(Editor’s Note: This series is dedicated to sharing the knowledge contained in “The Aquarian Teacher”, the teacher training manual shared by all students of the KRI certified Kundalini yoga teacher training program. This article is focused on Chapter 11 of the manual. You can discover the wisdom in greater depth by taking the Yoga Teacher Training course.)
“Every human being who wants to excel and to develop the character and caliber that upholds the values of the soul, needs a direct, fundamental relationship to the mind.” ~Yogi Bhajan
First of all, let me just say that this particular topic is among the most complex in Kundalini Yoga. In fact, an entire Kundalini Yoga Level 2 Teacher Training Course (1 of 5) is dedicated to just this topic. The book “The Mind” encapsulates this theme cohesively, so if you are truly interested in diving into this theme, attend Level 1 and then Level 2 Teacher Trainings and read that book over and over. For now, I’ll do my best to elucidate the basic principles of the yogic theory of the mind as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
What is the mind?
First and foremost the mind is a servant, or at least, it should be. The mind is incorporated into the human experience to serve the Soul or the Atman. It is, it goes without saying, a vast mechanism that is stimulated and then produces thoughts which in turn shape our perception, conscious and unconscious. The mind is very cluttered with unconscious thoughts and perceptions. What we understand as our “mind” is the tip of the iceberg; in fact, Yogi Bhajan taught there were 81 facets of the mind that when controlled through Kundalini yoga lead to inner and outer harmony.
The Mind’s Vocabulary
Any study of Kundalini Yoga and the mind will lead to a great many unusual Sanskrit words that until demystified with their meanings will complicate understanding. Here are a few yogic terms on the mind:
Ahangkar: The ego. This claims the perceptions of the mind as belonging to it and reacts to them.
Atman: The essential Self. Pure consciousness, which the mind reflects.
Buddhi: One of the mind’s components. It discriminates and classifies.
Chitta: The Universal Mind sometimes called the One Mind.
Gunas: Three “conditions” of matter; sattva, saintliness; rajas, active; tamas, inactive.
Manas: One of the mind’s components. It records impressions from the senses.
Prakirti: Matter, Primal Nature.
Purusha: Unmanifest spirit.
Samskaras: Tendencies or potentials that exist in the subconscious areas of the mind. They are built by thoughts and create other new thoughts. Defines our character.
There’s 3 of Them?!
Yup. Really there are 3 minds, not to mention 81 facets. The 3 functional minds are the positive, the negative and the neutral. The positive mind sees the potentials, the negative mind sees the pitfalls, and the neutral mind assesses the input from both and responds from a neutral place. The neutral mind is also called the meditative mind. Each of these minds are developed in different ratios in individuals. It is very rare to see all three minds totally balanced. That is the enlightened mind of a master.
Basic Things to Know About the Mind
1) It’s pretty automatic. There’s a TON going on in your mind, way more than you realize. But the key thing is that you recognize that YOU are not the one thinking; your MIND is the one thinking. You are the one observing a small portion of the thoughts the mind is having.
2) It never stops. If the mind shut down, you’re go kaput. The point of meditation isn’t to shut it off, its to both clean it out and pause in your identification with it.
3) It loves contrast. It likes polarities because they are helpful for classification: good and bad, dark and light. Handy, neat, and its just how we learn. Think of children’s first books and how they learn the world. “The water is hot, the water is cold. The dog is white, the cat is black.”
4) The mind IS matter, just in a more subtle form. We think of our bodies as being material and our minds as existing only in “thought”. Nope. The mind is a real, material “thing”, but it is more subtle that the brain, its physical carrier. Think of water: ice, liquid, gas. It is still water, just in different states. So too with your body, your mind is physicality in a more subtle form. Yogi Bhajan called it ” a structure, a process and an energy”. You can affect it with things like food, breathing, and energy. It will respond in kind to you.
“Why Can’t I Quiet My Mind?”
Oh, but you can. The reason you feel like you can’t is because you are trying to use your mind to quiet your mind, which is like using a mirror to see in a mirror the “real” object instead of a reflection. It’s not going to happen. When you use techniques such as breath control, mantra or simple meditation techniques, you remove the self-reference point (I am not focusing on ME, but rather on my BREATH). It takes some getting used to, but the result is effective meditation, which brings peace and intuition. But remember that meditation is just a tool to a larger surrender to the higher Self. It’s not the meditation that quiets the mind, its the intention and action of the meditation. Yogi Bhajan said, “It is not meditation that stops the mind. It is the surrender of the mind to the soul, and the soul to Truth. It is when you prefer the word of Truth to the word of your own intellect.” Basically, you just have to get over yourself. (In the most loving, caring, supportive, divine way possible, of course.)
Isn’t Kundalini Cool?
