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What My 15 Years of Meditation Practice Have Taught Me

Since the first year of this new millenium, every day, before I start trading (or anything for that matter), there is one thing I am always doing 1+ hour a day: Meditation.
During this roughly 5300 day period, I have been practicing meditation within a buddhist and yogic tradition. Working with a meditation teacher the entire time, as of this writing, I have logged well over 6,000 hours of meditation practice.
In 2001, I was certified as a meditation instructor, and in 2011, completed a one year meditation retreat, practicing several hours per day with very strict retreat parameters.
meditation for trading chris capre
Now even though my meditation practice has ‘evolved’, moving through a progression, there has been one practice I’ve worked with since day 1, along with another since 2004. Based upon my teacher’s recommendations, my practice may add in other elements, but these two have been fixtures for over a decade.
Ok, enough of the resume, let’s move forward.
From Trading Psychology to Neuroscience
If you search through the trading psychology literature, there is definitely an abundance of johnny-come-late-to-the-party trading psychologists embracing the practice of meditation.
I don’t think it’s ironic this has happened now that Neuroscience has well documented meditation as being beneficial for the brain, body and mind.
meditation for trading mirror neurons brain image
Although I think it’s a good thing they are promoting meditation as a beneficial practice for trading (+ your mindset and mental health), most don’t have a real working experience of it, so are only talking about it ‘conceptually‘ or ‘intellectually‘. This isn’t any real benefit to you, other than getting you to start.
Sharing A Practice
With that being said, although I’ve been talking about meditation as a practice to improve your trading/mental performance for years now (since 2011 when my blog really started), I will be sharing a formal meditation practice for trading that I have thousands of hours experience with.
If you end up not doing this particular practice, but choose another, here are two quick recommendations:
1) Make sure whichever practice you choose is from a meditation instructor. This has the benefit of someone guiding you from a real working experience of the practice, along with them sharing the pitfalls, challenges, obstacles, and things to work with as you progress along.
2) Ideally, this person can give you continual feedback on your practice. Why is that?
Well, if you think about it, ‘you’ doing a meditation practice on your own, with no guidance, is really ‘you’ just getting more of ‘you’ now isn’t it? It’s your thinking that’s doing the analysis on your progress and giving you feedback. That is simply you never leaving you, your mind and conditioned beliefs.
Thinking and results mindset - disappointment
If that was sufficient by itself, it would have worked for you in trading, but it hasn’t, and the same goes for meditation.
Spoiler Alert!
As an FYI, you can’t intellectually learn about meditation as a way to become good at meditation. You have to do the practice. No amount of books you read on it will do the work for you.
That is the great thing about meditation (and buddhism for that matter). IQ is (for the most part) meaningless in the face of building up a good meditation practice. You could have a super high IQ, or spend a hundred years reading about meditation. None of that will advance you in your meditation practice.
It requires you to sit in a seat with your arse and do the work. There is no way around it.
Not fully practicing is akin to being thirsty, yet only hearing or seeing water. You cannot quell your thirst if you don’t drink it.
Pill Form?
It should be stated, there is no pill you can take that creates some instant solution to meditation. It is up to us to do the practice. You have to have a direct experience of it. Although there are things we can do which are a spring board to our meditation practice, there is no pill form available.
Meditation demands self-existent experience.
Meditation for Trading
Now that I’ve given a very charming commercial about how easy meditation is, let’s begin by describing a practice you can do for trading.
A Disclaimer: This practice wasn’t built for trading. It was created thousands of years ago. I’ve done dozens of types of meditation practices within my tradition, but there are a few I have worked with great intensity and regularity. It is one of these practices I’ll be sharing with you in a secular way, and one that I find is an incredible fit for trading and improving your trading performance.
This practice is called ‘Shamatha’, and can be translated as ‘Calm Abiding‘. There are many stages of the shamatha practice one can go through as they progress, but I will be starting you with ground zero.
There are many benefits to working with this practice which I’ll continually sprinkle throughout this article, but a few of them are below;
1) Increasing Clarity
2) Generating Insight Beyond Intelligence
3) Cultivating A Calmer Mind
4) Reducing the ‘Noise’ of the Mind
5) Becoming Less Affected By Emotions While Increasing Emotional Intelligence
6) Increased Pattern Recognition
and more…
I could go on for the next…say…2-3 years talking about the benefits, but this should be intriguing enough for now. Onto the practice.
fire bulb
Posture For A Chair
The posture you take for the practice will have a direct effect upon your body, mind and energy. For those who have any back issues, or a decent amount of physical pain, I’d recommend sitting in a chair. Ideally the chair has a straight back and is comfortable for you to sit in a decent amount of time.
While you are sitting, your back should be straight, chin parallel to the floor, palms resting in your lap (face down). If you’d like, you can take a ‘mudra’ (means ‘seal’ in Sanskrit) with the hands, using the tip of the index finger and thumb tips touching (again palms facing down).
Your knees should be shoulder width apart (or slightly less) with your heels 90 degrees straight below your knees. Feet should be flat and toes pointing forward.
A good example of this is in the image below.
meditation for trading posture in a chair
Posture For A Cushion
