Bond King Bill Gross needs a stress-buster to manage $2 trillion successfully. How’s he do it? Meditating his way: “Yoga is great physical training, not something spiritual or religious. I want to be as effective as I can be in my job. It’s results-driven. And the results are remarkable.”
How about you? Want better results?
Yes, we’re all stressed out. And the bad news just keeps getting worse. I’ll bet you’ve tried some kind of sitting meditation … and stopped. Why? You hate sitting!
In her review of my “Millionaire Meditation” book, Marjorie Adams, publisher of the Bottom Line Personal newsletter, wrote: “Truthfully, I hate to meditate … Sitting is not the only way to meditate. It’s simply the best known … You can meditate while exercising … pursuing a hobby … or playing a game … anything can be a meditation.”
Yes sitting works for monks in monasteries. But there are millions like you who hate sitting like a monk.
You’re more like Bill Gross. In researching my “Millionaire Code,” a study of the wealth-building habits of successful leaders, I discovered that sitting works for only about 20% of us. But sitting meditation doesn’t work — financially, physically and psychologically — for the other 80%. Get it? The odds are that sitting is not the best way for you either.
So here are my top 10 tips, a short course in money-making, stress-busting, fun meditations. If you want the same results as a Bill Gross — stress reduction, physical health, increased energy, higher productivity, better portfolio results and a happier life — follow these 10 tips:
1. Yes, you are already meditating
Everybody meditates. It’s natural, just by doing what you love. You won’t hear about this in the mainstream press. They love highlighting brain scans of sitting monks at peace. But most Americans are quietly managing their stress by “meditation-in-action,” in ways that fit their personality type naturally. Compare the number of Americans cycling (85 million), hiking (72 million), fishing (50 million) and running (30 million), to the sitters, TM practitioners and American Buddhists (under 10 million).
2. Sitting doesn’t work for 80% of us
Can’t emphasize this enough: Sitting is not the best way to manage stress for most busy Americans. It’s not the best way to meditate for the vast majority of active people in today’s high-pressure Corporate America or Wall Street. We’re already sitting too much.
3. Stress is good for your mind, heart and attitude
No, stress is not bad for you. And active meditations will actually increase your ability to handle it. In fact, Herbert Benson, author of “Relaxation Response,” says stress may be the underlying cause of 60% to 90% of all doctor visits. But most doctors aren’t like Benson, they focus on diseases. They believe stress is bad and tell us to reduce stress. But sports psychologists see the world from the opposite perspective: Stress is good for you. For healthy living you should increase your capacity to handle stress, not reduce it.
4. How? Do something you love
Most people who try traditional sitting meditations eventually stop. Something inside tells them sitting is just not right but they don’t know why. So trust your instincts. You know what’s right for you better than a sitting guru. You most likely are in the 80% who need action-oriented meditation to effectively manage stress.
5. Why neuroscientists love sitting monks
For three decades the research of neuroscientists, medical doctors and clinics focused on sitting. They’re limited by MRIs that can’t be hooked up to athletes. So they concentrate almost exclusively on monks. So neither neuroscientists nor the newer breed of sports psychologists have ways to compare the effectiveness of passive sitting versus active methods of stress-management meditations. And that bias has created an impression in the media that “sitting like a monk” is the only way to meditate and manage stress.
6. Better working with new sports psychologists
Yes, sitting gurus tend to ignore the new stress-management research from sports psychologists. By focusing almost exclusively on monks and other sitting meditators, America’s stress clinicians and neuroscientists miss the wisdom emerging in the new body of stress-management training and research by sports psychologists and sports-medicine experts that focuses on action.
7. Media: Positive attitude and a healthy skepticism
The media rather uncritically promotes sitting meditation as the only way. News stories love running colorful MRI brain scans of monks in a lotus position. So most people miss focusing on the benefits of meditations in golf, running, hiking, tennis, fishing, swimming, even gardening, the arts, music, painting, hobbies. Remember, anything can be a time to meditate, anything you love to do, just go do it, have fun, cut stress, get healthy. You’ll also make better business and financial decisions.
8. Sitting meditation adding to America’s obesity?
Think about it: The popularity of sitting meditation in the past three decades parallels America’s growing obesity, suggesting that action-oriented meditations and stress management may be a more effective solution to controlling weight and stress, creating healthier individuals.
9. Sweating like a jock beats sitting like a monk!
So here’s your new mantra: ‘Sweating like a jock’ really is better than ‘sitting like a monk!’ But you probably already knew that instinctively, even if the gurus are keeping the secret from you.
10. The only four rules you’ll ever need
Remember these four simple rules that have worked for thousands of years, both for ancient Zen masters as well as today’s leading sports psychologists.
- 1: Focus on that you’re doing in this moment, nothing else
- 2: Trust yourself, the results are within you
- 3: Anything you do can be a meditation — anything
- 4: Keep it simple: everyone meditates, it happens naturally
For more about the new sports meditation research and techniques, read the books of one of the pioneers, Dr. James Loehr, a leader in the field. His “Challenge Response” is the classic counterpoint to Dr. Benson’s more traditional “Relaxation Response,” both of which are reviewed in my “Millionaire Meditation.”
Paul B. Farrell is a MarketWatch columnist based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Follow him on Twitter @MKTWFarrell.