Free Intuition

A guide to getting to know your inner voice.

Illustration by Leanna.

Illustration by Leanna.

A few years ago, I went with my friend and his boyfriend to an art show. I opened the door to my usual spot on the passenger side of the backseat. Then for no apparent reason, I shut the door and moved to the car’s other side, behind the driver’s seat. It started to rain as we approached a freeway interchange, and I noticed that we were going faster than what felt safe. My friend lost control of the car, which started to spin. I covered my eyes and cried as my favorite song at the time, Björk’s “Wanderlust,” played loudly on the stereo. I remember thinking, Am I really going to die to Björk right now? FUCK THAT.

After what felt like a million years, the car slammed into the wall by the freeway. Everyone was OK, but the part of the car that was completely fucked up was…the passenger side of the backseat. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d been sitting in my usual place. I was traumatized but thankful for whatever it was that made me switch things up that night. And really—what the eff WAS it that told me go to the car’s other side?

You could call it an inner voice, second sight, a gut feeling, or even psychic powers, but that mysterious thing was intuition. Intuition is like a special gift that humans have to help us arrive at answers without using our rational minds—a conclusion appears when we’re not even thinking about it. It’s when you just know something without understanding how, or when you suddenly get a feeling that you instantly trust.

You’ve probably experienced something like that before, too, like when a voice inside you saves you from some sort trouble you didn’t see coming, or you get a nagging feeling that something, or someone ain’t right. Some of us are able to tap into our intuition more easily than others, but we can all train ourselves to get better at it.

Marcella Kroll, an empathic medium, describes intuition as being “like any muscle in the body: The more you use it, the stronger it gets.” The strength of your instincts depends on the relationship you have with yourself, and how well you can read your own intuitive signs. “Getting to know yourself in this way varies from person to person,” says Kroll. “An overwhelming emotion might come over you when you’re thinking about something or someone. You also might get a sensation in your physical body. The key is trusting that inner voice.”

Do you want to get up close and personal with your intuition? Here are some tips on harnessing the power of that inner voice.

Ground yourself. Keeping yourself firmly in the here and now is one of the best ways to access your intuition. (If you’ve ever done yoga or watched Oprah, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of “being present.”) If you’re constantly stressing about what happened earlier that day or what you have to do later, you could be missing out on what your inner voice is saying about what’s right in front of you. “We can’t listen to ourselves when we are always filling up our time with things that don’t allow for some inner reflection,” says Kroll. “Meditation is a great way of getting your brain and body into the mode of tuning out the world and into the sensations of your second sight.”

There are no rules for meditation, which can be intimidating. The cool thing is that there’s also no right or wrong way to do it, and you can literally do it anywhere. Try closing your eyes and hitting pause on your conscious thoughts by listening to your breath, noticing the sounds around you, or concentrating on something tactile, like how your sleeve feels against your skin. That last one really helps me when I meditate—until I notice the feeling of my bra, too, and get annoyed. If that also happens to you, try moving on to bra-free meditation (like yours truly).

Read energy. Have you been introduced to someone who acted friendly enough but whose vibes gave you the creeps? Or someone who was shy but somehow felt like an instant pal? First impressions are surprisingly accurate. Training yourself to be aware of the feelings you experience when you’re near a person (as opposed to just weighing their words or actions) can help you decide whether your inner voice is telling you to open up to them or slowly back away. When I’m picking up on a person’s energy, I like to imagine that I’m inside a big, clear bubble—kind of like this!—that I expand or contract based on how close my instincts say they should get.

Keep a dream diary. Dreams and intuition come from the same part of the mind—the unconscious. A lot of us forget our dreams after we start our days, which is a missed opportunity to connect with what’s going on in that general brain-space. Writing down dreams as soon as you wake up can help you recognize similar signs your intuition might be sending you when you’re awake.

Practice tarot. Tarot cards, which you can find at most occult or magic shops, as well as some bookstores, are a fun tool for divination that have been around for centuries. According to Kroll, they’re “a beautiful way to build a physical relationship with your intuition.” Each tarot card is covered with pictures and symbols that have different meanings. When you draw a specific card (like this one with a dude and swords, which can mean that you need to deal with fear or a problem, EEK!), you can apply its meaning to a real-life question such as, “Should I ask my crush on a date to 7-Eleven to try Doritos Loaded?” Chances are, the answer is already inside you, boo. Tarot is there to help.

Pay attention to synchronicities. Synchronicity is a term that describes “a meaningful coincidence.” One time, for example, Lola and I were heavy-duty discussing the video for Paula Abdul’s “Rush, Rush,” and a week later she found a homemade cassette at a Goodwill thrift store of a little girl singing the same song, karaoke-style. How weird is that? Some people, including me and Carl Jung, like to believe these are encouraging signs from your subconscious showing up IRL, as if to say, “I got your back. You doin’ good, BB.”

