How much of our lives are we “going through the motions” without a present awareness of what we are doing, how we are doing it, or why we are doing it? The Recipe for Recovery can fall into that category. Fear of some unknown future can fall into that category. Emptying a bag of chips while watching TV can fall into that category. To get the most out of your Parkinson’s recovery using the Recipe for Recovery, pay attention and become aware of what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why you are doing it. Look inside yourself and become aware!
One year ago today, I posted, “Fighting Parkinson’s, and healing from within.” Here is an excerpt from that post:
“I have received a number of inquiries regarding whether or not I did any “regular” exercises or aerobic exercises along with the Qigong exercises. Here is my response:
No additional physical or aerobic exercises. Two reasons for this: 1. I could not do them even if I wanted to. I could not even take my daily evening walk around the neighborhood with my wife. I was too stiff, too sore, and I lacked energy. 2. As a result of 1., I adopted a less-is-more philosophy.
‘Less is more. When I push myself to the limits of my mobility, I tire easily, freeze more, hunch over, and experience terrible balance issues. I made the decision to move slower than my Parkinson’s permits. The results have been very good. When I walk slower, do not try to forcibly swing my arms, and concentrate on my steps, I can stand straighter and with better balance. When I walk up the stairs, instead of going every other step where I had to use a lot of upper body strength to help pull me up the stairs, I now step up and then bring the other foot to the same step. The energy to do this is minimal compared to the workout I had been going through to get up the stairs, plus, my hand rests on the railing for balance; no upper body assistance is needed to walk up the stairs.’ (Excerpted from a previous post when I had Parkinson’s)
If you feel like you want or need to do other physical exercise or aerobic exercise, please do what you feel is good for you. Just a note on this: Qigong builds internal energy and stimulates the lymph system to cleanse toxins, and it does not use much external energy; hence, more energy stays inside to strengthen and heal the body. Vigorous physical exercise also builds internal energy and cleanses toxins, but one loses a fair amount of internal energy as a result of performing vigorous physical exercise. It is part of why Qigong heals slowly from deep within and why many people cannot stick with it — they cannot “see” results for a while, and it requires faith that something good is going on inside.
But this faith is the first step in recovery. First heal the soul (faith that you will recover), and the mind (no fear or worries that you will not recover) and the body (physical recovery) will follow.”
Which brings me back around to today’s post…being aware of your healing.
Body. Awareness of what you are doing: Qigong exercises. Awareness of how you are doing it: Slowly moving, bending, stretching, massaging, squeezing, breathing, chanting, sitting, standing, and sometimes “Standing” with not movement at all. Awareness of why you are doing it: Healing your organs, strengthening your organs, allowing your organs to function better to cleanse toxins from your body, improving your breathing, improving your flexibility, improving your balance, preparing your body for full recovery. Look inside yourself and become aware of your physical healing.
Mind. Awareness of what you are doing: Sitting and counting your breath from 1 to 10 and staring over again at 1. Awareness of how you are doing it: Exhaling first, and then inhaling, 1. Exhaling first, and then inhaling 2. All the way to 10, and then back to 1. Awareness of why you are doing it: Calmness of mind, clearing your thoughts, getting rid of mind chatter, taking the steps to get out of Adrenaline Mode. Normally, we inhale first, and then exhale. Normally, we keep counting to see how many we have accomplished of something. To exhale first, and then inhale requires an awareness of how you are breathing. Stopping at 10 and going back to 1 requires an awareness of how you are counting. When you are concentrating intently on how you are breathing and how you are counting those breaths, everything else goes away. You mind quiets, and you become aware of calmness. Look inside yourself and become aware of how good it feels to have a quiet and calm mind.
Soul. Awareness of what you are doing: Having faith in your recovery. Awareness of how you are doing it: Having faith in yourself in deciding you will recover, having faith in the Recipe for Recovery and taking action by doing the Recipe for Recovery, having Faith in your Higher Power to assist you by devouring your fears and doubts and to assist you in finding love and peace and joy and happiness and gratitude in your life. Awareness of why you are doing it: To become fully recovered and alive with no fear of life. Look inside yourself and become aware of how strong your faith is and how powerful love and peace and joy and happiness and gratitude are in overcoming fear and worry and anger and frustration and stress.
Be aware of your healing.
“I have the power to heal myself.” And I did.
“You have the power to heal yourself.” Marie did, and you are.
“Together we have the power to heal the world.” And we are.
Be aware of your healing!
Aren’t you worth it?
All my best,
I liked your answer about whether you did other exercise during your recovery. It’s been on my mind. I never thought forced bike riding, running and things like that went along with what my body wanted to do after I got PD symptoms, and that was to move slow. I fired my neurologist and got another for telling me that if I didn’t take the meds, I’d move slow like a much older person than I was. I asked her what she thought was wrong with moving slower than my age. I put off meds for five years. I was in the beginning treated by Janice Hadlock back in ’05 so I am very familiar with her two big books. I started taichi gradually, then yoga and now qigong. It’s taken me a while to really understand TCM. I still am continuing to study it. Even though I take one med, I have faith I will recover the best my body can. Bianca Molle did and she healed herself when she started to study qigong. Your thoughts are very much appreciated.Thank you.
You are welcome. I appreciate you sharing your personal insight and journey. It helps all of us to hear from others and see how they are doing fighting this disease. Welcome to the blog. We are happy you are here with us. You are among friends.
