I think one of the reasons that I’ve done well as an investor is that I learned from my mentor to focus on just one thing: Will the thing I’m investing in be worth more in ten years than it is today?
So it might not be much of a surprise to find out that I look at my life the same way: Will what I’m doing with my time make me worth more in ten years than I am today?
And I don’t mean just financially…
Here is an example of what I mean. I was fortunate that when I came back from Vietnam in 1972 that my brother, Jeff, urged me to try out meditation. I ignored him initially, of course, because he’s my little brother, but later that year I was looking for someone to share rent with and a meditation teacher named Ed Fox answered my ad.
We talked and he told me the same stuff about the benefits of meditation that Jeff told me. He got the extra room and I took a ride to a Mill Valley meditation center where a beautiful girl with long, unruly hair in a gypsy dress took my apples and handkerchief, waved some flowers around and gave me a mantra.
How I Learned How to Meditate
Meditation the way I learned it is so simple a child can do it (and later our kids all did do it and still do).
It took about 20 minutes to learn and I walked out of there thinking that it was no big deal and feeling kind of proud of myself that I’d entered this den of hippy weirdness and emerged unscathed.
Then I got in my truck, drove half a mile and then I started laughing so hard I had to pull over. I sat there for half an hour just howling laughing in sheer joy. Life was suddenly and irreversibly incredibly beautiful, full, golden, radiating, infinite and funny. And since then I’ve meditated twice a day for over 40-some years.
Maybe I was just releasing a lot of stress from being in the Army; I’d only been back from Vietnam for 6 months. But, whatever, from that moment I put meditation on the top of my list of things to do every day, investing that small amount of time in building a better me.
Some Simple Meditation Tips
There are a lot of different ways to meditate…
Melissa meditates like I do – sitting in a quiet room – but she prefers to meditate on long walks out in the woods on our farm and when she was a long-distance runner she experienced a kind of meditation high after the first few miles that sounds a lot like transcendence – a state of mind where you’re not thinking anything, you’re just being there like Chance, The Gardener and your body is moving on down the road without any help from you at all.
Long distance swimmers get there, too. Some call it “swimming downhill”, a state of effortless grace where everything is going on without effort.
Perhaps it’s the same state great athletes achieve occasionally where they can do no wrong; every shot goes in the hoop. Kobe Bryant called it “The Zone”; and explained it like this:
“Everything is one noise, you try to stay in the present, you’re oblivious to everything, you don’t think about the surroundings, the crowd, the team, you’re kind of locked in.” – Kobe Bryant
A 20th century Trappist monk named Thomas Merton wrote about this experience from his perspective in his famous book “The Seven Story Mountain”.
Merton had an enormous influence on the civil rights movement and was, according to leaders at the time, the conscience of the peace movement.
He expressed his views in a paper called “Self-Transcendence: An Interfaith Comparison” where he described the transcendent experience from the perspectives of a Christian, a Sufi and a Zen Buddhist.
Bottom line, meditation and transcendence is something that is so natural it is astonishing we have to learn to do it. For my family and myself, learning how to meditate has been one of the investments we’ve made that has paid off gigantically in all aspects of our lives – in health, joy, wealth and inner peace.
I strongly recommend you consider figuring out how to best make this investment in your own life. You’ll be richer for it.
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Phil Town is an investment advisor, hedge fund manager, 3x NY Times Best-Selling Author, ex-Grand Canyon river guide, and former Lieutenant in the US Army Special Forces. He and his wife, Melissa, share a passion for horses, polo, and eventing. Phil’s goal is to help you learn how to invest and achieve financial independence.