Mindfulness, over the past few years, has become synonymous with meditation. Now, that doesn’t mean that all who read this missive will know that to be true. In fact, there are still great numbers of people, traders included, who have no clue that this is so. Additionally, when the word trading is coupled with meditation, there are large swaths of traders whose eyes roll and glaze over at the notion. There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon; for example, meditation is still not fully understood and is often mischaracterized as strictly a religious exercise and/or it is thought to be so esoteric as to not be useful for something as practical as trading.
To combat this notion, I’ll list some of the benefits of a mindfulness practice that accrue to the trader. These are just a few of the myriad positive adjustments meditation that will support you and your trading with physiological, mental and emotional benefits after just 8 weeks of practice as outlined in literally hundreds of scientific studies..
What Are the Benefits of Meditating?
- Sharpening attention
By reducing the amount of internal conflicting dialogue the individual is supported in the ability to focus more intently on the trade or investment at hand.
- Lowering heart rate
While trading it is very easy to become overly excited and experience a racing heart. Consistent meditation relaxes the overall system and helps the trader/investor to track incoming data with greater clarity.
- Lowering stress
Stress levels become elevated when trading/investing due to hard earned capital at risk. Meditation eases stress levels and helps the individual navigate through the complexities of the market.
- Easing anxiety
For many traders, just opening their platform increases anxiety…about being wrong, making mistakes and losing money. Meditation helps the trader/investor to align body, mind and emotions to go in the same direction and for the same goals, thereby reducing internal turmoil and conflict.
- Increasing patience
Meditation helps the trader/investor to appreciate the moment and develop the capacity for waiting, which is a mainstay of successful trading.
- Inducing calm
Through the process of sitting still and focusing on breathing, mindfulness meditation calms the body and the mind which expands the trader’s ability to reduce distorted judgement and better deal with distracting negative emotions and thoughts.
- Reducing susceptibility to fear and greed
Successful trading/investing stems in part from the effective management of fear and greed, two of the most disruptive emotions to the process. Meditation helps the trader to maintain a grounded and centered perspective that puts distance between these emotions and the task at hand.
The evidence for including a 20 to 30 minute practice in your daily routine of focusing on the breath while sitting still in awareness of the moment is so pervasive that it is nearly criminal to refuse yourself this opportunity to substantively expand your consciousness and your effectiveness. In so doing, you’ll begin to recognize the power of this seemingly obscure approach to trading. Now, if this were all that I had to offer on this subject it would arguably be enough to cover the time-cost of reading this article; but I’ve got more.
Mindfulness is not just a form of meditation…it is a lifestyle. John Kabat-Zinn, Founder/Executive Director of the Massachusetts Stress Clinic and one of the acknowledged thought leaders of mindfulness, has, for over 30 years, studied the effects of mindfulness meditation and has said that mindfulness is something that transcends simply sitting and being in quiet awareness. It is a way of showing up in the world. It is a way of seeing things; that is, everyday things as though you had never seen them before with a sense of wonder and awe and reverence. It is a way of interconnecting with compassion for your fellow beings and, rather than asking what they can do for you, asking what can you do for them. Mindfulness is how you eat, bathe, walk, talk, argue, work, play, compete and explore. Mindfulness is being deliberate as you step into the day; that is, being in the here and now. Mindfulness is moving out of your own way as you courageously address difficulties, for instance in your trading, with a renewed sense of wonder to see how well you can navigate through your trade plan by maintaining a fierce focus on what matters most. Mindfulness is a way of acknowledging the power of not knowing and the cultivation of curiosity. Mindfulness is a journey with no destination, a journey that enters into the depths of heart and soul to open the self to a deeper conversation with your highest and best self.
There is so much that can be and has been said about the virtues of mindful meditation and I encourage and invite you to open your eyes both metaphorically and literally to awaken to greater meaning and purpose in life by beginning a mindfulness practice. The beauty is that although it is not easy, it is simple. Even starting out with a relatively small practice of a few minutes a day can be beneficial. The choice is yours, to continue sleep-walking through life while on automatic pilot and at the end of the day feeling just as depressed, overwhelmed and stressed as when you started with yet no clue as to what to do about it. All it takes is the intention and doing nothing as you sit or lie or walk in quiet mindful awareness… just being.
Dr Woody Johnson can be contacted on this link: Dr Woody Johnson