A Bandage-Fix

The IT industry can be pretty stressful. When I was younger I thought I could manage the stress better if I meditated often. I was new to Buddhism and was eager to meditate so at work I would find an empty office and meditate maybe 15 minutes or so. Sometimes I chanted something too.

When I was done, I felt great. I was peaceful, my mind was alert, and problems at work didn’t bother. This feeling lasted an hour, at most.

Looking back, I realize that I wasn’t really fixing the real problem. I was trying to compensate for the real problem. In the IT culture we sometimes call this a “bandaid fix” or a “bandage fix”: you’re covering the problem up, but you’re not really fixing it.

The real problem is that I work in a demanding job. I didn’t have stomach-problems/gastritis until this job. Co-workers told me the same thing: they got stomach problems too after working jobs like this. Meditation hasn’t fixed the gastritis either.

I realize now that meditation will never really fix this. Vacations won’t fix this, retreats won’t fix this, therapy won’t fix this, etc, etc. It is a different kind of problem. It’s a lifestyle problem. It’s a problem of environment. As Robert Buswell wrote, the reason why Buddhist monks can make good progress is because they live in a healthy, wholesome, structured environment. The Buddha stressed the importance of being in a healthy community, with helpful people over a particular kind of practice.

Meditation and such are important, but it just won’t always fix the problem if it’s the wrong kind of problem.

So I have to face the fact that if I truly want to fix my stress, I have to get out of a stressful environment. But if I do that, I may have to give up other things too. I’m not ready not to do that right now, but I shouldn’t fool myself either. As long as I want to continue to live the life that I live, I have to accept that this is the price I will pay.

As the Buddha said:

371. …..Heedless, do not swallow a red-hot iron ball, lest you cry when burning, “O this is painful!”

In other words, know what you are getting into and know the consequences. That is real insight.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

One thought on “A Bandage-Fix”

  1. I had a similar experience. I once took a job that seemed exciting and was stressful in a deep way. The owner of the small company would regularly berate and belittle employees. I found myself feeling badly for those who got his wrath. I started with a few antacids and one day noticed I had bought myself a very big bottle of them for my office desk! I left shortly after that.
    I had started a regular sitting meditation practice two decades before. Yes, it’s not a bandaid and even makes you more aware of the suffering of others. Whether that adds stress or not is another matter.


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