Mental note: Let’s not do that again.

I have a routine I follow when I know that things are about to get … dynamic.

I take a slow breath through my nose until my lungs are full down past my belly — and a little more — and hold it for a slow count of five. Then I let it out slowly through my nose until my lungs are empty. Repeat twice more.

When I was taught this, I was told that it would help me shoot more accurately, hit harder and think clearer.

While I can’t prove that — and have no real desire to find out — I’m of the impression that when I have time for this I don’t get tunnel vision; the adrenaline shakes aren’t as bad, and — most importantly — when I breathe like this the panic monster stays shackled.

As a Pavlovian side-effect of doing this before hopping off of choppers, going through doors, climbing into rings, and other assorted adrenaline-events is that when I do the breathing ritual, my body seems to start dumping endorphins pretty much immediately.

I have discovered that this comes in handy when I’m knackered. I do the breathing and it’s like a double-shot of espresso — the world clears and I can focus on whatever needs doing.

This has gotten me through more than one 72- or 96- hour ARTEP, but I’ve slept for a day or two afterwards.

One of the things that disturbs me the worst about this pericarditis episode is the fact that I’m only good for about four hours, then I’m exhausted.

Well, today Herself, AEPilotJim and I went out to do some errands for the upcoming PhlegmPhest and I hit my four-hour limit. Not even really thinking about it, I took a deep breath, held it, let it out; lather, rinse, repeat X2.


I was myself! I was awake! I had energy!

For about twelve minutes. Then I augered-in, we got home, and I slept for two hours. And I’m still wiped-out.

Yeah. We won’t be doing that again for a while.


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13 thoughts on “Mental note: Let’s not do that again.”

  1. Dog,

    My LT in the Fire Service taught me the same routine – Worked every time there and all through Iraq as well.

    It is definitely a positive-control routine that takes the edge of the adrenaline rush and allows you to be productive, aware, and focus when and where you want to.


  2. Strangely, I learned this in music. Applies all over the place. Supposedly something to do with front-loading oxygen in preparation for the adrenaline dump. Take it easy and let us know what we need to bring. (I apologize in advance for culinary evilness.)

  3. Focusing on your breathing means your mind isn't focusing on panic-inducing thoughts, too, which helps center you. And it's 'way more productive than contemplating your navel.

  4. Do what works,Brother Dog. Take care of yourself, and on this Memorial Day, to you and your Brothers in Arms, Thank You! JohninMd(help!)

  5. This getting older bullcrap is not so much fun as we thought it might be. My different bits began failing at about age 45, but at age 67 I'm still upright and looking down at grass. We all have to learn to obey new and closer limits as we age. Yes, it's a pain. Hang in there, Mr. Dog, there's a lot more to enjoy.

    Gerry N.

  6. It's funny how folks "expect" that a good beating or bone breaking will take the vinegar out of them but are amazed to find out a little thing like messing with the main engine will also drain power and stamina.

    Build up slowly so as not to bring on another episode. And if you sever see someone carrying a hypodermic needle as long as a baseball bat (and almost as fat) run for the hills! I would rather endure the pericarditis pain than having the fliud drained out, even if said fluid is suffocating my heart.

  7. Dawg,
    Your heart is STILL pissed off at you…As my daughter once said to me: "Pay ATTENTION!" (she was 4 at the time.)

    Le Conteur

  8. Holy cow! I only just now got caught up on your blog, and I'm glad you're feeling better. I'm glad the vet released you and looking forward to seeing you next weekend.

  9. LD, there is a similar breathing exercise called Don Jon in the Chayon-Ryu. I too have found it invaluable as a substitute for sleep, especially when spending 86 hours straight on deck, loading a ship. It is also useful because it produces a clear mind and calm body. The primary difference between the technique I learned and the one that you employ is that I was taught to exhale through the mouth, slowly, using only diaphragm pressure.

  10. LD, I realize that you are a Tough Old Dog… but could you please take it easy and let damage control work on you for a while? I've been really enjoying your scribblings for some time now, and I'd like to keep reading them for a good long time.

    Feel better, sir.

  11. Yep that one works, BUT it assumes one is in fairly good shape to start with…

  12. Just caught up on your gossip, so to speak, and offer solidarity from Italy.

    When I remember, I use that breathing exercise – like you, I learned it to shoot better – and recommend it for all purposes including the reduction of fear and of fatigue.

    Best Wishes, Dawg.

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