Everything we do involves some sort of decision making. Sometimes we make poor decisions, sometimes we do much better; at other times we get stuck and torn between our choices. Whether we are limited in our choices or have too many options; whether the decision we are facing is trivial or critical, one thing is clear; that we all would like to make “better” choices depending on our restrictions and our capacities. We usually know our restrictions but do we know and utilise all of our capacities? The answer is: “most probably not”.

Let’s take our intellectual capacity; do we include our various intellectual capacities in our decision making? Most of us do not even know we have more than one centre of intelligence. Most believe their brain or their mental capacity is their only source of intelligence. In fact Encyclopaedia Britannica defines human intelligence as: “mental quality that consists of the abilities to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.” But this is only part of the story; timeless universal wisdom shows us that we are equipped with three centres of intelligence. These centres are:

  • The Head Centre. (Or the Mental Centre, the “Thinking” Centre)
  • The Heart Centre. (Or the Emotional Centre, the “Feeling” Centre)
  • The Belly Centre. (Or the Gut Centre, Body Centre, Physical Centre, the “Moving” Centre)

Fortunately; over the past few decades; modern science has been slowly catching up with timeless wisdom in this regard, developing new evidence-based theories of intelligence centres[1].

By knowing and including our three centres we can make decisions which are more effective, more natural and aligned with our truth, and less damaging to ourselves and others in the long run.

How to improve our decision making

Some of us are quick decision makers who might regret it later; some are slow, methodical and over-analytical people who agonise and exhaust ourselves; yet some of us wear our hearts on our sleeves and make rash emotional decisions ignoring our own better judgements. Can we improve our decision making? The answer is of-course YES. And no it does not just involve thinking harder, improving our technical skills or processes, or increasing our IQ. What we need to do is firstly to know our three intelligence centres better, and secondly practice including them in our decision making. This is a very effective process to help us make more sound decisions by becoming a whole person, not a partial fragmented one. Let’s look at few examples:

Rebrand SELF to SELF-AWARE Imagine yourself as the owner and Chairperson of the organisation called “SELF”. Your Board of Directors consists of three directors: Head, Heart and Belly. “SELF” is not functioning too well and you are wondering what is going on. Your Board keeps making poor decisions without much learning. Upon further investigation you become aware that over time you have allowed one of the directors; the Head; to dominate at the cost of the silence or underground activism of the other two. What you need to do is to get to know your Heart and Belly directors more intimately and to encourage them to enthusiastically participate in all board decisions. The first thing you do is to change the name of your organisation to “SELF-AWARE”. This move would be very welcome and a sign of your absolute commitment to include all the directors, you then practice to be mindful and self-aware.

Head centre example might be when the Head centre has decided you must study hard to pass an important exam; but since the Heart and the Belly were not included in the original decision, they misbehave and attempt at sabotaging your resolve. The Heart wants to play and have fun or may feel sad and isolated. The Belly might not act outwardly rebellious but simply not chip in the will and steadfastness required to complete the studies. You then wonder what’s wrong, why can’t I just plough through these studies as I know it is to my benefit to endure the hardship for a while in return for a rewarding future?

Heart centre example might look like when you are one of those people who are kind, emotional and impulsive with the tendency to dive into things, you get involved quickly. Your Heart is your dominant centre, you thrive on experiencing new things; or are on the lookout for opportunities to help others by sacrificing your own resources. Since your Head and Belly centres were not fully included and aligned with your Heart; you might often become disappointed that your help was not really appreciated, or the new experience was not a long lasting one; or was a very silly one after all, if not damaging.

Belly centre example would be the case of people dominated by their Belly centre at the cost of the other two centres. They may have a tendency to be forceful leaders, to take charge and “to get things done” in a bulldozer manner without much foresight and bringing people along with them. They might appear successful for a while; specially in a short-sighted “can-do” attitude culture; but often become disappointed with their rash decisions, or might be seen as a “bully” and eventually lose the cooperation of people around them.

Similar scenarios keep reoccurring for all of us because we are creatures of habit and keep making decisions without the inclusion of our full board of directors.

 For the teamwork and inclusion of the full Board to work you should get to know your various centres intimately and be able to keep the three of them present at the boardroom table despite their differences and despite your habitual tendency to only listen to the dominant one. This starts with practising to be mindful and self-aware, to be present to whatever is arising in the here-and-now, and being accepting of your experience without any judgement, to remain simply curious, open and allowing while inquiring into your experience during the process of your decision making.

A.H. Almaas describes the three centres and the attitude of inclusion as follows:

Each center contributes to the process of understanding.

If the head center is functioning correctly, it means that space or emptiness is allowed. What is the significance of space and emptiness? When there is space in the mind, there is no self-image, you’re not trying to stick to something in particular. You are not trying to go somewhere. The mind is allowing whatever is there to be there…

The heart center’s contribution has to do with…the diving movement, the actual living of the experience. You not only allow it, you’re in the midst of it, you’re one with it. You’re really it, you let it happen, you feel it fully, you sense it fully, you experience it fully, right? That’s the contribution of the heart center.

The belly center has its contribution, which is represented by the self, the essential self. The contribution of the essential self is the disidentification, the turning away. When you are truly functioning in the belly, you are completely present, and being completely present, you’re being yourself. So you are not identified with the usual activity of trying to get somewhere else. ~ A.H. Almaas

Almaas adds that it is not a matter of putting attention on any particular centre, it’s rather to do with a certain attitude for each centre which comes with awareness:

In the head center, the correct attitude is to allow things to happen.
In the heart center, the correct attitude is involvement and participation.
In the belly center, the correct attitude is disidentification. … the belly center is also the will center. In a sense, the ultimate function of the will is to surrender to what happens, to surrender to the now. And to surrender to the now means not to hold onto something. The true function of the will is complete surrender to what is happening without holding on. That is will.
So the awareness itself is enough. If you’re aware that you’re not allowing, you might see why you’re not allowing things to happen. If you’re aware that you’re not participating, then you might find out what the resistance is, what the block against the participation is.

This ancient wisdom of self-awareness and full board inclusion would be useful in any decision making process; so why not start putting it into practice immediately and start seeing the difference for yourself.

As an additional tool, you can use the Wonder Why Why process for times when problems arise while trying to stay aware of your three centres.


1- For modern, evidence-based findings in relation to other intelligence capacities, see for example: