A few years ago, I went on a silent meditation retreat to the Shambhala Mountain Centre in Colorado. I went because I was trying to deal with and process my heartbreak. It was a weekend of mindfulness, spirituality, and thoughtful reflection. I disconnected from the world and didn’t use the Internet or check my phone and it was a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind. The natural beauty of the mountain retreat combined with the crisp mountain air was memorable, and to this day I can remember the absolute silence in the air when a bit of snow started falling on the ground.
Although I would like to incorporate meditation into my daily routine much more than I do now, I currently try to meditate three times weekly for 10 minutes at a time. Ideally it would be 30 minutes at a time and always at the same time, but I haven’t been able to slow down enough to meditate for 30 minutes and a crying hungry baby adjusts my free time in the mornings.
To preface this post, this is how I was taught to meditate. You can watch this video by Shambhala’s Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on learning how to meditate if you are interested.
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In a nutshell:
- You sit cross legged on a meditation cushion or a meditation stool
- Close your eyes or keep your eyes almost closed
- Then you concentrate on a spot about 2 feet in front of you
- Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth
- Relax your jaw. Finally, you concentrate on your breath and focus on breathing in and out
- Focus on your breath instead of the thoughts that will pop into your mind (although this is not the intention, during my meditation sessions I often remember things that I need to do, or add to my to-do list… I guess this is the byproduct of ‘clearing your mind’)
- I find that a meditation timer is helpful to time the meditation session.
I recently thought about how investing (well, disciplined investing) and meditation are similar.
there will be distractions, acknowledge them and ignore them
I was taught at that meditation retreat that there will be distractions. The analogy I was given was that your mind is like a blue sky. There inevitably be clouds passing by, but just note them and let them pass by. Acknowledge them but don’t pay too much attention to the clouds. Give yourself compassion and don’t beat yourself up for not concentrating on your breath.
Similar to investing, there will be distractions. Bitcoin, weed stocks, people panicking and selling at the slightest dip.
Acknowledge these distractions when you invest and try your best to ignore them.
Continue to invest and continue to dollar cost average (if that works for you like it works for me, where I dollar cost average and invest in ETFs for free with Questrade). Continue to regularly track your net worth.
it takes time to be better at both
Meditation is a practice and it takes a lot of effort to improve. It doesn’t happen overnight. This is similar to investing. As you go through recessions or market dips you will be better at investing because you will learn not to react. As you learn from your previous investing mistakes you will become a better investor (provided you have mindfulness to focus on becoming a better investor). It takes time to get better at both meditation and investing (and not to mention patience and forgiveness with yourself).
both involve discipline and focus
Both meditation and investing involve discipline and focus. You have to set an intention in your day to practice meditation. You find a comfortable position to sit on and then carve out time in your day to meditate. With investing, you carve out time in your day (or month, or quarter, or year, depending on how often you look at your investment portfolio) to review your asset allocation, review your dividend income, and review your portfolio performance. Buying the latest stock pick that you heard about at the office water cooler is not disciplined nor is it focused. Having an investor’s contract with yourself is disciplined and is focused, same as scheduling meditation for yourself regularly to clear your mind.
There are different ways to invest and meditate but end result is the same
There are many different types of meditation– transcendental meditation, movement meditation, mindfulness meditation, and walking meditation are a few. T here’s even running meditation! There are also many different ways to invest- value investing, speculative investing, hot stock tip investing, and index investing.
Although there are many different ways to both invest and to meditate, the end result or goal for both investing and meditation is the same. It doesn’t matter how you get to your goal, and people will inevitably have different preferences or approaches. An increased investment portfolio (unrealized and eventually realized capital gains, dividend income, and financial freedom) and the ability to clear your mind and practice mindfulness (or being present instead of focusing on the future or focusing on the past).
Readers, have you tried meditation before?
GYM is a 40 something millennial writing about personal finance since 2009 and interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for a free dividend yield spreadsheet and the free Young Money Bootcamp PDF.