Billionaire Ray Dalio, the founder of hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates, has been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 42 years.
“Meditation, more than any other factor, has been the reason for what success I’ve had.”
Dalio spoke at a Transcendental Meditation Town Hall last night at the AXA Equitable Building in Midtown Manhattan along with other leaders and celebrities. Money from the event will go toward teaching at-risk youth and veterans meditation.
Dalio said he got into the Transcendental Meditation because of The Beatles.
“The Beatles were doing it and so it caught my attention and sounded good. I started it and it worked.”
It’s widely known on Wall Street that Dalio incorporates the practice of Transcendental Meditation into his investing. He says that the benefits of TM are centeredness, calmness and creativity.
Other people have been catching on because of Dalio. The moderator for the evening CNBC anchor/ New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin said that Dalio is the reason he started practicing TM.
“Ray runs the largest hedge fund in the world. Lives a pretty stressful life I would think with the markets,” Sorkin said, adding, “Most people I know on Wall Street are a bit neurotic.”
Most practitioners of TM do it for 20 minutes, twice a day.
“You don’t do it in truth 20 minutes a day, twice a day, everyday,” Sorkin said to Dalio.
“No, I do it probably two-thirds of the days, twice a day,” Dalio said, adding, “It’s like yoga. If you practice it, it become easier to get into.”
If he stress even during market hours (9 a.m.-4 p.m. EST) Dalio will meditate.
“If there’s stress, I’ll just break off and go into the meditation. It will just wash off of me.”
If Dalio is seeing anxiety and he can’t get himself out of it, he’ll use meditation to produce calmness which allows him to deal with it like “a ninja in a fight.”
“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.”
In addition to creating calmness, meditation sessions help with generating new ideas, Dalio explained.
“It’s like when you take a hot shower and you get that creative idea and you just grab it. That’s what it’s like. Meditation brings you that kind of thing,” he said.
He says you can’t muscle it or wrestle with it. You have to allow yourself to go “into the void.” It he says this gives you relaxation and creates access to these new ideas.
At Bridgewater Associates, Transcendental Meditation has become part of the culture with many of the fund’s employees practicing it now. For his staff, Dalio offers to pay half of the cost associated with learning Transcendental Meditation from an instructor.
He says meditation has been integral to the fund’s success. Because meditation helps produce calmness, the employees are able to have thoughtful disagreements without emotion.
“In our business, we want to have independent thinking. In order to beat the markets, you can’t be with the consensus, so you have to have independent thinking,” he said.
And you have to be a ninja.