I have been a regular meditator for the last three years, having been a sporadic one for several years before that. Apart from helping cope with stress more easily (it’s never easy!) it also helped me to be calmer and more detached in my decision-making, which I believe has helped me make better decisions. Why?
I was at a lecture on luck by Professor Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire a couple of months ago and he drew the following analogy. Imagine you have gone to the bank to withdraw some cash. It is crowded and suddenly some armed robbers burst in. During the process of the robbery a single shot is fired and it hits you in the arm. Are you lucky or unlucky? If you believe yourself to be unlucky then you will focus on the fact that being in a bank holdup is rare, the bank was crowded and only one shot was fired and of all the people who could have been hit only you got shot. Someone who considers themselves lucky on the other hand, would focus on the fact they only got hit in the arm and six inches to the right and they would have been killed. How lucky can you be? Same facts, different narrative.
Now this post is not about luck. (If you want to read more on the subject read Richard Wiseman’s The luck Factor.) This post is about how meditation helps you to see this event in two parts. The actual event, being a bank robbery and a shot being fired and the second part, our thoughts about the event i.e. the narrative of luck our lack thereof we create around the event. Regular meditation teaches you to observe your thoughts, to distance yourself from them. I think of it like learning to take your sunglasses off, when you have been wearing them for so long you lost awareness that you have them on, whether dark or rose-tinted.
By seeing these two stages (the event and your thoughts about the event) as separate the second starts to lose its emotional power over you and at the same time helps you see that there are perhaps multiple meanings or narratives that could be given to the event. By observing this and thinking about it, you can often understand how different parties are looking at the same thing and it gives you a wider range of options with how to deal with it, than if you blend the event and your thoughts about it into one.