Common sense means "common knowledge everyone should have." But unfortunately, many people today don't seem to have it. Why is this?

We live in a dynamic world. Modern people are dynamic, and the flow of information is dynamic. We all assume we are smart and do things in a smart way. But we often lose our common sense to distraction, stress, illness or physical ailments, and emotional distress. Our focus is often on others—their successes, problems, and points of view. We often forget to pay attention to ourselves. This causes us to lose common sense.

Common sense is listening and paying attention to ourselves and to our world. It is considering what is going on with our health and the direction our lives are headed. What makes health fail? What makes our lives successful? Common sense involves knowing how to correct mistakes, make improvements, and assess our energy flow. Am I balanced or imbalanced? What do I need to change to restore balance? The bottom line is, we need to know how to make energy flow better, our lives flow better, and our work flow better by paying attention to ourselves.

There are a thousand different ways to get to your goals. By following your common sense, you will get there sooner. Some people regard me as wise. I cannot say I am wise, but I do follow my common sense. I observe, pay attention, and catch myself when I falter. I am open to insights outside my own field of expertise. I am willing to correct myself and change. If one way doesn't work, I go another way. If one method doesn't work, I use another. If a person makes me anxious, I choose to walk away and let him go his way. If a drug or herb cannot help me, I use exercise and diet instead. If I realize my memory is getting worse, I do things to improve it. And so it goes. In both my practice and my life, I have found that to go with the flow is better than to go against it.

The Way of Common Sense

Following common sense can help you in many ways. It can help you to relieve stress, do things more effectively, and find the right path.

A patient named Marianne came to see me for an initial visit. Just by looking at her, I asked myself, What the heck has this girl been through? She seemed incredibly stressed, looking much older than she actually was. Her hands were shaking, and her shoulders were drawn up and tight. The first thing I said to her was, "Can you put your shoulders down?" She replied, "I didn't know my shoulders were up." She then dropped her shoulders and laughed at herself. I then asked her to relax and convinced her that nothing would go wrong here.

After collecting her information and examining her body's meridian pathways, I realized that most of her problems were from her worry, anxiety, and fear. These created blockages in the energy pathways in her body, causing poor circulation, inflammation, and degeneration. Her heart, kidneys, spleen, liver, and lungs in the meridian pathways all had blockages, and so did all the organs they were associated with (which is not always the case.) She had arrhythmia, a bladder problem, a bowel problem, indigestion, anxiety, depression, low energy, and back, neck, and shoulder pain. She had so many problems that it was no surprise she was depressed. Helping her would be a challenge, I felt.

Fortunately, I am not afraid of challenges. I always learn a lot from them, gain more experience, come away feeling that anything is possible, and am made stronger. I do have many challenged patients. Some are challenged by their attitude, others by their physical ailments. I did not limit Marianne's treatment to addressing physical problems or to unblocking her energy merely to promote circulation in her body. I also spent time helping her relax both her body and her mind, educating her with Daoism, and teaching her simple qigong exercises. I acted as a guide for her to find her own power and wisdom. Everyone has power, but not everyone knows it, and still others don't know how to use it. I merely opened a door for her and taught her to find her own power and how to use it. After six months, she was 90 percent better. A year later, she was a totally different person.

Another patient named Mark I worked with recently had an illness that was not getting better with treatment by his physician. He came to see me with many puzzle pieces. He was also very skeptical and anxious. He was straightforward when he said, "Americans don't want to change. We don't believe anything else but 'go to doctors, use whatever doctors give us, and accept whatever procedures they want us to undergo.' We like to do things fast and get the quick fix—just get it done. We don't want to wait. We worry about everything—job, kids, retirement, security, career. . ." Finally, I had to say to him, "That is why you have heart disease."

Heart Disease—A Challenge

In Chinese medicine, the heart is related to the mind and thought processes. An overwhelmed mind affects your heart and heart energy. This could lead to insomnia, anxiety, loss of focus, forgetfulness, poor circulation, or—like my patient—heart disease. I not only had to use Chinese medicine to help his heart, but I also had to educate him. I taught him techniques for balancing his heart energy and to relax. This is a long journey but one well worth traveling.

We always say, "Good things take time." Don't get discouraged if you fail several times as you try to put theory into practice. You will have many opportunities to get back on track and be successful. Important undertakings take time. Time allows you to learn, heal, forgive others, use common sense instead of emotion, and allow you to find what really makes you happy. We should not waste time, but use it wisely because it is so valuable. Time is like a river. It flows in only one direction.

In his book The Tao of Power: Lao Tzu's Classic Guide to Leadership, Influence, and Excellence—a translation of the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching)—R. L. Wing writes,

The brain accepts all types of information from all stimuli simultaneously, and the mind processes it in the form of emotional responses, intuitive feelings, and logically formulated analyses. In the West, we rely almost exclusively on logical analysis. We are encouraged to think in a linear fashion, using words and numbers to draw conclusions about our work and our lives. These logical functions, according to neurological research, are performed by the left hemisphere of the brain. At the same time, we learn to discount aesthetic or intuitive information—a right hemisphere function—because it is considered less valuable to our culture. Thus we find ourselves primarily concerned with measuring events and analyzing their meaning, rather than creating and directing their flow. We are taught to ignore the intuitive or irrational, no matter how strong these "gut feelings" might be. As these right hemisphere feelings are repressed, we lose touch with our intuitive mind, and our insights become increasingly rare.

The above is an excerpt from Brain Fitness: The Easy Way of Keeping Your Mind Sharp Through Qigong by Dr. Aihan Kuhn, OBT.