Wisely Weaving the Three Minds of Humanity
“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.” Pema Chodron
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) uses the concept of a rationale, emotional, and wise mind to describe a person’s thoughts and subsequent behaviour. The rationale mind is driven by logic, the emotional mind driven by feelings and the wise mind is a middle-ground between the two. A diagram of two circles overlapping in the middle where the wise mind resides often depicts this concept of the three minds
The Wise Mind is the balanced part of us that comprises our knowledge and intuition, where the thinking mind and emotion mind come together, its the part of us that just “knows”, that inner truth.
Due to our unique life experiences from early childhood each individual will have their own belief systems, have different perspectives on life, see themselves, others and life from different vantage points all of which inform and influence how people communicate and interact with themselves, each other and the world at large, especially when encountering challenging situations.
The Emotion mind drives opinion, emotions are expressed as hot, firey reactionary behaviour flamed by thoughts based on ones historic narrative and how our childhood experiences have shaped our beliefs and coloured our perception, this is greatly exaggerated in the case of trauma.
The extreme passion of being consumed in the intense reactions of the emotional mind make rationale, logical thinking difficult. When an emotional state controls our thinking and behaviour the emotional mind has taken control from which one finds themselves overpowered in their expression of the intolerable feelings being experienced which flood our nervous system in the stress response of fight, flight freeze state.
Certain emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety can cause a hyper arousal of the nervous system whilst emotions such as sadness, depression, despair and hopelessness depleted ones energy often leaving one feeling empty and lost. Impulsively acting out of the way we feel leads to out of control behaviour often resulting in hurting ourselves and those around us which can contribute to breaking down relationships, long term suffering culminating to life experiences which stimulate more of the same keeping one in a perpetual state of trauma drama.
Living ones life within the emotional mind offers no opportunity for self enquiry to be experienced, there is no self awareness guiding us into the shadow lands of the wounds which are still controlling the subconscious mind led choices rendering the individual a life upon a roundabout of different places, different faces yet the same scenario runs throughout our lives over and over again.
The Rational Mind thinks things through from a cool objective perspective. It asks, for example, are the thoughts I’m having about this situation opinion or fact and if that is as yet unclear, further explores ways to ascertain this. What do we know for sure from our past experience of this situation, person and how might this information inform how we proceed.
Facts and common sense are the framework of rationale mind. We are in rationale mind when we think logically and reasonably. This intellectual state of mind defines reality in terms of linear cause and effect. There is a calm clarity to rationale mind.
The Rationale mind is much easier to access when we are not emotionally triggered. Yet with practice the rationale mind can be accessed in the midst of the most powerful emotional triggers. Assisting this transition exercises and tools aimed at tolerating distress and soothing the emotions are encouraged to practise, building up a tool box of therapeutic resources.
The Emotional and Rational minds form opposing points of experience set alone, yet interlinked they form the magic of the wise mind which offers us vast potential for existential growth and development. Asking ourselves what ‘wise mind’ might make of this situation will help us to stand back and be more aware of the bigger picture and help us respond in more helpful and effective ways.
Coming from the wise mind we can learn to be more aware of how our own belief system affects us and consider how others might see the same situation quite differently.
The Wise Mind is the active integration of Emotional Mind and Rational Mind. This mind brings the logic of the rational and the sensitivity of the emotional minds together, weaving together, what we know to our problems and hurts is the essence of the wise mind and enables us to become skilful in our communication with ourselves and others.
The true magic of Wise Mind however is intuition.
Intuition understands the meaning, significance, or truth of an event, without having to analyse it. Such intuitive knowing combines emotional experiencing and logical analysis, yet goes beyond both. Sometimes raw emotion can masquerade as intuition, in that we feel certain we absolutely know something to be true. If this knowing comes from raw emotion and it has a quality of rigid urgency about it, it’s coming from the emotional mind.
If this “knowing” is intuitive it has a quality of peace and quietness about it. A calm certainty validates our intuition, helping us discern whether our certainty is emotionally biased or truly intuitive. its coming from the Wise mind.
By regularly using our therapeutic tools and resources, we become skilled in acting intuitively more often. This assists us to feel confident and grounded. What nurtures the ability to remain in our Wise Minds, being aware and present in the moment, even in the midst of an emotional heat wave. Where as, polarised thinking, contraction, reactivity and rigidity interfere with accessing and remaining within the Wise Mind.
Our Wise Minds tame fear and softens our approach to ourselves and others.In order to soften – we must be dedicated to learning the skills that support the ongoing process of naming and taming our emotional triggers.
Wisdom takes practise.
Within the DBT model, this work is begun by learning:
• Core mindfulness skills
• Interpersonal effectiveness skills
• Emotion regulation skills
• Distress tolerance skills
When we access Wise Mind we are able to:
• Regain calmness when attacked or confronted
• Intuitively sense what will calm emotions when in the heat of an interpersonal eruption or internal crisis/conflict
• Find clarity of choice when confused
• Move from contraction (fear-based) to expansion (love-based)
Mindful breathing is one such exercise to assist both soothing the emotions whilst tolerating distress.
This Kundalini Yoga breathing exercise is user friendly in any situation and offers two layers to its value.
Focus on the in breath drawing the air in through your nose in four equal inhales followed by one long exhale, either through your nose, mouth or equally through both.
This breathing exercise requires some concentrated focus, it also begins to sooth an over agitated nervous system whilst bring you back to the present moment, the breath.
This exercise be enhanced by the use of a mantra, a word, group of words which have a high vibration. The mind can only focus on one thing at a time so offering it something of your choosing to enhance ones thoughts and emotions aids access into the Wise Mind.
The mantra Sat Nam holds the vibration of knowing ones own truth by name. Upon the four breaths that make up the one in-breath, repeat the word Sat, Sat, Sat, Sat in your mind, then on the long breath out, Nam and repeat for as long as is required.
From my Wise Mind I wish you Sat Nam.