This is Part 8 in IzzyJi’s Yoga off the Mat series.
“Anticipation, anticipation Is makin' me late Is keepin' me waitin'...”
~ Carly Simon, “Anticipation”
Through my surgery recovery, I have come to accept that I need to work on my three functional minds. They are constantly in battle!
Yogic anatomy teaches us that each person is made up of ten bodies: three mental bodies, the one physical body, and six energy bodies. While the physical body is the only one we can “see”, gaining an understanding of how the other bodies work in our lives is beneficial to how we exist in the world. The three mental bodies are the negative, positive and neutral minds:
Negative Mind (protective): DANGER! This mind tries to make us aware of any possible dangers. It keeps us cautious. My negative mind is really good at reminding me that I might have pain, that I could fall, that I’m not strong enough yet to do certain things. It makes me hesitate and tense up. On the flip side, it reminds me to use my cane or walker when needed.
Positive Mind (projective): FULL SPEED AHEAD! This mind is optimistic, but can sometimes also be reckless. This mind is what I like to call my “hype woman”-- pumping me up, pushing me to believe in myself. My physical therapists seem to ALWAYS stroke my positive mind. I like to say that they see things in me that I can’t see yet, or that I don’t believe I can do yet. On the flip side, my positive mind also told me to teach the Aerobic Har Kriya last week-- which might be why I’m still sore a few days later. . . (ha)!
Neutral Mind (meditative): LET’S LOOK AT THIS FROM ALL ANGLES. This mind takes information from both the negative and the positive mind (as well as the other bodies) to help bring guidance and discernment within a matter of seconds (when balanced). When the neutral mind is not balanced, it may be hard to make decisions. I don’t believe I use my neutral mind to the best of my ability.
My negative, positive and neutral minds are always ducking it out lately when I’m at physical therapy or even in life! Just getting up from a chair has needed extra effort lately. I need to work through all three minds as part of my physical healing and success. While the “negative mind” may sound (for lack of a better word) negative, your negative mind actually helps you in assessing the situation. I tend to use my negative mind the most, and not always in a good way. I anticipate pain, and sometimes hesitate before working through an exercise, or tense up, instead of using my breath to help me push past my fears. Instead of just getting up, I anticipate how much it might hurt once I do, even though in physical therapy they have drilled me on using my quads to just pop myself up. Anticipation of pain-- and my negative mind-- keeps me waiting. I like to pump myself up using my positive mind-- but sometimes the positive mind can hype you up a bit too much. My positive mind sometimes says “you can do it, so do it now, deal with it later. Go ahead!” My positive mind keeps me excited about when I am fully recovered!
Being more conscious of checking in with my neutral mind has been extremely helpful. It has made me remember that it is okay to say, “...no, I don’t think I can do that exercise right now, but I would still like to work on ______”. It signals me that it is ok to walk my dog as long as I use my walker. It reminds me that it is okay to accept help from others, and that I don’t have to be superwoman all the time. My neutral mind reminds me to use the protection of my negative mind (consider the dangers), the projection of my positive mind (see myself succeeding) and then taking meditative action (just do it-- but safely).
Is there something you have been wanting to do, but your negative mind is holding you back, keeping you waiting? Or, does your positive mind hype you up into taking too many risks? How can we bring balance to these two minds and strengthen our neutral mind? Remember, the positive and negative minds have both positive and negative attributes. We need the balance of both. Meditation, meditation, meditation.