Intuition can be a really powerful tool if we try to understand and use it. I’m not saying it’ll give anyone psychic powers (though I do believe in them), but if we learn to be more in touch with ourselves, we could at least solve some problems, or maybe even glimpse the future…you never know! ♦


  • CBM July 4th, 2014 4:05 PM

    I love this! I’m def going to start a dream journal :)

  • WinterX27 July 4th, 2014 10:28 PM

    I notice a lot of synchronicities, wasn’t aware that it was something others experienced. I used to keep a dream journal, think I’ll start again, so many empty notebooks to fill! Really interesting article, a lot of these things will really help me out right now.

  • kimchi July 5th, 2014 12:43 AM

    Guys guys guys start a dream journal and stick with it and sooner or later you’ll learn to lucid dream! Lucid dreaming happens when you realise that you are dreaming during a dream, and then you can do pretty much whatever you want. I’ve been keeping a dream journal for over a year and a half now, and now I remember my dreams pretty much every time I go to sleep. The more you keep track of your dreams, the better you become at identifying when you are in a dream, and the easier lucid dreaming becomes. Also it is really helpful to develop a habit of doing reality checks throughout the day so you begin to do them while you are sleeping. Reality checks involve observing things that behave one way in real life and another way in dreams. One of the simplest reality checks involves looking at a digital watch or phone. In a dream the numbers on a digital watch or you phone will rapidly change. Also in dreams light switches don’t work. Also apparently mirrors don’t work properly in dreams either, but I haven’t observed this yet for myself. Something else that is helpful when learning to lucid dream is setting alarms to go off right before you would enter REM in your sleep cycle. Sometimes after going back to sleep after these alarms you will be able to enter REM right away which makes lucid dreaming easier.

    Also thanks for teaching me the word synchronicity because I just experienced the strangest synchronicity yesterday. I suppose that makes this article a synchronicity too!

  • painting_the_roses_pink July 5th, 2014 1:06 AM

    Yes!! I love this article so much! All the women in my family have powerful intuition and I really want to start meditating and doing yoga and practicing tarot cards to help improve mine. (I’m really glad your intuition saved you btw!)

  • Janinaloose July 5th, 2014 1:50 AM

    I’ve been meaning to start a dream diary! But I want to find the right small notebook for that. Anyway, great article <3

  • erinxo July 5th, 2014 8:32 AM

    I love this post. I consider myself a very intuitive person. Last month a girl I worked with was due to have a baby – around the 6th I had a flash of the 12th, that was my prediction on the date of the baby’s birth. Turns out I was right and she was born that day! Things like that happen a lot to me and I’ve learned not to question it and just accept it as a part of life.

    Some people don’t understand and think it’s coincidence but they’re just narrow minded and most likely don’t experience it enough to believe it. Oh well, it’s their loss.

  • Erin. July 5th, 2014 1:37 PM

    I had a really crazy “sychronicitic” experience a few weeks ago. I was at a bookstore and an acoustic version of “House of the Rising Sun” (a song that I love) started playing, and I was roaming the aisles and happened to glance at a couple books. One book’s title started with “House of the” and the book right next to it started with “Rising Sun.” I took it as a good sign, and I ended up having a great day (went to a magazine launch, had a good discussion with friends about genre vs literary fiction, and won some magazines in a raffle).

    Also, about meditating, always do what works for you. Traditional meditation has actually caused me panic attacks, so I find that doing stuff like just zoning out and staring at the sky/nature works better.

  • die_mad July 5th, 2014 1:56 PM

    This is sort of similar but what does having really intense, frequent, deja vu moments mean? I’m 90% sure I anticipate moments in my future in dreams, only in the dreams something horrible always happens that doesn’t happen in real life. It’s been happening as long as I can remember…what’s going on?

  • Areeba July 5th, 2014 9:54 PM

    I’m glad you guys are okay! I’M GOING TO MAKE A DREAM JOURNAL! My intuition is not really good but sometimes when I do something or go to a new place, I feel like I’ve been here before or I’ve done this thing before. Maybe in my dreams? I really need a dream journal!

  • Leah B. July 6th, 2014 5:02 AM

    This is so true! It’s incredibly important to listen to your intuition. I don’t know if this really relates, but whenever I’m watching tv I usually always know what they’re going to say next. Sometimes I feel that things are going to happen right before they do which is pretty trippy and makes me feel like That’s So Raven.
    Also, the last two times I’ve clocked out of work both my hours for the week and hours I worked that day were 5:11 and then when I clocked out again today I had worked 5:11!! My mom always says to notice things that come in threes so I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

  • Jean July 12th, 2014 4:02 PM

    Great article!!!
    I just started a dream diary a month or so ago and I am now finding it easier and easier to remember my dreams, it’s super cool.

  • takethreestepsback July 29th, 2014 4:06 AM

    This is such a wonderful article! I’m really in tune with the vibes I get from places, people and situations. I regret not trusting my intuition about someone after they were terrible to someone I loved, ever since I’ve been very honest with myself and others about what I feel about something if it is negative. And I definitely should record my dreams more often than I do!