For those with a little more flexibility, you can use a firm cushion, pillow, or get yourself a ‘zafu’, which is a meditation cushion (and what I personally use). The posture with the spine and chin will be the same, along with the hand position.
The only differences will be with your legs. For this, I’d recommend sitting in a ‘cross-legged’ position, which can be seen below.
meditation for trading zafu cushion posture
The black round cushion they are sitting on is the ‘zafu’, and they are using a meditation mat which can make the sitting posture more comfortable than a hard floor. Their right leg is in front of the left, which is how I practice. I do not recommend stacking one ankle on top of the other (as in half-lotus or lotus position) unless you have a great amount of flexibility, and its easy to do without any effort.
Regardless, the hand position is the same in the first picture. So now you have the basic meditation posture.
NOTE: If you are sitting on a cushion, and your knees are not resting flat on the ground (like the picture), put some cushions under them. This prevents you from contracting/tensing muscles to hold your legs up, and allows you to sit more comfortably.
For this practice, I’d recommend deep breathing, but only in and out the nose. This type of breath naturally calms the mind, slows the breath down, and relaxes the central nervous system. All of this supports the mind to engage the meditation practice more easily.
While our eyes are open, the gaze is relaxed, so not too tight, not too loose. Your charts should be closed, phone off, and ideally you are in a distraction free environment (as best you can). If you can pick a small point on the floor to hold your eyes, that is great. Another option is a point on the wall, just below eye level. They should be non-descript, so as to not activate any additional mental activity.
For this practice, you’ll focus on the breath coming in and out of the body. If you want to make it a little more challenging, you can count the breath from 1 to 21, and back. If at any point in time, you lose the count, or get distracted, just say to yourself (internally) ‘letting go’. Once you’ve said this, return back to the breath and start over with the count.
If anyone makes it from 1 to 21 and back without saying ‘letting go’ once, I’d be shocked, shocked. Roughly 99.99999% of all people who attempt this (give or take a .00001%), will not make the full count without interruption. Not a good promo, I know, but you are traders and like a challenge ;-).
If you want a real ‘guestimate‘ and note of inspiration, I’d say for every 100 that try this practice, ~5-7% will take it on regularly. Of those, maybe 5-10% will stick with it over a very long period of time. And of those, maybe 5% will progress through and complete the shamatha practice.
If you wanted a mountain to climb, I just gave you one.
As to how long should you do this practice, I’d recommend 10 minutes to be more than sufficient. If you decide to take it on regularly, then pick a fixed time of the day to do it. Best suggestions are in the morning (before you start your work/trading day), or in the evening, about 30 minutes before bed.
Both are great, but from my personal experience, the best between the two is first thing in the morning as it sets the tone and mental energy for the day, infusing everything you do with a state of mindfulness and clarity.
If you can do it 3x a week, that would be the minimum suggestion. 4-5x per week is even better, and 7 days a week is fantastic. The key is not to stretch yourself too hard. Do what is workable and a pace you can maintain consistently. Commitment is key, but the benefits are worth every bit of it.
The Fruits of Practicing Meditation
Although wanting to increase one’s mental health ‘should’ be something we all aspire to (IMO), it helps to know some of the benefits and fruits that come with practicing meditation consistently.
I could mention all the things science says you’ll get from meditation, but that’s been done and dusted. Instead, I’ll communicate from my direct experience what you can create, build and experience from a steady, consistent and well developed meditation practice. So here goes:
A mind freed from the conditioned thoughts and disturbing emotions, becomes naturally clear, creative and joyful. Your IQ & pattern recognition will likely increase, and you’ll start to possess a penetrating insight (that goes beyond intelligence and knowledge).
Through meditation practice, the world becomes a book of knowledge, communicating to you and awakening your natural intelligence. It is as if the world you experience will start to change before your eyes.
Your day to day experience will be like a pen which inscribes clarity, awareness and insight into your mind as a living communication.
Eventually, the results will start to change your body, speech and mind, eventually penetrating all aspects of your performance (in trading) and life for the better. Mind will start to work for you, not against you (in trading and life).
You will start to mirror things more as they are, not as a conditioned mind which sees things in a limited way.
Accomplishment, spaciousness, equality, discriminating wisdom and transformation will become a currency available to you, growing stronger as you progress.
So if that is not a docket of reasons to practice, then I don’t know what is. There is some mental sweat required, but if you got some chutzpah, you’ll take this on and see it through.
In Closing
Now you should have a good base of knowledge about meditation and why it can be a game changer for your trading performance and mindset.
You also have a very simple practice that you can engage on your own, with how to sit, posture, focus and breathe. Although I’ve shared ‘some’ of the fruits from practicing, the enrichment it can provide every aspect of your life is invaluable, and the highest profit trade you could ever make.
For those that are interested in taking things to the next level, I am creating a 12-lesson meditation series (specifically for trading), launching in a matter of days.
In the meantime, give this practice a go, and please do comment/share your experience, and of course feel free to ask any questions.
I sincerely hope you take this practice on, and receive every benefit possible, including turning the corner to successful trading, and building a successful traders mindset.
meditation for trading just meditate

