Fighting Parkinson’s, and another thought about the tortoise

In response to a couple of comments on my last post, “Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning from the tortoise,” I wrote, “Please remember, when you proceed slow and steady, you tend to see many beautiful things in life that you used to just walk passed without noticing. And the joy you feel in living opens your heart and your dopamine as you move toward recovery.” It occurred to me that when we are moving like the tortoise, slowly and steadily, we also have more time to notice all of the subtle unpleasant changes that are happening to our bodies. How do we put fear to the side and deal with those changes?

Faith that we are recovering. And action…doing positive things toward our recovery. That is how we put fear aside and deal with those changes.

One of the greatest difficulties in this recovery is not being concerned about the subtle, and not so subtle, changes that occur day-to-day. Since the Parkinson’s body has limited energy, we have to trust it to know where we need the healing the most. Some days that means we walk a little slower, some days it means we tremor more, some days it means we have a headache. The one thing we need to keep constant is the Recipe.

That way the body can say, “Okay, I know you are doing these things, and I know you are generating this energy, thank you, now I can start fixing this mess.” When people change what they are doing to meet up with the day-to-day healing nuances when they really do not know what is occurring on the inside, then they undo the benefits the body has achieved thus far. Faith, plus action, is key to this philosophy.

And with the Recipe for Recovery, faith plus action looks like this:

I have faith in my recovery. Plus, I am taking action to heal my organs by doing the Qigong exercises. I am recovering!
I have faith in my recovery. Plus, I am taking action to generate more brain activity and energy by doing the Brain Vibration Chanting. I am recovering!
I have faith in my recovery. Plus, I am taking action to make by body healthier by eating better. I am recovering!
I have faith in my recovery. Plus, I am taking action to balance my internal energy by doing Jin Shin Jyutsu. I am recovering!
I have faith in my recovery. Plus, I am taking action to calm my mind by meditating. I am recovering!
I have faith in my recovery. Plus, I am taking action to connect my Inner Divine to my Higher Power by praying, opening my heart, feeling love and joy and laughter and gratitude, and by keeping the faith that I am safe and secure. I am recovering!

The hare views “recovery” as winning the race, only…symptom-free recovery. So when the hare gets off the path toward recovery, he never finds his way back to the path and he never wins the race.

The tortoise views recovery as each small advance toward the symptom-free recovery at the finish line. However, the tortoise, by its very nature, has to move slowly and steadily, and the tortoise cannot worry too much about the bumps in the road. Instead the tortoise knows that every step toward the finish line is recovery, in and of itself, and the tortoise sees love and joy and laughter and gratitude and fulfillment on the entire journey.

Oh, yes, and then the tortoise wins the race. There is so much we can learn from the tortoise.

Aren’t you worth it?

All my best,


Please Note: On a previous post, “Fighting Parkinson’s, and it’s time to heal the world,” I explained what we are doing moving toward a clinical study of the Recipe for Recovery. I have received an outstanding response from people pledging to send their neurological records, and I already have received neurological records from people in 6 different countries. Yes, we do have the power to heal the world, and I am grateful for all of you.


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14 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and another thought about the tortoise

  1. Marie says:

    Thank you so much,
    Howard for these reflections on the tortoise and the hare. I especially love where you say that like the tortoise pulling in six things, his head, tail and legs, we pull in six things, our five senses and our chattering mind. That made me laugh! Now I will have the image of my tortoise-self when I meditate. Really that is such a delightful idea.
    From here in the happy place across the finish line, I have no wish to return to the hare life. I have learned so much. It was the hare who got sick, and though I still have some hare qualities, in practicing the Recipe for Recovery , like you say, Howard, each step was its own victory….its own tortoise victory. And for me those steps are still a victory when I do them today, celebrating my life. The Recipe for Recovery introduced me to Qigong, to JinShin Jitsu, and to meditating as a practice that I actually embraced for the first time in my life with commitment. When I made my pledge to follow the Recipe for Recovery, It was one of the few truly solemn vows of my Life. Deep in my being, I vowed to change, to really change, and to allow the steps I was taking to bring me to another way of approaching my life. Though I have not thought of it in these terms til tonight, it is true to say I decided to stop running my life as the scattered hare race it had a become, and to proceed as a tortoise. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

    • Howard says:

      Hi Marie.

