with each other.


Few studies, little interest...

In relation to other aspects of human behavior it has not attracted a huge amount of attention from psychologists. Perhaps because it has been difficult to clearly define. Or perhaps they consider that they have enough ways to explain and justify our behavior without needing to involve intuition.

Nor has it attracted much attention from the business world (until recently.) Because it seems more comfortable, and indeed there is less responsibility required, to rationalise and justify decision making.

Gary Klein, a psychologist has posed the question 'what is intuition and can we train our intuitive abilities to make better decisions?' In fact, he points out that we make decisions intuitively over 95% of the time!

What is intuition really?

Let's take it out of the realm of magic and hocus-pocus.

If we accept that it is a way of accessing or processing or using information, then we also know that we do this through our five senses.

So why do people refer to a sixth sense when they are asked what is intuition? Perhaps because they are not aware of all the information that is actually present in the five senses.

Even people who are psychic, clairvoyant, clairaudient or clairsentient, process the information in the visual, auditory or kinaesthetic (feeling) systems. (Taste and smell are underutilised by most people). They may not know where the information comes from, and they receive it through the five senses. We can't even begin to consider a sixth sense or what it might be.

Phrases such as 'gut feeling', ' my heart is telling me...', 'it doesn't ring true for me...', 'I saw the whole thing in a flash...' are commonly heard and indicate how the person is processing information. What may not be present for the individual is simply the awareness of how they are doing what they're doing.

The suggests that increasing your awareness of how you process information in your system will give you greater access to your own intuition. This means that it's a skill learnable by anyone. And some of the technology available today allows us to do this easily and quickly...


Nature vs nurture...

Intuition is also 'natural', because it's how we naturally function as humans anyway. And of course, some people have stumbled upon strategies that work better than others. So it seems that they have a greater natural ability to use their intuition. And I'm suggesting that part of their natural strategy is a heightened awareness of themselves and what's going on in their system.

Some folks that are easy to observe with this in mind are sports people. They seem to be able to process a lot of information very fast. They spot patterns much sooner than non-experts.

They arrive where the ball is going before the ball even gets there. Or they change what they are doing in an instant for no apparent reason, and it turns out to be the right thing to have done. Or they switch tactics because of a seemingly inconsequential move on the part of their opponent. And they end up winning.

And you must remember that although they may have a natural ability for the sport, they also spend hours and hours and hours of practice building knowledge, skills and experience in their chosen arena.


What is intuition? All of the above!

So it's possible that intuition is a combination of all these contradictory things. It's natural, but can be improved by learning. It's something that you're born with, but unless it's used and practised you won't have access to the power of your intuition.

It relates to the day-to-day practical processing of information and decision making. And developing your intuition so that you know how to use it well, allows you to live a life that is as spiritual as any other path.

So a practical answer to the question 'what is intuition?' would be to say that it's the ability to process information, not just information in the environment, but also information available internally from past experiences and knowledge, that allows you to make great decisions.

And this information is not just processed mentally. Sometimes the sports men and women react physically faster than they could possibly have thought about it. So the processing is often done in the body and muscles.

Accessing and utilizing the power of intuition means developing an awareness of what is happening in the body as well as the mind, and this aspect is vital for using your intuition for making excellent decisions...

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