Fighting Parkinson’s, and being vulnerable

At the end of my last post, I discussed being vulnerable. There appeared a comment by Jane that says, in part, “‘Absolute vulnerability’ seems to be the Big Secret, the Bottom Line, the Ultimate in wisdom and letting go. Total surrender. I will keep this preciously in my mind and heart.” Jane has a good point, and I would like to elaborate on it today.

Vulnerable: Open to censure or criticism.

Let’s take a look at the journey to recovery from Parkinson’s. It begins by announcing, “I have the power to heal myself. I am going to fully recover from a disease the experts say is incurable.” This alone opens you up to censure and criticism from non-believers.

In the middle of the journey, you feel better on the inside, but you are not looking so great on the outside. In the middle, you announce, “I have the power to heal myself. I am going to fully recover from a disease the experts say is incurable. I have faith in my recovery and I understand that there are times when I am going to feel worse and look worse before I get better.” This alone opens you up to censure and criticism from non-believers.

In the end, you announce, “I fully recovered.” This alone opens you up to censure and criticism from non-believers.

This is why your faith in your recovery has to be more powerful than other people opinions about what you should be doing about your Parkinson’s. This is why you have to stop caring what the other people think about you and what you are doing.

It was my final issue from which I needed to let go, from which I needed to surrender, from which I needed to extricate from the very being I thought was Howard Shifke — and just when I let go, totally and completely surrendered caring what anybody was going to think about me or my full recovery, I had a shift…my world view went from my mind down to my heart…and I started feeing other people’s suffering…and my dopamine flowed and as it cascaded down my body and through my body, I was transformed from imbalance to balance, from illness to health, from thinking to feeling, from Parkinson’s to cured from Parkinson’s.

For those who haven’t read the final section of the Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery™ because you still are thinking the Qigong exercises are all there is to the Recipe, I ask you to open your minds and your hearts and not be afraid to be vulnerable. Excerpted from the end of the Recipe, here is what it looked like at the end for me:

“‘Dear God, I surrender my ego to you. I surrender my attachment to my Parkinson’s Disease to you. I am not afraid anymore. I no longer fear Parkinson’s. I no longer fear the scorn I may face by being cured from a disease the experts say there is no cure. I no longer fear the people who may say I was misdiagnosed or that I faked having the disease. I am surrendering my ego to you, that part of me that felt I needed to remain attached to Parkinson’s because the experts say once you have Parkinson’s you always have Parkinson’s. I am forgetting about my old self (Parkinson’s) and stepping into my new self (No Parkinson’s).’ I awoke the following morning with my remaining symptoms gone.”

That was nearly three years ago. You can do it, too!

One more thing I would like to say before I finish today’s discussion of being vulnerable. It will greatly enhance your recovery if you will be vulnerable in front of another person, somebody who you can open your heart to and be completely genuine, truthful, honest, and forthright in explaining exactly what you are going through with your Parkinson’s. It is not complaining to say, “This is how I feel” or “This is how today went” or “This happened and I do not know what it means, but I am a bit frightened.”

If you cannot find somebody with whom you feel comfortable being vulnerable, please feel free to email me at Those who have opened their hearts to me in emails in the past have expressed by the end of their emails that it felt so good to “get it out” to somebody who would not “think” they were complaining, but instead, who would “feel” their suffering…and who would be compassionate and not judgmental.

You do not need to do this alone. You should not do this alone.

I had Sally on my journey. We cried, we laughed, and sometimes we just held each other. I was able to be completely vulnerable with Sally. She did not judge me. She listened. She had compassion for me. She knew I was not complaining, I was just opening my heart and sharing what was going on…reporting the facts of the day…sometimes trying to explain the non-explainable nature of Parkinson’s, and sometimes when I couldn’t find the words, I just cried, and she held me. She, too, knew there was nothing to say.

Happy Birthday, Sally. I am forever grateful for you.

Fear blocks being vulnerable. We become afraid of the censure and criticism. Faith says it is okay to be vulnerable, or as Jane points out in her comment, it not only is okay to be vulnerable, it is necessary in this recovery. In the end, complete vulnerability means completely surrendering the person who you think you are and not being afraid what the other people will think when you again become the essence of who you are, on the inside…the new you…the you who has been in there all along but who is covered up by a mountain of ice…chip away, day by day…be vulnerable, and do not be afraid.

You can do this!

You are worth it!!!

All my best,



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21 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and being vulnerable

  1. Sally says:

    Wow, this is a huge one for me.
    I have been trying to be anything BUT vulnerable.

    Howard, thank you for opening my eyes and yes, my heart to this!

    • Howard says:

      You are welcome, Sally. As a note to readers, this is not my wife Sally making this comment. It is another Sally, one who is traveling on this journey to Parkinson’s recovery.


  2. linda says:

    hi howard

    i also am finding that i need to be able to be real and honest about whats going
    on, to be vulnerable and frightened
    this is hard for other people because they knew you a different way and want you just to be well.
    trying to surrender into being that new person sometimes means you wont have those same friends but new ones will come into your life too. that has been one of the gifts of my illness

    howard, you were and are very fortunate to have sally–she sounds like the perfect companion for your journey to recovery

    bless you both for your strength and courage and i understand that feeling of compassion that can flow through you like warm light–that feeling that life–and people– are so precious

    thanks again for your sharing

    • Howard says:

      Yes, Linda, you are correct. Our past behavior, often pleasing other people to our own detriment, leaves us without some of those “other” people as friends when we decide we need to make the changes in our lives required for health. However, as you so aptly point out, the new friends we make along the way like us for just being us…it is very delightful. Thank you, too, for sharing your journey. And, yes, very fortunate to have Sally.


