This is the third installment of a four-part series. If you have not read Fighting Parkinson’s, and dissecting the disease, part 1 of 4, you may click here and read it now. If you have not read Fighting Parkinson’s, and dissecting the disease, part 2 of 4, you may click here and read it now. Reading parts 1 and 2 first will give you a better understanding of how Parkinson’s affects the body and how the Recipe for Recovery heals the body.
In part 1, I outlined how the electricity is flowing through the body, and how the low-level dopamine sets off a chain reaction of tremors, rigidity, pain, stiffness and slowness. When our electricity is not flowing properly, the messages are not getting to our limbs and we do not move our extremities well, and the electrical impulses are not getting the correct messages to our organs and they do not function well, either. In part 2, I outlined how the Recipe for Recovery is designed to heal the body. We now will look at how the Recipe for Recovery heals the mind.
The mind. There are two things we need to explore to understand the mind’s function in getting Parkinson’s and in getting recovered: 1. What mental/emotional attitudes and Adrenaline-mode over-thinking negatively impact our health; and 2. How do we free our minds from these habitual negative mental/emotional trappings, such as anger, stress and anxiety, as well as Adrenaline-mode over-thinking, to liberate our minds in our recoveries. Please note, although fear is in our minds, I am saving the fear issue for part 4, where it will be a contrasted choice with faith as the Recipe for Recovery heals our souls.
Recipe for Recovery approach: There are underlying factors (genetics, heavy metals, environmental toxins, etc.) that make a person susceptible to getting Parkinson’s. However, the three main causes that bring Parkinson’s to the surface as diagnosable symptoms are:
1. Qi and Blood Deficiency, which is caused by emotional stress, anger, frustration, and resentment.
2. Phlegm-Fire Agitating Wind, which is caused by dietary considerations such as consumption of too much greasy, fried or sweet foods.
3. Kidney and Liver Wind Deficiency, which is caused by overwork and insufficient rest which unbalances the body’s natural rhythm.
If we look at numbers 1 and 3, we realize that to some level, the way we live our lives, emotionally, has helped our symptoms rise to the surface of our bodies into diagnosable symptoms. Think about it. When you were young and you had a big test at school and were unprepared, did your emotional stress caused by fear of your unpreparedness and your not wanting to get a bad grade cause you to have an upset stomach? a headache? a fever? nausea? Most of us can answer this with a “Yes, it did.” And, those maladies were not in your mind, but instead, they were a physical manifestation of stress and fear. The physical symptoms were real, and they were measurable, and you were not faking…and you stayed home from school because you were ill that day.
Shifting to Parkinson’s, there are underlying factors making us susceptible to getting the disease. However, the constant negative emotional manner in which we were living our lives, responding to life’s events with anger and frustration and stress and anxiety, are the things that caused the underlying factors to raise themselves to the surface as diagnosable symptoms. Simply put, we wear down our own immunities with toxic emotions so much that our body loses its ability to cleanse at an efficient rate. When we add in cause number 3, the thinking and over-thinking, constantly striving to have every answer and be the best at everything…the fear driven Adrenaline-mode mind that never rests, we wear down our mind, and our electricity, and we can no longer get the messages to our limbs and organs with the strength and vitality it takes to function correctly…it causes the dopamine faucet to close down to a trickle.
Some things to consider about physical reactions pre-Parkinson’s:
When you were under pressure, and you felt stress and anxiety and fear, did your body ever feel a little shaky? kind of like tremors?
When you had been faced with difficult choices in life and you analyzed them and analyzed them and analyzed them until you were paralyzed in your thinking, were you able to act upon your issues with fluidity? or did your decisions seem rigid?
When your mind had been completed cluttered with toxic junk so you felt you could not think clearly, did your constipated mind lead to a constipated body?
I will be the first one to step up and answer: yes, yes, yes. I knew I had to change my dis-eased way of thinking and responding to life’s events so I could feel ease. More on this later.
Here is a very important point. I am not saying that Parkinson’s is a disease of the mind. It absolutely is a disease of the body. However, we must acknowledge that “dis-ease” of our minds assists us in having our symptoms rise to the surface. Once acknowledged, then we can better understand how “ease” of our minds helps remove the “dis” from this “dis-ease” of our minds, which can have an enormous impact on our physical symptoms. Simply put, what happens to your physical symptoms when you are sleeping? They subside.
And, no, it is not just because we are not experiencing them that we think they are subsiding. It is because when we are sleeping, our minds are calm and our physical body is not making any demands on our brains except for breathing and heart beating. I have had quite a few people with external shaking tremors tell me that their spouses have told them that the tremors are non-existent when they are sleeping.
If look back to part 1, I explain how a weakened Parkinson’s brain that is low on dopamine release leads to a chain reaction of tremors, rigidity, slowness and pain. Sleeping brings about a calmness that results in the opposite. When we are sleeping, the brain is sending low energy impulses that do not shake, that do not shock the muscles causing rigidity, and with no rigidity squeezing the nerve endings, there is no pain.
Now that what we have and what we want have been identified, how does the Recipe for Recovery help us change our negative way of thinking and how does it help us calm our overactive minds? In short, acceptance, breathing, and counting.
Acceptance. My “okay” attitude to control negative emotions. I realized that my habitual response to things that occurred in life that I did not like was anger. This was followed by the frustration I faced by not being able to un-change what already had occurred, which was followed by anger at myself for not foreseeing the event and not preventing it. It was my habit to go through this cycle again and again and again. I decided that the only way to break a really bad habit was to create a more powerful habit from the other end of the spectrum…acceptance…of everything!
