HomeInspirationDevelop the habit of making great decisions

Develop the habit of making great decisions

- 7 Mins Read

Develop the habit of making great decisions

DAAJI challenges us to think about how we make decisions, and shows us how a regular meditation practice can lead us to knowing right from wrong, naturally and easily, by listening to the heart and allowing it to guide our choices.


“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it earns it, he who doesn’t, pays it.” Sometimes, I think about this quote (often attributed to Einstein) in a different content: making good decisions.

On average, we make hundreds of decisions every day. What to wear? What to eat? How to put aside half an hour to help a loved one in need? What to say to a disgruntled customer? Which stock to buy? When we make good decisions, they have a compounding positive effect on our lives, and when we don’t, we suffer the consequences.

Often, we think it’s the big decisions that matter most. For example, whom to marry? Which career to choose? And so on. But decision-making is not a one-and-done deal. Decisions form a continuum, where many smaller decisions come before and after the bigger ones. When we steadily improve our batting average in making good decisions, the better we will be in achieving our goals.

Meditation will help you improve your batting average. The more meditative your mind becomes, the better the decisions you will make. In 2011, researchers from Virginia Tech asked people to play the Ultimatum Game, which assessed the quality of decision-making1. They found that meditators consistently made better decisions and ended up with better outcomes than those in the control group. The meditators were more rational and reflective than those in the control group.



So, why does meditation make us better decision makers? There are many reasons and here are three big ones you can validate yourself:

A Meditative Mind Escapes The Gravitational Pull of Desires

To enjoy a panoramic view of the New York City skyline,would you prefer the first floor or the roof top of the Empire State Building? The rooftop offers you a 360-degree view. Rising above improves visibility. The same goes for decision-making. To make a good decision, you first need to rise above the noise of your likes and dislikes to get a clear view. Rising above helps you have a better perspective. But what generally happens? The pulls and pushes of desires and emotions create gravity that prevents you from rising, so you see things from a lower perspective, without the whole picture.

Desire precedes any decision-making so it’s important to acknowledge it. We are all familiar with it. For example, one moment we want to realize God, and the next moment an alert from WhatsApp catches our attention. Before we know it, we are busy watching another kitten video and scavenging the kitchen for a snack, while God patiently waits. See how small decisions sway us away from grand goals?

Meditation helps us rise above the noise and tap into the impulses of the heart that come from the deepest core of our being. But those impulses, no matter how pure, encounter many layers of consciousness as they surface. If those layers are filled with imprints of desires, then the heart’s impulse loses potency. Think of the gushing up of the mineral kimberlite from the core of the Earth. As it rises, cutting across layers of the Earth, if it’s blocked and loses speed it becomes graphite. If it moves unhindered, the same mineral becomes a diamond.

Meditation clears the way for the impulses of the heart to surface unobstructed. When we listen to those impulses and act, the decisions we make are good for us.



A Meditative Mind Looks Beyond Bias

In addition to desire, another factor in decision-making is bias. Our understanding and appreciation are based on our conditioning. Brain scientists like David Eagleman and others have done studies that demonstrate bias in people’s empathetic responses according to their group allegiance, such as their religion2. When bias colors our thinking, we don’t see things as they are. We see them as we wish them to be. Like the story of the blindfolded men trying to describe an elephant, we are all blinded by the many veils of our biases.

Meditation removes the veils. It moves us from pre-judging to seeing things as they truly are, so that we can decide based on clear perception.



Meditation clears the way for the impulses
of the heart to surface unobstructed.



A Meditative Mind Is a Discerning Mind

It is well-known that when a person cannot make decisions and hesitates they feel restless. Sometimes you will see people who keep on postponing decisions, even with all the information at their fingertips. What happens? Peace eludes their mind. This inability to make decisions is due to alack of clarity and discernment (known in Yoga as Viveka). Once a person has lost that discernment, it is hard for them to maintain their humanity, because the mind is always confused or turbulent.

One very important gift of a meditation practice is discernment. A meditative mind can quickly discern, “What is good for me? What is evolutionary for me? What is ennobling for me?” When such clarity exists, decisions are made faster, even with less information.



The Guidance of Wisdom

While all meditative practices can improve decision making, Heartfulness offers something more. It helps you leapfrog to the correct decision without all the intermediary steps. As if moving at warp speed, you can look beyond desires, break through biases, and immediately tap into the intuitive guidance of the heart. The reason why the contemplative practices of Heartfulness equip you with decision-making superpower goes back to Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra:

Hridaya chitta samvit

Hridaya means heart, chitta means consciousness, and samvit means wisdom and understanding. When we meditate on the heart, it results in the understanding of the mind and consciousness. It is also a bridge that connects consciousness with the Source.

When you meditate on the heart, it creates a hyperloop, a guidance system from within, so that decisions can come to you very fast. Early on, you may not feel confident in following these insights, but overtime, as you listen to the inner guidance, you will develop more confidence in the inner radar. Through meditation, you will be guided from within, especially about what not to do.



When you meditate on the heart, it creates a hyperloop,
a guidance system from within,
so that decisions can come to you very fast.



Here is a simple exercise:

First, think of a decision you made in your life that you felt was wrong or that you regret.

Now, think of a decision that felt good and right.

Reflect upon them. What do you discover?

Are you able to see that when the heart guides you, and when your mind agrees with your heart, your decisions are correct? I hope you experience this for yourself.

Coming back to the quote at the beginning of the article, one of my meditation trainers also used an example from finance. He would say, “In finance, we invest principal and we get interest. In meditation, we invest interest and become principled.” I pray that you will meditate with ever growing interest and make decisions that are ennobling and evolutionary.



References

1 Kirk, U. et al., 2011. Interoception Drives Increased Rational Decision-Making in Meditators Playing the Ultimatum Game, Frontiers in Neuroscience, Vol. 5, 49. Frontiers.

2 Vaughn, D.A. et al., 2018. Empathic Neural Responses Predict Group Allegiance, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Vol. 12, 302. Frontiers.



Illustrations by JASMEE MUDGAL



Daaji

Daaji

Kamlesh Patel is known to many as Daaji. He is the Heartfulness Guide in a tradition of Yoga meditation that is over 100 years old, overseeing 14,000 certified Heartfulness trainers and many volunteers in over 130 countries. He is an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the fields of spirituality and science, blending the... Read more

4 COMMENTS

  1. Beautiful and well written article explaining why it makes sense to meditate. Hope people read and decide to dive into this blissful world. Thankyou Daaji

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here