  3. Richard J. O'Meara says:


    Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing. The posting about being vulnerable was excellent as you hit on the importance of being vulnerable with someone. When that someone, with whom one feels safe, can empathize and love you for who you are the value is huge. I appreciate the inclusion of one’s faith system in healing and moving forward as well. Thanks again for your wonderful work.

    Richard J. O’Meara
    Health Psychologist

    • Howard says:

      Hi Richard,
      Thank you for your insight and encouragement for Parkinson’s sufferers. We all appreciate somebody not with Parkinson’s who has an interest in how the people in our recovery community are doing.

  4. Gita says:

    Thank you Howard and Happy Birthday Sally. This is why I value and appreciate your coaching, Howard. I know I can be vulnerable with you and you completely understand and help me on this path.

    • Howard says:

      Hi Gita,
      I passed along your birthday wishes to Sally. She says thank you. Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us, Gita. It is your willingness to be vulnerable with me, and be vulnerable with yourself, and be vulnerable with your Higher Power, that is leading you toward your full recovery. I am looking forward to meeting in person in a couple of weeks for my Tucson workshop.

  5. bill bush says:

    I am recovering from Parkinsons and feel very happy that I found you, Howard. You are so right about Parkinsons. It can be reversed. I feel improved balance and joy, Thank you!
    I am looking forward to your workshop in July in Boston. Do you have a date for that workshop?

    • Howard says:

      Hi Bill,
      Thank you for sharing. It is wonderful that you know Parkinson’s can be reversed, and that you are feeling improved balance and joy. How wonderful is that! I have a solid date for my Boston workshop. It is July 27th. I am talking with a few places determining the best location, and will be posting the location soon. I hope to meet you in Boston at my workshop in a couple of months, but first I have workshops in Tucson on June 1st and Santa Fe on June 29th.

  6. judy says:

    howard….what you are saying so resonates with me….for a few years i have felt dead inside, behind a wall, cut off from other human beings….i know i need to make myself vullnerable…how do i do this?….
    thank-you so much for what you do and your vulnerability….

    • Howard says:

      Hi Judy,

      Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You already have made yourself vulnerable by posting a comment on this site. Look at what you wrote: “for a few years i have felt dead inside, behind a wall, cut off from other human beings.” You have opened your heart to all of us, which makes you quite vulnerable because you risked feeling exposed. However, allowing yourself to be vulnerable is quite wonderful because I have true compassion for your situation, and I am certain others do as well. You see, we all are in this life together, and I felt completely disconnected. I realized that to feel joy, I needed to share joy. I realized, also, that everybody I would meet was probably suffering from something physically, mentally, or spiritually. So, my initial public act of vulnerability was to go out to where people were, and introduce myself and ask them how they were doing…genuinely ask, because I cared and I wanted to lighten their load if I could. This is outlined in detail in Part 4 of 4 of my dissecting the disease series of posts, You have to take the first step, step out from behind the wall, re-connect with other people — this is being vulnerable. You can do it, and it feels so good, it becomes infectious and your dopamine begins to flow better again. As you can see, you were vulnerable with us, and nothing bad came of it, only good!

  7. Kay Disbrow says:

    Thank you Howard,
    This comes at a good time for me. After having a really good, symptom-free day, I am having a confusing one today with a totally scrambled brain. Scary and difficult. Thanks for being there for us.

  8. Christine says:

    This has come at such a good time for me as I struggle to surrender.Despite clear signs of recovery I have had a terrible week …..unable to turn over in bed,get in and out of bed etc without the help of my wonderful husband.I have struggled to hide the devastation I feel from everyone,including those I love. After all,I am supposed to be the strong one,the one who always gets things done…….and now I have failed.So thanks for this Howard…time now to surrender.

    • Howard says:

      Hi Christine,
      Thank you for sharing. Please read the links I posted for Kay above. A “terrible week” might actually be a glorious week. Maybe your “terrible week” was because your body was doing so well at working to unblock major blockages in your recovery, it left little energy to hold your symptoms in check, so symptoms probably appeared worse and fatigue probably was an issue. As I posted about 10 days ago, if you look at what my symptoms were on May 10, 2010 when I wrote about them, it looked like I was doing terrible. However, one month later, I was fully recovered. Keep having faith in your recovery, and next time, instead of looking at something as terrible, try looking at it like this: “Apparently, this is necessary for my Parkinson’s recovery.” If it is necessary, aren’t you more willing to tolerate it and persevere through it? Yes, now is time to surrender, Christine, and this little phrase will help.

  9. Teri says:

    Timely post. Amazing comments. Thank you everyone for helping me realize Vulnerability is the key to my recovery.

    • Howard says:

      You are welcome, Teri. We all are in this together. Posting your comment makes you vulnerable, so you are off to a good start on addressing this issue.


  10. nancy thomas says:

    This post and comments had me thinking all weekend about how much of the time I tell myself I’m being strong and optimistic for others but am really perpetuating old destructive habits. Thanks to all

    • Howard says:

      Thank you for sharing with us, Nancy. If you are going to be a bit vulnerable, this is a good place to be. If we all are vulnerable together, there is a lot of recovery strength that comes from that.

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