Ofosu and Leah try a research-backed technique that can help in moments of decision paralysis. By using it to listen to both your mind and body, you can more confidently know when to say "yes.”
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LEAH: Hello, before we get into the discussion we plan on having today. We want to say, we're thinking about the people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. People affected by other conflicts around the world also. So we want to pause and offer a little love right now, and also to remember that even if you are not directly affected by the conflict happening, maybe you're not in Ukraine or you're not in Russia - we still feel the effects of what's happening around the world. We still are confronted with the fact that, oh my gosh, I am a part of this world. I am hearing about what's happening on the other side of the planet in real time through the news, maybe bombarded by it and it feels like it's happening in our backyard.
And so that stress intention that arises, that wants to mobilize and fix the issue or to internalize the fear - what we can do as human beings is remember that meditation is a tool to help us to face our fears, to bring all those fears and all that tension in the moment to our breath to let the safety of our meditation of our breath, meet it, and to let it wash out of the system to cleanse and purify and process all that fear and release it so that we can move about our day.
And still be effective human beings. Being able to give that compassion and love to the people who need it.
OFOSU: Yeah. Thank you, Leah. And speaking about compassion and love, we wanted to take a moment to offer a little loving kindness to everybody out there, because I think we could all use a little bit of that right now.
So I have a short, uh, meditation song, loving kindness song that I'd like to offer right now.
May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well? May I be peaceful and happy? May I be happy? May you be filled with loving kindness? May you be well? May you be peaceful and at ease? May you be happy? May we be filled with loving kindness? May we be well? Uh, may we be peaceful and happy, may we be happy?
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OFOSU: Hi, What’s up? I'm Ofosu Jones-Quartey.
LEAH: And I'm Leah Santa Cruz. We're the meditation coaches on Balance.
OFOSU: And this is our weekly show -- Well Balanced.
LEAH: Well, I wanted to talk. About decision-making today because I am in the current process of having to make a decision on where to live. I'm back in Bali, and there's so many choices and options, and each one has its pluses and negatives, and it's a big toss up for me.
But I'm curious, is this something that you've ever struggled with? Like making a decision.
OFOSU: Literally every day of my whole existence. But you and I both have unconventional work lives and it leaves a lot of room to make decisions on things like what to do next and what to prioritize, but it can actually be really paralyzing.
So for instance, today, I went on a walk with the explicit purpose of doing a long distance walking meditation. But then as soon as I started walking, then I got a call about music related work and like what the priorities are for the week and all that type of stuff. That call lasted a pretty long time.
And there were so many little issues. Once I got off, I just didn't know what to do next. Maybe I should turn around and walk home and just start, you know, getting to. Maybe I should finish my walking meditation, but now I've got all this different stuff in my mind.
Like maybe I should spend my time walking, thinking about what I need to do once I get in front of my computer once I get in the house? But what's the first thing that I'm going to do once I get in front of my computer? And when I'm in the house, am I going to send emails?
Am I going to do social media? But then I got into the house and I was like, oh my God, this house is a mess! Maybe I should clean the house before I start doing any of this work and I didn't even do my walking meditation. Maybe I should just finish. Oh my God. And that, you know, this happens to me very often.
LEAH: So big decisions, like where should I live? Even down to the small ones like, how should I prioritize my time for the next hour, a decision analysis paralysis, like you said.
OFOSU: Yeah, listener, I'm sorry if I gave you a headache. Cause, it definitely gave me one.
LEAH: Well, I, I think this technique I want to share with you could help and I'm thinking about it today while I'm in the process of having to make some big decisions and it's called the whole body yes.
Have you heard of it?
OFOSU: I have not heard of it. I am super excited to learn more about this.
LEAH: So there's a technical definition here where the whole body yes, it's something that's being researched and written about by plenty of different groups. One's called the Hendricks Institute and another, uh, the conscious leadership group.
Um, but the whole body yes. Happens when you are fully aligned with your whole body, which means your head, your heart and your gut, and there's this bodily sense of wellbeing as you consider a choice that is, uh, a yes for you versus a no for you.
OFOSU: This is fascinating.
LEAH: Yeah. And it's science-y right. Cause it's not just a woo woo thing.
This idea of making decisions based on what your body's telling you actually has a name called interoception. Oh, say that three times. Interoception sounds like a new movie title, right? But it's a new area of research and there's been studies about it that show that people with greater interoceptive awareness, which is having a better mind-body connection - they have less anxiety. They regulate their emotions better. They experienced better physical health and even healthier, stronger relationships which is pretty awesome.
OFOSU: This is really interesting because like one of the things that is a challenge for me, even as a teacher practitioner of mindfulness, meditation is being what's called embodied, like getting into the body and I'm, I'm a traditionally neck up person.
And as a result, I do have more anxiety and you know, all kinds of stuff. So getting into my body has been this lifelong journey. So stuff like this is really, really cool to me.
LEAH: Yeah. Well, you hit it on the head because this is a skill that we're training ourselves for when we meditate. So I relate to you feeling like I naturally tend towards being in my head.
Over the years of meditating I have had to train myself to be more in my body and aware of my body. And that's actually really good news for people who are interested in meditation and who are practicing meditation. There are studies from UC Berkeley that show that meditators have better interoceptive skills than even dancers who are people who use their bodies for work every day.
So it's good news, something we can train. So I thought we'd do an exercise right now and I've done this in workshops before, but, uh, it's always fun to do this at home on your own time. So I'm gonna teach you what your whole body yes feels like. And you've never done this before. It should be fun.
OFOSU: I am super, super ready. Let's get into it.
