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James Sogi

Philosopher, Juris Doctor, surfer, trader, investor, musician, black belt, sailor, semi-centenarian. He lives on the mountain in Kona, Hawaii, with his family.

Breath, by James Sogi

Breath is the stuff of life. Yin and yang. The steady in and out each minute, hour, year of life. The study of breath is the key to health and enlightenment in the practice of hatha yoga and transcendental meditation. Wind training is key to sports. The earth breathes with the diurnal wind cycle. The market is the same. It has life. It breathes in and out each minute, hour, day, week, month. The study of the market breath is key to profits.

Musicians and singers breathe from the diaphragm. The breathing from the diaphragm is stronger, deeper. My grade school tuba teacher taught me to breathe from the diaphragm. When we were kids we would play a game: Who could sing a note the longest? Of course everyone has to breath in at some time. And so does the market. It never goes straight up or down without a breath. Even the fastest panic, there are stops for a breath before the terrible fall. In dog piles to get aboard there are breathers at key points. No matter how much air you suck in, you can only hold your breath for so long. The market can only go down for so long or up for so long, before it reverses to breathe. The market breathes in and out and regular advances and contractions. Be sure to have enough breath to stay above water.

Boxers are taught to breathe in through the nose and out the mouth to prevent hyperventilation, dry mouth, panic and panting, and to make oxygen absorption more efficient. When training for black belt fights, we trained three-minute intervals, max breath, 10 rounds. How many times coach yelled at the fighters, Breathe!

Transcendental meditators and yogis are taught to breath through the nose and be mindful of the breath to achieve health and nirvana. The breath is central to life and the spirit. One technique is to sit quietly, breath in and out through the nose. Be mindful of the breath and the air passing through the nasal area while not thinking for 20 minutes. It's very difficult without practice and training the mind to quiet down and stop the thoughts that crowd in on the pure state. Another technique is to focus on the space between the breaths, that pause between inhaling and exhaling. This is the important time for speculators to focus on in the market as well, as the market turns from inhale to exhale. It pays to train the mind there to stop crowding thoughts and ideas, but focus on the market breath. Those who cannot train the mind are doomed to suffer.

When training for the big wave Fiji surf trip, I trained wrong. I trained for wind endurance, 20-40 minutes @120 heart beats per minute. Wrong. Better training for the surf was intervals, 150 heart beats per minute and recovery to under 110 bpm and back up again 3x-5x. When catching the wave its top exertion to catch it, big exertion to ride it for 30-40 seconds, then having extra wind for the big wipeout and the four waves breaking on your head washing you up on the razor sharp coral, while struggling to stay afloat and get back out of the impact zone when out of breath and winded. Got to have that wind and be able to breath to stay out of trouble. Trading is like that. Maximum effort, then recovery period. After a trade, a bit of rest is good. It's hard to think straight or give maximum effort when out of breath.

The trader and the market cannot only breath in without hyperventilating. The trade needs some room to breathe to cover some distance. You can only go so far on one breath. He market breathes in, breathes out. Focus and be mindful. Study well and train the mind.


Jim Sogi, May 2005

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