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Seeking Alpha in the Himalayas

by Peter Alternative

Seeking alpha is not exclusive to the myth perpetrated by most active portfolio managers trying to beat the market.  It also a scientific term referring to a particular wavelength and frequency.  I want to start by sharing a fun fact and that is high amplitude alpha waves are found everywhere in nature.   Scientists have named this phenomena Schumann's resonances.  More to the point, scientists have also observed the same exact wavelengths in the brains of people during meditation and prayer.  


High amplitude alpha waves are often associated with several cognitive and physiological benefits, such as: relaxation and stress reduction, enhanced creativity and problem solving, improved learning and memory, better focus and concentration and reduced symptoms of depression, among others.   Said more simply,  generating alpha waves during meditation and/or prayer support mental and physical wellness.


In my own mindfulness practice, which includes daily meditation and prayer, I’ve found that it also helps attune me to a broader awareness of myself and perception of my place in the universe.   More specifically, I use my practice as an antenna to receive messages from life.  Some people refer to this as intuition.  This is an ability to notice synchronicity in my daily life.  I’m not talking about the great Police album but rather flashes of meaning or insight that seem to arrive out of the blue when our inner and outer realities align in what seems like random improbable coincidence.


Before I decided to stand up Sherpa of Souls (“SOS”),  I was doing a very different form of professional guiding.   The last 25 years of my professional life I was an investment banking professional, guiding my clients through various merger and acquisition (“M&A”) transactions.  I decided to join a friend and colleague on his 50th birthday expedition to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.   The trip was happening at an ideal time for me in that I needed to decide if I was going to stand up SOS or not.   The time away hiking in the Himalayas would give me the time I needed to make a final decision. 


I experienced several moments of synchronicity on that trip.  The first and most unexpected occurred when I learned that one of my two guides was a recovering corporate M&A attorney. She proceeded to explain all of the parallels between the worlds of leading M&A transactions and leading people into wilderness.   She would go on to provide a ton of insight and encouragement, as I contemplated SOS.  Another moment of syncronicity was observed between my burgeoning mediation practice and several Buddhist traditions, which are omnipresent in the Khumbu valley, home to Mt. Everest.   More specifically ,mantras, prayer flags and prayer wheels are ubiquitous.  Also central to the Buddhist tradition is meditation, which is something that was becoming an integral part of my daily life.  And finally, my interactions with the local guides or “Sherpas” also were transformative in the sense that they demonstrated an ethos of equanimity throughout the entire expedition.  Frankly, prior to the trip, I was unfamiliar with the word equanimity.  I would come to appreciate how its central to the Buddhist tradition.   In short, it’s the pursuit of balance or the middle way that accepts, allows and welcomes the inevitable ups and downs of life.  I returned from Nepal with several mantras and meditation practices to help promote a more equanimous life.   I credit my time in Nepal with the new found freedom I felt from eliminating the drama of rising and falling with life’s inevitable peaks and valleys.


I also returned from Nepal, crystal clear about my decision to devote the remainder of my professional life sharing wilderness, mindfulness and community with as many people as I could through the standing up of SOS.   I believe that my ability to attune myself to my life’s synchronicity was central to my decision to change the trajectory of my journey away from guiding corporate development transactions and toward guiding personal development, both my own and that of my clients.   








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