Who Meditates? Benefits of Meditation

Ray Dalio who founded the biggest hedge fund wrote on FB that “Transcendental Meditation has probably been the single most important reason for whatever success I’ve had.”

Bob Roth shares in an interview that Transcendental Meditation allows Ray Dalio to have energy, focus, clarity, creativity, inner calm, and discernment. Ray Dalio has called his teacher Bob Roth the best Transcendental Meditation teacher and expert. Meditation is so important that even the employees at his hedge fund Bridgewater have access to it.

42 years ago the Beatles inspired me to meditate 20 minutes a day. Now I feel like a ninja in a fight When it (market changes) comes at you, it seems like slow motion.

Ray Dalio, American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist

However Ray Dalio is not the odd man out in the finance world. In that culture of high stakes and high stress, meditation is more common than most people think.

Tim Ferriss created in his book Tools of Titans the ultimate notebook, cliffnotes, if you will, of the “high-leverage tools” of world-class performers. He noted that more than 80% of these people he’s spoken to over the years have a daily meditation or mindfulness practice. These are icons across fields and industries. Meditation is certainly not only done by Himalayan lamas and monks or spiritual teachers.

Stress reduction is a commonly lauded reason for meditation. As we can see from what Bob Roth has said, the benefits of meditation are varied, from being more creative to better brain function.

Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps, has collected robust studies on the benefits of meditation. He cites the following as some of the reasons for taking twenty minutes of quiet time:

  • Improved and increased flexibility of brain functioning to adapt to quick changes
  • Improved perception
  • Enhanced efficiency of brain info transfer
  • Improved verbal and analytical thinking and problem solving
  • Increased resistance to distraction and social pressure
  • Increased self-confidence and self-actualization

What happens when we meditate?

There has been tremendous research on the many benefits of Transcendental Meditation. While meditating, the brain becomes organized and coherent, with the two hemispheres becoming synchronized. In Transcendental Meditation, alpha and theta brain waves, which indicate a restful state, appear at the back of the brain and spread to the pre-frontal cortex.

The heart beat also slows down, giving the cardiovascular system deep rest. Signs of stress such as cortisol levels are reduced. Life-enhancing chemicals on the other hand increase. In this deep state of rest, the body is able to rejuvenate and heal.

Thankfully it doesn’t take 10,000 hours to learn and master mediation techniques enough to enjoy these benefits and change your life. Simply start your day with 20 minutes of quiet time.

Focus on relaxing each part of the body, going from your head to your toe. Physically let go and have the intention of the muscles relaxing. Allow any thoughts that come up to float away.

Over time, as the thoughts continue, you will be undisturbed. Instead of identifying as the crashing waves, you will become the ocean. If emotions such as irritation arise, make space for them.  Breathe into where the emotion is in your body and see it merge with the space around. Rather than forcing them to disappear, see them transmuted.

After sitting quietly for several minutes, lengthen your inhale and exhale to six seconds each. As you exhale, think of a word, a mantra, that is powerful for you. Perhaps it is joy, peace, or ease. Do this for several rounds and return to quiet time and breathe naturally.

Trevor Blake suggests immersing yourself in nature after your quiet time. Many people transition straight into “normal life” and the busyness of checking emails, watching TV news, listening to complaining co-workers, getting stuck in traffic jams, etc. We can extend, entrain, and anchor the benefits of meditation when we first connect to what he calls the “nature matrix.” This builds our resilience to deal with challenges common to many people.

Go barefoot on the grass. Watch the stars. Listen to the trees.  Check out the Nature Pyramid. Connect those new neurons to something positive and uplifting.

A few benefits of immersing in nature
  • Better concentration after spending time in nature (University of Michigan)
  • 12.4% decrease in levels of stress hormone cortisol (Miyazaki and Juyoung)
  • Being outdoors boosts the immune system (Qing Li from Nippon Medical School

My best ideas come after I do nothing 20 minutes a day.

William H Gross

Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.

Hugh Jackman

I mean the whole thing about meditation and yoga is about connecting to the higher part of yourself, and then seeing that every living thing is connected in some way.

Gillian Anderson

I’m quite a neurotic thinker, quite an adrenalized person. But after meditation, I felt this beautiful serenity and selfless connection.

Russell Brand


Quotes from The Magical Practice of Intention with Trevor Blake and 12 Celebrity Quotes on Meditation by Beliefnet.