A sixth sense. A gut feeling. A hunch. Whatever you want to call it, it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced that inner knowingness that’s either led us straight onto the path we were meant to walk or caused us to run away from what truly wasn’t meant for us. It’s that feeling that tells you to go on that date with the cute stranger or take the dream job across the country. That feeling is called your intuition.
“[Our] intuition is the verifiable perception of information or experience beyond what we consider the normal reach of our five senses,” Laura Day, intuitive healer and New York Times best-selling author of Practical Intuition, tells HelloGiggles. “It’s often non-local and doesn’t respect the commonly understood boundaries of time or space. For example, the future is as accessible as the past.”
So what does it mean to be intuitive, and does everyone have the ability to tap into their sixth sense? To find out, we talked to intuitive experts on how we can refine this seemingly esoteric skill to achieve our deepest desires.
Is everyone intuitive?
“As with any other sense or ability, some people are naturally gifted,” says Day. “However, most often, people who are aware of their intuition had to use it at a very young age to survive, and therefore, continued to use and develop it as they matured.”
For instance, Jona Genova, who is an energy healer and meditation teacher (and who was also mentored by Day), believes that, as with everything, there is a spectrum of how intuitively gifted someone can be. “I don’t know why, but this is one of my gifts in life. My brother could hit a baseball coming at him at 90 miles an hour in college. The professional athletes I work with have gifts that people are in awe at, but no one questions if they’re real,” says Genova. “I like putting it in this context because it’s very similar. I was born with a greater potential than most [when it comes to] intuition, and then I put a lot of work into developing it.”
To hone her intuitive gifts, Genova says she devotes time learning from top-notch mentors, like Day, and tends to her intuition on the daily. “Most of my decisions are based on whether something will empower my gifts or not,” she says. And while Day explains that, genetically speaking, certain neurological predispositions tend to be more intuitive because they have brains that filter less often, everyone has enough access to intuitive information.
How do we hone our intuitive gifts?
Day, who’s written four books on this subject, claims that our intuition is more practical and less woo-woo.
“Life is hard every day. I think the practices that make it seem as if there is some magic to make [tapping into our intuition] easy are disrespectful to [the] courage [we have to address] every day, however imperfectly, to create [our] lives,” she says. “Esoteric practices can make us feel better, but intuition is a tool and it can have a direct effect on making our lives easier, our actions more effective, and our relationships more functional. The more we complicate it with belief, the less effective it is.”
To help engage your intuition, Day says to try to “view” or predict anything that you have no say in. ‘“See’ where your friend is sitting right now, get details in your mind’s eye, and then call them and check it out,” she says. “Or predict things like the winner of a horse race and check out your results. With practice, you’ll learn to ignore the imagination and ‘hear’ the intuition.”
Another easy and useful way to engage [your] intuition, is to clearly state your goal or question that you would like answered. Next, Day says to “note throughout the day(s) what you notice what you don’t usually notice and use it all as information [to help] tell you what you need to know.” She also states that we’re getting information all the time, but because we have so many “targets” (aka goals and questions) at once, “all the questions and answers end up in one messy, unintelligible bundle.” In other words: Get clear on what you want your intuition to help you with in order to find the answers you seek.
How do we know the difference between our ego and our intuition?
Sometimes we want something to happen so badly—like for the love of our life to waltz into our lives or to get our dream job—that we could mistake our gut feeling for wishful thinking, or on the flip side, our ego dominating our inner dialogue to tell us that what we want isn’t actually good for us. Ugh. So how do we know the difference?
“The one thing that I have noticed over the years is that when there is a lot of emotion attached to the intuitive information, it probably isn’t intuitive,” says Day. “The intuitive state itself is a position of perspective through detachment and has very little feeling attached to its information. We often don’t like what it tells us, so we repress it. When we shift our thinking from wishing what we want would happen to wishing for the tools and resilience to deal with whatever happens, we are more likely to allow intuition to reveal its knowledge to us.”
For Genova, knowing what’s intuition and what’s ego is a matter of knowing and listening to her body’s cues, which is how she’s now able to recognize what’s driving her decisions. “[Intuition] makes my heart burst open. That feeling of my heart becoming expansive is one of [the] signs that my intuition is talking to me,” she says.
According to Day, the more you train your intuition, the more you’ll be attuned to it. But don’t despair. She says that clearly identifying the question and assuming all the information received is intuitive will work better each time and override fear and projection. “Retraining the skills you use to reason [your thoughts] takes practice and repatterning. Be patient with yourself but do keep a good record of your ‘hits’ so you do know what your accuracy is and where you are less accurate,” she adds.
Is intuition essential for everyone and everything?
Intuition is for more than just big life-changing impulses. It’s also an effective tool that can be used in all facets of life. For both Day and Genova, intuition is an integrative part of their humanity to help build a functional life. “I have taught [the practice of] intuition to businesses, therapists, drug researchers, parents, doctors, and just about anyone you can think of,” says Day. “Intuition gives us detailed, targeted, and proactive information about anything and anyone.”
Genova says that, for some people, “Intuition is meant to be a guiding light in their life. For others, in this lifetime, it may not be meant to be a part of their experience. No way is better, just different. For those who have access to intuition, not using it would be like not using thousands of words in the dictionary. It can limit or expand the expression.”
At the end of the day, it’s important to view your intuition as a skill that requires not only fine-tuning but also healthy energetic boundaries. And if your intuition is not properly trained, it can be distracting and open us up to manipulation and intrusion. “We train emotions, intellect, behavior so that we can thrive in the world. We need to do the same with [our] intuition. It can either help us or harm us, but it’s a part of us, so it’s [rarely a thing that’s] just ‘there,’” says Day. “When you train it, you can use it. If you don’t use it, that same ability to be permeable can interfere with our functioning.”