This is a Guest Post by Yvan Byeajee. He is one of my personal favorite teachers of trading psychology. His website is at TradingComposure.com.
Extremely Short Guide “ How To Become An Emotionally Stable Trader”
This is an extremely short and straight to the point guide to becoming an emotionally stable trader.
I won’t bore you with the same old platitudes: control your risk, don’t overtrade, follow your plan.
Don’t get me wrong, those are all super important.
But you all know that, right? I hope you do.
Ok, great… What else is new?
It’s amazing to see how little control people tend to have over their minds and especially their attention.
It’s also interesting to see how little they know of the processes that shape their behavior in the outside world, and in the markets.
So, I wrote this short guide for one reason: to encourage you to sit quietly every day and to observe your moment-to-moment experience.
Why is that important?
We’ll get to that.
But first of all, my name is Yvan Byeajee, I’m a trader (been trading for a living for over 10 years), and above all, I like to think of myself as a serious meditator.
Here’s what 5 years of daily meditation and a cumulative total of 6 months on intensive silent meditation retreats has taught me:
1. Sitting quietly is the basis for living a wise and happy life
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”~ Blaise Pascal
Sitting quietly can teach you many ways to accept life, see the market as it is, meet pain, stay focused, walk without regret.
And the process is simple: Sit anywhere and be quiet. Anything will do â€“ a cushion, a bench, couch, chair, inside, outside, by the sea, against a tree.
Sit whenever you can: morning, night… anytime.
Loosen your waist so your belly can move unrestricted/freely with your breath.
Sit with your back straight. Not stiff. Keep your head upright.
Close your eyes to limit visual distractions, or keep them open if you can find a single point of focus.
All postures are okay but respect any medical conditions you might have. Do what you can do.
Tune into your breath.
Breathe naturally through your nose. Pay strategic attention to the sensations of breathing. Where do you feel it the most? Place your entire focus there.
Be like a purring cat. Follow your breath as it goes in and out.
When you get distracted by thoughts, emotions, sights, sounds, sensations, come back to the simplest and most basic experience of being alive — your breath.
You’re not pushing away anything. You’re simply witnessing the distraction, staying with it a little bit and you’re letting the breath come back to the forefront of your attention.
You will get lost in distractions time and time again. It’s normal. Time and time again, come back to the breath.
That’s it. A simple practice. No belief is required. No dogma. No religiosity. You can be of any faith, race, nationality, gender…
20 minutes a day. More if you can. Just sit quietly, connect with your breath, and pay attention to what happensâ€¦
If you do it daily, it will get into your bones. You will learn things about yourself. Certain truths about reality will appear to you. You will begin to approach the markets with more stability, patience, wise discernment… and you will lead a more peaceful existence.
2. You are not your thoughts
“Let thoughts come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki
Thoughts are often distortions of reality. What’s more, they’re impersonal conditional appearances in consciousness. They are not you. Yet you believe them to be.
The fact that you can observe your mind, and think about it objectively, shows that there is a mind, and then an observer of mind.
Some thoughts are clear. Some are muddy. But whatever they are, they’re always passing.
Learn to tap into this observation mode. Learn not to hold on to thoughts. Rather enjoy watching come and go.
This capacity to detach yourself from your mind and focus on the essential is something a serious trader should be able to do at will.
3. Impulsivity stops where body awareness begins
“Body awareness not only anchors you in the present moment, it is a doorway out of the prison that is the ego.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
In every part of the body, there are sensations arising and passing at all times, in every moment. When you become aware of that, you begin to see the deep connection between these sensations and what’s happening in your mind.
We think we react to events in the outside world, to memories, thoughts of future, etc., but in fact, in each and every moment, we are constantly reacting to sensations within our body.
Everything that people do, from fidgeting in their chair to removing a stop-loss, to starting a world war, people are actually reacting to sensations in their body.
So learn to pay attention to what’s happening within. When you find yourself blindly reacting to something, or more simply when you realize that you’ve been lost in a thought, observe the sensations in your body. How does it feel?
Don’t intellectualize your feelings, analyze them, judge them, just feel them as they are, objectively and with equanimity. Warm… Cold… Tingling… Vibrations… Tensions… Where do you feel those?
Observe your mind as well. What is it saying? And more importantly, inquire: do you absolutely have to act out those thoughts and feelings?
Often, what you’ll realize is that you always have a choice. At any moment. The problem is that mindlessness makes you feel like you don’t! And it’s the very reason why you get locked in compulsive patterns of behavior, in and out of the markets.
So for once, try to gain awareness of that *unconscious* process. You’ll step out of the prison of blind reaction and, in time, you will pour that quality into trading. Doing the hard and necessary thing won’t be that hard anymore.
That’s it! A short guide to becoming an emotionally stable trader in 3 simple steps.
I think continuously working on mindset is the most important task of the trader. Via the work that I do at Trading Composure, I’m very vocal about the role meditation plays in developing stability of mind, particularly for us traders. And I hope I have convinced you that you need to start a daily practice.
It is the number one most important self-improvement habit you can ever develop. 20 minutes every single day. More if you can.
If you can install that one habit in your life, this one most important practice will completely change not only the way you trading but your whole life.
In the video below, I discuss that a little bit more.
I can be reached at Trading Composure or on twitter @yvanbyeajee
And if trading psychology is an area you struggle with, Yvan can help. Check out the offer below.