In this article, I will share a powerful meditation for decision making [script is below].
You’re going to be amazed.
Meditation can literally skyrocket your decision-making skills. Indeed, many of the companies who take our corporate meditation classes are surprised by how a simple meditation can improve the decision making skills of executives and employees. And all it takes is fifteen minutes according to research from The Wharton School and INSEAD. 
5 Best Types Of Meditation For Decision Making
1: Try this script
- Sit comfortably with good posture. Slightly lower your chin to elongate your neck and spine.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
- Focus on the sensation of your breath moving around your body. Take a minimum of forty mindful breaths. During this time, let your thoughts and feelings come and go as they will. Don’t pay them any credence.
- You should now be experiencing a deep state of inner peace. Meditate on this feeling of inner peace. Notice how it feels. Continue for twenty breaths.
- Now imagine you have made your decision. Just visualize that it’s done and that you made a choice. Now imagine that it is a period of time after you made the decision (for instance, if you’re trying to decide whether to move house, imagine that it’s ten days since you moved house). Mindfully observe how you feel having made this choice. Does it feel right or not?
- Move on to the next possible choice you could make. For instance, imagine you decided not to move house. Again, visualize having made this choice. Now observe how you feel. Did you make the right choice?
- Continue through all the possible decisions you could make (so if it’s a YES or NO decision you will just do step 4 twice).
- Now take twenty mindful breaths to relax.
2: Guided Meditation
Sometimes, when you’re trying to make a choice you experience unhelpful or inaccurate thoughts.
These unhelpful thoughts prevent you from thinking in objective ways. They interrupt the decision-making process, so you enter a cognitive rut or simply cannot choose.
Vipassana helps us to overcome these unhelpful thoughts.
Vipassana is the process of observing the mind and labeling thoughts and feelings.
As a meditation teacher, I often teach people Vipassana to help them make important choices in life, decisions like having a baby, leaving a job, leaving a marriage, and moving home.
Vipassana helps because it gives us insight into the mind and helps us to see our thoughts more clearly.
4: Mindfulness-Based CBT
Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you when trying to make a choice. Mindfulness-Based CBT [Cognitive Behavioural Therapy] can help out.
Mindfulness CBT is a series of mental exercises designed to remove negative or unhelpful thoughts that are getting in your way.
Mindfulness is definitely one of the best meditations for decision making.
My meditation students are surprised by the effect of mindfulness. It helps them to understand their thoughts and to see things more clearly. And they often tell me that it has helped them to make important decisions.
6: Any relaxing technique
Our ability to form resolutions is inhibited by stress, according to Anthony J. Porcelli [Department of Psychology, Marquette University] and Mauricio R. Delgado [Department of Psychology, Rutgers University] [source].
Not only does stress prevent our brains from functioning at their peak, but it also makes us dwell on the negative. One of the best solutions is to use relaxation techniques. For instance, listening to meditation music.
7: Creativity methods
When you’re dwelling on a problem you tend to zero-in on one possibility instead of exploring all the options.
Essentially what is happening is that your divergent thinking is impaired (your ability to see things from different angles).
This prevents you from thinking in creative ways and making smart decisions. The best solution to this is to use techniques that open your mind and make you more creative.
Simply stand outside and meditate on the sky for ten minutes.
Link Between Meditation And Decision Making
There are many benefits of meditation for decision making and clarity of mind.
Making decisions is a cognitive process of choosing a course of action or a belief. We can make choices rationally or irrationally. Ultimately, choices are based on information, values, tacit knowledge, beliefs, and personal preferences.
Many criteria affect our ability to make decisions. For instance, the environment we make a decision in can have an effect. University of Colorado research shows that complex environments lead to higher cognitive function.
Emotions and current circumstances can also affect your ability to make a decision.
Sometimes it’s impossible…
Sometimes it seems impossible to make a decision. Usually, this is due to analysis paralysis. That is, a state of paralysis caused by being overwhelmed with information or by over-analysing.
Decision Precision Paralysis can also affect choice-making. This is when we keep finding new questions and new information that prevents us from making a choice.
