In yoga, we recognize three minds: the positive, negative and neutral. It’s important to know that the positive mind is not “good” and the negative mind “bad”. The positive mind is simply the desire to DO things: learn something, build a bridge, speak your mind, take the job or have spaghetti for supper. The negative mind says: Are you sure? Can we afford it? Remember last time? We just had spaghetti.
In our modern world, our brain tend to be in a constant discussion (often battle) between these two minds. When in balance, they work together seamlessly pondering the pros and cons of a new idea. But when they are out of balance, our desires of the positive mind endlessly battle against our fears in the negative mind leaving us mentally and emotionally exhausted.
However, the neutral mind is neither positive nor negative. It sits back and observes the discussion as an impartial witness. It truly has no opinion for or against. It is the mind that says in the middle of a heated argument or crisis, “Hey, let’s all take a step back and breathe for a moment.”
Not only does this calm the situation a little, it also gives us a chance to listen within. It is within the stillness of the neutral mind that we are able to hear guidance, inspiration and new solutions.
This is a beautiful goal of meditation – to strengthen this neutral mind. Very seldom in our busy lives is this taught or even valued. We are expected to always have an opinion. We must always have a plan. We must always be aware of what could go wrong.
When are we asked to just “be” or just be neutral on any topic?
In meditation, we are practising “being neutral” when the technique is to “just let the thoughts float through your mind”. Sometimes, we can imagine our mind like a blue sky and the thoughts (positive or negative) that come in are like clouds floating through. We don’t hold on to them. We don’t engage with them. We just let them float through and focus on the sky. Or like thoughts are logs floating down a river. We let the logs go and just focus on the flow of the river.
This is strengthening our neutral/witness mind.
As we strengthen this in meditation practice, we can then use it in all aspects of our day-to-day lives. If we are at work, we can take a deep breath and slip into a neutral zone where we can hear new ideas and inspiration. At home, we can slip into neutral as we listen to our children or our partner so that we can be fully present. And within our own struggles, we can find a safe, still place to observe the “discussion” going on within our own mind.