"Let's get pedicures!" my daughter said.
My first thoughts were all the reasons why not: I have too much to do. It's too expensive. It's winter, and we can't wear flip flops. Pedicures are frivolous and unnecessary.
Then, I internally argued the reasons why it was a good idea. I believe in following my children's whims sometimes. One of the best ways to connect with them is to go with their flow. (This used to mean playing pretend games, especially what we called the Irrational Baby Game, in which I acted like a tantruming infant while my children acted as adults trying calm me down. They loved that one.) What chore or email was really so important that I couldn't stop and step away to be in the moment with my girl?
I weighed both sides. Everything on both sides was true, but what was the higher good?
It's clear from my photo what I decided, and it was a happy choice that I think about every time I look down at my blue toes. (Guess who chose my color?)
This little moment of decision-making illustrates one of Yogi Bhajan's most relatable teachings: He said that we have three functional minds: the Negative Mind, the Positive Mind, and the Neutral Mind.
The Negative Mind is NO! DON'T! It protects us from danger and helps us sustain life: It says: don't touch the hot stove; refrain from jumping out of a moving car; hold off scaling the scary rock face without a belay; look both ways before crossing the street.
The Negative Mind plays an important role, and is not bad by nature. Yogi Bhajan said that the Negative Mind is the first to pipe up in any decision because it's imperative (to keep you safe) is the most pressing. So it looks for danger. Nothing wrong with that. The problems arise when we get stuck there.
The Negative Mind is the aspect of me that initially said no to a pedicure -- too costly, too indulgent, too time-consuming.
Another example... if someone is deciding whether or not accept an invitation to give a speech, the Negative Mind might say, "NO. You could mess up, humiliate yourself, ruin your reputation, lose your job, not have enough money, not be able to eat, and then die."
Unchecked, the Negative Mind would keep us under the covers.
So, the Positive Mind needs to interject: YES! It could be a great experience, a learning experience, a chance for advancement and abundance.
It was my Positive Mind that chimed in to tell me why spontaneous pedicures are great. My Positive Mind wanted me to preview the smile on my daughter's face when I said yes.
Now, the Neutral Mind. The Neutral Mind is the aspect of ourselves that can look at the pros and cons and make a decision, an unreactive decision, from a place of Truth.
The Neutral Mind knows that a speech rarely leads to death and that the opportunity far outweighs the risk because even failure could lead to good things.
My Neutral Mind reminded me of my Truth: time with my daughter on her terms was more important than the money or the chores. (If this happened once a week, by the way, my Negative Mind might have some better points about expense and time.)
Yogi Bhajan said that the ability to act from the Neutral Mind was one of the keys to winning the "game of life." Here's more of what he said:
“To win the game of life you must have caliber. To have caliber you must have an Applied Mind. An Applied Mind is a mind that processes everything positive and negative, then acts from the Neutral Mind to express you. The Applied Mind uses the Neutral Mind to assess all positive and negative but does not react on that basis." - Yogi Bhajan
We want for our decisions to be reflections of our Truth -- our uncluttered, unclouded, uncovered Sat Nam. If you've ever made decisions that are inauthentic (as I have), then you know why it matters.
Why is yoga relevant in thinking about decision making?
Well, doing Kundalini Yoga and bringining the focus back again and again to Sat Nam is practice for making authentic choices in life. And holding our arms up and moving beyond pain is practice for accessing the Neutral Mind. First, we listen to the Negative Mind say, "There's no way I can keep going. My heart's beating too fast. I'm scared. My arms hurt too much. I can't do it." Then, we hear the Positive Mind say, "You can do it. You're strong. You can go for a long, long time, longer than anyone else." And then, we weigh and hopefully we choose to keep the arms up, not to prove anything, not to compete, but to dwell in Truth.
Let's keep up together in neutrality. It'll make our lives better. May the Truth in you guide you. Sat Nam.
Blog by Cate Baily
Cate discovered Kundalini Yoga by accident over 20 years ago and was surprised and thrilled by how engaged, energized, and inspired it made her feel. She's been practicing ever since. Click here for more complete bio.