Mike started out in a heck of a mess. He had become frustrated, frazzled and fragmented due to his inability to remain focused on the charts and in his emotions. Mike noted his confusion and lack of focus. He had been trading for a few hours since the open without a break. When he looked over the trades he had taken already, they were slightly scattered with regard to style; but, they did reflect his emotional temperature, which was cold and lacked his usual intensity. Just then Mike decided to take a time-out and regroup his strength, focus and tenacity for doing what was in his best interests. Mike left his platform, sat in the corner and in a few breaths he was in a much better zone. When he returned about 25 minutes later, he was a different person. The frustration and fragmentation that Mike had endured only a short while ago was no longer evident. He reanalyzed his levels and redrew his zones. Mike had become much more positively intense about the details of the trade without sacrificing the big picture. What caused him to keep his cool and remain focused on what-matters-most? Well, those 25 minutes were spent meditating; and in that short time he had recalibrated his mental attitude, shifted his emotional state and had centered and grounded his being in the Now. He had been practicing a daily meditation routine for about a year and it had greatly increased his ability to manage his emotional state by remaining patient.
How to meditateBringing your A-Game to your trading platform and ensuring that you are in the Now of the trade is crucial to getting the results that you want. You’ve got to be able to focus with intention and attention in order to decrease the pain associated with being out of control. There is great value in being aligned, centered and grounded in order to optimize all of your system’s resources toward seeing reality for what it is, being on the right side of the order flow and dancing with the price action by following its lead. Among the many ways that help you with alignment, centeredness and being grounded, few are as powerful as meditation. The usefulness of meditation has been scientifically documented in hundreds of studies with regard to physiological, mental, emotional and behavioral benefits. Some of these benefits include sharpening attention, lowering heart rate, lowering stress levels, easing anxiety, increasing patience and reducing susceptibility to fear and greed. Meditation has covered the entire planet throughout history with differing configurations; however, there is a common theme of calming, centering, aligning and grounding the mind/body. Meditation is a journey with no destination, a journey that enters into the depths of heart and mind to open the self to a deeper awareness and just “being”.
To be fully present is one of the major aims of meditation. Being fully present means the mind/body system is vibrating in this moment, without internal or external distractions. Being fully present means the focus is on the task at hand while remaining on purpose and on target. So often while trading you are everywhere but where you should be, that is, focused on what is taking place right now. Distractions can come in the form of negative emotions like fear, greed, and anxiety, all of which can distort perception and make illusions seem real. Consistent meditation hones an appreciation for just “being”, without timetables, goals or effort.
Mindful meditation is promoted by John Kabot Zinn in his book, Full Catastrophe Living. Mindful meditation involves sitting, standing or walking. If you are sitting, do so with the intention of “sitting with dignity”, upright. Now, take your attention focusing it on your breathing. The point is to focus the attention and let your breathing proceed naturally. Allow any thoughts to come and go with an intention of un-attachment to any thought. The breath is especially helpful to come back to whenever you find that you are attending to thoughts. The breath is very important, as it is a cleansing action while helping to dilate blood vessels and send more oxygen to the brain, which has a calming effect on the entire body.
It is important to be attuned to the process not as “trying” but “being” in order to allow the mind/body to resonate with the stillness and quiet. It is said that for every hour of meditation the body gets the equivalent of 4 hours of rest. As you breathe, let go of any thought, care or issue and, when it returns, acknowledge it and allow it to be there without judgment. This may be difficult at first but just keep the intention strong and, in time, you will be able to sit in quiet stillness with only the sound of your breathing as thoughts come and go. Eventually your ability to just “be” will become stronger and you may find you are held captive less and less by unruly thoughts.
Practice meditation at the same time every day to help instill the habit and routine, especially when beginning. It’s a perfect way to start your day. It can rejuvenate, align, invigorate and charge your system, infusing you with a sharpened sense of attention. It’s also a wonderful way to end the day, to wind down, de-stress, realign, shed tension, calm the system and generally defuse negative energy. A mediation break at lunch is an excellent way to maintain balance and weed out distractions allowing you to remain on purpose and on task. Actually, any time might be the best time for you. There is no set time interval to meditate but, generally speaking, 20 to 30 minutes is what many use.
Your trading requires your best. Trading is tough; and as you meditate with consistency you will develop greater capacity for patience, calm, sharpened focus and being less distracted by negative emotions. Diligent and consistent meditation will help you to reduce distorted judgment by building emotional strength and detachment. Trading is almost exclusively a mental art. During your trading process you are preparing, analyzing, processing or executing a trade; all of which require mental and emotional tools. You’ve got to have mental and emotional tools in your tool belt, otherwise it’s like driving without a steering wheel; you will lose your way and crash and burn without them. Put the steering into your trading. Ask your Online Trading Academy Representative for more information. Also, get my book, From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.
Written by Dr. Woody Johnson, Online Trading Academy Instructor. Dr. M. Woodruff Johnson has actively and successfully traded stock options, forex and futures since 2000. He is the former Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente, Watts Counseling and Learning Center. He holds certifications in Accelerated Learning, Neurosensory Development and hypnotherapy, and he is a Certified NLP Master Practitioner. Dr. Woody is also an Associate Professor and teaches graduate psychology courses at Pacific Oaks College and Ryokan College. He has provided clinical staff services in hospitals and community clinics as well. He has a passion for helping others to achieve their goals and get the results in trading and life that they desire.