Fighting Parkinson’s, and kindness, compassion, and Thanksgiving 2013

Congratulations — you are down to the last 3 days of the November to Remember, No Excuses November, 30-day challenge 2013 to do the scaled-down version of the Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery®. Also, here in the States, we are preparing for Thanksgiving tomorrow. For many, it will be a time for seeing relatives and friends. There is much for which to be thankful, and I feel we all know this. However, a big part of making this Thanksgiving holiday wonderful and memorable, is the addition of one ingredient that you do not eat…compassion…for others and for yourself.

Thanksgiving is a good time to give thanks and gratitude, but also, it is a good time to revisit kindness and compassion. I am re-posting here the critical information from former posts on kindness and compassion:

Prior to my recovery from Parkinson’s Disease, the only other person I had met who had Parkinson’s was my mother. She was one of the kindest, most giving people you ever would have had the pleasure of knowing…kind and giving to others…not herself. Over the last few years, I have met with, spoken to, Skyped with, and exchanged emails with, hundreds of people with Parkinson’s. You are some of the kindest and most giving people I have met…kind and giving to others…not yourselves. I was the same way. Part of this recovery is learning to be kind to yourself.

We tend to put additional pressure on ourselves to be better at everything than anybody else. It is that drive for the unattainable perfection that helped us bring our Parkinson’s symptoms to the surface in the first place…we are doing our absolute best, but we still feel it is not good enough. On the other hand, we are accepting, and kind, and giving to those around us who are doing their best and not being perfect. Something in our minds says, “It is okay for them to be less than perfect because I am going to be perfect enough for all of us.”

And, as a result of the expectation that we have to be perfect, we never stop thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking…our Adrenaline-mode minds do not stop. Because, to be perfect, we realize at some level that there are multiple exceptions that go to every rule, and there are multiple corollaries that go to every theorem, and there are multiple options that go with every choice…and we have to run them all down and solve them all, and they keep branching out into more exceptions and more corollaries and more options, and you can see where this cycle goes…it is endless.

For those of you without Parkinson’s, this scenario may seem strange and stressful. For those of you with Parkinson’s, I know many of you are reading this and thinking, “So, what’s your point. This is how things work, no big deal.” Here is my point: Thinking this way is a BIG DEAL! It cuts across all three causes of what brings Parkinson’s to the surface as diagnosable symptoms.

It causes anger and frustration and resentment and stress and anxiety because we simply cannot solve every problem and every scenario. First, we get angry at the situation, and second, we get angry at ourselves for being less than perfect and not “having all the answers.”

The anger and frustration and resentment and stress and anxiety make it difficult to eat properly and we suffer from dietary disaster. Solving all these problems becomes more important than what or when or how we eat.

We burn the candle at both ends and in the middle and our mind never stops thinking, which completely wears it down and upsets our bodies’ natural rhythms.

So, how do we reverse this mess? Begin by being kind to yourself.

How to begin the process of being kind to yourself:
1. Look in the mirror and say, “I am not perfect.” For many of you, I know this will take some courage and resolve. The rest of us will patiently wait while you go take care of this. It is that important!
2. Go back to the mirror and say, “I do not have to be perfect.”
3. I know, lots of time in the mirror — Go back to the mirror and say, “When I am doing my best, it IS good enough.” This one seems logical, but it is not. Many of you have told me, “I am doing my best, but I do not think it is good enough.” Your best is your best; you cannot do any better than that. Be kind to yourself and accept that if you are doing your best, it is the best you can do, and it is good enough.

That is the formula to being kind to yourself. When somebody else falls short of an accomplishment, we offer them compassion and comfort and say, “That’s okay, you did your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of. It just wasn’t meant to happen.” Being kind to yourself means offering yourself the exact same compassion and comfort you offer others in the same circumstances.

These are critical lessons if you want to be successful with the Recipe for Recovery and with your recovery. Here is why:
The Recipe is a soul, mind, and body recovery. If you do the body part (Qigong) and at the end, you say to yourself, “I did not do that Qigong perfectly or even good enough, so I probably will not recover,” you have moved backwards. Whatever benefit you have gained for the body is great, but your mind is in negative (self-beating) mode, and your soul is losing faith in recovery.