Hi Howard, I have a real dilemma regarding exercising with parkinsons. I appreciate what you are saying in that my body is telling me to slow down but I absolutely love cycling and all of my symptoms disappear when I am riding round the countryside – I did 16 miles in just over an hour the other day. I was shattered afterwards but psychologically it did me so much good – I lose myself on my bike and forget about the dreaded parkinsons.
I would, obviously, stop cycling if it hampered my recovery. I don’t know what to do.
Warm regards, Lindsey
Yes, this does appear to be a dilemma. I have expressed my feelings about vigorous exercise, and I understand what you are saying. Others have expressed similar sentiments to me in the past.
Here is how it was for me: I felt that my Parkinson’s body limited my mobility for a reason. I needed to slow down my adrenaline, physically and mentally, because that is one of the things that got me the symptoms in the first place. I had ignored my body (ignored oncoming physical problems) until I could ignore them no longer…Parkinson’s had me. At that point, I decided I would listen to my body, and I would not endeavor to make my body do anything it did not want to. As I wrote in my post above, I even backed off of my physical movement to conserve energy for healing and to not push my body to the limit where I would receive an unpleasant push-back from the disease.
Today’s post is about being aware, and with what you are sharing, you are saying that you are aware that although the bike ride left your body shattered, it also provided you with a psychologically good feeling as you were able to lose yourself and forget about the disease. Losing yourself and forgetting about the disease is wonderful, but you need to explore, at what cost to your recovery.
I feel that doing things that bring you joy and happiness and relief from symptoms are wonderful and are important in your recovery. If you love cycling around the countryside, maybe if you ride slower, you would be able to soak up and explore some of the countryside you have missed on a faster ride. Be aware of what you are doing and how you are feeling, and listen to your heart. You will find the answers.
Here’s my 2 cents. I used to run and bike every day and I loved it, but now I know it was too often all adrenaline driven.
Now when I ride I take it easier. Instead of seeing how many miles of country road I can log, I really take time to slow down, see things, get off the saddle to play in creeks or take photos. I threw out the training log, and spend more time with my grandkids than in front of them
so, my thought is do what makes your heart sing, do it with joy and not adrenaline and do it within reason. Then take a nap
Thank you very much for your 2 cents. It is so helpful to read how you changed your regimen so that joy was your driving force, not adrenaline. This is incredibly insightful, and I really appreciate you sharing your experience. It will help Lindsey and many others who are struggling to find balance in this uneasy world of Parkinson’s. You have brought us balance today, and I am grateful to you.
Hi Howard and Nancy, Thank you both for your wise words – you have certainly given me some food for thought. I do feel like I am massively in adrenaline mode all of the time. I get furious when my legs “put the brakes on” without me telling them to – I feel like a dodgy supermarket trolley.
I am going cycling tomorrow with a friend. I am going to tell my friend that I am going to go much slower.
I do wish we had a button to press for adrenaline – it would make life so much easier.
Hi to all: I am glad this subject has come up for discussion, because I have wrestled with it in the past. I have found great joy in vigorous exercise (running, ocean swimming, hiking, and especially biking). For 6 years I participated in a wonderful, family-friendly bike trip the length of the C&O Canal with my sister and a group of friends we called the “Chuckle Buddies”. Last year I decided to skip it, because I thought that my PD symptoms were too debilitating, and I was nervous about being too slow or falling. That week, when my sister and the rest of the group left without me was one of the saddest times of my life. I thought that the PD monster had gotten the best of me. At the same time, I was discovering qi gong, Howard’s website, and more meditation practices. I soon slowed down, and decided that I would not deny myself that joy again. I now practice Howard’s recipe daily, train on a stationary bike (and soon outside as well), but now at my own pace, and balance it with some gentle yoga. The best part is that I have reduced my meds, and feel very optimistic about the future. As a matter of fact – you will find me tooling down the C&O Canal next July with my sister and the Chuckle Buddies! I will be at the back of the pack – enjoying the scenery.
Good for you, Meredith and Lindsey,
For clarification for others, what I am trying to convey, and I think Nancy is expressing the same sentiment, is you do not have to give up what you love and what brings you joy. You can make adjustments that allow you to experience these things in a different manner, opening your heart, and opening the opportunity to find love and joy in these activities in a way that may have slipped by in the past.
From what Meredith and Lindsey both have written in your comments, it looks like you have embraced this concept and are enjoying the journey from a new perspective. Good for you!
Until I began your “Recipe for Recovery” I was of the opinion that physical exercise was good for me. Up to December 2011, I played tennis 3 times a week and enjoyed it immensely as it was one of the few activities I could do where my PD was absolutely gone and I can once again enjoy freedom of movement. I never thought of it as an adrenaline producing activity; instead, for me it was joyous. The joy and its associated dopamine, however, were short-lived, as the PD always came back as soon as I stopped playing. In early January 2012, I injured myself doing a round house kick in a kickboxing studio. The lower back injury turned into sciatica in my left leg. That put an end to any possibility of exercise. It has now been nearly 6 weeks and I am just now getting back into the gym for some light exercise. Kickboxing is out forever! I can’t say that about tennis, but for the time being I need to heal more physically. In the meantime, I am using the gift of being alone in Paradise (Delray Beach, Florida) to concentrate on my own spiritual re-awakening. It is a tough but necessary job to reprogram myself to slow down, but the work is in progress.
Thank you for your comment. It will help many people to see that although the recovery is not easy, your will to persevere through the difficult times will help get you through. And, it helps for all of us to see that you recognize that you need to make some changes and are willing to, as you say, “reprogram” yourself to slow down. You inspire us all!