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Intuition

Posted by Zenaida

Typical Sunday morning. Got up, drove to church, a little apprehensive because he might be there, but determined to play it cool. Pull into the parking lot, jump out of the car, lock the door, and start walking toward the building.

He is behind me. Didn’t see him or his vehicle, but I know he‘s there walking behind me. I get that sixth sense tingle as my heart starts moving a little faster, so my feet start moving a little faster into the church, and then I turn around to see him walking up to the door with her, as I knew he would be.

This is the most visceral experience I have ever had with intuition. It seems to follow a pattern laid out by Malcolm Gladwell in his book blink. The Getty Center was offered a kouros from the 6th Century B.C., an amazing find. They moved carefully taking the statue on loan and beginning an investigation. According to all objective scientific study, the statue was made from marble that came from a quarry in the right neighborhood, and was old enough to be what it claimed to be. When it was shown to certain members of the board, they found themselves in opposition to the idea of purchasing the statue because “something about it wasn’t right.” The kouros was taken to Greece to be presented to more experts. The opposition was only stronger from these art authorities. After fourteen months of investigation, the Getty staff found that the statue was indeed a fake, something their scientists and lawyers could not tell them was discerned by sculpture experts in the first seconds of seeing the statue not in terms of specific evidence, but by a general and sometimes abstract feeling of aversion to the statue.

Another example comes from the Theory of Thin Slicing, which is illustrated by a psychologist who analyzes marriage relationships by video taping a 15 min. discussion of any topic they felt related to their marriage. By looking at the slightest voice inflections, hidden reactions, and interpretations of dialogue, this man and his staff are able to predict the length of their marriage with an astonishing degree of accuracy. The idea is that our brains take note of small details that come together subconsciously to guide us to a conclusion or decision.

I feel like my uncanny sense of knowing there was someone behind me, that I had not seen, might have been the result of my brain taking note of that person’s car parked a few cars away from mine as I turned to go into the building. So a moment’s notice was enough to tell me he was there, even though I don’t remember seeing the car, him, or his new girlfriend at all.

Is intuition the same as having the Light of Christ, or having the Spirit with us? Intuition is seen as something that can be learned and improved, most often by people who believe in empathic and psychic abilities as well. We are taught that we should seek gifts of the Spirit, that dreams can be sources of revelation. When does intuition become something divinely inspired, and when is it a human resource, and can it be a tool of evil?

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  1. Caroline says:

    Very interesting. I actually tend to shrink away from the word ‘intuition’ probably because it seems like’s often couples with ‘feminine’. And I don’t like the idea that women are naturally more intuitive than men.

    But your post gives a more scientific explanation that I like. I also like the idea of it being a gift of the spirit, open to both men and women – a gift that can be developed and expanded through attention and practice.

  2. Jana says:

    I’ve always felt that I have a lot of “intuition,” which my patriarchal blessing calls it the gift of discernment. It’s like a kind of 6th sense that can tell when someone is lying or if there is danger up ahead. I think it comes from really paying attention to things–listening, watching, etc. I am a very aware person so I think my brain catches a lot of cues subconsciously and then processes them to help me “see” things. I’ve never thought of this as a particularly feminine trait, but I suppose my skills have probably been honed through the years of mothering. It’s like that creepy feeling you get when the house is too quiet and you realize that your 2 year-old is definitely into mischief.

  3. SAP says:

    I would think that intuition might be an extension of our souls. I think it’s possible that our spirits could communicate with each other without our knowing. So if you haven’t consciously perceived someone with your physical mind, your spirit could have, because spirits probably aren’t limited by things like range of vision…

  4. Jessawhy says:

    Wow, what a cool post.
    I love the pic, too.
    (Zenaida, are you the author?)
    Unlike Jana, I’ve never considered myself to have much intuition, feminine or otherwise.
    Still, I think I could gain more of the gift of discernment through practicing observing the world around me.
    Now that I’m thinking harder, I do think I had a bit of intuition last week.
    My 5 yo son spiked a fever of 103 (the highest he’s ever had) and was very lethargic, and then vomited. I knew he had an infection in his central line (port-a-cath) and that we needed to take in ASAP to the Children’s Hospital ER. I was right, but it was strange how I knew it as soon as I saw him walk in the house with an unlicked Blow Pop in his hand.
    Anyway, he spent 3 days in the hospital and he’s fine now, but I did have that gut feeling when I looked at him. Intuition, maybe.

