Okay. I hear it, “Howard has lost his mind!” True. In the final weeks leading up to my full recovery, I realized that what was holding me back was my Adrenaline-driven mind. As much as my heart was filling up with love, compassion, joy, and gratitude, my over-thinking, self-judging, non-forgiving-of-me mind just would not let go. I knew I needed to lose it. You need to lose your mind as well.
Here are some excerpts from what I wrote in 2010 when I still had Parkinson’s and came to this realization:
“The most difficult lesson I have learned is that I am an inadvertent participant in the emotional part of my Parkinson’s disease.
Adrenaline — you are walking through the jungle and a lion jumps out and starts chasing you. When your survival mode adrenaline kicks in and you start running, other things are required of your body. Your stomach gets the message from the brain that says, “eating is of minor importance right now so do not send me hunger pangs.” The bladder and the large intestine get the message from the brain that says, “no time to evacuate, so I need you to shut down temporarily.” The body gets the message from the brain that says, “you are being pushed to your physical limits, but I do not want to hear about your pain — shut it off.” The heart gets the message from the brain that says, “no time for joyful emotions, so do not release dopamine, just store it for later.”
What I have had to come to terms with over these last couple of weeks is that I ran from the lion for ten consecutive years and he only stopped chasing me on a rare occasion or two for very brief moments. Shortly after the lion stopped chasing me, my tremors began and my Parkinson’s symptoms became apparent and debilitating. My home life, Sally and the children, was, and is, loving and supportive. However, external factors resulted in ten years of stress filled with fear, anger, frustration and resentment. (If you read my March 26, 2010 blog entry, you will see that these are the emotions that Traditional Chinese Medicine associates with Parkinson’s).
Although the stress and those emotions have been put to the side, my subconscious brain still has me functioning in adrenaline mode. After ten years of functioning in this emotional survival mode, my physical body and organs have forgotten how to be normal. I need to get out of adrenaline mode and re-train my organs and body. I have been hesitant to write about this because, from a conventional mind-set, this theory is “out there” and there may be some who read this blog and feel I have lost my mind. To them, all I can say is what Socrates told a young Dan in Dan Millman’s book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, “Sometimes you have to lose your mind before you come to your senses.”
I am willing to go down that path, and I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. There are many meditations and chants and prayers ahead on this path, and none of us know for certain what is at the end of the path. For now, I am going to stay focused on the journey.”
That is what I did. Each day, I kept telling my mind to be quiet as I listened to my heart. I was telling a person yesterday about the day I was in the grocery store and the shopping cart took off like it had turbo boosters. My shuffling transformed into full strides. My mind immediately told me, “This cannot be happening. You have Parkinson’s.” I then had to tell my mind. “No, this is happening. I am getting better.”
And, that is why you need to lose your mind. Think about it. In the middle of great walking for the first time in about eight months, my mind wanted to deny the reality of my physical experience of a sign of recovery. How powerful is your Adrenaline-driven mind? As you can see, mine was extremely powerful.
So, I had to calm it down. I had to tell it how wrong it was. I had to be vigilant and recognize any negativity coming out of my mind. It was necessary for my recovery to lose my mind, that Adrenaline-driven-fearful-anxious-self-judging-self-criticizing-non-forgiving-angry-frustrated-worrisome-stressed-out-mind…you know. THAT ONE!
My friends, it is time to join with me and others ahead of you who came to the simple realization that Dan Millman’s Socrates was correct, “Sometimes you have to lose your mind before you come to your senses.” And when you lose your mind and come to your senses, you experience life from your heart and with your senses.
You feel love, gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, joyfulness, happiness, and contentment. And you experience life from your senses: seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting. And it all rises up from deep inside you, a sense, a feeling, an essence you cannot describe, but you know it is there. That is what is real, and losing your mind gets you there.
I know you can do this.
You are worth it!!!
All my best,