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Friday, May 30, 2014

Meditation is Value Neutral

Bloomberg Business Week ran a recent story about a Wall Street trader who uses meditation to make more money. It reports that hedge fund manager David Ford does 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation each morning, a mantra repetition practice he's done daily for two years.

“I react to volatile markets much more calmly now,” Ford, 48, says. “I have more patience.”
He also has more money. Latigo Partners LP, his event-driven credit fund, climbed 24 percent last year. He almost beat the surging stock market with a bond fund. Ford is part of a growing number of Wall Street traders, including A-list hedge-fund managers Ray Dalio, Paul Tudor Jones and Michael Novogratz, who are fine-tuning their brains -- and upping their games -- with meditation. Billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, who once likened a chief executive officer to a drug addict during one of his frequent public rants, in February praised meditation while sharing a stage with the Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C.

 This has created some consternation in meditation circles, where it's believed that meditation will lead to a lessening of desire -- and less interest in hedge funds.

But meditation is a tool -- like exercise increases your strength, which can be used for different ends, meditation trains your mind. How you use that is your choice.

Bloomberg reports:

Most people misunderstand meditation, says Jay Michaelson, author of “Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment.”
“Meditation used to have this reputation as a hippie thing for people who speak in a particularly soft tone of voice,” Michaelson says. Not so. “Samurai practiced meditation to become more effective killers,” he says. So too did kamikaze pilots. “It’s value neutral,” Michaelson says.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Laughter is not the best meditation

"No time to just sit and breathe? Then at least pull up a quick YouTube video of “goats yelling like humans”—a good laugh now and then may give you a mental boost similar to meditation, suggests new research."

That's how Time reports on a new study that found that joyful laughter produces the same brain waves as meditation.

Researchers at Loma Linda University measured the brain waves of subjects while they watched videos. Funny videos produced the gamma waves, the same as those produced during meditation.

“Gamma is the only frequency that affects every part of the brain,” says Lee Berk, lead researcher of the study and associate professor of pathology and human anatomy at Loma Linda University. “So when you’re laughing, you’re essentially engaging your entire brain at once. This state of your entire brain being ‘in synch’ is associated with contentment, being able to think more clearly, and improved focus."

And the more you laugh, the more you should notice these perks. “It’s similar to the way regular exercise reconditions and reprograms your body over time,” says Berk. “With regular laughter, you’re optimizing your brain’s response to this experience.”
The problem with using laughter to retrain your brain is that it's short-lived and unpredictable.  It's a brief hit of synchronizing your mind and body, a great release. But true laughter isn't something you can plan.

Meditation, on the other hand, is something you can plan to do and can do for sustained periods. Regular meditation is like going to the gym regularly and building muscles, changing how your body looks and what it's capable of doing. It's sustainable.

Of course, you could meditate and look for ways to experience joyful laughter. Here's some goats yelling like people: