My Heart in the Throat

My Heart in the Throat

It was hard to breathe. All I could hear was my thumping. Lub-dub, lub-dub. It was hot. I shouldn’t have worn a suit. I was about to go on stage for the first time that morning. Too late to back out now.


This occurred on the morning of October 23, 2019. My business partner and I were hosting our very first conference. I started off the morning on a panel with a few friends. It was simple: I was asked a question and I answered it. I thought I had this public speaking thing in the bag.


Then it came a little later in the morning, and now it was my time to lead the panel and ask the questions. That’s when the nerves hit. Has talking always been this hard? It’s hot. Were the lights this bright earlier?


Every ounce of me was wishing I hadn’t signed up to do the panel. I was on stage interviewing people with more real estate experience than me. Somehow I was the one that was supposed to hold the order and keep the audience entertained. 


I felt sick. I remembered this feeling. I had it right before one time. Back when I was in med school, and I went to talk to my first real patient. A real patient? I wasn’t ready. No, I would have never been. My school didn’t wait for me to be ready. They threw me in, and I survived. I remembered that feeling of survival too. I knew I if I had my own medical students that I would try to give them some tools to help them get over that feeling.


Eventually, I did get my own students. On our very first day together, I thought them box breathing. Something so simple. But is often used by Navy Seals before their missions.


You breathe out completely for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe in for 4 seconds, and finally hold for 4 seconds. That completes a cycle. Do as many cycles as you need. I usually do somewhere from 3-5.


There’s a couple of benefits in box breathing:


1. It puts your mind back under your control. When you’re nervous, Like I was before I got on stage, your mind can run wild with all the potential things that can go wrong. You are giving your mind specific instructions and racking up a small win

2. It can slow down your heart rate by stimulating your vagal nerve (the rest and digest nerve)


3. Only takes about 16 seconds and can be done at anytime


The idea of box breathing flashed in my mind in time. I was able to get a few cycles before getting on stage. The rest of the panel was a blur. I managed. It went well and was one of the highlights of the conference for many.