In Kundalini yogic tradition they talk about the three different aspects of the mind: the negative, the positive and the neutral mind. I find the study of the mind very interesting, partly because I am a psychologist and partly because it has a central role in Sikhism.
The negative mind always thinks about “What can go wrong?” This part of the mind is the self-critical or that aspect of the mind which is always aware of danger and is afraid that something might go wrong. This part of the mind is also reactive – it reacts to the environment without thinking of the consequences.
The positive mind always thinks “What can go right?” This part of the mind focuses on what’s good – both in us and other people. The positive mind encourages risk-taking, looks for opportunities rather than challenges and seeks pleasure.
Our mind usually has an imbalance – either we are too much on the negative side or we are too much on the positive side. If we have an imbalance towards the positive mind, we might disregard the dangers in our environment, hence we can create adverse problems for ourselves and others. In addition we will not be able to reflect upon ourselves each day and develop into a better person. In Gurbaani we have the tokk “bande khoj dil har roz na phir pareshani mae”//”O human being, search your own heart every day and do not wander around in confusion”. To be able to reflect upon ourselves, we need the self-critical part of our mind to look at which qualities we have to develop and which habits we should disregard in order to become a better human being.
If we have an imbalance towards the negative side, we won’t be able to see our potential and our talents. This will hinder our development. We will also have difficulty cooperating with others as we are too focused judging others and complaining. People like this bent of mind might also take others criticism personally without giving it a critical evaluation.
Let me give you a personal example of the imbalance towards the negative mind. Many years ago I gained some weight. I remember that I went to a party and someone said to me that I was looking fat. I also remember overhearing a couple talking about how fat I was. As I at that point had an imbalance towards the negative side, I accepted what they said without critically evaluating their comments. I started to eat less and after some time I got really thin. People around me said that I was too slim and should put on some weight. My family was worried. However my negative mind had internalized what these people said to me that night, that I wasn’t able to listen to the people’s concern or trust them.
In Gurbaani we seek the neutral mind – that is, the balance between the positive and the negative mind. You should have self-confidence, look for opportunities, but you should also evaluate critically each day what you can improve and how you can be a better human being. The neutral mind is like a scale – it balances information from the negative mind (what can go wrong?) and the positive mind (what can go right?) The neutral mind looks upon all that has happened to you as blessings or gifts. You see challenges as opportunities.
So in my case – if I had a neutral mind at that party, how would I see that event? I would maybe be more able to differentiate between their opinion of me and my own opinion. I would also think if this is something these people are focused on when judging others. If I felt that I was a bit fat, then I might just live a more healthy lifestyle than starting to eat less. I would take their comment as an opportunity to be more aware of my lifestyle and make it healthier.
Observe your mind for some days. Observe what pattern your mind generally has – positive, negative or neutral. Observe how you handle different situations depending on which mindset you have. Becoming aware of how your mind works is the first step of changing it into something better.
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