Put it in Neutral
Whether we realize it or not, every thought we have is colored by our positive, negative, and neutral minds. More often than not, the dominance of our positive and negative minds means that we are not fully taking advantage of the true power of the neutral mind. We all have access to a neutral mind state, but we generally do not spend enough time living in neutrality. Instead, we are focused on feeling either positive or negative, or looking for reasons to feel positive or negative in the future.
When faced with the constant stimulus of both wanted and unwanted thoughts, our minds have learned to function best using contrasts: good or bad, hot or cold, rich or poor, ugly or beautiful, past or future. The mind creates distinction as a way to process thoughts. Therefore, living calmly in the present, which so many of us strive for, is much more difficult until we learn how to strengthen and listen to the neutral mind.
Yogic philosophers believe we have nine seconds to neutralize a thought before it becomes stored in the subconscious mind with a positive or negative filter. When we are stressed, afraid, or even too optimistic about the future, the neutral mind cannot weigh in and we lose the ability to neutralize the thought. Therefore, greater awareness of your mind and how thoughts are created will help you master living in neutrality and find blissful mental clarity.
You can help master neutrality by first recognizing and understanding the three functional minds (negative, positive, neutral), evaluating your own thought process, and using meditation to help tune your attention to living neutrally.
- The negative mind is considered the protective mind, searching for and reacting to potential danger. It primarily relies on our five senses (smell, taste, touch, hear and sight) for feedback and reactions. Our negative mind can be the strongest and sometimes completely dominates our decision making. Can you hear the the ever-persistent “no”?
- The positive mind is focused on your fulfillment and expansion. Thoughts in the positive mind are colored by the ego’s past experiences, opinions, beliefs and preferences.
- The role of the neutral mind is to be the reflective, level-headed decision maker. It acts as a judge. When the mind is calm and relaxed, we can make decisions free from attachments and with our best self in mind. It is the meditative mind.
Try the following journaling exercise to broaden your awareness of your own positive, negative and neutral minds. Simply completing this exercise will help you tune in to a more mindful state.
- Which mind do you see yourself generally living in? When has it changed over time? What may have caused this change?
- When specifically do you have a hard time making decisions? Is it as a certain place? Is it at a certain time of day? Is it around a certain person?
- When do you feel decision making comes with ease?
- What are some examples of times you’ve acted upon your inner voice and intuition? How did you feel at the time and what were the outcome of your decisions?
Coming into a more mindful state takes patience, but is well worth it. Here is a simple meditation you can do to broaden your awareness:
- Sit in a comfortable position. You can even do this meditation in your desk chair, but turn away from your computer screen if you can.
- Close your eyes and begin the breathing exercise by thinking “I” on the inhale, and then thinking “AM” on the exhale.
- Continue long deep, smooth breathing for 3 – 11 minutes and tune out all other thoughts as you focus on “I AM”. It will start to feel like you are riding a smooth wave as you further drop into rhythm.
To end, inhale and hold the breath for 20 seconds in a relaxed fashion before you slowly exhale. Before you open you open your eyes, remind yourself that you are neutral and by just being you, the answers will come.
“If you want to progress in your life and grow, act not to react” – Yogi Bhajan
Heather Berse, Clarity Kingdom Founder, will be leading corporate mindfulness workshops in London this fall. Topics include Finding Your Edge Through Mindfulness, and Awakening Creativity. Imagine all that could happen and get done if distractions were removed and mindfulness reigned. For more information, contact Heather.