49 thoughts on “What My 15 Years of Meditation Practice Have Taught Me”

  1. Meditation certainly works… many years ago when I was a young man I had lost my job very suddenly and without warning… we had kids, car and mortgage… with no money coming in and only enough savings to last a few months I was (mentally) a complete and utter wreck. Not eating properly, not sleeping, cutting off communication with friends and family… Anyway… whilst reading the local newspaper I noticed an advert for a Transcendental Meditation Course… something drew me to this and I enrolled… well, in a couple of weeks I found myself wondering why I had been in such a state… things were clearer, there was no panic I was back to eating and sleeping and before I knew it I was working in a new (better) job… sadly I’ve never kept this up and now am ready to start the meditation process over again…

  2. couldn’t agree more about meditation. It is a practice I try do do every morning. However I have never had any formal training. I am very interested in your meditation series. Thanks Chris really good information.

    1. Hello Tom,
      If you’re doing it every morning, then you’re helping your brain in everything you do.
      RE: Meditation Series
      I built this from my 18yrs of daily practice, 1yr meditation retreat, and neuroscience to help you with a formal training and series, with each practice and exercise being based upon completing the prior practice.
      It builds your meditation practice through successive stages which are designed to help you with trading, mindset, and wiring your brain for success.
      Hopefully this answers your questions and to be working with you soon in the ATM course (https://gammalevelcorp.wpengine.com/advanced-traders-mindset-course/).
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

    2. I’ve purchased the meditation course from Chris, the audio material makes it so much easier!
      It works very well too. You can learn how to make “silence” in your mind and from that, it’s much simpler to approach difficult things without disturbing “brain background noise”.

      1. Hello Dario,
        Am glad to hear of your progress in the meditation practice. The fact that you can approach more difficult things without your brain going haywire is awesome.

  3. kranthi reddy

    Sir i have a problem, I have done the meditation process as you have instructed to me by taking breathe and counting no.s perfectly, but the problem is i even think in the background like simultaneously counting and thinking some random shit in the back of it. Hope you understood my problem and want you to help how to concentrate.

    1. Hello Kranthi,
      Yes, your experience is common in the initial stages of the meditation practice. So if you’re having background thoughts while counting, then you need to restart the count at zero and start over.
      If there is any ‘thinking’ activity happening outside the focus on your breath, you start over.
      When you notice this thinking happening outside your focus on the breath, say to yourself internally ‘Thinking’, then go back to the breath.
      Eventually over time, this thinking will happen less and less as long as you let go, and bring your focus back to the breath.
      You’ll also notice how much needless ‘thinking’ is going on, even while you’re trying to concentrate. FYI, this is likely happening 95-99% of your day.
      Hence you’re building awareness around your mind, thinking habits, and ability to focus/concentrate.
      So in essence, your practice is proceeding as normal and working well. Keep with it over a few weeks and see if you notice any changes.
      Hope this helps.

  4. I’ve been practicing meditation on and off, for around the same time as you. Lately I’ve been doing it more consistently, mostly focusing on breath work. Yes, meditation is an ancient practice, and can be applied to anything – including trading. Looking forward to hearing about your meditation series (specifically for trading), as mentioned in your post.

  5. Hello Arthur,
    Haven’t read it, but if it inspires people to meditate, then that is a good thing.
    I can’t really comment on it because meditation practices, traditions and end results can vary wildly.
    We actually have a meditation training series in our Advanced Traders Mindset Course (https://gammalevelcorp.wpengine.com/advanced-traders-mindset-course/) as we work with a specific practice series tailored towards trading.
    But yes, meditation will change not just your trading, but your life as well.

  6. Thanks Chris , Very interesting. I will start the meditation new routine now and will report on progresses

  7. Hi Chris,
    Could you elaborate more on what you mean by penetrating insight beyond intelligence and knowledge?
    Thanks for the article, it’s great.

    1. Hello Miguel,
      This is a very good question that will require a fair bit of unpacking since I have no idea of your experience or training in meditation.
      RE: Insight Beyond Intelligence
      There are certain things that require a direct experience and understanding beyond intellect. Meditation is a great example. When you sit down to meditate for the first time, what you realize is your mind is pretty busy. Just focusing on one thing for more than a few seconds and you notice how your mind has a thought other than what you’re supposed to be focusing on.
      On average, you’ll think about 60,000 thoughts per day. That comes out to about .8 per second. When you start to meditate, you realize a lot of that thinking is just conditioning (cultural, familial, environmental, etc). You also realize a lot of those thoughts are really un-necessary, especially when you try to just focus on the practice in this article (following only the breath counting from 1 up to 21 and back). I’m guessing if you try this practice in the article you’ll find yourself getting distracted and having to restart the count.
      Insight doesn’t happen while all that conditioned patterns of thinking are going on. Insight happens when the mind isn’t producing the incessant radio stream of thoughts. Insight is free from that conditioning, nor bound by the limits of intellect.
      I’m guessing you’ve heard of the famous Decartes statement “I think, therefore I am.” However as a buddhist, we ask an entirely different question, which is “I don’t think, therefore what am I?
      You cannot really answer this question via intellect alone. It actually requires both experience and insight into meditation practice.
      The same goes for meditation as a practice. You cannot intellectualize your way to understanding meditation. It has to be a direct experience you become comfortable with, especially the ‘not thinking’ part.
      You can read all the books you want about meditation. Technically that will give you ‘knowledge’ and allow you to use your ‘intellect’ to get a partial idea of what meditation really is about and what it’s pointing to.
      But reading all the books you want (say 100+) isn’t going to make you a good meditator. What you realize then is intellect has its limitations.
      You could read 100 or 1000 books on meditation and still have no insight into meditation. This is because a) you won’t have the direct experience of that process of ‘not thinking’ in meditation and b) your mind will be busy and untrained to let go of the thoughts, not just while they are arising, but before they ever fully form into thoughts.
      Eventually you realize with enough practice that intellect is useful, but it has its limitations. And when it comes to meditation, eventually you have to leave the intellect behind because it’s no longer useful beyond a certain point.
      So that was probably more than you asked for, but I wanted to flesh it out fully.
      Hopefully this answers your questions and gives you something good to work with.
      Kind Regards,

  8. Hi, Chris as usual a great article, I bet you one has ever said this to you out loud your Elite. taking a quote from my favorite movie of all Time Hackers. someday with practice and your continue guidance lots of wheatie i too will be Elite.

  9. Thanks Chris for your insights and sharing, we are blessed to have found, the Inner Teachings.

    1. Hello Peter,
      Glad you liked the article and hope you take up the practice (or benefit from it).
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  10. Love this article.
    What’s the difference between shamatha and mindfulness meditation? They both have the same benefits don’t they?

    1. Hello Tom,
      Glad you loved the article as it’s one I’m passionate about.
      Generally, ‘mindfulness’ as a term can relate to many meditation practices, while technically a ‘mindfulness meditation’ practice would be done with the eyes closed.
      Shamatha can have many different styles of practice based upon the tradition and perspective it’s coming from.
      The style of shamatha I teach is with eyes open.
      If you think of meditation practices as having slightly different goals, end points, realizations, and methods, then you get a broader perspective of them.
      So no, they don’t have the same benefits, end points, realizations, especially since they come from different traditions, perspectives, and methods.
      Hopefully this clarifies it further.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  11. From you article:
    “If anyone makes it from 1 to 21 and back without saying ‘letting go’ once, I’d be shocked, shocked. Roughly 99.99999% of all people who attempt this (give or take a .00001%), will not make the full count without interruption. Not a good promo, I know, but you are traders and like a challenge ;-).”
    I do succeed now, more than once…. True, not easy at beginning
    Counting + 1 at the start of a new breath cycle. -1 after 21 back to 1
    I like this exercise because it occupy the mind at a focus point. For meditation, I now switch between Shamata ( counting) , body scan and sitting meditation
    Many thanks for sharing this article
    Martin T
    Montreal, PQ

  12. Another good article, Chris
    But as you say, “‘you’ just getting more of ‘you’”, which not be the best thing right now.
    Know of any good teachers in Calgary
    Thanks again for the article. I have so much to catch up on!

    1. Hello Bob,
      Don’t know any teachers in Calgary (never been there myself) but you being a member, if you find a few places, email them to me and I’ll take a look.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  13. Hi,
    is it best meditate without any sound (for example, binaural sound)?
    I ask this because, in my case, in the morning, the ambient around me, sometimes, is not properly quiet. But, with sound in our EarPods it’s a little bit difficult hear your own breath.
    It’s better hear the outside noise or hear binaural beats (but without hear our breath)?

    1. Hello Gep,
      I generally recommend meditation without sound like binaural beats.
      The sounds outside us don’t have to be a distraction. They only become a distraction when we allow them to be.
      I often times have garbage trucks right outside my window during my morning meditation.
      None of that matters. With practice, you’ll be able to train your mind to allow these sounds to come and go while remaining focused.
      So if you get distracted by the noises around you, just let them go and return as quickly as you can to the breath.
      Hope this helps.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  14. one year ago i start to learn about meditation and thanks for Chris , i start to learn and take courses to meditate well because i thought i would be better trader but after one year of practicing meditation daily , i become better person even heather and i started to loss weight and having over control of my body , mind and desire .. all that thanks for you Chris God Bless you

    1. Hello Shami,
      Thanks for the positive comments and post. I am super happy you have taken on the meditation practice, not just to become a better trader, but are noticing how it’s impacting your life as well.
      The increase in health and weight loss is a huge bonus as well, probably the best side effect I’ve heard yet.
      So thanks for making my day (sorry for the late response as I’ve been planning an international trip to 4 countries in 3 weeks), but I appreciate you sharing this.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

    1. Hello Haroun,
      Am glad you liked the article. Also good to hear about other traders engaging the practice and applying it towards trading.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  15. Hi Chris,
    Thank you for the article, i’ve tried the meditation and it feels good when i’m doing it with my eyes closed but it’s a bit struggle with my eyes open. The eyes feels sooooooo heavy and most of the time it just want to close especially after 5 minutes. Your thoughts?

    1. Hello JNF,
      Yes, your experience of the ‘struggle’ with the eyes open is common. It’s mostly the brain trying to re-wire itself, partially learning to relax the eyes and letting go of what one’s sees.
      The heavy-ness is common as well, but goes away with time and practice, so keep at it, the rewards are worth it.
      You are also welcome to join our Traders Mindset Course where we go through a meditation series, have ongoing calls and discussions about the practice in more detail.
      Hope you can become a member soon.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  16. Thanks a lot for your kind words, an excellent article .Looking forward to your Meditation series.

    1. Hello Francis,
      Glad you liked the article.
      FYI – the meditation series is launching next week so stay tuned.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  17. I started meditating in December based on other trading psych books I have read and do it every day. Your suggestions are in line with the others which is comforting :). I look forward to hearing more about your course and taking my meditation to the next level. Thanks!

  18. Hi Chris,
    Thank you for this another great article. This is what I’ve been looking for that I know could improve my trading. Excited to join your advanced trading mindset course soon.
    I have a question: Can I just close my eyes while doing this Samantha practice? I’m easily distracted while my eyes are open.

  19. Great article on 2 of my fav topics: Meditation & Trading. Having a meditation practice will not only enhance one’s trading efforts, it can improve all aspects of one’s life. Before I trade I enters a meditative state (alpha-theta state) where my focus, mind/body relaxation & intuition are in a heightened state. I’m so in the moment & dialed into the markets, it’s like a higher part of my brain (sub-mind) is guiding me to make correct trading choices. I can almost see what the next 5m candle will look like in my mind’s eye b4 it’s fully formed. The more I meditate & visualize successful outcome of my trades, the easier my trading becomes. When I trade without meditating 1st, I have more losses. I would encourage others to consider meditation. When you have the left brain (analytic) & right brain (intuition) in synch, with that ‘enhanced’ brain power – you can’t help but to have more success in whatever u do.

  20. Great article on 2 of my fav subjects: Meditation & Trading. I contend meditation is one of the most important practices that can enhance all aspects of ones life – including their trading. I always enter a meditative state (alpha state) prior to trading. In a deeply relaxed state my concentration, focus & intuition are in a heightened state. I’m so in the moment & dialed in to the markets; it’s like a higher part of my brain (my subconscious) is guiding me to make the right trading choices. At times I can almost anticipate what the next candle will look like. The more I meditate & visualize successful outcomes with my trades, the easier my trading becomes. When I trade without meditating 1st, I have more losses. I would encourage others to consider meditation for improved trading results. When u have your left & right brain in synch, you can’t help but to have more success in whatever you do.

  21. Hello Chris,
    I have been meditating with earplugs and a face mask for about 3-5 years now. I was wondering if there is any way that they could hinder my meditation. Just wondering. It really helps me concentrate.

  22. Hi Chris, I like that 1-21 and back challenge, I tried it yesterday a few hours before I went bed and enjoyed it very much.
    I got a question on the breathing.. When you breathe out slowly, how far do you go? Do you collapse your lungs all the way down until you absolutely have to take another breath or do you empty your lungs to about say, 10-15% capacity?

    1. Hola Apex,
      Good question on the breath. It should be natural, not forced, so when the body just wants to stop and then inhale, that is how far you should go. Eventually it will slow the breath down anyways to a natural pace, but definitely do not force it.
      Hope this helps.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

    1. Hello Jens,
      Glad you found the technique and explanation helpful.
      More to come.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  23. Hi Chris
    Again a great article as always. After purchasing your Advance Price Action Course and learning a lot there about mindset, importance of Yoga and Meditation, I have decided to start doing yoga and meditation very soon. The Great thing about you course is that you do not only teach trading but also how to be a better person and how to improve mindset for facing challenges in trading and in our life.
    You are a great teacher .Thanks

    1. Hello Deepak,
      Thanks for the really positive comment. Probably one of the best things I can hear – of being able to help people not only improve their trader, but become a better person and face the many challenges of trading and life.
      I really owe most of who I am today to my teacher and my partner, as they really help me become a better person. So the thanks go to them, but thank you for the kind sentiments.
      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

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