The Effects of Mindfulness on the OODA Loop

This past Sunday (1/3/21), I was walking my dog (Radar) and I noticed how he was reacting to taking a new route. His Observation, Orienteering, Deciding, and Acting (OODA Loop) was very noticeable and it made me wonder what role “mindfulness” could play in First Responders navigating the “loop” more efficiently.

What is mindfulness? Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.

Several disciplines and practices can cultivate mindfulness, such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, but most of the literature has focused on mindfulness that is developed through mindfulness meditation — those self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calmness, clarity and concentration (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006).

According to Daphne M. Davis, PhD, and Jeffrey A. Hayes, PhD, the following are empirically supported benefits of mindfulness:

  OODA Loop Components Observation Orientation Deciding Acting
Mindfulness Benefits   Effects of Mindfulness on OODA Loop Processing:
Reduced Rumination Proactive Alert Clear Thinking Decisive
Stress Reduction Openness Clarity Honesty Unabated
Boosts Memory Reference Skills Experienced Based Experienced Based Increased Confidence
Less Emotional Reactivity Objective (Unbiased) Objective (Unbiased) Objective (Unbiased) Objective (Unbiased)
Cognitive Flexibility Increased Knowledge of Available Options 360 Degree Evaluation Option Awareness Option Awareness
Relationship Satisfaction Openness Relationship Seeking Behavior Based on Facts, Not Preconceived Notions Informed Decisions
Compassion Desire to Help Open Minded Thoughtful Decision Making Treating Others with Respect/Dignity

Creator: Christopher O. Davis (Yoga911)

Other benefits. Mindfulness has been shown to enhance self-insight, morality, intuition and fear modulation, all functions associated with the brain’s middle prefrontal lobe area. Evidence also suggests that mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits, including increased immune functioning (Davidson et al., 2003; see Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004 for a review of physical health benefits), improvement to well-being (Carmody & Baer, 2008) and reduction in psychological distress (Coffey & Hartman, 2008; Ostafin et al., 2006). In addition, mindfulness meditation practice appears to increase information processing speed (Moore & Malinowski, 2009), as well as decrease task effort and having thoughts that are unrelated to the task at hand (Lutz et al., 2009).

My Conclusion: Mindfulness can clarify each component of the OODA Loop, but more importantly, mindfulness can improve the quality of how each component is evaluated and acted upon.

Clarity + Quality = Informed / Unbiased / Compassionate Decision Making


American Psychological Association

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

A wealth of new research has explored this age-old practice. Here’s a look at its benefits for both clients and psychologists.

By Daphne M. Davis, PhD, and Jeffrey A. Hayes, PhD

July/August 2012, Vol 43, No. 7


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