Lean Vipassana Thinking!
I completed a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course in October of 2011 and was blown away. Aside from the incredible sense of inner peace and harmony with which I emerged, I was struck at how many interesting parallels there are with Lean. I see it this way:LeanVipassanaThinking_(1).jpg
The course was exceptionally challenging both physically and mentally. We rose at 4 spent close to 9 hours a day in meditation practicing the technique that was built incrementally day-by-day. We started by working on Anapana meditation which focuses the mind on respiration. On day one my mind was all over the place. By day two I could sit for an hour focusing on my breath with minimal wandering. On day four with the mind further developed to focus at an even finer level of detail the Vipassana technique was introduced. From there we practiced daily until the end going deeper and deeper into the technique. There were 75 minute discourses each evening so the training to practice ratio was about 1-8.
We were working in the mind's gemba. While there was an obvious focus of strengthening the mind's power and ability to concentrate, what struck me was this was accomplished by removing the "waste" (all of the unneeded stimuli to which the mind was previously jumping). Furthermore, as the sub-conscious mind gets re-trained to not automatically react but to observe everything calmly with an equanimous mind, old baggage starts to rise to the surface and a purification process begins.
Like Lean, Vipassana may be studied at an intelectual level but it cannot be understood or practiced at that level. It requires experiential learning. You have to do the actual work. You have to Go See how the mind is actually working at the deepest level and then re-train it.
Like Lean, the benefits are exceptionally clear and powerful, yet I fear that many of the same factors that prevent Lean from reaching critical momentum are likely at play with Vipassana. The biggest may be that it is hard work and the benefits are not always immediate. If you do the work you get the benefit. It is that simple.
My perception of the potential of a person practicing Lean and Vipassana is summarized by the chart above. I emerged from the course exhausted and a bit disoriented. However, I immediately noticed a sense of calm and peace that I have never before known. I went through the airport absolutely unfazed by any of the usual annoyances. I felt a much stronger desire to make every interaction one based upon love, peace and harmony. I know it sounds a bit cliche but it is precisely the way I feel. My mind has become so sensitized that if I start doing something that is not consistent with my values or aims my body sends me an andon. I feel my heart accelerating or my muscles tensing and can immediately stop and fix the problem.
While this technique is beneficial for anyone willing to practice it seriously (at least an hour both morning and evening), I believe it is a perfect fit for any serious lean practitioner. These are individuals that already understand the importance of discipline, hard-work, process, dedication and have a long-term outlook. After participating in the training they will understand that meditating for two hours a day is not a waste of time but a investment that pays off both in the short-term (on a smaller scale) but in the long-term (on an enormous scale).
Vipassana is an amazing practice developing the mind, which is the foundation of everything else and achieving inner peace and harmony (more sustainable team members). Vipassana is also principled based so anyone practicing seriously will automatically develop a purpose that serves the society and the betterment of mankind. It is not based upon any religion or sect (although this is often misunderstood) which makes it universal in its application.
Peace, prosperity, health and happiness!Mark