This does not mean that I was happy about everything. It means that when something happened, I merely said, “Okay, I accept that that happened.” It was a tacit acknowledgement of reality. Quite frankly, whether I accepted it or not, whatever had happened, actually had happened…how much easier and less stressful could life be than to acknowledge that something that just happened had happened. I know, it seems so simple to acknowledge the obvious, but for those of you with Parkinson’s, I can feel your minds straining and your disbelief that this is possible because you still want to change the things that already occurred because that is what you do…or thought you could do…or beat yourself up about because you could not do….
Instead, just say “Okay.” And, know that “okay” really means, “I accept that this just happened, so what am I going to do about it.” And then you use your thinking mind to create a solution instead of creating anger and frustration and stress. Imagine that! You take the same scenario and instead of spending hours and days trying to stop something from happening that already has happened, you actually spend minutes doing something about it. Life is so much easier and less stressful this way. And, as you become more accepting of life, you shake less and are rigid less…and, you become more accepting of yourself…”Okay. I accept that I have Parkinson’s. What am I going to do to solve this problem? I am going to do the Recipe for Recovery!”
Here is some in-depth reading on this topic:
Fighting Parkinson’s, and “okay”.
Fighting Parkinson’s, and “okay,” part 2.
Fighting Parkinson’s, and our emotions.
Breathing and Counting. In the Recipe for Recovery, you will find this under sitting zazen, which is a form of meditation with eyes closed or substantially closed. I did it sitting in a chair for 10 minutes. If you can sit on the floor in a lotus or cross-legged position, great; I could not, so I did not. Here it is:
1. Exhale and then inhale. That is 1.
2. Continue exhaling and inhaling counting 1 to 10.
3. When you get to 10, start at 1 again.
4. Continue this exhale-inhale, counting 1-10 and starting again at 1, for the entire time you are sitting zazen.
By concentrating on breathing (in an opposite manner from how we generally view it with the exhale now coming first), and by simultaneously counting those breaths (having to go back to 1 each time we hit 10), our minds are focused on these two things, only. At the beginning, your mind will wander a bit, but if you keep pulling it back to nothing but this stylized breathing and counting, you will reach a point where you close your eyes, start the breathing and counting, and when your timer goes off, you feel like you have been sitting for 10 seconds, not 10 minutes. This ability to take ourselves to a place of calmness allows us to better gain control of our emotional reactions to events in life.
Here is some in-depth reading on this topic:
Fighting Parkinson’s, and Adrenaline and Dopamine.
Fighting Parkinson’s, and more on Adrenaline and Dopamine.
So, here we are. In part 1, we identified what is happening to us physiologically that is resulting in our symptoms. In part 2, we learned how the Recipe for Recovery heals our organs. In this part, number 3, we have learned how the Recipe for Recovery calms our minds and heals our negative emotions and Adrenaline-driven thinking. In part 4, we will learn how the Recipe for Recovery opens our dopamine faucets so our dopamine can flow and lead us down the path to final recovery from Parkinson’s.
While you are awaiting part 4, think about this: Do you know or understand each body reaction happening inside your body all the time? No, of course not. So, when evaluating yourself and how you are “feeling,” physically, mentally and spiritually, it becomes a matter of choice in how you interpret the things and how you react to them. Instead of thinking about the body’s reaction while you are working on a healing, or thinking negative thoughts no matter what is happening, how about if you think about it like this:
“I am doing the Recipe for Recovery. This means: I am doing Qigong. I am Standing. I am chanting. I am eating a little better. I am meditating. I am praying. I am getting rest when my body says to rest. I am trying to replace negative habit thinking with positive habit thinking. Doing all these things means I can only be getting healthier in my life. Therefore, whatever is my body’s response or my mind’s response, good or bad, it is merely adjustments required for my healing, and I am worth this healing. So, even if my body’s response or mind’s response is pain or headache or anxiety, I will say, ‘okay’ because I know I am living a life that is leading me to recovery in life and recovery from Parkinson’s.” Choose faith over fear.
It is true. You have the Recipe for Recovery in front of you. Grab onto it and do not let go.
You are worth it!
All my best,
Thank you, Howard….. I really need this reminder about “okay” again and again….the busy mind chatter is so entrenched… my naturally perfectionistic mind wants me to be able to do this all the time and, of course, being human, I forget…. but the trick, I think, is to do my best to release the chatter with the “okay”, and to be gentle with myself when I forget… it doesn’t matter if the okay comes in a little late….it matters that I notice and persist with compassion for myself … and a little humor helps too…. I think my perfectionism is quite funny sometimes….
You are welcome, Penny.
“Okay!” As you point out, this is a powerful word to denote acceptance not only of the things around you, but also, acceptance of yourself…and then comes compassion. How grand is that! Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for the encouragement for those of us that DON’T have Parkinsons and need to “accept” before we do!!! I read all your postings aloud to Alan at night so I get a good dose of how to calm my own body as I read your instructions to him. He is faithfully doing as you told him, has just had his feet rubbed and his neck and head as well (gotta admit we were watching some “stress-filled” moments of the Olympics at the same time) but it couldn’t hurt. It was relaxing just to watch those “over-achievers” and be glad we were home in our rockers!!
You are welcome. You are pretty funny about the Olympics being a gathering of some stress-filled over-achievers, so thank you for the laugh. On a healing note, your love and compassion for Alan and your assistance in his recovery have been instrumental in Alan knowing he will reach full recovery. Thank you!
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I really liked the part about interpreting body symptoms without actually knowing what is going on. Thank you
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