What caught my attention – week of 16 December 2019

Merry Christmas from sunny Hong Kong! I hope that nobody is reading this post, instead enjoying your holidays in the loving company of family and friends. Wishing all of you a fantastic end to this year, end to this decade and a happy New Year! Regular posting will resume in January.


1. Health and wellness

Title: Cash Flow: The Biggest Wellness Investments Of 2019

Link: Welltodo

Helping to fuel innovation, global expansion and more mass-market adoption than ever before, these cash injections also highlight high-growth categories, such as plant-based alternatives, femtech and at-home fitness, which are changing the way consumers engage with wellness. From plant-based chicken nuggets and personalised nutrition to non-alcoholic drinks and period-proof underwear; here we’ve curated some of the most significant and influential investments of 2019 and how that capital is shaping the trajectory of the wellness industry.


2. Meditation

Title: Effects of Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya, a Multicomponent Breath-Based Yogic Practice (Pranayama), on Perceived Stress and General Well-Being

Link: National Institutes of Health

I’ve been meditating for well over 10 years and earlier in the year I’ve participated in Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering programme, just to experience something new (highly recommend the programme itself!). This paper analyses the effects of the particular meditation practice they teach at the programme.

Stress-induced disorders such as anxiety represent the leading causes of adult disability worldwide. Previous studies indicate that yoga and other contemplative practices such as pranayama, or controlled yogic breathing techniques, may be effective in the treatment of mood disorders and stress. In this study, 142 individuals (mean age = 43 years; SD = 13.90) participated in a 3-day retreat program during which they learned Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya, which is a yogic practice that includes both deep breathing and meditation techniques. Participants were instructed to practice the kriya each day for 21 minutes. After 6 weeks of daily practice, participants reported subjectively lower levels of perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale) and higher levels of general well-being (General Well-Being Scale) compared to baseline. These results support the notion that Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya may represent a natural treatment for stress reduction.


3. Investing

Title: Joel Greenblatt interviewed by Jim Grant

Link: RealVision

Joel Greenblatt, managing principal and co-chief investment officer at Gotham Asset Management, sits down with the iconic Jim Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer to talk value investing, the efficient market hypothesis, human psychology, negative interest rates, and education in the modern age. Greenblatt breaks down the simple strategy that led to his tremendous success and explains how it can be applied in today’s high-tech, complicated markets. Filmed on November 6, 2019 in New York.


4. Zen

Title: Zen and the art of tea

Link: Daily Zen

How jarring it is to feel the silence and elegance of a Japanese tearoom in contradistinction to our current surroundings. The world has become very intrusive on so many levels, and sensory overload has become the norm. How do we hope to capture some of this quiet tranquility in our own surroundings? For many of us the pull to find a place of silence without is very compelling; at some point in practice after years of sitting the inner silence becomes the platform upon which the outer distractions reverberate, but no longer disturb. How do we balance out our numerous possessions with the stark simplicity of the tearoom? Our clutter of belongings and memories become another obstacle. Obviously we are all works in progress. Any one of the elements of the tea ceremony, though, can become a touchstone for our lives: harmony, reverence, purity, and tranquility. To commit to a standard we aspire to, not in a sense of rules that bind us, but aiming toward a mind that seeks the Way, defines a fully engaged life.


5. China and geopolitics

Title: The Cutting Room Files, Part 6: The Future of the China

Link: Peter Zeihan

So it’s time to call it. There isn’t going to be a meaningful trade deal with the United States because agreeing to the Americans’ demands would be the end of the Party. The Americans can afford, if they must, to cut China out. It isn’t “easy,” but it’s more akin to a cold than leukemia. In fact, a combination of cheaper resources like natural gas, advanced technology, highly educated labor, and geopolitical disruption all make relocation to North America easier at the same time that East Asia’s costs – from labor to risk – are going up. Some companies and industries have already moved into the NAFTA marketplace and we’re still in the early stages of all these trends. If the world’s largest, most important consumer market, and the physical guarantor of all Chinese supply chains simply walks away, the Chinese are simply out of options.

More likely, it will be (far) worse than that for the Chinese. If the Americans, instead of merely cutting out the Chinese instead get aggressive, things could quickly cascade. Even with a naval deployment policy that’s one-quarter of what it is currently, the Americans could easily – almost lazily – interrupt any trade flow on the planet. In comparison, the Chinese cannot even guarantee their maritime safety within a thousand miles of their own coast, and most of their oil comes from five times that distance along a path littered with threats and rivals. And the size of those oil inflows? Edging up to 12 million barrels a day – greater than what American total imports were at the height of American energy dependency in the early mid-2000s.

China’s crash will be much like its rise. Big, bold, brash, loud, all-consuming, and, in hindsight, completely inevitable.


+1 Book of the week

Author and title: Sadhguru – Inner Engineering

Since I linked the programme above I thought it was worth mentioning the book too. Simply one of the best and most useful books I read this year. Just gems after gems.

Instead of trying to tap into this all-powerful intelligence that pulsates within each of us, we opt to use our logical intellect, which is useful in certain situations, but essentially limited.

But how many times in your life have you lived an entire day blissfully—without a single moment of anxiety, agitation, irritation, or stress? How many times have you lived in utter and absolute pleasantness for twenty-four hours? When was the last time it happened to you?

Mysticism on this planet evolved only in those places where people learned the technology of being ecstatic by their own nature. This is because only when you are blissful will you be in the highest state of receptivity, and truly willing to explore all aspects of life.

Wanting the outside to happen exactly the way you choose is the path of conquest, tyranny, dictatorship. The spiritual process is not about imposing your ideas on existence; it is about making yourself in such a way that the creation and the Creator, and every atom in this existence, cannot help yielding to you.

The first step toward moving from the trap of the intellect to the lap of a larger intelligence is to recognize that every aspect of life—from a grain of sand to a mountain, a drop to an ocean, from the atomic to the cosmic—is a manifestation of a far greater intelligence than your minuscule intellect. If you take this one step, life will start speaking to you like never before.