Mining engineer Jamie Keech at a tailings damn in Peru - April 2015.

Mining engineer Jamie Keech at a tailings damn in Peru – April 2015.

If you’re reading this blog you likely have more than a passing interest in the mining industry. And if you work or invest in the space you’ve likely spent the last several years trying to do one or more of the following: keep your job, find a new job, or slow the inevitable hemorrhaging of money and confidence in the market.

After leaving a rather comfortable consulting gig at a major firm in 2013 and going out on my own to start a boutique firm the last two years have been a series of heady wins, frustrating setbacks and everything in between. Working in the mining space these days means little downtime, constant hustle and that there is always more to be done.

I love the mining industry, the travel, the site visits, constantly meeting interesting people and I’m proud of the company we’ve slowly but surely been building. But at times the effect on the psyche can be… deflating. For me that means bouncing between states of alert anxiety and hyperactivity and periods of exhaustion and melancholy.

After moving to Vancouver from Toronto earlier this year the sea air and mountain sports had a calming effect – but with frequent travel and numerous commitments I found myself still bouncing between highs and lows and decided to do what I normally do when I have a problem to solve: mimic people that are smarter and more successful than me.

Listening to, reading about, and hearing from some top performers and people I admire I noticed something many of them had in common: a practice of daily meditation. Through various articles, interviews and blog posts leaders in a variety of fields from finance, and tech to media proclaimed the positive effects meditation has had on their lives; many calling it a “game changer”.

So I figured if it was good enough for the likes of…

• Ray Dalio (Bridgewater)
• Tim Ferriss (writer/investor)
• Rupert Murdoch
• Oprah Winfrey
• Kevin Rose (tech investor)

It was worth giving a try.

It’s worth mentioning that meditation does not need to be associated with any form of religion or mysticism. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to sit, relax, breath and let go of your thoughts.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that “calm” is not my natural state. I’m extroverted by nature, have a hard time sitting still, and always need to be doing something. Sitting still observing your thoughts for 10 -20 minutes does not come naturally. So I decided to enlist some help… and as a Gen-Y this meant an App.

I downloaded two meditation Apps that I had read positive reviews of: Calm (www.calm.com) and Headspace (www.headspace.com). Every morning for the last month I’ve sat in a chair (or a plane seat, or the floor), breathed deeply and tried to let go of my thoughts. Both Apps offer a free trial program of guided meditation.

I started with Calm’s 7-day free trial, composed of soothing background sounds (Ocean, Rain, Forest, etc.) and a calming female voice walking you through a 10 minute meditation exercise.

Next I completed Headspaces 10-day free trial which consist of several educational videos and careful guided meditation with new steps each day narrated by a British male voice.

After the initial trial both apps offer a subscription service for a monthly fee where you can choose from various multi and single day meditation programs designed to tackle different issues: confidence, sleep, anxiety, relationships, etc.

I used both Apps at home, on planes and on the many, many hours I spent in cars and buses last month on site visits to Peru (more on that to come next week…)

Both apps were excellent. I enjoyed the soothing narrative and background sounds of Calm but ultimately decided to go with Headspace due to the clearly guided and progressive nature of the program.

So a month in where am I?

I should reiterate that this is not something that comes easily to me. I spend part of every session thinking about what I have to do that day, what I didn’t do yesterday or how pissed off I am at someone for something. But. It’s gotten easier. And if there is one clear advantage it’s this: I find I’m becoming better and better at observing my thoughts and feelings without reacting to them. It gives me a split second to choose if I want to observe a feeling (oh look… that person is really annoying me) or react to a feeling (Hey Buddy: shut up!) and to me that’s worth a lot.

The ability to observe and then release anxieties is often the difference between making the right decision or the wrong one. The difference of preserving that valuable, if trying, business relationship or breaking it. The difference between closing a deal or losing it. Or maybe just the difference of not fighting with your girlfriend or husband over something that doesn’t really matter.

In addition to this meditation has been demonstrated provide benefits such as:

1. Increased Immunity;
2. Emotional Balance;
3. Increased Fertility;
4. Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome;
5. Lowers Blood Pressure’
6. Anti-Inflammatory;
7. Calmness.

If you’re on the fence think of it like this: what I’ve gained (decreased anxiety and increased self-control) is worth what I’ve invested (10 mins of time each morning)… How many of your other investments are doing that well lately?

Jamie Keech is a Vancouver, Canada-based mining engineer and the founder of Canary Extractive Industries (http://www.canaryx.ca/). Follow Jamie on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/jamie_keech