Economist Article – The mindfulness business – Western capitalism is looking for inspiration in eastern mysticism
The mindfulness business
Western capitalism is looking for inspiration in eastern mysticism
IN HIS 1905 book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, Max Weber credited the Protestant ethic with giving rise to capitalism. Now it sometimes seems as if it is the Buddhist ethic that is keeping capitalism going. The Protestants stressed rational calculation and self-restraint. The Buddhists stress the importance of “mindfulness”—taking time out from the hurly-burly of daily activities to relax and meditate. In today’s corporate world you are more likely to hear about mindfulness than self-restraint.
Google offers an internal course called “search inside yourself” that has proved so popular that the company has created entry-level versions such as “neural self-hacking” and “managing your energy”. The search giant has also built a labyrinth for walking meditation. EBay has meditation rooms equipped with pillows and flowers. Twitter and Facebook are doing all they can to stay ahead in the mindfulness race. Evan Williams, one of Twitter’s founders, has introduced regular meditation sessions in his new venture, the Obvious Corporation, a start-up incubator and investment vehicle.
The fashion is not confined to Silicon Valley: the mindfulness movement can be found in every corner of the corporate world. Rupert Murdoch has a well-developed bullshit detector. But earlier this year he tweeted about his interest in transcendental meditation (which he said “everyone recommends”). Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates and Bill Gross of PIMCO are two of the biggest names in the money-management business, and both are regular meditators. Mr Dalio says it has had more impact on his success than anything else.
The raisins sitting in my sweaty palm are getting stickier by the minute. They don’t look
particularly appealing, but when instructed by my teacher, I take one in my fingers and examine
it. I notice that the raisin’s skin glistens. Looking closer, I see a small indentation where it once
hung from the vine. Eventually, I place the raisin in my mouth and roll the wrinkly little shape
over and over with my tongue, feeling its texture. After a while, I push it up against my teeth and
slice it open. Then, finally, I chew–very slowly.
By James Saft
April 17 (Reuters) – From Ray Dalio to Bill Gross, some of the biggest names in money management are practicing meditation.
At a conference last week in Washington, Dalio expounded on how his practice of meditation has helped his investment performance. Georgetown University, at the same conference, announced it would begin to offer a semester-long class on the discipline at its graduate business school. ()
While money managers often joke that clients are the biggest impediment to beating the market because they make emotional mistakes, the truth is that all investors, big and small, share traits which get in the way of making the best choices.
Meditation, which uses breathing and relaxation exercises in an attempt to bring stillness and repose to our usually chaotic minds, may offer some help.
Susan Stone believes that the quality of your life depends on where you focus your attention. You might not need to get a new job or move to a different city to live a better, more fulfilling life. Instead, you could pay closer attention to the here and now. “We think the more we do the better. We multitask. We plan the future and reminisce about the past, and rarely is our mind in the same place as our body,” says Stone. “So, tragically, we miss a lot of our own lives.”
Susan Stone teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes at the University of Virginia’s Mindfulness Center, where students learn practical strategies “to be present to the present moment.” She also teaches at the Fluvanna County Correctional Facility for Women; more than 100 inmates have attended classes and Stone hopes to expand the program to include correctional officers as well.