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What’s the Difference Between Intellect and Intuition? A Case Study


photo: Photo Dharma on flickr

photo: Photo Dharma on flickr

How do you access your intuition?

Do you experience it as an inner knowing? Or a gut sense? Do you see images and pictures that guide you in the right direction?

Or maybe you’ve made a habit of ignoring your intuition and, as a result, your life looks like this:

photo: Daniel Oines on flickr

photo: Daniel Oines on flickr

I know, it’s not pretty. And I’ve been there, believe me.

My experience with intuition is that the less I listen to it, the more it withers away – like a muscle that’s never used. Actually, my intuition doesn’t really wither away, but my access to it does.

And whenever this happens, I tend to get lost.

Luckily, I’ve gotten better and better at listening to the still, small voice inside me. Indeed, the more I listen to it, the less still and small it gets. Sometimes it’s downright loud and raucous.

And there’s nothing like a rowdy and insistent voice telling you what to do.

Kinda like having Richard Simmons as a spiritual guide.

richard one done

A while back, I had an experience with my intuition – aka my inner Richard Simmons  – that I wanted to share with you. What was especially fascinating was the way in which the wisdom of Richard was revealed over a series of weeks.

It happened when Melissa and I were forced to had the glorious opportunity to take our senior exams for Holmes Institute.

The senior exams were a series of six tests on the subjects of Education, Leadership, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, and Science and Spirituality. Each exam was two and a half hours long and consisted of three essay questions.

Basically, we needed to review all the class material in the subject of each exam and be ready to spew it up articulately discuss it at length.

In spite of the potentially grueling nature of these exams, there were some perks.

The window for taking the tests was approximately seven weeks long. We got to choose the order in which we took the exams and when we took each one.

Okay, it’s not a huge perk, but given the daunting nature of the task, I was determined to be a Perk-Finder Extraordinaire.

As recommended by our classmates, Melissa and I decided to take one exam a week. That way you stuff your brain with copious amounts of data luxuriate in the profound teachings of each subject for a week, and then vomit data share your knowledge on exam day.

photo: Cushing Memorial Library

photo: Cushing Memorial Library

Once we decided on the once-a-week approach, the next question was the order in which to take the exams.

I am, by nature, a nerd. This means I have a well-oiled reliance upon my intellect. Though my intellect often serves me quite well, it can also be an unreliable guide.

Indeed, my intellect is often the biggest obstacle to listening to my inner Richard Simmons.

For the purposes of comparison, let’s call my intellect Smarty McPants.

photo: Andrea Allen on flickr

photo: Andrea Allen on flickr

When it came to picking the order of exams, I had a choice. Allow Richard to lead the way? Or let Smarty do it?

Given that the exams are for a degree in Consciousness Studies, and given that Smarty often gets me in trouble and Richard never steers me wrong, I elected Richard to be the picker of the exam order.

Smarty was immediately offended.

I can’t believe you’re going to let Richard do it! I have all the data to allow you to make an enlightened and informed choice, and you’re going to allow a histrionic fitness instructor to choose for you? You’ll be sorry, mark my words!!

In spite of Smarty’s protests, I knew I was doing the right thing. Richard and I had a clear agreement – he knew what he was doing, and I trusted him.

richard two done

Following my inner Richard, I picked the order in which Melissa and I would take our exams. (Melissa also has a strong relationship with her intuition, and her intuition told her that, in this case, she should follow my lead.)

Soon after the order had been established, Smarty began to weigh in.

Even though Richard is an idiot, I still approve of this order. You’ve chosen the easiest exams first. This will help you ease into the process. The last two exams are the hardest, but by then you’ll be used to studying and you’ll be almost done.

You’d think, after allowing Richard to choose the order, that I’d ignore Smarty. But I didn’t. Like I said, I’m a nerd. Smarty and I go way back. I just assumed that Smarty was picking up on the wisdom of Richard’s choices.

What was fascinating was what started to happen as I took the exams.

As it turns out, Smarty was totally wrong. The first two exams were by far the most difficult to prepare for. (In the interest of abiding by the confidentiality oath I signed before each exam, I am being purposely cagey about which exams I’m referring to.)

I have to admit that I got a bit freaked out when I had to prepare so much for the first exam. But this wasn’t because of anything Richard was telling me.

It was because I was listening to Smarty.

Nerdy woman

Smarty had told me the first couple of exams would be easy. But they weren’t. I could only imagine how hard the rest were going to be!

In spite of this angst, I powered on through. As I did, Richard’s wisdom became more and more apparent.

The first two exams took the most preparation. They involved classes we hadn’t taken yet and documents that weren’t covered in class. Exams three and four, by contrast, were subjects Melissa and I both knew really well. Studying for them was less taxing. Exams five and six, contrary to what Smarty had told me, were the easiest to study for by far. Our last exam was so easy, Melissa and I both finished in half the time.

It was a perfect sequence, a process that got easier and more freeing as it went along.

photo: Vinoth Chandar on flickr

photo: Vinoth Chandar on flickr

Other amazing elements of the process were revealed along the way. The exam order allowed the practical subjects and the cerebral ones to be perfectly balanced. In any given week, the amount of time Melissa and I had available to study the subject of the week perfectly matched how much time we needed to study the subject of the week.

Watching the exam process unfold, I couldn’t help but notice the poetic nature of the sequence – exquisite, intelligent and refined. 

There’s no way that Smarty would have been able to cough up such a beautifully intricate order.

But Richard did!

I’m not saying I’ll never listen to Smarty ever again. Smarty can be helpful at times. But the exam experience reminded me just how powerful my intuition is.