And then there is Risk Uncertainty Paralysis. This is when the individual is paralysed because they cannot overcome uncertainty.
The opposite of paralysis is extinction by instinct. This is when an individual makes careless decisions without proper forethought. We can cure this by creating a system that helps us make decisions.
One of the biggest problems with decision-making is information overload. Indeed, this is where we most need to use meditation for clarity of mind.
Naturally, information is necessary when making a decision. However, excessive information makes processing difficult. In turn, this impedes our ability to decide.
Psychologist George Armitage Miller states that making decisions becomes difficult because “human brains can only hold a limited amount of information”.
Two other problems with decision making are decision fatigue (being tired of making too many decisions), and decision avoidance, when we avoid making decisions, often because of stress, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.
Decisions and Emotions
Emotions also play a pivotal role in making a decision.
When making a decision, the body creates sensations related to the outcome of a decision. These sensations infer how we would feel having decided.
Interestingly, making choices requires complex neuroscience and many different brain structures: the cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
Thankfully, there are some excellent decision-making techniques.
Group exercises include:
- Consensus (doing what’s right for the group)
- Score voting (each person gives a score for each possible choice),
- Quadratic voting (casting preferences for different decisions).
Individual techniques for making decisions:
- Decisional Balance Sheet (listing pros and cons of each decision)
- Expected Value Optimization (choosing which option has the highest probability of success)
- Satisficing (examining decisions to find which one is most acceptable)
- Asking an expert
- Anti-authoritarianism (doing the opposite of what a distrusted source suggests).
- Flipping a coin
Sometimes we do not make decisions based on rational thought. Rational Choice Theory states that we make decisions in our best interest, but in fact, people often make irrational choices.
Now that we understand the complex nature of making choices, we can look at how meditation helps.
Meditation is the exercise of focusing the mind on the present moment without judgment. It is both a form of therapy and a psychological exercise for wellbeing. Its roots are largely in Buddhism. But it is also used in modern treatments of many conditions, as well as for general wellbeing and relaxation.
There are numerous forms of meditation, including Buddhist meditations like Anapanasati and Vipassana, mindfulness, visualizations, mantras, mudras, and specific guided meditations for decision making. Some notable meditation coaches include Jon Kabat Zinn, Jack Kornfield, and Pema Chodron.
Scientifically proven benefits
- Meditation helps decision-makers by reducing information overload. In fact, meditation is the opposite of information overload. It’s about focusing on one thing. This relaxes the mind, reduces the effects of information overload, and helps us focus on the information that matters for the decision we are making.
- Meditation makes us more aware of our thoughts and actions. This can help with Extinction by Instinct (careless decision making) so we stop making rash decisions.
- Meditation relaxes the mind and helps us unwind. This helps the brain to recharge. In turn, this reduces the effects of decision-making fatigue.
- Meditation reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety. This is essential for stopping decision avoidance.
- Meditation helps with clarity of the mind. In turn, this enables us to clearly examine how we feel about different choices.
- Meditation strengthens the cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These are the main parts of the brain used in making decisions. [source]
Mindfulness increases clarity and acceptance
Andrew Hafenbrack says, “A brief period of mindfulness encourages individuals to make better decisions by considering the information available in the present moment while ignoring [the complications associated with ‘sunk cost bias’].”
INSEAD and The Wharton School tested the effect that 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation on the ability to make decisions.
In the study, individuals discussed how they focus on the present moment. Participants read ten sunk-cost scenarios. These included scenarios like attending a music festival that had already been paid for while illness made enjoyment unlikely.
The results of the test showed that after mindfulness meditation people were more focused on the present moment and were more likely to make better quality choices.
“Meditation reduces the amount of focus people place on the past and the future, and reduces negative emotions,” said Zoe Kinias, co-author of the research. In turn, this helps us make choices.
Above I shared a guided meditation for decision makers. Meditations like this open your mind so you can see the situation from different angles. And it reduces stress. This helps you think rationally, ultimately helping you to make better decisions.
Need help making a decision? Book an online meditation lesson with me today.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison