Ok, I get it, you don’t have time to set aside for a meditation practice.
Ok, let’s assume it’s true.
Just know that you’re missing out on T H E most important self-improvement habit. Yes, it’s meditation!
If you don’t know why, here’s a list of articles on why traders should meditate:
But ok, let’s say you know the importance of the practice, yet you still don’t do it.
I’ve devised a simple but powerful meditation practice that shouldn’t take you more than a handful of seconds to do, and I share it below.
It doesn’t replace a full 20-30 minutes (or more) session of sitting meditation, but it’s better than nothing.
Try it out and see if it works for you.
✔ Take five deep and controlled breaths, and make them as slow as possible.
✔ Focus on the rise and fall of your rib cage, and the air moving in and out of your nostrils.
[You may want to do this with your eyes closed to minimise distractions]
✔ Notice the sensations as the air gets pulled in: your chest rising, your lungs expanding.
✔ Notice what you feel as the air gets expelled: the breath leaving your nostrils, your chest falling.
✔ Focus on the quality of the air – notice how it’s cold as it enters your nostrils and how it’s warm as it leaves your nostrils.
✔ Now, take a few uncontrolled breaths (10 to 20). If they’re deep that’s fine. If they’re shallow, that’s fine.
✔ Let go of any tones of control in the mind. This means that your body is still, your breath is free to flow however it wants, and thoughts may come and go in the background. You’re just passively witnessing whatever arises, as if from a distance, without getting caught up in anything.
✔ You may find it helpful to silently say to yourself, ‘Thinking’, whenever a thought appears. You do this to emphasize the seeing of the thought instead of getting caught in it.
As you do this, keep a gentle focus on the breath, following the air as it flows in and out of your nostrils and lungs.
I told you, it’s a simple practice!
When practicing this technique, notice the distinction between the thinking part of your mind and the observing part of your mind.
The observing self is always at ease, while the thinking self-chatters away in the background.
Notice also that this is an acceptance strategy, not a control strategy. We aren’t trying to change, avoid or rid ourselves of unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations; we’re simply allowing them to be there, to come and go as they please.
From time to time a particularly strong thought will capture your attention; it will ‘hook you’ and ‘carry you away’ and you’ll lose track of the exercise.
The moment you realize you’ve been hooked, take a second to notice what distracted you; then gently ‘unhook’ yourself and come back to a place of objective witnessing.
Objective witnessing means that you distance yourself from the thought, or whatever else is distracting you, and you look into its nature – not what it is saying but what it is as a physical phenomenon.
When you do that, if it’s a thought you’re dealing with, you’ll eventually see that it has a lifespan – no matter how strong it is, it arises and then passes away on its own.
If it’s a sound in the room or outside that’s bothering you, you’ll see that the sound itself is just vibrations coming through your ears. Often the sound itself isn’t bothering, it’s what you say to yourself (the thoughts that have hooked you).
Same goes with physical sensations…
Remember when you’re doing this technique, it doesn’t matter how many times you get hooked. Each time you notice it and unhook yourself, you’re getting more proficient at a valuable skill that will serve you tremendously.
Now read through the instructions once more, then give this exercise a go right now if you want. As said earlier, it shouldn’t take you more than a handful of seconds.
How did it go?
By regularly practicing this simple exercise, you will learn three important skills:
- How to let distractions come and go without focusing on them (especially thoughts, the most compelling type of distractions).
- How to recognize when you’ve been hooked.
- How to gently unhook yourself and refocus your attention.
Fortunately, this is an easy technique to practice, because you can do it anytime, anywhere.
So aim to practice this exercise throughout the day while you’re waiting for your trades to unfold, stuck at traffic lights, waiting in line at a store, during television commercial breaks, when you’re having your morning tea or coffee, and in bed last thing at night or before you get up.
Basically, do it anytime you have a moment to spare.
In particular, try it anytime you realize that you’re all caught up in your thoughts.
This is critical!
Sometimes, you won’t feel like doing it. This not-wanting is itself something you can observe and look into.
The more you practice this exercise, the more it’ll become the inclination of your mind.
Let go of any expectations; simply notice what effect it has when you do it repeatedly.
Many people find it quite relaxing, but please don’t regard it as a relaxation technique.
It would be missing the point.
This is a mind training. When relaxation occurs, remember, it’s merely a byproduct, not the main aim.
A few final words…
As said earlier, the above brief exercise is perfect for busy traders who say they ‘don’t have enough time in the day’ to do a longer sitting meditation practice.
But to tell you the truth, ‘not enough time’ is just another story.
There’s an old Zen saying that goes like this:
You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.
I think it’s very telling…
So here’s a challenge for you: if you really want to get good at this, then as well as doing this brief exercise, put aside five minutes twice a day to practice a longer meditation.
At first, five minutes is fine! You can increase that time later when the practice becomes a habit.
And if you feel you might be ready to take on a bigger challenge, try the Trading Psychology Mastery Course.
It’s a 2 week home intensive program where you, I, and many other traders practice together.
I have extensive experience in anything pertaining to mindfulness and its philosophies, and I can give you personalized cues according to your own situation.
But above all, I am a trader and I know the mental challenges traders go through, and I know how to help you address them.