4 Reasons Why Meditation and Investing are Alike

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.

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.

Here are 4 reasons that meditation is similar to disciplined investing:

 

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).

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?  

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About genymoney

GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle.

28 comments on “4 Reasons Why Meditation and Investing are Alike

  1. That’s a nice meditation retreat in Colorado. I heard about those mindful training sessions. I tried meditation, but had hard time in keeping my eyes shut. Like to try it again. It’s good for my health.

    Interesting analogy! Right, investing also requires us to focus on the long term goals, and avoid the daily noise. Very good point.

    • @Helen- It is so good for one’s health 🙂 I try to meditate regularly but I only do 10 minutes at a time, ideally it would be 30 minutes but I haven’t been able to work up to that.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I find the whole relationship between mindfulness and investing intriguing. So much so, that I’ve written literally hundreds of pages about it. But you made four points here that I’ve overlooked so far. Great additions!

  3. Now I understand! I struggle hard with meditation. When I do yoga, and it’s time for the meditative rest at the end (savasana), I lay there like a wire, wondering what I need to pick up at Target on the way home! I’m terrible, sometimes I even try to quietly sneak out! And the yoga instructor gives me the side-eye while she tells the class that the meditation is the most important part. So…as for my investing, it is not a peaceful matter either! It is work! Damnit. I need to go to your retreat 🙂
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    • @CashflowKat- Haha I know exactly what you mean regarding my favourite yoga pose, savasana, but I have the opposite problem!! I often end up falling asleep and then I wake myself up with my snoring! It’s very embarrassing. When I meditate I often remember things “e.g. what I need to pick up” that I wouldn’t otherwise remember (while trying to concentrate on my breath) so it’s helpful for that, haha!

  4. I read a book a few years back called “Start Here:Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing ” and it’s about mastering the art of well-being. One of the factors to help master it and become more focused is to mediate for at least 30 minutes a day. Right after reading that book, I mediated for a week but with Mother with Cents being pregnant at the time I dropped mediating and haven’t thought about it since. Your post reminds me that I need to get to back because it’s very relaxing and helped clear my mind. Great comparison between mediating and investing, thanks for this GYM!!
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    • @Kris- Good for you for doing it for 30 minutes for a week! I usually only do 10 minutes, and with baby GYM around, I’ve been meditating on his naps or sometimes even standing while he’s in the Ergo carrier! Haha, one has to improvise right. Good luck with getting back with this habit- it’s a great habit to work towards.

  5. My tenant meditates 3 times a day. She said it’s a habit and routine to clear her soul and mind. During the day, she’s a super busy mom to her husband and her 20-something year old sons. I can see she does everything in the house. So, she says that she HAS to meditate 3 times every day to keep calm.

    I love how you use the meditation analogy here! It helps to be a calm investor. I find that DCA provides me with peace and quiet. It calms me down and I don’t have to think about it. I was told that when you mediate you should clear your mind and not think about anything haha.

    I personally never tried mediating but I should try since I’m always an anxious worry worm 😂
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    • @fin$avvy panda- Wow, she really tells you a lot about herself! Three times a day is very very impressive. Does she exude calmness and serenity? Yes, DCA has helped me become calm too with my investing! You should get some tips from this tenant of yours 😉 There are free meditation lessons from Shambala (I’m sure there’s one near you in T.O.)- it was one of our ‘date nights’ with my husband before we got married.

  6. Interesting comparison between meditation and investing! I have to admit, but I have never been great at meditating….somehow I feel this is why I have not yet been able to pin down that million dollar idea that has been lurking in the recesses of my mind for years now… 😉

    On the other hand, my wandering mind is wondering if it’s possible to compare some of the different types of meditation and investing strategies? For instance, running meditation vs. hot stock tip investing, mindfulness meditation vs. index investing, etc. Okay, lol…it sounds silly, never mind.
    Enoch@SavvyNewCanadians recently posted…IntelliMortgage Review: Finding the Best Mortgage Rates in CanadaMy Profile

    • @Enoch- Haha it is in there, you will reach enlightenment and when you do, that idea will emerge! Haha, those are great ideas and analogies! Is there one for bitcoin?

    • @Damn Millennial- Awesome!! I would love for it to start my day, I find I am not a morning person (that’s an excuse I know- apparently morning people can be made) so I usually do it when I find the time. I tried Headspace but I found his voice distracting, even though he has a nice voice.

  7. This was a great analogy! The retreat sounded like an amazing experience – especially when trying to come out of a heartbreak.

    I have a deep respect for Buddhism, and do practice positive affirmations silently, as well as whenever I try and talk… I’m a firm believer if you tell yourself something enough, you can believe it or do it! It works wonder to get your head in a better state of mind before bed!

    I keep forgetting to begin every day with gratefulness – that I need to work on more. Thanks for sharing! A great zen start to the week!
    Mrs. Defined Sight recently posted…Tales From The Crypt: 13 Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

    • @Mrs. Defined Sight- Starting the day with gratitude is a great idea- I should try and adopt that this week. I have a gratitude journal that I write in periodically but a daily affirmation would be better- something that would be also good for family too!

  8. Once the kiddos are a bit older and I get the go ahead from the boss, I plan to go on a week long silent retreat. Just the process of disconnecting alone would be worth it. A whole week is a bit intimidating, but i’m up for the challenge.

    I try to meditate about 15 minutes a day now, but as you know kids have a way of even making 15 minutes hard to find. Even that small amount of time is worthwhile.

    • @Dr. Curious- That sounds like a great idea- my friends have been to one in India that they really liked- Tushita- though that’s probably a bit too far to travel for one week! 15 minutes a day- that is really good, I should try and do that. I’ll slowly work up to that.

    • @TPM- Haha, Oh those Boston Terriers have so much energy! When I try and meditate my dog likes to make extra whiny noises too, it’s like they are like “pay attention to me, pay attention to me! Why are your eyes closed?!”

  9. What a spot on analogy. A yoga class I’ve attended quite a few times has a 10 minute long (silent) final stretch to end the class, and it was SO HARD for me to sit through initially. I’m a very type A person and it’s hard for me to sit still and quiet for that long, but it is such a powerful thing once you can just sit in the silence. A full weekend would be a serious challenge – hard financial challenges are much easier in comparison 🙂

    • @Angela- I think meditation works wonders for Type A personalities like us! It forces you to just ‘be’ instead of thinking about the future or thinking about the past.

  10. You are queen of the analogy GYM. I find investing comes much easier to me. Maybe that has come from time and practice. My wife introduced me to meditation. She has gone to different retreats like you. It is so hard to quiet my mind, but I have not been experimenting with it nearly as long. She tells me it is like anything, it takes practice.
    Tom
    Tom @ Dividends Diversify recently posted…O My! Now I’m a Real Estate Guy.My Profile

    • @Tom- If comparison is the thief of joy, why do I find so much joy in comparing things like investing and meditation? Lol. It does take practice and I am by no means an expert, and I don’t think meditation practice expects anyone to be an expert, but it is good to quiet the mind in the day.

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