30 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
traveler.” Every decision a person makes, as Frost illustrates, is as much
a decision ‘to do’ as it is ‘not to do.’ Inherently, by choosing to do ‘A’ we
are deciding not to do ‘B.’ It is beyond debate that at the core of what it
means to be human, lies decision-making. In Sanskrit, the word manas
means “mind” or “thinking,” and the word “man” is derived from manas.
Manas collects sensory input, compares it against information and
experiences from one’s past, and makes decisions.
1 Without the
elements of pause and reflection, decision-making becomes a basic
reaction—almost robotic, anti-human. Without reflective analysis of the
information the mind is simply processing sensory data and telling us how
According to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, critically thinking,
creativity, and problem-solving are recognized as skills that separate
students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work
environments, and those who are not.
2 These three skills form the core
of the equation of decision-making. Healthy decision-making is a master-skill that needs to be developed and fine-tuned early in life. This essay is
driven by this position and the premise that the regular practice of yoga,
with an emphasis on mindfulness, will enable adolescents to develop
deeper self-awareness leading to enhanced decision-making.
Definition of terms:
Yoga: An integration of the subtle layers of the body and mind
from a gross level to the most inward, through a series of
exercises—a stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.
Regular: Daily—a minimum of 10 to 70 minutes.
Practice: Repeated exercise in an activity or skill so as to acquire
or maintain proficiency in it.
Mindfulness: Learning to direct one's attention to the experience
as it unfolds, moment by moment with open-minded curiosity
Meditation: Practice of dharana (concentration) by controlling or
observing the breath or focusing on an external object.