• The Daniel Plan Café

    • Recipes

By: Dr. Joel Kahn
mindbodygreen.com

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. 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:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair.
  2. Place the tip of your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process.
  3. Breathe in silently through your nose to the slow count of 4.
  4. Hold your breath to the count of 7.
  5. Exhale through your mouth to the count of 8, making a slight audible sound.
  6. Repeat the 4-7-8 cycle another three times, for a total of four breathing exercises.

Does breathing really work to train our nervous system to find a calm place from which we can manage life more successfully?

Thousands of years of practice in many religious traditions say that it does. Recent scientific studies also confirm the benefits. For example, subjects taught to breathe slowly and deeply as a mind-body practice show beneficial changes in the autonomic nervous system favoring parasympathetic relaxation, document changes increases in skin temperature from better artery flow, and reveal reductions in blood pressure compared to control subjects. If you have children or teenagers, www.gozen.com has a terrific teaching video on the 4-7-8 breathing exercise that may be useful to share with them.

That day in court went well. After I used the 4-7-8 breathing sequence, I entered court, was sworn in, and performed at my peak testifying calmly for the next 5 hours. I think if you will practice, you can benefit from this important tool also.

About the Author

Dr. Joel Kahn

Dr. Kahn is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac Wellness, Michigan Healthcare Professionals PC. He practices at William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak and Troy. He is a graduate Summa Cum Laude of the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He lectures widely on the cardiac benefits of vegan nutrition and mind body practices.



Comments
Posted by Patty 9/24/2013 11:09:00 PM
My 20 and 23 year old daughters are currently in a three year RN nursing program and their stress is wearing them down my 20 yr old is starting to cry and not able to focus on her studied . Please let us know what would calm their nerves . I ask them to talk with God and they attended a baptist university . Thank for any advise you may share with us Patty
Posted by Annette 9/27/2013 3:52:00 PM
When I do breathing like this I get light-headed. Is that something I should be concerned about? I've pretty much always been like that, never thinking to ask dr about it. When I have went to dr for checkups isn't anything that is noticable.Thank you for your time.God bless!
Add a Comment
Name:
Email:
Comments:
 
Pastors & Leaders
Get The Book
Daniel Plan - FAQs

Latest Tweet

Follow On Twitter

Tell Us Your Story

How are you doing on The Daniel Plan? We want your story to be an encouragement for others. Share with us your trials and successes.

  • First Name:
  • Last Name:
  • Email:
  • Phone:
  • Upload your Before photo:
  • Tell us why you are starting The Daniel Plan and what you hope to accomplish:
  • I give Saddleback Church permission to publish my story through any Saddleback publications or websites designed to encourage others.