Meditation For Decision Making And Clarity Of Mind

meditation for decision making
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In this article, we will be looking at six types of meditation for decision making and clarity of mind.

If you’re a leader, manager or you just happen to wear the trousers, these meditations will help you make better decisions. And the benefits are significant. Indeed, many of the companies who take our corporate meditation classes are surprised by how it improved the decision making skills of executives and employees.

There are very many powerful cognitive benefits of meditation.

One of the ways meditation makes us more intelligent is that it improves decision-making skills. This is true for most of the best meditation techniques.   

And all it takes is fifteen minutes according to research from The Wharton School and INSEAD. [1]

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5 Best Types Of Meditation For Decision Making And Clarity Of Mind

The following are the best meditations for decision-makers.

1: Decision Making Meditation Script

1: Sit comfortable with good posture. Slightly lower your chin to elongate your neck and spine. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. 

2: Focus on the sensation of your breath moving around your body. Take a minimum for forty mindful breaths. During this time, let your thoughts and feelings come and go as they will. Don’t pay them any credence. 

3: 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. 

4: Imagine you have made your decision. Just hypothetically imagine that it’s done and that you made your 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 decision. Does it feel right or not? 

5: Move on to the next possible decision you could make. Repeat step 4. How does it feel having made this decision? 

6: 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). 

7: Now take twenty mindful breaths to relax. 

This meditation helps you to observe how you would feel having made a decision. This will help you to determine whether the choice was right or wrong. 

 

 

 

2: Guided Meditation For Decision Making

Guided Meditation - Making A Decision Suzanne Robichaud, RCH

 

 

 

3: Vipassana

Sometimes, when you’re trying to make a decision 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. It is the process of observing the mind and labelling thoughts and feelings.

As a meditation teacher, I often teach people mindfulness as a way to help them make important choices in life. A decision 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. Here is my guide to Vipassana meditation technique.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

5: Mindfulness

Above we shared the science of why mindfulness helps decision making. And there is a helpful link up top for you to learn mindfulness. Give it a try.

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.

To understand how meditation and decision making relate to one another, we need to understand how the brain makes decisions.

So, what is decision making, scientifically?

Decision making is the cognitive process of choosing a course of action or a belief. We can make decisions rationally or irrationally. Ultimately, decisions are based on information, values, tacit knowledge, beliefs, and personal preferences.  

Many criteria affect decision making. 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 decision making.

 

 

Does it seem impossible to make a decision?

 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 decision.

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 for decision making.

 

 

Information overload

One of the biggest problems with decision making is information overload. Indeed, this is where we most need 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 decision making 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, decision making is a complex neuroscience involving many brain structures: the cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. 

Thankfully, there are some excellent decision-making techniques. 

 

 

Decision-Making Techniques

There are numerous decision-making techniques.

Group decision-making techniques include:

  • Consensus decision making (doing what’s right for the group)
  • Voting
  • Score voting (each person gives a score for each possible decision),
  • Quadratic voting (casting preferences for different decisions).

Individual decision-making techniques include:

  • 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.

Benefits of Meditation For Decision Makers

Now that we understand the complex nature of decision making, we can look at the benefits of meditation for decision-makers.

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 makingSome notable teachers of meditation include Jon Kabat Zinn, Jack Kornfield, and Pema Chodron.

There are many types of meditation for decision-making.

 

Scientifically proven benefits of meditation for decision-makers:

  • Meditation helps decision making 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-making 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 decision making. [source]

As you can see, there are big benefits of meditation for decision making and clarity of mind.

 

 

By improving decision-making skills, meditation can also have a significant impact on quality of life. 

Consider how many people:

  • Stay in bad relationships for long periods of time
  • Continue to eat unhealthily
  • Do not exercise
  • Do not look after their health;
  • Stay in an unsuitable job sometimes for years.

These poor choices are often caused by a behaviour scientists call “sunk-cost bias.” Basically, this is an unwillingness to deviate from a decision you have already invested time or resources into.

Researcher Andre Hafenbrack tells THE DAILY MEDITATION:

“People struggle to admit that they were wrong when a previous decision leads to a negative outcome. They prefer not to feel wasteful and don’t like to believe their original decision and original investment was a loss.”

This behaviour leads them to delude themselves into looking positively at bad decisions. “This causes them to lose more resources and more time.” 

In their studies, Hafenback and his co-researchers discovered that we can use mindfulness to improve decision making.

Mindfulness reduces the effects of the cognitive bias of “sunk cost mentality”. That is, the idea that if we’ve been doing something for a long time we should continue it because we’ve spent so much time on it.

 

 

 

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’].”

The studies performed by INSEAD and The Wharton School tested the effect that 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation on decision-making skills.

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.

 

Summary

There are big benefits of meditation for decision-makers. Meditation opens your mind so you can see the situation from different angles. And it reduces stress. This helps you think rationally. 

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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