For years I've flirted with meditation. I've read many books and articles about how to sit, breath, let go etc. but like many others, I've never quite worked it into my daily routine. I always find an excuse not to bother. Anyone else in the same boat?
Running is more my game, and it, too, is difficult for many to enjoy. During the first few months practicing, your body feels like its going to give up. We've all been there: lungs on fire, legs heavy and bursting with lactic acid etc. Now, I'll be first to say feeling these feelings are horrible. Why get out of your lovely warm bed all comfy and then masochistically wheeze around the park? It's a good question, and one that can only be answered after around 5/6 weeks of running - 2/3 times per week.
After this time, your runs get easier and your confidence grows. You will experience the hallowed 'Runner's High' which for a long time I though was nonsense. But, when it finally hit me, I was shocked. I began get a buzz of positive energy and clear-headedness after a couple of kms, and for a hour after my run ended. It's as close as you can get to drugs without the need to hang around an abandoned car park.
In my post, Trail Running and Investing I investigated the above and explained how scampering along mountain tracks is conducive to being a good investor. If you haven't read the blog, I urge you to go back and give it a read.
Now, I would like to explore another pastime of mine, meditation, and find out if it, too, has any benefits for people looking to make their money grow.
From the off, I want to make it clear that I am no meditation expert, far from it. I'm an elementary practitioner at best. As a result, please take my words with a healthy pinch of salt. The internet is jam packed with 'personalities' pretending to be expert in this or that. I'm not one of them.
Think of the self-improvement space, in particular. It amazes me that the same old sayings, quadrants and blueprints can still inspire people to part with sizable sums of cash. The Yanks of course do it best with Tony Robbins leading the way. It amazes me that educated people will spend thousands to read a re-hashing of a book with some loud music, sob stories and group psychology thrown into the mix. Honestly, if you want to feel better about yourself surely a run, press ups or a bowl of fruit salad would be a better choice for the savvy investor.
Based on my own experience here are a few ways meditation can help investors. Here are two:
1. Meditation and investing require discipline
Both practices require sitting for a period of time on a regular basis and focusing your attention. In meditation you sit quietly and watch your breath as it moves effortlessly in and out of your body. Investing requires quiet contemplation of your portfolio, checking asset allocations, dividend income and overall performance. Because meditation improves discipline, an investor would be less inclined to make excitable decisions and would also analyse his portfolio with more focus.
2. Meditation and investing reveal weaknesses and allow you to learn from them
If you ask any investor about his biggest investing mistake, they'll crack a wry smile, clear their throat, and in a croaky voice tell you their tale of woe. Ask them again have they ever done the same thing again, and the answer will surely be no. The same applies the meditation practitioner. While sitting gently observing your breath, your mind takes you off to strange places: one moment your aware of breathing in for the forth time, and the next your thinking of what it would be like to live on Mars. Suddenly, you realize this and pull your mind back to your breath. Then as you pass your third exhale, you wonder what Brian from high school history class is doing now and who he's doing it with and if he's happy and if he's got kids etc etc.
Honestly, the human mind is a wacky and inexplicable piece of kit. That said, by drawing your mind back to your breath from these weird, and at times. somewhat psychedelic narratives, you learn the true nature of the mind is the moment and the very breath you take. Thus, with practice you can learn more about the true essence of being rather than being distracted my randomness moment to moment.
Don't you think eliminating scattered ideas from our heads would be good for our portfolios? I do.
Anyway, so there you have it folks. Two lovely, juicy ways meditation and investing can symbiotically feed off each other. As we approach NY, I plan to meditate more. Let's see if it can do wonder for my portfolio. I'll keep you posted.
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