I may not know why Richard is telling me to turn left – and Smarty may give me a million reasons not to turn left. But the exam process reminded me that if Richard tells me to turn left, then turning left is both a practical and poetic choice.

Plus I get to go there with the sassiest guide in the land!

richard three done other

How do you contact your intuition? Share your comments below!

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17 Responses to What’s the Difference Between Intellect and Intuition? A Case Study

  1. Sara Nichols March 18, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    Z, that was exactly, EXACTLY, my experience, down to a T. with one exception. I couldn’t discuss it this articulately.

    • Z Egloff March 19, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Sara,

      Groovy. I like knowing that you had a similar experience. I have a feeling that you could discuss it just as articulately. Just sayin. Also, we’ll have to compare notes in a private and confidential space as to who took what when. 😉


  2. Sherry March 18, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    Z –

    Another great post! I love it when you cross things out. I laugh out loud – and I have to be careful because I normally read your blogs while at work!

    Smarty and Richard made me laugh, too!

    Your message regarding following your intuition was very well written.

    Thanks, again!

    • Z Egloff March 19, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Sherry!

      Be careful with those LOLs at work. I don’t want to get you in trouble! :)


  3. Karen March 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Like Sherry commented, I love it when you cross things out. We who read regularly know that you possibly actually mean the crossed-out part more than the part that comes right after it. (Our inner Richard Simmons told us so!)

    OK, you’re waiting for the part where I bring up Abraham-Hicks. Wait no longer. :)

    I’ve learned from honest Abe that if I’m feeling emotionally good (aligned with my eternal Inner Being, who views things even more joyfully than Richard Simmons, and that’s saying a lot), I fairly easily receive “hunches” and intuitive nudges that help me get where I want to go, both literally and figuratively.

    But if I’m feeling grumpy, moody, or anxious, for example, I’m not aligned with my Inner Being, and any hunches I have will be less than helpful — possibly scary warnings and other messages my Inner Being would never dish out.

    Over the years in Oregon, I took various classes in developing my intuition, not to mention the Nightingale-Conant tape programs and such that I listened to on the subject.

    But these days, I don’t go looking for my intuition. I just get in a good-feeling space, and IT finds ME. :)

    Thanks for another wonderful post, Z.

    • Sauda March 19, 2014 at 1:29 am #

      Wow! that’s a great reminder! Thanks for this one! I notice the same thing for myself:)

    • Z Egloff March 19, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Hi Karen!

      I like “honest Abe” as a nickname for our favorite spiritual teacher. Very cool.

      I agree with you that one of the BEST ways to align with your intuition is to align with your inner being. And I agree that one of the best ways to do that is to get into a good-feeling space. Plus when you get in a good-feeling space, then you’re in a good-feeling space, and how cool is that?!

      Thanks for another great comment! :)


  4. River March 19, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    Hey Z,
    Since I make my living from intuition (I do intuitive ‘readings’ online), I love this one! How many times has my Richard and my Smarty fought? Or did I just down right ignored Richard altogether.
    I am also a fan of the strikethroughs! They make me feel less isolated in my inner voices. Thanks for them and btw they make me laugh at me!
    One last thing, does this mean I get to call you AlmostReverand Z?!
    Love and Bright Blessings,

    • Z Egloff March 19, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Hi River,

      Yes, I am AlmostReverend Z. I’m actually still in denial that there’s going to be a “Rev” before my name. I guess I’ll have to get used to that. Probably another blog post in that one.

      I like what you say about the strikethroughs. Especially the part about feeling less isolated. Yes! One of my aims with this blog is to be honest about that o’ so human part of me and all of us.

      Sending love and bright blessings back to you,


  5. Sauda March 19, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    This one is a great one too! I listen to my intuition most of the time by asking a question out loud. I always get the most amazing answers of guidance and support. It’s always very quiet, calm and certain and I also have dreams of guidance and support!

    • Z Egloff March 19, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Sauda,

      What a great idea – asking a question out loud. I’ll have to try this. I like that you mention dreams as well – they can be such a rich place of information and guidance. Groovy! :)


  6. susan March 19, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    How refreshing to read this! You have such a good understanding of intuition and how it works and how the brain works against it. Gives me hope!

    • Z Egloff March 19, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      Hi Susan,

      Yes, it’s an interesting dance, isn’t it? The brain and our intuitive capacities. I’m grateful for my intuition – and everyone else’s too!

      Stop by again any time! :)


  7. Firefly March 19, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    HAHAHA! I think giving intuition and intellect hilarious personification is brilliant.

    Here are mine:



    Thanks for the laugh!

    • Z Egloff March 20, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      Hi Firefly!

      Awesome to see you here. Glad you liked the post. And thanks for sharing the pictures. Really sums it all up. I especially like all those little butterflies around Intuition. Sweet! :)


  8. Donna March 22, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Dearest Z,
    Another incredible post! I love the comparisons between intellect and intuition. You woke me up, big time. Lately I have been living in my head rather than my heart. The exception to that is when I am laughing and happy. And when I am reading your blog, I am usually laughing and happy. You are going to be a wonderful Rev! You remind me to look at life through Spirit. I also love your crossed out messages. I’ve been getting messages to cross things out in my mind before they come out of my mouth. Keeps me out of trouble. As always, I love your wonderful thoughts, feelings, Richard Simmons, and Spirit!
    Love and many Blessings,

    • Z Egloff March 24, 2014 at 9:36 am #

      Hi Donna,

      Thank you for your comment. Glad you like the crossed outs. I also like that you point out the we can all cross things out in our minds before they come out of our mouths. Beautiful!! I’m going to remember that. :)

      Love and blessings back to you,


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