I am writing a module for intuition for my course, and to do that I have learned about the subconscious mind.
What we think of as intuition, an innate knowledge of something without the need for conscious reasoning, is a description of being able to access our subconscious mind.
Many tools of divination- tarot cards, runes, psychic readings, etc., are tools that people use to try to access their subconscious minds via intuition. Most of these tools rely heavily on imagery and symbols, as this is the language of the subconscious mind. Long-term memory is also stored there.
Sources point to 88-90% of our minds being subconscious. This leaves 10-12% leftover for our conscious minds, which is analytical, making plans, and is the keeper of short-term memory.
Our nighttime dreams are our subconscious working out what is happening in our lives. They can be full of exaggerated symbology, emotions, and actions. For example last night I dreamt that giant ants were taking all the cherries I had just bought, that were on the floor for some reason. This might have been a conglomeration of thoughts I had the day before- I had been thinking about the garden and bugs in general, I had looked at the kitchen floor and thought about mopping it, and I had felt impatient for the sweetness of summer fruit, and had particularly wished for black cherries.
Right before we go to sleep and right after we get up are when our conscious and subconscious minds are most able to communicate. This is why dream journaling is recommended for people that want to increase their intuition or gain self-knowledge.
Have you ever had a sudden realization or a solution to something you have been thinking about become clear to you in a flash of insight? That is our intuition- our connection to our subconscious mind- working. Even though you weren't aware of it, you were processing and coming up with solutions.
Intuition is about knowing your patterns and not avoiding your feelings. It's kind of like getting to know an animal that is another species. You can't dialogue with them in words, but as you observe them over time, you learn about their character, tendencies, likes, and dislikes. You begin to be able to predict what they want, and when. You learn what their body language means and how they feel at different times of the day. All of this together allows you to take better care of them.
Humans are a little more complicated because we are really good at hiding things from ourselves, and our subconscious is where we hide feelings, events, or problems that we don't want to deal with. It's the rug we sweep or fears and pains under, but the rug can talk back! It talks back through our dreams as I mentioned above, and through the way we react to events in our lives. Over-reactions and those moments when you know that you are being irrational but can't seem to change your behavior are tip-offs that you may be acting out an old pattern instead of being present.
Our subconscious is built between the ages of zero and eight years. During that time span, our brains were not fully developed, and it's pretty much guaranteed that we didn't always interpret what was going on around us with clarity. A classic example is installing fear of not having enough because you heard your parents arguing about money.
Want to start making friends with your subconscious?
Journal first thing upon waking, or last thing at night. Write down your dreams, and think about what they are expressing. If you want to go deeper, hypnotherapy is about communicating with your subconscious (and doesn't put you under someone else's control, that's just in silly movies).