The financial markets are stress inducing machines. (To say nothing of politics, today). Markets can generate anxiety for individuals even though markets themselves, don’t have emotions. I recently wrote:
Pausing to take a breath, and god forbid to let ourselves get a little bit bored can do wonders for our mood and creativity. This can allow us to sort real, tangible fears from those that are either simply a threat to our ego or so remote as to be not worth considering.
It is ironic that meditation has become a buzzword in the business and investment communities because one of the main byproducts of a meditation practice can be an acceptance for what we have in the here and now. Robert Wright author of Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment* in a recent excerpt in the WSJ wrote:
Regular mindfulness meditation can also undermine craving in a more general way. It can lessen the urgency of finding the next big thing by deepening your appreciation of things that you already have.
This is ironic because business today is about more: money, product, efficiency etc. One way in which a meditative practice does jibe with our work lives is the desire to get a little better every day. Robert Wright, again, in an excerpt in Wired talks about how the current practice of meditation jibes with the ancient Buddhist tradition. Wright concludes:
The object of the game isn’t to reach Liberation and Enlightenment —with a capital L and E—on some distant day, but rather to become a bit more liberated and a bit more enlightened on a not-so-distant day. Like today! Or, failing that, tomorrow. Or the next day. Or whenever. The main thing is to make progress over time, inevitable backsliding notwithstanding. And the first step on that path can consist of just calming down a little—even if your initial motivation for calming down is to make a killing in the stock market.**
I loved Wright’s phrase: “just calming down a little.” Meditation will not change your life overnight. But if it allows you to calm down a little in your job, your reaction to the stock market or in your interactions with your loved ones then you will have done your self a profound service.
*Haven’t purchased Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment but I plan to.
**If you have to choose between the two excerpts from Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment I would choose “Is Mindfulness Meditation BS?” in Wired.