Meditation Tips for Investment Professionals: How to Get Started

Meditation offers investors many benefits. Below are meditation tips from the new Meditation guide for investment professionals, including the full version is available online for CFA Institute members.

Why meditation is important for investors

Meditation is a mental practice that helps develop two essential skills for investors:

  • Metacognition : Consciousness of consciousness itself.
  • Top-down control: Choosing what to think and when to think it.

Why do we need these skills? Because as investors, we need to see the world as it is, not as we prefer it to be. Metacognition is seeing the world as it is. Avoiding prejudices, preferences and biases means controlling our responses to stimuli in the world.

Why Meditation Can Be Intimidating

If you dive into meditation, you will be immersed in a flood of information on the subject. Why? Because many meditation traditions have their roots in millennial practices. Therefore, there is nomenclature, documentation, traditional methods, doubts about these traditional methods and all the other pitfalls of an intellectual pursuit with a rich history. This is all great information, but it can be daunting for the beginner.

Meditation tips

  • Practice: As with everything in life, there is no substitute for routine practice. Most regular meditators recommend practicing daily for more than 10 minutes at a time. Some suggest that you meditate twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. But the choice is yours. Isn’t it easy?
  • Be patient: Because meditation is about helping you control how and what you think, beginners often feel frustrated when they can’t “get it right.” According to extensive research, 57.5% of people have difficulty concentrating and 89% say their thoughts wander even when there are no distractions. This should reassure on two fronts:
    • You are not alone: ​​Many people find the demands of meditation difficult.
    • Meditation is a powerful antidote to a wandering mind.

    So give yourself a break and recognize that the right way to meditate is regularly and patiently.

  • Make yourself confortable: Physical discomfort is a distraction that can dilute the power of your meditation. So make sure you are comfortable. Many believe that you should only meditate in a dogmatic meditation posture. Other long-time meditators recommend that you sit in a soft chair or on a couch. Still others suggest that you lie down – just be careful not to fall asleep. Some traditional meditation activities have an “in-motion” equivalent, so you can meditate while walking, swimming, running, or biking.
  • Help Quiet spaces: Fewer distractions make meditation better and easier. So train in a quiet place where demands for attention are minimal. Turn off your smartphone and laptop speakers, forget about your email inbox, and find a place where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Do not focus on goals: A big part of meditation is releasing our mental attachment to everyday distractions so we can regain our ability to choose how and what we think and restore our awareness. Introducing goals into a meditation practice defeats the purpose of ‘letting go’. Nobody counts the score, just you. This can be difficult because much of what we do today is goal oriented or seen as meaningless with no measurable results. You will progress faster as a meditator if you leave the goals behind. Your meditation experience will be rich and varied – sometimes fun and sometimes challenging. Each of these results is valid. At the end of your meditation, accept that your experience was just that, an experience, and not a success or failure by some artificial criteria.
  • Acquire help: Qualified instruction can improve your meditation. But finding a good teacher in the style of meditation you prefer isn’t always easy. A recommendation from a friend or colleague is a great place to start. As meditation is increasingly accepted as a discipline, many practices are developing global standards and there are now certified teachers in various methods – mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), for example.
  • Keep a record: Often, practitioners achieve significant realizations and come up with new ideas while meditating. Take the time to record these ideas. They may contain lessons that will help you control your thoughts and improve your general awareness of mental processes.

After years of research on the science that supports meditation, I believe that meditation is a beneficial practice. In the coming months, I will describe the main types of meditation. Next month I will explore open monitoring meditation, or mindfulness.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, and the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Kaligraf

Jason Voss, CFA

Jason Voss, CFA, is relentlessly focused on improving investors’ ability to better serve end customers. He is the author of Foreword Reviews Business Book of the Year runner-up, The intuitive investor and the CEO of Advisory in active investment management (AIM). Voss also subcontracts for the well-known firm Focus Consulting Group. Previously, he was a portfolio manager at Davis Selected Advisers, LP, where he co-managed the Davis Appreciation and Income Fund for Outstanding Returns. Voss holds a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Colorado.

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