      You are welcome. And, thank you for your continued willingness to pop in and share your experiences of recovery for the benefit of others. You inspire all of us. Also, you are correct…Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…..


  2. Dear Howard, dear Marie, dear fellow travelers on this route to recovery

    I am often struck by the synchronicity of things as I continue my journey to recovery….. Today, I’m noticing the timeliness of your blog posts, Howard and Marie.

    This is a time in my journey in which my tremors are more active, my energy, though better than when I began this journey, sagging, my body aching in odd places, some simple tasks taking longer to accomplish. In some ways, it’s not much fun – I’d really like to greet the day with more aliveness and comfort. And yet, I’m smiling….I feel amusement as I consider the contrast between these symptoms in my physical body and my state of mind which is hopeful and alive – nurtured by my tortoise heart.

    I’ll own that much of this aliveness, this hope, can be attributed to the guidance, support and wisdom offered by you, Howard. And much of it is derived from the companionship and learning fellow travelers have offered me as we journey together.

    I’m also buoyed an experience I had this past week with my health practitioner, Nathan. And it’s that experience I’d particularly like to share with you, especially as Howard’s messages in the last few blog posts speak to my experience.

    A little about Nathan: He is a registered massage therapist….he has also studied cranial sacral work, Feldenkrais, and has taken extensive courses in medical Qigong. I think it is these combined experiences plus some innate gifts that assist him to be especially helpful in sharing insights about the body’s energy system.

    I usually visit Nathan every 4 weeks or so – On Thursday, because I had been suffering from a virus throughout much of January, it had been 7 weeks since I last saw him. I was feeling especially vulnerable when Nathan greeted me – my tremors were going nuts! Nathan chuckled and invited me to lie down so he could work on me. He has exceptionally warm hands (he warms the energetically somehow) almost like a warm compress – this warmth is sustained throughout his hour long session. He encouraged me to allow the tremors to express themselves and not to resist them…. so I chuckled and relaxed… and allowed them to manifest….they were more vibrant than I remember them ever being!

    As Nathan worked on me, he told me that during the 7 weeks since our last visit, he was noticing that I had released 3 major energy blockages (one of them a kidney blockage)! We celebrated together the significant benefit of the Qigong exercises I had been doing as he pointed out those areas which were now soft where before they had been rigid. He also said that I was now working on a major blockage in the chest area and that the extra flow of energy from the released areas plus the significance of the blockage was probably contributing to the increased tremors I was experiencing. So there was an explanation for the increased tremors and even though, on the outside I was appearing “worse”, I was actually getting better – slowly chipping away from the inside out ….like a tortoise! As I write this, I am ecstatic!

    I realize I write a lot on this blog – I’m really hoping I’m contributing by sharing my experience (sometimes my mind chatter gets in the way and tells me I’m taking too much space). I’d love to know how this lands for you…whether or not these comments are helpful… your honest reply would be deeply appreciated.



    • Marie says:


      I am very excited by the news you share about the blockages that are releasing. That is fantastic news. I certainly enjoy and appreciate reading what you post here, and I am sure that many others feel the same. Each of us, with our personal experiences, are creating this wonderful community. Please do not worry that you are taking too much space! Look how
      Your experience has touched others who are also experiencing more tremors. It can be such a help to realize that even when the outward appearances may not seem like healing, actually the Tortoise is still moving forward!

  3. Christine says:

    Thank you Penny,Marie,Howard..I have had the worst tremors ever!Terrible fatigue and pain.Yet my Qigong teacher tells me I am looking better and I havent used my stick for a couple of weeks.Thanks to you I can hold my head a little higher and keep on working with hope and determination.

