Tag Archives: Mindfulness

What Meditation Does for Me

It was March 2020 and the world was shutting down. It was the perfect time to try something new: meditation.

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Countless people tell you to meditate. But how the heck do you even do it, and why bother?

Here’s how I meditate every day, and the benefits I’ve gained.

How I Meditate

Every morning after breakfast, I sit down in this red armchair. I keep my back straight and feet flat on the floor.

I breathe in and out. I either focus on my breath or repeat a word.

You can use whatever word (or “mantra”) you like. Swami Rama suggests a few: om, amen, or shalom.

I usually go with om. Sometimes I say it out loud, other times just in my head.

Using a word can make meditation easier. For most people, it’s easier to concentrate on a word than their breath.

I continue doing this for 10 or 20 minutes. I seldom exceed 30.

Choosing Your Thoughts

Most of us inhabit our thoughts. All too often, so do I!

If we’re mad, we’re mad with our entire being. If a negative thought pops into our head, it repeats endlessly.

But increasingly, I’m able to spot that thought and stop it.

I tell myself “I don’t have to think about that.”

Then I ask myself, “What would I like to think about?” And I think of something nice, like a great dinner with friends or a cute squirrel I saw.

Your life is a lot more pleasant when you can, at least sometimes, pick what you think about!

Improved Sleep

When I can’t fall asleep, it’s often because of some repetitive thought. Perhaps I’m worried about something.

Being able to spot that looping thought and realize “I don’t have to think about that” is so freeing!

In turn, good sleep helps your brain work even better!


We live in a world of nonstop inputs. Information flies at us whenever we’re awake.

Meditation is an opportunity to stop all that. You won’t believe how nice that can feel, even if it’s awkward at first!

Success vs. Failure

A friend once told me he was struggling to sleep. “Have you tried meditation?” I asked?

“Yeah, I suck at it!”

The thing is, we all suck!

Mostly, we get distracted and don’t actually focus on our breath or our mantra. Instead of feeling inner peace, we think about how we forgot to buy paper towels.

But that’s okay!

This isn’t about being awesome. Just do it regularly and you’ll benefit.

I hope that even once during a meditation, I can spot my distraction and redirect myself. If I can do that, that’s wonderful!

That’s the skill we’re trying to build. We want to spot what’s in our mind and be able to redirect it.

Try It!

At first, I wasn’t sure I was getting anything from meditation. But the benefits crept up on me.

Soon enough, I found myself spotting unhelpful thoughts without even trying. When I stop them and redirect myself, it’s a wonderful feeling!

This practice has given me so much in just three years. See what it can give you!

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More on life:

How Camping is Improving My Life

A Wisconsin Summer With The People Who Matter Most

The Swami Who Taught Me About Politics

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The Mindset That Could Sink Wallstreetbets (And Others)

As someone who makes a living from investing, I have watched the Gamestop/Wallstreetbets events with interest. Today, I decided to venture into the belly of the beast and try to find out what these traders are all about.

I noticed two common patterns:

1) Us-vs-them thinking. The individual trader versus the evil hedge fund industry.

2) Determination to hold a position out of machismo

Take a look at some examples below (usernames redacted). These are all from today alone:

The backdrop to these conversations is the cratering of their most widely held stock, Gamestop:

The initial buying of Gamestop and other heavily shorted stocks had some logic: Wallstreetbets wanted to engineer a short squeeze. A rapidly escalating price would force hedge funds that had shorted the stock to buy it to close out their positions. Otherwise, the hedge funds would face even worse losses. But, since all those hedge funds have to buy at once, the price can spiral higher and higher.

Despite the logic of that move, I find many people’s judgment clouded by us-vs-them thinking and machismo. Whether hedge funds are morally good or bad has no bearing on whether a position is worth holding. And one should never identify with an investment emotionally. If one’s identity and manhood (something tells me these posters are probably mostly men) are wrapped up in holding Gamestop stock, how can you make a rational decision based on the facts?

Will you choose to invest or not invest based on data, or will you just hold your position all the way down to 0 to show everyone how tough you are?

Perhaps a lack of machismo is one reason why female investors tend to have a better track record:

According to the Warwick University research, women’s outperformance can be attributed to the type of investment they tend to favour.

The study revealed that men are more likely to take a risk on more speculative, “lottery style” stocks where they believe [they] have the potential to make a lot of money very quickly. Men also tend to hold on to lossmaking investments in the hope that they will come good.

Financial Times

Instead, I suggest adopting a philosophy of non-attachment. This is a concept often attributed to Buddhism. It has parallels in many other religions, including Christianity. If we detach from our opinions and possessions (including stocks), we can view things more dispassionately. That investment isn’t you. You are you. The investment is just an investment. And it either makes sense or it doesn’t on its own merits. What’s more, whether you made millions or lost everything, it doesn’t change who you are.

I find meditation helps me in this process. It gives me a chance to get outside of the normal rushing freight train of thoughts and examine my opinions and beliefs from the outside. Or just simply take a break from them!

Time will tell whether the likes of Gamestop make good investments, and whether Wallstreetbets remains a phenomenon or fades. But detaching from our emotions and opinions and viewing them from the outside is a useful strategy we can employ forever.

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Photo: “Ship sinking in the Strait of Gibraltar” by ^ Johnny is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0