Be kind to yourself and turn this around:
At the conclusion of doing the Qigong, say to yourself, “In this moment of doing Qigong, I did the best possible Qigong that my Parkinson’s body would allow and I did great in moving forward with my recovery!” That attitude propels your mind with positive thinking, and it propels your soul with continuing faith and hope in your recovery.

There is nothing wrong with being kind to yourself. In fact, being kind to yourself will liberate you as you move forward on your path toward recovery.

So, while you are continuing to be kind to others, keep the happiness and joy and compassion alive by being kind to yourself.

When others ask to assist you with preparing your Thanksgiving holiday, be compassionate to them, smile a big smile, and say “Yes, I would love your help.” By doing this, you allow them to feel good about being able to do something for you. However, prior to doing this, you need to find compassion for yourself and your situation with Parkinson’s. Otherwise, you either do not accept the help you need or the person feels badly in helping you because you are feeling badly about yourself…and it shows.

So, please feel compassion for yourself and graciously accept whatever assistance you are being offered. Oh, yes, that feeling you get inside when you do this is your heart opening and your Dopamine flowing. That is why it feels so good.

Finally, please remember this critically important point: If you are doing the Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery&#0174, then you are doing great! When somebody asks you, “How are you doing?” please do not run down a mental evaluation of your symptoms that day to determine how to answer the question and then give them a rundown of how badly your symptoms are that day. You are not your symptoms. This probably needs repeating: YOU ARE NOT YOUR SYMPTOMS! Instead, if you are doing the Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery&#0174 and you are asked, “How are you doing?” you should put a huge smile on your face and say, “I am doing great!”

Find kindness and compassion for yourself, and make this your best Thanksgiving ever!!!

Make the commitment to cure yourself from Parkinson’s!

Okay, everybody, put big smiles on your faces and chant together so the whole world can hear:

“Parkinson’s is curable.
I am my own Parkinson’s cure.
I am halting, slowing, and reversing the progression of my Parkinson’s.
I am extraordinary.
I am recovery.
I am doing great!


Happy Thanksgiving to all!

All my best,



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10 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and kindness, compassion, and Thanksgiving 2013

  1. Barry says:

    Yes, yes, yes — this is the antidote to PD, this is the portal to living a whole, fully present, heart-felt life of vast freedom and deep peace. I give thanks to the Thanks-Giver: Brother Howard.

  2. Barry says:

    BTW — here’s a tip on a WONDERFUL book on this very topic — RADICAL ACCEPTANCE by Tara Brach. Go to & click on her “talks” link for hundreds of free 1-hr talks — try one a day, vastly superior to PD drugs for increasing the flow of dopamine & accessing self compassion. If Howard had a Sister, it would be Tara Brach (she is a Buddhist Teacher and Clinical Psychologist).

  3. Rita says:

    Dear Howard,
    Thank you so much for this powerful post. It is so helpful, and not only for the ones with Parkinson’s.
    Thank you so much for your encouragement every time we need one.
    Thank you so much for having the community of people , which is fighting Parkinson’s the other way around.
    Today is a perfect day to say this big THANK YOU.
    Have a wonderful Holiday with your family!
    With a big admiration and appreciation.

  4. Sally says:

    Thank you Howard .
    Thank you Barry.

  5. Regina Schutte says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the PD Fighters!
    From Andy and Regina (Cornwall, UK)

  6. Powerful sentiments….powerful words…so grateful for everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Sylvia says:

    Thank you Howard for the wonderful message. I had been meaning to go back and read the older post on compassion, I think it is your most important message.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone in this community!

  8. Sam says:

    Well said and timely as usual!

    Thank you Howard!

  9. Melanie says:

    You are spot on Howard, as always…….. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and my greatest love and appreciation to you all!!!!!

  10. Jane says:

    Feel so moved. As though reading this for the very first time. Feel so “seen”. How extraordinary, how wonderful, that we are all the same in this respect. And you, Howard, turned it around. So it can be done! Wondrous. Need to think carefully about this. Great good thanks, as ever.

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