  4. Lindsey Pullan says:

    This can’t be coincidence – my tremors are much worse too. I think we must all be putting in” extra effort” towards our recovery. Strangely, my walking has been better for a few days now so that is a definite positive!
    Warm regards to everyone,

  5. Leontina says:

    buna Howard ,iti multumesc pentru postarile de pe blog , sunt pentru noi un far in ceata densa ce ne inconjoara ,asa ne dam si noi seama de ce avem simptomele accentuate,de ce uneori se ridica ceata ne bucuram ca apoi sa ne acopere din nou.Parerea mea este ca daca putem controla emotiile negative ,daca ne retragem sub carapace [broasca] cand ne ameninta frica ,teama ,trecem mai usor peste starile proaste.Sunt foarte afectata de necazurile celor din jurul meu si acest lucru accentueaza tremurul ,dar am observat ca daca ma gandesc ca e momentul sa ma ocup de mine si sa ma ascund sub carapace nu mai sufar.Aici la noi a cazut in unele regiuni o zapada de 3 m ce au acoperit casele si oamenii au ramas captivi sub troiene,si vedeam la tv imagini dramatice ,imediat apoi simteam o agitatie si un tremur puternic,am hotarat sa nu ma mai uit la stiri
    si e mult mai bine.lupta noastra e grea fiindca e si psihica si fizica , dar vom invinge . Imbratisari calde Leo


    Good Howard, thanks for posting your blog for us. It is a beacon in the fog that surrounds us, so when you explain and we find out why we have increased symptoms, the sometimes fog lifts us and we rejoice then cover up again. My opinion is that if we can control the emotions, if we retreat under shell [tortoise] when we are threatened with fear, bad moods pass more easily. I am very affected by the troubles of those around me and my shake gets worse, but I noticed that if I think it’s time to take care of me and to hide under the shell, I no longer suffer. Here where I am, there are some regions fell into a snow and covered 3m homes and people who remained got trapped in snowdrifts, and I saw dramatic images on television, then immediately, I felt a strong restlessness and a tremor. I decided to not look at the news and it is much better. Our fight is tough because it’s physical and mental, but we will win. Warm hugs Leo

  6. Teri Rye says:

    I too, echo the comments above. I have felt worse in the last several days. I had a lot of pain today and slowness. I told myself pain is progress. I’m continuing the recipe and plan to stay the course until I recover. Blessings to you all!

  7. bailey says:

    OK, gotta chime in here… the synchronicity demands it! After a year of thinking happy thoughts did not magically cure me, I finally resolved to bite the bullet and sign up for the Howard Shifke recovery plan. It has been only a month since I began rubbing my torso and holding an imaginary beach ball for what seems like hours (I haven’t hit the 5 minute mark yet!). Strangely, while my shaking intensified this past week, when I saw my chiropractor (who practices neurolink – a form of therapy which specifically addresses neurological issues) we were both surprised that, for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, he did not have to make any adjustments related to Parmesan’s (as my mother prefers to refer to PD). He said everything looked fine – despite my hand shaking to the contrary. So, Howard’s post is just right for me (grin to Howard). And all your posts, my Parkinsonian brothers and sisters, are reassuring and so much appreciated. We must persevere despite outward appearances – we are healing ourselves in ways we cannot see, and for myself, I can say that some of those unseen healings have been most profound. May we all cross the finish line doin’ the Tortoise Trot, shaking our booties not our hands!

  8. Howard says:

    Dear all,

    What an inspiring group of people-recovering-from-Parkinson’s you are. And, Marie, thank you for jumping in and continuing to inspire us all with your encouragement and insight as one who has slowly and steadily crossed the line and won the race to full recovery.

    The incredible thing is that each of you is saying, “Although I may look worse on the outside (increased tremor, rigidity, slowness), I know I am recovering on the inside, so I have no fear!” How powerful is that?


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  10. Marie says:

    Dear Howard and Recovery Community,

    It is my honor and joy to continue as an active member of this community. I may not check in as often as I used to, when I looked every day, but I feel such gratitude for the Recipe for Recovery , and to you, personally, my dear friend Howard, for sharing the Recipe for Recovery and inspiring me to recover. I will continue participating and cheering as more brave tortoises cross the finish line. Among the gifts I have been given in this lifetime, and they are many, the Recipe for Recovery is among the most beautiful. It is so powerful. My whole life changed. I come back to the website because I want to be part of this community, and the changing view of what Parkinson’s is. It is so exciting to be part of this.
    I love you all! Happy Valentines Day.

  11. Laurie Diaz says:

    Thank you Marie, thank you Bailey, thank you Teri, thank you Leo, thank you Lindsey, thank you Christine, thank you Penny, … I imagine each of you as I read your posts. This month I’m NOT going to the local Parky picnic. You are my community! Bless you all. Laurie in NZ

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