Mindful Finance comes from our desire to help others and our years of experience as investment advisors.
With a non-judgmental approach to how our finances affect our lives, we can regain agency in our financial storyline. This episode will guide you through a fundamental mindfulness technique, the primary tool for building our capacity for openness, equilibrium and sound decision making.
In this quick 16-minute episode you’ll also discover:
- How a holistic approach to money management can benefit investors and society
- How compassion is the key for finance to become a positive force in the world
- How lifelong friendship is the foundation of Highlander
- How awareness and attention have the potential to transform your financial storyline
- How it all starts with good posture and breathing in and out
Listen to Episode 2 below…
Episode 2 Transcript:
Jesse Grimes: Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Mindful Finance podcast. My name’s Jesse Grimes.
Sol Halpern: And I’m Sol Halpern. We’re from Highlander, a mindful finance company, where we join matters related to money and matters related to personal experience. In this podcast, we’re going to share with you more about our own personal backgrounds and also a technique that you can use in your own life to bring mindfulness into your daily experience and to use it as a tool to create the clarity and openness and nonjudgmental space that is beneficial to making your financial decisions.
Jesse Grimes: As you remember from the first podcast, Sol and I explored the whole notion of mindfulness and the benefits of mindfulness, the science behind mindfulness. We then turned our attention to finance and talked a bit about that. And then we finished by really bringing those two together and exploring the connection and the benefit of bringing finance into the container of mindfulness. So who are we and how did we get here? Sol and I both grew up here in Boulder, Colorado, our parents were close, and we’ve been lifelong friends, and had the great opportunity to go into business together many years ago. Growing up for us in a community that really emphasized meditation, working with the present moment, being honest about your feelings and where you’re currently at, bringing mindfulness into our day-to-day experiences, kindness, generosity– all of those things have really shaped who we are. And one of the real joys of owning our own business is we’re able to bring that philosophy, that culture, those beliefs into our day-to-day activity, right? So we’re able to really explore what does it mean to be mindful in a finance company, what does it mean to truly be compassionate, to truly be an advocate for our clients, and we really have the freedom to do that because it’s us; it’s our business.
Sol Halpern: In terms of giving a little bit of a history of Highlander, we really started out a bit more as a product shop, developing sophisticated investment product for institutional money, institutional clients. There was some real excitement about that, and we really liked doing it, but what we started to notice was we were getting away from the individual client, and we were getting away from having the opportunity to be of service in a particular sort of one-on-one sort of very close way. And so during the 2008/2009 market turmoil, we really started to shift our business, and we moved away from institutional money and really started to grow as a investment firm for individuals and families. And what we’ve really loved about that is we’re building these really strong relationships with our clients. We’re really getting to know our clients, and we’re able to really bring in, as we’ve been talking about, this whole new approach, a whole paradigm shift in terms of how you can really be of service and of benefit, and it’s not just about picking the right investment product and building the best portfolio, but in fact, it’s really about the holistic approach. How are we actually getting to know our clients? How are we on a journey together to bring mindfulness, awareness, compassion, attention into this very emotional topic of money and finance and really being able to open that up and relate to this in a very direct way? And we have found that when you do that, when you actually bring awareness and attention and compassion to finance, really amazing things start to happen. Real empowerment starts to happen, real excitement, real decision making. And so that’s really, in some sense, what’s given us this real juice to bring in mindfulness and finance.
Jesse Grimes: As we talked about last time, mindful finance we defined as being the joining of matters related to money and matters related to personal experience. What I’ve found in my own personal experience is that growing up and having the opportunity to practice meditation and other mindfulness practices has been really beneficial to my ability to cultivate an awareness of other people’s experience and also of my own experience. Really, what I wanted to do as a human and as my life was to help people feel good about themselves, feel more sane. When you think of joining your own interests and skill sets, for me what that meant was putting together a situation where I could help people to feel good and fulfilled through assisting them with their financial lives, with their investments, with their financial decisions, and with all the other emotional and family and other aspects that go along with our financial lives.
Jesse Grimes: I don’t actually have a background in finance. I have a background in medicine and particularly as a paramedic for many, many years and have known Sol my whole life, and an opportunity arose to make a bit of a career shift and moved away from the paramedic world and into this finance company with a particular emphasis on client relations and client service, which is a real passion for me. So, in some sense, I was serving people on the ambulance, and now I’m serving people here, and working with money has been a real eye-opener for me and really seeing how much emotion there is around money and how much storyline there can be around money, and so it’s been a real joy to bring in some of my strong sort of cultural ways of being, right, sort of my mindful practices, how to create environments where people feel safe and heard and empowered, and to bring that into one’s financial life has been really exciting for me.
Sol Halpern: When I think about what would really excite me or what does really excite me about what we’re doing and about what could happen is that I see the joining of matters related to money and matters related to personal experience, which is, again, the definition of mindful finance, as being a potentially transformative, powerful force in our industry as financial advisors and in the world, in general. I think that the finance industry, banking, advising, and all of the other things around that, even so far as to go into the business world, has gotten a real black eye, and deservedly so, for the most part, in the last six or seven years since just before and certainly during the great recession of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, and the industry is ripe for people to address their decisions in the finance world with a lot more compassion, a lot more shared view of what the good of the world would want them to do. So we want to be at the head of that. We want to be pushing the transformation of the financial industry ball up the hill, so to speak. We want to be encouraging people out there to make their own personal financial decisions in a context of clarity and sanity and openness and offering, and also, we want to be doing that from an advisory perspective as an example to our industry as a way that this industry could go forward and recreate itself as something that is a real positive force in our society.
Jesse Grimes: I’d like to share with you a practical technique of mindfulness, a mindfulness meditation, and again, as we’ve said, this is really nonreligious, right? This is just a way that you can be in the present moment and come back to the present moment, which is accessible and applicable to every single person in this world regardless of what their background is. The type of meditation we’re going to describe today is simple. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s a simple technique. For some of you who have been meditating for years and years and years, you will be familiar with this. Some of you are coming to it for the very first time. This technique is applicable to both of those groups and anywhere in between. And in a sense, I would say regardless of whether you’ve been doing it for years or whether you’re doing it for the first time, there’s almost like a childlike curiosity that I would ask that maybe you explore, right? So that, again, there’s something here. There’s not a right way to do this. There’s not a wrong way to do this. You can just come back to the technique and have some kind of playfulness and childlike curiosity with the whole thing. So the first thing I would say is you want to find a good spot, a good spot that is maybe free from distractions, is maybe a little bit uplifted for you. That could be inside. That could be outside, again, if there aren’t a lot of distractions. Also, a place where you feel comfortable and safe just taking a seat. So once you have that, the next thing is we’re going to do brief meditation. I think clearly again for somebody just beginning, it’s helpful to maybe just do a five-minute session. For somebody that’s been doing this for many years, you could obviously have a much longer meditative session, but there’s nothing wrong with just touching in for a good three to five minutes. Once you’ve got your spot set up, whether that’s on a chair or whether you’ve got a meditation cushion or just a cushion from your couch, once that’s set up, you want to just take your seat. And if you’re sitting in a chair, you want to have your feet on the ground. You want to have a nice upright back. You don’t want to be sort of slouching back in the chair. If you’re sitting on a cushion, you can have your feet crossed, your legs crossed, again, with a nice upright posture. The way I like to start is by just getting some general sense or awareness of your body. So if you’re sitting there on a cushion, start by just crossing your legs, noticing the sensation of your feet on the ground, noticing the sensation of your crossed legs. Coming up your legs, you want to have your hands resting on your thighs, fingers just over your knees. Then from there, coming up, you want to just, again, feel this sort of nice open chest, nice straight back, but you’re not holding your back very tight, right? So it’s uplifted but also relaxed. Then bringing your awareness up even further, I like to kind of tuck the chin in very gently, right, so you’re not touching your chin to your chest, but at the same time, it’s kind of tucked in a little bit. Your gaze is just a gentle gaze. You’re not staring, but you’re not also blurring out, about six feet in front of you. Your mouth is slightly open, and you just start to feel that, feel that– feel your body, feel that position, find a place where it feels comfortable to you and just be there. Be there with your body. Your attention is coming to the body. Once you’ve done that, bring your attention to your breath. So just notice again you’re not exaggerating your breathing; you’re just noticing your breathing. You’re breathing in. I like to breathe in through my nose. You’re breathing out through your mouth. So just notice that. Breathing in, breathing out. We’re using our breath in a sense to help ground us in this present moment. If we start to sort of be uncomfortable, that’s fine. You know, readjust as you need to. Again, you can bring your awareness back to your body, back to where it feels comfortable. And then, again, we come back to that breathing– in through our nose and out through our mouth. So as we do that, even for just 30 seconds, a minute, whatever it is, we’ll start to realize that our awareness is not on our body; our awareness is not on our breath. We are somewhere else, right? We’re in some kind of thought process, some type of emotional situation. We’re thinking about our day. We’re thinking about a fight. We’re thinking about whatever the case might be. We’re thinking about good things. We’re thinking about tough things. No problem. Naturally, we’ll have a moment where we realize, oh, right, I’ve drifted from that breath, I’ve drifted from that body, I’m in some other sort of storyline. Again, no judgment there. When we notice that, simply come back to the breath. Simply come back to breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth. And that’s really the process right now. The process right now is just using our breath to come back to the present situation, the present moment. As we drift away, we don’t judge ourselves. There’s no problem. There’s no right or wrong. We just notice that, and we come back to our breath. We come back to the present moment. We drift, we notice that, we come back to the breath. And that’s really it. That’s this first type of meditation that we want to explore with you all is really that basic. A lot of different things are going to come and go, and that’s fine. It’s really just about feeling our body coming into that comfortable posture, bringing our awareness to the breath, in through the nose, out through the mouth, noticing when we drift, and coming back to the breath. So our suggestion to you all is that you do that. You experiment, you explore that technique of meditation. And, again, it can be the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning in a sort of quiet space within your home. It could be something you do at your desk at work for three to five minutes, but you can play with what does it feel like when I do that in the morning? What does it feel like when I do that in the evening? What does it feel like when I do it in a quieter environment? What happens when I’m doing it in sort of a more emotionally intense environment? And just have some level of inquisitiveness, and as we shared before this definition of mindfulness, the big piece that I want to highlight here is present moment and nonjudgmentally. So we’re working with being in the present moment, and we’re really working on being nonjudgmental. So no matter what comes up in our experience, we’re coming back to our breath and we’re not judging ourselves.
Sol Halpern: If you apply this technique in your life, it will transform your mind, as we spoke about last podcast, quite literally; as well, I think, it will transform your personal experience day to day in all of the things you encounter.
Jesse Grimes: We’ve come to the end of this podcast. Thank you all so much for joining us.
Sol Halpern: We’ve explored the mindful finance concept as a resource for when you’re making your financial decisions and working with your investments and other aspects of your financial life. Thank you so much for joining us.
Sol is president of Highlander Financial. He has over 20 years of experience in financial markets and managing businesses.