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This past weekend, I attended a workshop on “Mastering the Mind”. It was focused on understanding the subtle forces of the mind that in Yoga we talk about as the “Gunas”. There are three energies or qualities: tamas, a sticky energy that keeps us stuck in a thought spiral and is associated with emotions such as depression, fear, hopelessness; rajas, a fiery energy that moves us into action/reaction with emotions like anger, irritation, over-stimulation and overwhelm; and the middle ground, sattva, which brings us into peace, harmony, clarity and love. The interesting part about these subtle forces of the mind, is that we often ebb and flow from one to the other quite quickly and perhaps without conscious effort. The teacher gave the example of getting into an argument with a loved one which may have sparked passion, rajas, and then left sadness, tamas, in the aftermath, and then rajas as you talk about it with your friend, etc. The one quality that seems to take conscious effort to find is sattva. For most of us, a sattvic mind isn’t a continuous resting place, but we do experience it in moments, and we CAN work toward experiencing life from this place more and more.
In Kundalini yoga, we talk about our mind/body system as having 10 layers, or “bodies”. Three of these bodies are dedicated to these aspects of the mind: the negative (protective) mind, the positive (expansive) mind, and the neutral mind. Each of these mind bodies work in conjunction with the other to serve us: the negative mind allows us to take pause before acting, and protects us from potential harm; the positive mind reminds us to examine all of the possibilities and brings lightness and humor into our outlook; the neutral mind, often called the “meditative mind”, is a direct channel to our Highest selves, to our greatest source of wisdom and creativity, but much like sattva, it takes conscious effort to connect with it. As I’ve explained these qualities, maybe you’ve connected in with the current pattern of the mind, “oh, my mind is super rajasic!”; “I tend to think of the negative outcomes when new situations arise (negative mind)”; “I’m pretty much always optimistic and use humor and laughter to move through things (positive mind)”. Keeping in mind that we all have all of them, it is possible that one is more readily accessible to us. What I’ve found for myself, and for many of the clients I work with, the negative mind often leads the way. And if you’ve ever experienced something as traumatic (I feel that most of us have), it can be challenging to ask the negative mind to quiet down after the potential “threat” has passed.
This has been true for myself in working through a situation a couple of years ago where my husband and I were physically assaulted while walking down a street in Chicago. It left a deep impression in my mind, and every time I am home alone, walking down a dark street, or feel someone walking behind me, it kicks into overdrive. One of the beautiful things about practicing Kundalini yoga, is there is a meditation, a kriya, or a mantra for just about ANYTHING we may experience. It’s a householder’s yoga; it’s meant to serve and support us in our every day lives. A meditation that I’ve been practicing lately is called the meditation to “Remove Haunting Thoughts” or “10 Breaths to Peace” (I prefer the latter). It takes all of 40 seconds to complete, and I’ve found it to be a transformative shift out of negative and into neutral mind for myself and clients alike. If it feels aligned, I invite you to give it a try! In THE VIDEO BELOW, I lead you through the meditation with a bit of grounding and centering first:
Please share with us your experiences in practicing it! If you’d like to learn more about the 10 bodies, here’s a good start: https://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/ten-bodies/characteristics-ten-bodies-0
We will also be discussing the mind’s tendencies together in our MONTHLY WISDOM GATHERING: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9th, 4p PST. You can join the discussion HERE
To the ebb and flow of the All in All of us,