LEAH: All right. So here's what we're going to do and listener, I want you to try this along with us. I want you to think of a time when there was an opportunity or decision that you had to make. A total. Yes. For you, like you were very excited about it, you knew absolutely. 100% I am in.
LEAH: Maybe it was like, let's go on this vacation to this beautiful place. Or here's a really cool, uh, career opportunity.
OFOSU: I got it.
LEAH: You got it? Okay, great.
OFOSU: Should I say, should I say what it is or? I got it.
LEAH: You can say what it is. Sure.
OFOSU: It was when I was invited to Thailand to attend this huge summit on Buddhism and meditation.
And like Thailand is the place that I always, always wanted to visit. So when that invitation came through, it was a whole body yes, for sure. Okay.
Now, I want you to bring your center of attention to your head. Imagine you're in that scenario right now. You just got offered this opportunity to go to Thailand or whatever it is, the opportunity or the decision was listener that you have in mind. And now I want you to notice what it feels like in your body, in the area, around your head, as you think of that memory, there's physical sensations here.
Maybe you feel some sense of expansion or lightness. Energy, uh, tingling.
OFOSU: Yeah! Should I report what I'm feeling here?
OFOSU: Yeah. I feel effervescent.
LEAH: I love that word.
OFOSU: Yeah. I feel like this, uh, oh, this puts me in a great mood. I feel like um a lightness and just a sense of like, goodness
LEAH: now bring your center of attention right down to your heart, just like an elevator dropping down. And I want you to check in here in the center of your chest and notice how your heart feels as you hold this memory - this scene in your awareness.
OFOSU: It's, you know, it's like a continuation of the same kind of feeling, except it has more space here in my heart center.
And it's this expansive, joyful lifted up light feeling. Yeah. It's also got an anticipatory quality to it, too. It's ready.
LEAH: Okay. Now drop that center of attention down. Even further down to your navel, your gut center. This is the power center of the body. And you knew instinctively in that moment, like this is it just recalling how good it felt to be this solid in your choice, notice how it feels in your body, in this area.
OFOSU: Wow. Okay. So there's some, there's some nervousness, but it's like the good kind. It's like, it's like the kind before you are. Before you're about to like, get on a rollercoaster or get on an airplane or something like that. It's a little nervous, but it's like, yeah, let's do this. Yeah.
LEAH: Beautiful. So now I want you to feel all three areas at the same time, the gut, the heart, and the head, notice how it feels in your body to be holding this scene, this memory that you knew made sense for you, you felt aligned with you were all in and you knew this is it. So this is a whole body, yes.
OFOSU: It definitely is.
LEAH: And listener it's okay if you weren't feeling all the same feelings as a Ofosu, whatever your body felt like with the whole body yes - just remember that. It's totally personal. So now we're going to try a different exercise, slightly changing it and listener I want you to do this one. I want you to think of a time when you knew something was a no, when something did not feel right for you, it was offered to you or somebody wanted you to do something that did not feel good.
That you're like, uh-uh.
OFOSU: Yup. There's no shortage of those either. Um, yeah, so it's, it's interesting because it's something that needs to be done. It's a health based thing, but the timing was just wrong. And so I need to have my tonsils out, um, because I just have issues with them, but the timing was just wrong.
LEAH: Okay. So now I want you to hold tha scene. They just gave you the date and you're like uh-uh. I want you to go back to your head again and notice how it feels in your head. Then you've just forgiven this date that just does not sync with you feel what sensations you're noticing in your head.
OFOSU: Definitely a sense of constriction, definitely. Uh, uh, a tighter, more constricted, more narrow feeling. And it's. Yeah. Much more acute and unpleasant.
LEAH: What does it feel like in your chest as you notice those sensations?
OFOSU: Yeah, it's a big, don't want, it's like a recoiling, like my heart's kind of folding in on itself. Like noooo.
LEAH: Now drop down to your gut one more time.
LEAH: Notice how this feels.
OFOSU: Yeah, it feels gross.
LEAH: Gross. Like you ate something bad.
Okay. So this is a whole body no, and it can be argued that anything that's not a whole body yes, is a no. And so this is a good way to check in with your body because the body knows when we are aligned with something. But I think where it gets convoluted sometimes is these complex decisions, right.
With your. They go, well, this date doesn't work out. This doesn't feel good. Nobody wants to go through a surgery or get their tonsils out. But if you think about what it would feel like to be healthy and to be free from the ailments that this is causing you. I imagine you would start to feel whole body yes again towards actually feeling healthy.
OFOSU: Immediately. Like when you frame it like that, then the response is almost instantaneous for me. It's like, oh yeah, you know, that's the whole point of this. And I should probably get that date back on the calendar.
LEAH: Well, maybe now you're going, okay - well, I know getting my tonsils out is a whole body yes. But this date doesn't work for me. And that's a no. So perhaps there can be an adjustment there where I'm like now listening to the body that it just needs to be at a different date. Maybe it's not right in the way that it's offered. Uh, so this is something that you can use as a tool in your tool belt.
And I think it’s especially useful to use in the times that we have to do something that maybe we don't necessarily like doing, but we can find where the yes in them is. Like, I don't want to fill out my tax forms. I don't enjoy that process, but I feel like a yes to honoring the law and not paying the fines.
And I feel like a yes to that to being free and clear. So, um, you can find the yes in things when you have to do something that, uh, you don't necessarily like, but when you're in decisions where it's like, do I want to pick an apple or an orange, you can go with what feels like more of a yes.
OFOSU: yeah, I can see how this would be helpful in so many ways. Um, this is super inspiring. Thanks for taking me through these exercises, Leah. So for our listeners, here is a little challenge. Try to do the whole body yes to make any decision this week and t tag us on at balance on Instagram and yeah, let us know how it goes.
LEAH: Love it to here.
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