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.