Getting Clear: How to Make Decisions Mindfully
By Natalie Marnica
We all make decisions daily. Ranging from little things like what to eat for breakfast, to which clothes to wear and to what you are going to post next on your face book page! But what do we do when we have to make bigger decisions? Like where to live, to get married or not, change careers, or whether to put your loved one into long-term care? Some stakes are higher than others. The more important the issue, the harder it is sometimes to make those tough choices. Especially if they have the power to alter other people’s lives and well-being.
It can feel overwhelming and cause confusion about making the “right” decision. Often times we are trying to make choices in our life when we are feeling stressed or emotional. When we are in a distressed state we are not always able to make the decisions that lead to the best possible outcome. It was Albert Einstein who said, “ No problem can be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it.” So, if you are hitting a wall, try a different approach.
For me, practicing yoga regularly has been crucial to my mental health and stability. Yogic practices aim to bring one’s attention and focus into the present moment, by joining the mind, body and breath. Here are a few things that I have found greatly beneficial for my students and myself.
- Get out of your head and into your body! Physical activities that involve focus and concentration like yoga, tai chi, martial arts, walking and running to name a few, can help to bring you into the present moment. When we get out of the “thinking” mind, we can create clarity and space, which allows for a fresh look at things.
- Breathe, relax and focus; incorporating meditation into your life. A simple way to start is with mindfulness meditation.
- Find a comfortable seated position (with hips above the knees), in a place that is quiet and with minimal distractions. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes if you are new to meditation.
- Begin to focus on your natural breath rhythm, allowing any thoughts that come into your mind just to pass by like clouds moving in the sky. Anytime the mind starts to drift, gently return your focus back to the breath, without judgment.
- Continue this practice until you feel more focused and clear, or until your timer goes off! Then feel free to look at your decision-making possibilities.
- Ask for advice! It can be very helpful to get an outside perspective, someone with whom you trust and that is willing to be a support. You are not obligated to take the advice but can benefit greatly from seeing another point of view.
- Look at the bigger picture. What are the possible outcomes? Long-term vs short term? Listen to your gut. What feels right to you? Given the circumstances, what is the best possible decision you can make?
Ultimately, the goal is to find the answer that feels right to you. Right and wrong is a matter of opinion. Every action has a reaction and we have to be ready to face the consequences of that. Consider how it affects others and do your best. I’ll leave you with some lyrics that I find helpful from one of my favorite songs:
“You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will “ – Rush, Freewill
Natalie Marnica is a passionate advocate for holistic health. As a yoga therapist and teacher she believes that yoga practices should be accessible to everyone and, as such, offers many different therapeutic-based classes to allow all ages and fitness levels to participate and fully benefit from the healing practices of Yoga.
Natalie has a strong desire to teach individuals how to help themselves. She delivers simple breath-based yoga practices that supports and empowers the individual to improve their lives on all level physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As a person who has recovered from depression, trauma and chronic pain, Natalie believes that even in dark times there is still hope for a better future. Natalie teaches weekly yoga classes at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.
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