The Neutral Mind: What It Is And How To Cultivate It
We constantly evaluate our world throughout our day. We have to; it’s part of human nature and it’s survival. However, too often evaluation becomes judgment. Judgment becomes bias. Bias leads us down the path of whatever emotion is tied to that bias, be it resentment, guilt, or even joy. Sometimes this path takes us to a very narrow space where we can get stuck. But what if we could evaluate without heading down that path of attachment?
In yogic philosophy we have three functional minds: the negative, or protective mind; the positive, or expansive mind; and the neutral, or meditative mind. All are important to us. The negative mind protects us. It gives us discernment. In our pros and cons list, it is the cons, where we see the possible negative consequences of an action. We use our negative mind all the time. It helps us wait until all cars are clear before crossing the street; it helps us not make fools of ourselves in social situations; it keeps us on task at work instead of on Facebook.
The positive mind is just as it sounds — it’s the part of us that focuses on the positive in a situation. In our pros and cons list, it's the pros. It also allows us to see the good in all, and be open to all the possibilities in our life. It’s where we draw our optimism, playfulness, and sense of humor.
Then there's the neutral mind. This is the place where we assimilate information from both the positive and negative minds and make a decision. It is in this space we can weigh pros and cons without being more attached to one side or another. This is the space we are acting from when we are following our dharma, or our true path in life. When we have a strong neutral mind, we act from intuition.
Easier said than done, right? We’ve all regretted a choices we’ve made, whether large or small. If the neutral mind is weak, we may feel like the victim of a life we have no control over. We are unable to access it to integrate the information around us in order to find meaning and know intuitively what our next step is.
We can actually do something to help us tap into and strengthen that neutral mind: meditate. Meditating helps cultivate the neutral mind and helps grow our intuition, so that we act on inner wisdom rather than our biases. Any form of meditation for any length of time cultivates the neutral mind, and having a daily practice continues to strengthen it.
Kirtan Kriya is a particularly good meditation for the neutral mind, and a lovely practice.
Here’s how it’s done: First, tune in with “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo,” chanting this three times. This is done before all Kundalini Yoga meditations and tunes us in to the teachers who have come before us, the teacher within ourselves, and the infinite wisdom that surrounds us, allowing us to fully receive all of the meditation’s benefits.
Posture: Sit cross-legged with a straight spine, chin tucked, elbows at rest on knees with palms facing upward.
Mantra: “Sa Ta Na Ma” (Birth Life Death Rebirth), touching a fingertip to thumb (of the same hand) with each syllable, so “Sa” index finger and thumb touch, “Ta” middle finger and thumb, “Na” ring finger to thumb, “Ma” pinkie to thumb. Apply pressure with each touch. Begin chanting aloud for five minutes, then chant in a whisper for another five minutes. Follow this with five minutes of silent chanting, continuing to touch the fingertips to thumb. Then reverse this — minutes of silence, then whisper again for five minutes, then chant aloud for five minutes.
Focus: With closed eyes, visualize each syllable entering the top of your head (crown chakra) and exiting through the space between your eyes (your third eye, the center of your intuition), forming the shape of an L.
End with one minute of complete silence, for a total of 31 minutes. You can practice Kirtan Kriya for any length of time, as long as each part is of equal length (so maybe two minutes each), and you end with one minute of silence.
Enjoy this rich meditation and bring yourself closer to living in that neutral space, free of judgment, free of indecision, just free.