• 29 May 2014 at 12:35 PM

Market Got You Down? Shut Your Eyes And Start Chanting

Yoga, meditation and the like aren’t just buzzwords to throw onto the bottom of your résumé anymore.

When stock and bond markets took a dive in late January, hedge-fund manager David Ford kept his cool…

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….

“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.

Workers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are folding into the lotus position in droves, says Elizabeth Sudler, an instructor the firm retains. Classes where students breathe and monitor their wandering minds have waiting lists several hundred long, Goldman spokesman David Wells says. One trader there gets a twinge in his gut when he senses a move in the markets, Sudler says. Meditating gives him an edge, he told her, by tuning into that sensation more reliably. Others report downshifting more easily after work and sleeping better at night…

Michaelson calls meditation “brain hacking,” because it exploits the elastic nature of our gray matter, altering its makeup, as Lazar and other scientists have proved. As such, it may be the ultimate disruptive technology, he says. That kind of talk gets the attention of traders, says Jeff Walker, former head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s private-equity unit and a longtime meditator.

“These guys are saying, ‘There’s an edge here that I need,’” Walker says.

But don’t get carried away. Plus, your 20 minutes are up. Get back to work.

Skeptics, including some who’ve logged countless hours of silent sitting, say that the promise of meditation sometimes exceeds what’s practical. Tony Schwartz, author of “Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live,” says he’s meditated for hundreds of hours, starting 25 years ago.

“But the more time I spent meditating, the less value I derived from it,” he wrote in a January column in the New York Times. Nor has he seen evidence that the practice makes people happier or leads to better behavior. “Don’t expect more than it can deliver,” he wrote.

To Make a Killing on Wall Street, Start Meditating [Bloomberg]

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Comments (8)

  1. Posted by Shaz's beard | May 29, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Roofies and blow > meditation

    -J Gundlach

  2. Posted by Single in Fidi | May 29, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I got a twinge in my stomach before buying JCP in February. But I think it was from the Toasties thanksgiving sandwich I took down at lunch.

  3. Posted by Half of Wall Street | May 29, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Does focusing my mind on cranking out a batch in the men's room count?

  4. Posted by Morel Moron | May 29, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Fairfield, Iowa, used to be full of commodity brokers who TM. There is a university in Fairfield that is TM driven as well. Unfortunately, the seven hot chicks who live in Fairfield can't go to Vivo anymore since it closed its doors.

  5. Posted by Zen Master BM | May 29, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Is this a fucking joke?? Why are the markets trading sideways and every trading unit is not only sucking wind but absolutely tanking? Bad mantra? Not harnessing enough Chi? I'll take total horseshit for 1K Alex.

  6. Posted by Trader0HM | May 29, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Did you know you could outperform your sniveling peers obtaining alpha with this one neat trick?

  7. Posted by guest | May 29, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    I would've thought you'd go a different direction with that, Mr Gundlach

  8. Posted by Your competition | May 29, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Keep fighting it…