I believe that I had read the definition for a word that was described as an experience that must be experienced in order to be understood. The example was parenting in that you cannot Simply read about it to gain understanding and that you must actually live it. Is there a single word that describes this?
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Quale (plural: Qualia).
It's a mildly pretentious word, so use with caution. But I think it means what you want.
A common phrase for such an experience is a "first-hand experience" or something that can "only be experienced first hand." A more informal way to say this is: "you had to be there."
And so on. I was not able to find one that specifically refers to the need of such a first-hand experience in order to fully understand something. I typically hear phrases like, "You won't understand until it happens to you."
In such context "practical" can also be used because practical means to experience anything on your own.