In this series, I’m excerpting sections from The Aquarian Teacher, by Yogi Bhajan. This is the book we used from my Kundalini Yoga teacher training.
The Three Functional Aspects to the Mind:
Negative Mind, Positive Mind and Neutral Mind
“Success, happiness and a flow of prosperity are the result of mastering the mind. The mind exists as a servant to the soul. But the mind is also a vast mechanism with its own characteristics and its own momentum.
When the mind is aligned with the soul, each thought that is stimulated from the intellect is perceived and acted on with clarity and reality.
When the mind is full of unconscious identifications, emotions, projections, intentions, and attachments, the thought is perceived for other than what it is. This masked thought becomes the basis of many false judgments and fruitless commitments.” (1)
In The Aquarian Teacher, Yogi Bhajan then went on to outline the three “functional” aspects to the mind.
Negative (or Protective) Mind is given for survival. It is reactive, protective and searches for potential danger. It is sensitive to pain, and it seeks to shield you from the forces that may disrupt or destroy.
Positive (or Expansive) Mind searches for pleasure, fulfillment and possibility in how you can utilize things in your experience. It is constructive, risk-taking and active.
Neutral (or Meditative) Mind is the mind that judges and assesses without attachment in relation to your own purpose and reality. The Neutral Mind observes the actions of both the Negative and Positive Mind and judges both in relation to your higher self. Each thought is filtered through the Negative, Positive and the Neutral Minds.
These aspects of the mind are developed differently in each individual. Some people have a stronger Negative Mind, a stronger Positive Mind or a stronger Neutral Mind. Occasionally, all three are strong, existing in balance. This is an enlightened mind. It is flexible and creative and able to reflect the uniqueness of the soul.” (2)
How do you know which mind is stronger or if you are in balance?
In trying to assess the balance your own mind objectively, the Enneagram can be a particularly powerful tool. For me, knowing my Enneagram type has helped me identify my own functional mind bias. As an Enthusiast, Type 7, I understand I have an overly developed Positive Mind and an underdeveloped Negative Mind. It is extremely easy for me to imagine what could go right and very difficult for me to imagine what could go wrong. And while this might seem like a blessing, any imbalance causes problems and not being able to clearly see risks and threats creates challenges. Someone who is an Enneagram Loyalist, Type 6 may have the opposite imbalance with a stronger Negative Mind and a weaker Positive Mind. The Enneagram provides a roadmap to illustrate how your mind swings out of balance due to your habit of attention.
What do you do after you know where you are out of balance?
With the combination of tools from the Enneagram and Kundalini Yoga, I’ve been able to move closer to balance by cultivating my Negative Mind (which I inherently shy away from) and recognizing information coming from my Neutral Mind. Yogically, the best decision making is done from a Neutral Mind.
There are Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations to help you address these specific issues. I write about the effectiveness of Kundalini Yoga to balance your mind here.
The Enneagram offers “next steps” to start to relax your habit of attention. I write about these next steps in my book “Headstart for Happiness.“
How do you know when you are making decisions from your Neutral Mind?
For me, I notice that when I’m balanced and information comes from my Neutral Mind, my thinking becomes calm and clear. I don’t feel confused, and my thoughts are more stable, direct and measured. When I’m decision-making from my Positive Mind, I want to do everything all at once, and there is a frantic element to my thoughts. And when I’m decision-making from my Negative Mind, I’m paralyzed and don’t want to move forward with anything. But from my Neutral Mind, my thinking feels balanced. And with clearer thinking, it is much easier for me to move forward. This was how it was for me when I decided to move from San Francisco to Athens, Greece. There wasn’t any doubt, my mind wasn’t jumping around, and my thinking was very calm and direct. And I think with the right tools, anyone is capable of reaching clear, flexible thinking and good decision-making.
In this week’s yoga classes, we’ll focus on kriyas and meditations to develop Positive Mind, Negative Mind and Neutral Mind. The schedule is here. And for those outside of Athens, check out my YouTube channel for Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations you can do at home.
If you want to read more from The Aquarian Teacher, check out this post about the Four Basic Characteristics of the Mind.