Innate Common Sense

by Jeannie O’Neill, Education Director


As human beings, we often are seeking external things to feel satisfied, or outside validation and understanding. When we want an answer about what to do next or where to go, we look around for a friendly face, a guide or a teacher. I noticed that often when I would feel a change in the world around me, I turned to books and study. I tried to consume texts in order to find an answer or explanation to things. It was not that long ago that I began to recognize a shift in that pattern, a shift that I attribute to my own practice of RAIN (see blog post from a few weeks back).


As I sat in meditation with the mindset of inquiry I realized that inside me is innate common sense. The key was that I needed to sit still long enough to hear its soft voice. It was in this silent practice that I began to understand a truth; when there is change or uncertainty, I do not need to seek assistance and guidance from all around. Instead, I can go within myself, dive deeper and witness the change as an observer. Without identifying and attaching to the change, I could tap into innate common sense, clarity and peace.


Notice as you sit in meditation that what you experience is change. The feelings and sensations are change. The consistent movement of the river of thoughts and life experiences are the embodiment of the flow of change. It is unreliable, unknown, uncharted and unfiltered. You experience something that is not of your control and that you do not own. Your body moves and your heart pumps, breath comes in and out, cerebral spinal fluid flows, and you open your mind to these things that happen in the mystery of the change. Allow your mind to rest in the depths of the ocean as the surface changes with the weather. Witness the changes on the surface and do not attach or identify to these changes.


Once we are able to find grace in a time of change,  hear our own wisdom and clarity through innate common sense, change will feel less scary. We live in a world of change, there is no permanence. Notice it is now March, how are those New Year’s intentions or resolutions? Have they changed? Who is to say that it not a good thing? Embrace the shifts and the change, tune into the innate common sense inside you and know that perhaps a new intention or resolution is in order.


Often when we experience a feeling about change it can be attributed to either pleasure and pain, loss or gain, praise or blame, fame or disrepute. These categories encompass much of our human suffering and within it change can become entangled. Our suffering at the hand of change might be triggered by something we have experienced as pleasure. For example, we absolutely love our old car, then that old car breaks down and we have to shop for a new one. The change itself is not what is triggering discomfort, it is the attachment to the pleasure we felt when we drove that old car. We might even feel that new car shopping is painful, or a car payment will be painful. Once again tune into the innate common sense inside of you, that knows that the change is not the culprit, it is a different and more impermanent circumstance.


Meditation is an invitation to rest in mindful awareness – and the innate common sense of being present with what is, as it is.