We come into life equipped with five basic senses -- touch, hearing, taste, sight and smell. But we also possess some more mysterious senses. One such little-understood sense - intuition - governs our ability to arrive at spontaneous "non-logical" decisions.
The word intuition comes from the Latin word intueri, meaning "look within." Webster defines it as "the power or facility of attaining direct knowledge ...without evident rational thought." In Japan, intuition is known as "stomach art" - an interesting turn on the Western "gut-level feeling." Many feel intuition is a remnant of an ancient survival mechanism, as it allows us to sense danger without taking the time to analyze a situation. But intuition can also be extraordinarily profound.
Intuition is a unique "whole brain" function. It draws upon both our higher mind, and our entire lifetime of experience stored in the subconscious mind. It's probably our most powerful method of integrating our conscious and subconscious thought processes.
How Intuition Works in the Brain
The two halves of your "grey matter" (your cerebral cortex) and the thick network of nerves connecting them (the corpus collusum) are your "thinking cap" -- the "higher thinking" portion of your brain. This portion of your brain accounts for mental skills such as logic and analysis, and for interpreting input from your five physical senses (vision, smell, hearing, touch and taste.)
Here's an example of how intuition works: in the millisecond you enter a strange room or situation your brain integrates: (1) the input from all your higher thinking, (2) the input from all five senses, and (3) your entire lifetime of experience. Your whole brain immediately analyzes the situation, compares it to your lifetime of experience, and gives you a spontaneous "gut level" feeling about that environment. Either it's safe and you feel relaxed and comfortable, or it's somehow threatening, and you feel nervous or "on edge." All of this occurs on a non-rational level as an instant "ah ha" feeling.
Intuition and Business Success
In the latter half of the last century business decisions and results were defended using such rational, linear measures as rate of return, cost of capital, net income, etc. But all the while the most successful leaders were using an additional tool - intuition. And today intuition is being touted by management consultants as "essential." In a study of 13,000 business executives by Harvard researcher Jagdish Parikh, the executives credited 80 percent of their business success to relying on their intuition.
And research conducted by Ashley Fields, a senior advisor to Shell Oil, concluded that among Fortune 500 companies, "intuitive information processing strategies are most often found at the highest levels of an organization." Intuition is not just valuable in the business world. It can often lead to powerful creative, personal and relationship insights and breakthroughs.
For most of us, intuition is most active just before sleep, upon awakening from a nap, during a dream, while meditating or contemplating, or while doing something we find very relaxing. All of these have something in common - the alpha-state brain-waves often associated with meditation and creative contemplation. Here are some methods of "powering-up" your intuitive intelligence: