Ray Dalio, billionaire and founder of hedge fund behemoth, Bridgewater Associates, has been practising meditation for over 40 years. Meditation, more than any other factor, has been frequently cited as the reason for his success. Inspired by the Beatles learning and practising meditation, Ray got into meditation.
It is well known that Ray incorporate the practice of meditation into his investing practices. Refreshingly, Ray admits he doesn’t always get to meditate every day, twice a day (as recommended for maximum results). He says he meditates probably around two thirds of the days, twice a day, adding that like yoga, the more you practice, the easier it is to get into. If he stresses during market hours, Ray will meditate, describing meditation as “washing the stress off him“. If he senses anxiety rising and can’t get himself out of it, he will use meditation to access calmness which then allows him to deal with it like a “ninja in a fight“.
What Ray says below pretty much echoes what I have said to people who have asked me what it is like to feel the calmness and centredness of meditation (except without the ninja part, though I will be adding that on now because it sounds badass).
“I would say that generally speaking, I feel like a ninja in a fight. In other words, when it comes at you, it seems like slow motion. OK, it is what it is. Because there’s a calmness. So when there’s a calmness, I can deal with it in a better way. Whereas, when there’s that anxiety, it all seems so fast and less I am in control.” (italics my emphasis)
In addition to helping him access calmness, Ray says that meditation helps generate new ideas. He says you can’t muscle it or wrestle with it. Rather you have to allow yourself to go “into the void“. The relaxation and calmness that naturally follows then enables access to the ideas.
At his hedge fund firm, Ray pays half of the cost associated with learning meditation and it has become part of the firm’s culture with many employees practising meditation. Ray says meditation has been integral to the success of his fund because staff are able to have thoughtful disagreements without becoming emotional and in his business, in order to beat markets, you can’t be with the consensus, so you need to have independent thinking.
And you have to be a ninja.