Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Summary of Findings: Meditation (4 out of 5 Stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst University, in October 2018 regarding Meditation as an Analytic Modifier, specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Meditation is an analytic modifier that allows one to focus attention on a particular object, thought, or breath to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.  It is a technique used to reduce stress and exercise mental awareness. There are multiple techniques and belief systems that can be tied to meditation. Some research has shown that it can improve resistance to sunk-cost bias. To the best of our knowledge, we have not found any studies that show meditation has an effect on forecasting accuracy. Future studies should address this shortcoming in the academic literature, especially if there is any future for meditation as a useful modifier for analysis.  

  • Reduce stress, anxiety, depression
  • Increase ability to parse reality
  • Increase focus
  • Decrease projection and rumination

  • Requires consistency
  • Lacks immediate results
  • Requires open-minded practitioners
  • Difficult to apply specifically to intelligence problems

Below are specific steps to Vipassana or Mindfulness:
  1. Sit up straight and close your eyes
  2. Notice your breath. Pick a spot where you feel it most and focus your full attention on that spot
  3. Notice when you get lost and start over

Application of Technique:
The class was presented with an introduction to the practice of Vipassana in terms of its origins and current practice today. Students then conducted their own Vipassana exercise according to the video guide below:
The 8 minute exercise guided the class through the steps listed above, asking one to sit up straight with the eyes closed, breath naturally, and simply notice the breath.  The trick to vipassana is to notice when one gets lost in thought and re-focus on the breath. 

A class discussion followed the exercise and covered a range of topics including meditation’s ability to mediate cognitive biases, establish an internal locus of control, and serve as a modifier to complement other analytic techniques.

Vipassana is commonly referred to as mindfulness, which has a growing range of literature supporting its psychological benefits.  Although not explicitly stated in the exercise, it has quality of mind has been shown to control pain, mitigate anxiety and depression, improve cognitive function, and even produce changes regulating emotions, and self awareness.

For Further Information:

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