  5. Dora says:

    I read Blink a while ago, and enjoyed it immensely. I like to think that while we only use a small percentage of our brain for conscious thought, there is a lot that we will someday have the potential to lock into.

    I struggle with my sense of intuition. Many times, I will have the urge or inclination to do something. Sometimes I follow through. Sometimes not. And sometimes I end up kicking myself for one course of action or another. Is it the Spirit, these inklings? Not sure. These aren’t spiritual interactions, for the most part, just day to day things. Have had one experience with full-blown revelation, and that is one reason why I remain committed to the gospel, though the church itself often drives me to distraction.

    More often, I get a sense of deja vu. I’ll wake from a dream, and have strong impressions of something that happened, which fade within the next hour. A few days (or weeks or months) later, I will be in a situation and recognize it from my awakening impressions. No, I don’t think that I’m seeing into the future, but it gives me the feeling of having lived twice.

  6. JohnW says:

    I started to read Blink, but after a few pages, I got the strong feeling that it was a bunch of hooey, so abandoned it.

    Blink high-five, anyone?

    At times I’ll get flashes of intuition about social interactions. I’ve realized people were secretly dating a bunch of times in the past year. I’ll walk into my mother’s house and realize within seconds that she’s too busy to entertain the other people who have unexpectedly dropped by.

    And other times I’m totally oblivious.

    I think it’s a talent that can be payed attention to and improved. But I’ve also found that it’s too easy to latch onto an initial “read” of a situation and be unable to let go of it despite mounting counter-evidence.

  7. Zenaida says:

    Jessawhy, yes I’m the author, and I’m not sure why it’s not showing up. ?

    Caroline, I think I chose the word intuition because it seemed to be somewhat neutral, and then I did think of “feminine intuition,” but it didn’t really irk. I sometimes wonder if I am missing some of the gendered connotations with certain ideas because I lack brothers. I never had a male counterpart in my family, so it never occurred to me to assign certain characteristics to a certain gender.

    Dora, have you blogged at all about your experience? I would love to hear that story. : )

    JohnW, hooey, huh? What made you think so? I agree with you that people can get hung up on an initial read of a situation. I think that can be a good thing or a bad thing…

  8. Zenaida says:

    And, the picture came from the second website I linked to.

  9. JohnR says:

    I think JohnW was being funny. My gut tells me that he’s read all of Blink. 😛

    Talking about following intuition/promptings is tricky because we tend to remember (and reinforce by sharing with others) the times when it works, and to minimize or forget the times that it doesn’t. I think this creates an exaggerated picture of its efficacy. As engaging as it is, Blink contributes to this picture by presenting a limited set of memorable anecdotes without backing the main ideas with any sort of comprehensive study or analysis.

    That said, I’m someone who values feelings I can’t explain rationally–especially when dealing with people.

  10. Janna says:

    I think intuition is our brain identifying truth. The brain senses the factual data, but perhaps our explanation of “how” we are sensing this information is incomplete – so we call it intuition. Just an idea…

    I have intuition for inconsistencies, which often comes out in the form of identifying deception.

  11. Justine says:

    There is a book by Gavin De Becker called the gift of fear. He talks about how we as adults tend to “teach” our children to ignore those feelings of fear or intuition in order to be “polite”. He makes the same point that Gladwell makes in Blink, only in relation to our personal sense of safety.

    There are soo many anecdotal stories of children demonstrating fear (and their parents shushing them) around people who ultimately had violent motives.

    Is it the light of Christ? Is it our own personal aura? I believe we are far more influenced by smell and “energy” than we tend to understand. Could it be that? I do tend to believe the Spirit (in the Proper Noun kind of sense) would communicate with us more if we needed it, not for many benign purposes.

  12. Zenaida says:

    Perhaps I should stop checking the comments at such late hours, so I can catch the subtlety of wit… ; )

    I think I was so interested in Blink because it acknowledges the human element in a seemingly superhuman ability. In my search for “The Spirit,” I’m surprised to find myself pleased to see the human in the divine.

    And, speaking of anecdotal stories, my favorite (not that I’m biased, of course) was one of the last ones about the time in the not so distant past when orchestral auditions finally became blind. Once the screen separated the player from the panel, women suddenly entered the orchestra now accounting for 50% of orchestral musicians.

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