On most days, I go to work, put on my white coat, load my stethoscope in my pocket, and make visits in the hospital and my office as I've done for over 20 years. I am the “master of my domain” and it's very unlikely that anything will disrupt my calm.
This day, however, is different. I am about to walk into court as an expert witness on a billion-dollar medical patent lawsuit. Each table has 15 lawyers from the largest firms in the country. My testimony will go on for hours and will be taken by Mr. S, famous for his loud red ties, his loud mannerisms, and his ability to make witnesses shake. I know my stuff cold but I need to steady my nerves. I lean against the wall, close my eyes, and go through a breathing practice that takes under 90 seconds and has served me well to bring balance back to the moment.
It's the 4-7-8 relaxation breathing sequence. I learned the 4-7-8 breathing practice from the writings of Drs. Andrew Weil and Tierona Low Dog. The technique shifts the autonomic nervous system away from the sympathetic predominance (which makes our hearts race and our palms sweaty when we face a stressful situation) and allows the parasympathetic nervous system to shine.
Here's how you do it: