I have referred in previous posts to some apparent contradictions that you may encounter in attempting to move towards mindfulness to improve your trading.
These include using an apparently somewhat spiritual exercise as a way to make money and also the fact that the practice of mindfulness requires that you focus on your body even though your objective is what is going on in your head.
I have dealt with the former of these issues in earlier posts. This post is about the latter.
Mind and Body
Rather obviously, mindfulness is about the mind, and what is going on in your mind.
In terms of its use in trading our attention has been on the psychological aspects of trading and how these affect performance.
However, most of the meditations, particularly when you are starting, require you to concentrate on what is happening in various parts of your body and what you are physically encountering.
Indeed, even if you become quite practiced this does not really change.
The Focus of Meditation
At one level there is a simple explanation for this.
As in most types of meditation, there is a need to focus the mind on some locus.
Often this is a picture or some other external object. Other times is a chant or mantra where the importance is not the content of the mantra or the meaning of the words, but the act of repetition.
The objective is the same: to reduce the stimuli to which the mind is reacting by concentrating on something unchanging.
With mindfulness, the locus is usually internal, although there is nothing to stop you using an object, a sound, or a simple task or routine.
Indeed, as you progress you use all of these.
Moving Towards Mindfulness
But why the emphasis on what the body is doing?
The reason is that mindfulness is not just about clearing your mind of thoughts.
Indeed, the aim is to create space for clear concentrated thinking.
To do so it is necessary to remove the attention from all that enters the mind that is not related to the current moment.
To do so it is necessary to think only of the current physical sensations.
But our bodies at any time may remind us of physical sensations of past events and may also contain sensations that are related to fears or our anticipation of future events.
These are not the bodily sensations we need to access.
These sensations are too closely associated with what the mind is projecting onto the body.
What we need instead is to access our inner bodies. The essence of our beings.
Your Inner Being
This inner being is with us always but is swamped by the power of our minds that create a reality based on thoughts and emotions.
So our attention is diverted to this false self.
Focusing on something as simple as breathing, which happens quite involuntarily without our minds, cuts through this clamor.
It brings our attention onto our inner body and allows our true being to come to the fore.
In this way we can come to uncover our true self as distinct from the self that the mind constructs.
In a sense therefore your aim is to reclaim your Self from your mind.
When you have done so you are then in a position where you are aware of your current circumstance.
You may think that this is far from obvious and, indeed, it may be further down the road for you as you learn mindfulness skills.
Eckhart Tolle put it very well when he wrote that
‘The body can become a point of access into the realm of Being … A very effective way of doing this is simply to take the focus of your attention away from thinking and direct it into the body … Feel it from within’.
In other words, get to mindfulness through the body.
So, for now, see the focus on the body as a way to concentrate on what is actually happening at the current moment in time rather than on what you mind is remembering from the past or constructing for the future.