Here’s why Kundalini Yoga is ridiculously cool: for each of the 81 facets of the mind, there is a corresponding technique to balance it. These techniques are discussed (and experienced) in depth in Level 2 Teacher Training. In summary: the body is a temple, literally. Different regions of the body correspond to different aspect of the universe. From the heartline up, your body relates to the principle of infinite totality and the ethers. From the heart to the pelvic line, corresponds to the air, fire and water elements. From the navel to the souls of your feet, your body relates to earth and the finite. When all of the colors of the chakras are in balance, we become White Light. The process of Kundalini Yoga activates something very deep within us, something very infinite. It activates nothing less than our awareness of our Soul.
“The rise of the Kundalini integrates all these regions and produces the pure white light that releases the will to control the 81 aspects [of the mind] freeing up the creativity of the intellect directed by the intelligence of the soul.” ~Gurucharan Singh
Meditation allows you to transcend the waves of the mind and use your own self-sensory system. Through meditation, you learn to transform commotion into devotion; your life becomes sweeter and more harmonious. Meditate is a way of breaking your habits to become more in control of your life. It also, in its higher forms, allows you to know the unknown and see the unseen, in both literal and figurative ways.
Where Do I Begin?
The easiest way to meditate is through simple, seated, silent meditation. The best time to do this is before the rising of the sun. You don’t even need a mantra or a teacher. Just sit comfortably and straight. Relax the body and slow your breath. Keep your body still. Your mind will dump out a lot of thoughts from the subconscious. That’s ok. Just continue to sit still. Eventually the thoughts will becomes still and you will feel surrounded by comfort. You’re meditating.
Incorporating mantra into meditation works very quickly, and is another form of meditating. Mantra meditation is like a “thunderbolt”. Yogi Bhajan said that it does (and doesn’t) matter what your mantra is. You could chant “one, one, one” and it would work in a very shallow way. You need a word with reverence to you. So if you were Christian, Yogi Bhajan said repeating Jesus Christ would work for you. It must be something on a certain vibratory level. Utilizing the Kundalini mantras allows you to select consciously words that operate on specific vibratory levels and access your consciousness on that level in a quick and impactful way.
Yogi Bhajan on Prayer Vs. Meditation: “Prayer is when the mind is one-pointed and man talks to Infinity. Meditation is when the mind becomes totally clean and receptive, and Infinity talks to the man.”
Other Forms of Meditation in Kundalini Yoga
Mala Meditation: Using a mala is a simple way of reducing stress and enhancing wisdom. Many cultures use “worry beads” or “rosaries” in a similar way. It gives the mind something to focus on that is positive and relaxing. Mala meditation has its own science to it. Each finger represents something and the beads themselves bring in different energies.
Gong Meditation: The gong creates deep relaxation on a cellular level. Gongs have a vibratory resonance that release energy blocks within the body and the mind. There is a also science to gong meditation, and it is important to learn the techniques of gong playing for meditation prior to leading a gong meditation.
White Tantric Yoga: One of the core practices of Kundalini yoga, it is unique in that it can never be practiced in any form alone and without the guidance of the Mahan Tantric. You can find White Tantric Courses all over the world. White Tantric is done in pairs as a group meditation. It consists of between 6 to 8 kriyas and takes a full day. Kriyas in White Tantric are anywhere from 11 to 62 minutes. White Tantric should not be confused with either Red Tantra or Black Tantra. All forms of tantric transform energy, but red tantric directs energy sexually and black tantric directs energy to control another. White Tantric is an extremely powerful way of releasing subconscious blocks.
Celestial Communication: Celestial communication is mudra in motion. It is a tool for mental and physical relaxation, and it involves the movement of the upper body and arms.
Sat Nam Rasayan: Is an ancient healing art form. It works on the subtle level through the meditative mind. Sat Nam Rasayan was passed from Yogi Bhajan to Guru Dev Singh, who teaches Sat Nam Rasayan healing all over the world.
Tratakum Meditation: This is a powerful form of meditation that involves gazing. It increases the ability to concentrate and focuses pranic energy. In Kundalini yoga, tratakum is often done while gazing at a particular picture of Yogi Bhajan, one where he is in a neutral state.
Here is a powerful meditation for the Mind, one that we have used for the Spirit Voyage 40 Day Global Sadhana: The Illuminated Path. Simply place your hands at heart level, right palm on the back on the left hand. Focus your eyes on the tip of the nose, or hold them 1/10th open. Chant the mantra “Hari Nam Sat Nam Hari Nam Hari, Hari Nam Sat Nam Sat Nam Hari” 3 times on a single breath. Inhale deeply during the pause. Continue for 31 minutes.
Parting Thought from Yogi Bhajan:
“The Mind is meant to go for Infinity, unless you train it to desire Earth.”