One of my favourite authors on the practice of Zen, Natalie Goldberg said; “Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath.” This ‘forgetting’ is something that is easily done especially when it comes to technological problems. I have a post-it note on my computer with the word ‘breathe’ just so I don’t have a moment of amnesia during such times.
Knowing your triggers I have become increasingly aware of technology being a trigger for stress, since interviewing breath healer, Jan Mouton for Words to Enlighten – the Interviews (part of a series of conversations for The SlowDown podcast, which I co-present).
In fact, our interview started off with 15 minutes of connection problems with only one of us hearing what the other was saying i.e. me. I am not sure which person feels the most frustration in these situations – the person who hears nothing or the person who hears everything but can’t be heard. But I kept my resolve and texted Jan while on the phone to suggest classic lines from the IT world such as; turn off the Wi-Fi off and on and, move closer to the Wi-Fi. Giving up wasn’t really an option because it had already taken some scheduling to get to this point. Instead I kept my cool by taking deep breaths, the fact I was about to interview a breath healer was a good reminder to connect more with my breath and not with my thoughts.
A hallelujah moment It is funny when technology problems get resolved you feel this mountain of relief – a hallelujah moment. When we finally connected the first thing that Jan said to me was; “It’s nice this happens now because it provides a good example of what it means to be triggered. These type of situations (with technology) can overwhelm someone and block them from not knowing what to do. So, something stressful happens and your whole system is overwhelmed, and you react in a childish way.”
Indeed, technology can get us reacting in a childish way. I have had a few stomps in my time, but now that I understand more about how technology can be a trigger for stress, I feel better equipped to deal with it when it all goes wrong. In fact, since this interview I have had more encounters with connection problems while interviewing remotely. But the silver lining is that the advice from Jan Mouton keeps me calm and, when I finally connect with my interviewee, I tell them the reason I have stayed calm which is a good icebreaker into the interview.
And that quote from Natalie Goldberg I mentioned in the beginning? Well, that is only part of it, the rest of it, well it’s a zen attitude I am striving to adopt; “Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.” Words to live by indeed.
You can hear the tail end of those connection issues which sparks the advice of Jan Mouton on Words to Enlighten – The Interviews part of a series of conversations on The SlowDown podcast. Tune in on Spotify.