min-body stress reduction

Looking through the window of your mind

I’d like to share with you a little about the workings of the mind and the way a thought is processed.

To process a thought we move through three stages. These three stages are linked to what we call the three minds:

THE THREE MINDS: Negative Mind, Positive Mind & Neutral Mind.

To process a thought, we assess information first through the Negative Mind, then the Positive Mind and then arrive at the Neutral state.

That’s the ideal mental trajectory anyway, however as we are not all master yogi meditators who have control over their crazy chattering minds at all times … we can sometimes (or often) get stuck in one of the first two stages (negative or positive) without reaching the Neutral Mind.

Getting to know the intricacies of how the three minds work can help you to navigate your way through to a neutral mind perspective.

How the three minds work:

THE NEGATIVE MIND is there to take care of us. To work out if something is dangerous, unsafe or unwelcome in your space. The Negative Mind’s rightful job is to be negative – to critically assess potential damage. When balanced the Negative Mind can spare you from unnecessary heartache or pain by bringing a critical perspective to any choice. It presents the negatives to be legitimately considered. However, when the Negative Mind is out of balance, we can be fearful without reason, overly critical, or plagued with doubt, uncertainty and worry.

THE POSITIVE MIND assesses the benefits. It sees the possibilities and the potential. It’s through the Positive Mind that we achieve things. It’s the ‘go get it’ part of the mind. It supports us to see the joy and experience delight and bliss.  If however the Positive Mind is unbalanced, it can charge ahead and commit to way too much, telling us nothing is too big - it’s all achievable! We see ourselves at the finish line and think, “can do!” Then we crash and are left overcommitted and stressed out.

Another catch with the Positive Mind is that when unbalanced, it’s job of expanding ideas can turn in on itself. We lose discernment. When the Positive Mind is not balanced it can actually attach to Negative Mind thoughts - heightening and strengthening those thoughts - latching onto subconscious fears and memories, imagining potential problems - creating dramas full of potential risks, backed up by past traumas or unwelcome situations as case study support without any real basis in reality.

In a balance thought process we don't get stuck in either one of the negative or positive minds, we assess negative and positive then move right on through to a neutral perspective.

THE NEUTRAL MIND is ultimately the mind that guides and makes decisions that are in your highest good. We arrive at a neutral perspective after travelling through the negative and positive minds first. The Negative and Positive Minds are based in the past or the potential future. The Neutral Mind is 100% in the present, uninfluenced by fears and dramas. It uses information provided by the other two minds and brings that information into the now and makes conscious choices and assessments from that place.

The Neutral Mind is the unthreatened, compassionate, big picture, non-judgemental mind. Always open to possibilities, always smiling broadly at the play of life, never fooled. It is clearly placed in the here and now.

How is this useful?

Having a map of the structure of the mind and developing awareness around what happens when we process incoming information is empowering, as it provides a method in which to observe your mental process. Observation is the key to knowing yourself and your triggers - the jumping off point to mental mastery. Ask yourself in any given situation:

  • Is my Negative Mind doing its job, what is it saying?

  • Is my Positive Mind also having a say and bringing some joy and potential? Or is my Positive Mind running away from me and imagining dramas therefore I should I take a breath and a moment to reign that in and bring myself back to the here and now?

  • What would the Neutral Mind say?

The best way to take a good look at the mind is to meditate. We move through our three minds through all meditations. It helps to know that it’s just the mind doing its thing, so we can let it ride and not attach to the thoughts, moving to a neutral space for some observation. Through the practice of meditation we become more skilled at noticing what’s happening in the mind day to day, helping us take back the reigns and have some control over the mind rather than let it control you. Sitting amidst the thoughts and knowing when it’s just the mind freaking out and not reality is very helpful.

Checkout what’s happening in your mind. Think about that neutral space perspective and try stepping back a little from your thoughts. You can spare yourself a lot of unnecessary drama.

Ref: The Mind, It’s Projections and Multiple Facets, Yogi Bhajan, PhD with Gurucharan S. Khalsa, Phd.

Trial Results Published: Mind-Body Stress-Reduction-in-the-Workplace


It’s so great when science backs the anecdotal evidence…

According to an email I just received from the American Viniyoga Institute,

The Aetna, Inc. Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace Trial, recently published in the online version of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, investigated the impact on perceived stress level and other variables with two distinct mind-body approaches. The Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program (therapeutic Viniyoga) and Mindfulness at Work (mindfulness meditation) were each compared to a control group. These programs helped participants significantly reduce their perceived stress levels while improving their ability to respond to stress.

Participants in the mind-body stress reduction treatment groups (mindfulness and Viniyoga) showed significant improvements in perceived stress with 36 and 33 percent decreases in stress levels respectively, as compared to an 18 percent reduction for the control group as measured with the Perceived Stress Scale.

Participants in the two mind-body interventions also saw significant improvements in a biological marker called heart rhythm coherence, suggesting that their bodies were better able to manage stress.

The study found that these improvements occurred in about half the length of time using the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program and Mindfulness at Work.

The Viniyoga Stress Reduction program is a 12-week therapeutic yoga-based program. Participants in the worksite trial received instruction for managing stress including physical yoga postures, breathing techniques, guided relaxation and mental skills. The classes also provided coping strategies for dealing with stressful events and promoted use of home and office strategies for reducing stress through yoga. The program offered weekly in-person classes, home practice handouts and yoga break handouts for home and office use.

What’s most exciting is that these programs are very similar to the ones we run at mm…Yoga! So, scientific evidence that yoga and mindfulness (and BREATHING properly) really do reduce stress.