Don’t Have Time for Meditation or Improvement? You Should Do What Then?


Following up on Kevin Meyer's excellent webinar this week on the “Nexus of Lean and Zen,” I stumbled across this great quote somewhere online (actually, it was a comment by my KaiNexus colleague Jeff Roussel)… it's an old Zen saying:

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

I'm not good at meditating, the few times I've tried. I try to do simple guided breathing with my Fitbit Charge 2 and it's a struggle. My mind wanders. The two minutes trying to just focus on breathing seems like an eternity. I've tried an iOS app called “10% Happier” and the guided meditation with a voice works better for me. As the one instructor says, if your mind wanders, that's OK… just stop the wandering.

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I guess it goes against the idea of meditation to put too much pressure on yourself to do it perfectly?

The same is true of Kaizen and continuous improvement. Do you put too much pressure on yourself to do things perfectly? Are you too hard on yourself about “mistakes” that you make along the continuous improvement journey? Are you comfortable with the idea of “Practicing Lean?” I'm not into yoga like my wife is, but they use the term “practicing,” also with yoga.

Back to the time quote… that's brilliant to think that the person who is too busy to meditate needs it most.

The same is true with continuous improvement.

Wednesday, I blogged about making time for improvement… and the healthcare leader who said his employees that they could / should take 20 minutes each day for improvement:

If you're too busy to take 20 minutes for improvement, is that a sign that you should make an hour available for improvement?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Hey Mark, don’t try to stop the mind wandering, that’s crazy. The whole point is to watch your mind wander to discover what your mind does on its own and find out its biases: worries, calculations, fantasies. You breathe, your mind wanders, you look at the thought when you realize you’ve been carried away, you return your focus back to breathing, and so on. For the rest of your life LOL


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