I intend to take each part of the Recipe, physical, mental, and spiritual, and explain why it is in the Recipe and what it is doing for you in your recovery, deeply drilling down to the how and why it is helping you recover from Parkinson’s. Today are the eleventh and twelfth parts: calming the mind, parts 1 and 2.
For those of you new to the blog, when I say “the Recipe,” I am talking about the Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery®. Click here to review the full version of the Recipe.
The Recipe is a soul, mind, and body recovery methodology. The previous 10 parts dealt with the physical healing of your organs so you will clean toxins better and have more energy. Today will focus on the mind…calming the mind to heal negative emotions, slow down adrenaline, get rid of fear, and reduce symptoms.
Calming the mind and opening the heart are listed in the Recipe under sitting zazen, and meditations, affirmations, and prayers.
Last year, I covered the mind in two posts. This year, Helen’s full recovery blog post interrupted, in a wonderful way, the Recipe in-depth posts, so I am doubling up the updated mind posts into one post today.
There are some things we need to explore to understand the mind’s function in getting Parkinson’s and in getting recovered: 1. What are the mental/emotional attitudes that negatively impact your health; 2. How does Adrenaline-mind-mode-over-thinking negatively impact your health; 3. How do you free your mind from these habitual negative mental/emotional trappings, such as anger, stress and anxiety, as well as Adrenaline-mind-mode-over-thinking, to liberate your mind in our recoveries; 4. How do you calm your mind to live a fearless life.
Parkinson’s 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 you look at numbers 1 and 3, you realize that at some level, the way you lived your life, emotionally, has helped your symptoms rise to the surface of your body 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 you can answer this with a “Yes, it did.” I know it was true for me. 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 you susceptible to getting the disease. However, the constant negative emotional manner in which you were living your life, 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, you wore down your own immunities so much with toxic emotions that your body lost its ability to cleanse at an efficient rate. When you 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, you wore down your mind, and your electricity, and you can no longer get the messages to your 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. As a result, 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, you must acknowledge that “dis-ease” of your mind assisted you in having your symptoms rise to the surface. Once acknowledged, then you can better understand how “ease” of your mind helps remove the “dis” from this “dis-ease” of your mind, which can have an enormous impact on your physical symptoms. Simply put, what happens to your physical symptoms when you are sleeping? They subside or completely disappear.
And, no, it is not just because you are not experiencing them that you think they are subsiding. It is because when you are sleeping, your mind is calm and your physical body is not making any demands on your brain 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.
There is a lot to cover, so if you need a break, go take a walk or stand up and stretch…I will wait for you to return. Okay, now that have returned to your seat, fasten your seat belt and get ready to let go of your over-thinking, Adrenaline-driven, self-criticizing mind! We will look at the mind’s part in Causes 1 and 3 from the Recipe. Cause 2 is dietary, so you might want to click here to read yesterday’s post for a refresher.
Cause 1, Qi and Blood Deficiency, which is caused by emotional stress, anger, frustration, and resentment. In simple terms, your liver is not functioning well, so your blood is overrun with toxins. This makes the blood deficient in delivering oxygen and other essentials to your body…blood deficiency. As a result of this, the kidneys are overworked and cannot deliver enough energy to the brain, which leads to lack of energy or fatigue…Qi (life energy) deficiency.
Cause 3, Kidney and Liver Wind Deficiency, which is caused by overwork and insufficient rest which unbalances the body’s natural rhythm. This is the Adrenaline-mind-mode-over-thinking that assists with unbalancing the body’s natural rhythms.
Calming the mind for getting rid of negative emotions: Acceptance.
Acceptance. I realized in my recovery 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 was EXTREMELY DIFFICULT! I began by exploring why the negative emotions surfaced all the time, and quite frankly, it was hard to pinpoint. They were just there, all the time. There was no reasonable explanation for how I could be in my tomato garden and feel anger or anxiety as an underlying current in my being…this had been going on for as long as I could remember in my adult life. The negative emotions were just there.
I learned that I was not strong enough to just stop the negative emotions. They were relentless. So, I developed a positive habitual response to everything, and I was relentless! It was the only way to battle this internal turmoil. I fought negativity with positivity, or acceptance…OKAY!
My new-habit-habitual-response-to-life became “okay.” I literally forced myself to think and say okay as my response to everything I was asked or had to think about in life.
This does not mean that I was happy about everything. It means that when something happened, I merely said, “Okay, I accept that what just happened actually happened.” It was a tacit acknowledgement of reality. Quite frankly, whether I accepted what just happened or not, whatever had just happened, actually had happened…how much easier and less stressful could life be than to acknowledge that something that just happened actually 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 already 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….
And…you have every right to be angry and frustrated and exhibit stress and anxiety. I decided to give up those rights to help me get better from Parkinson’s. I recommend that you do the same. Click here for more on giving up your rights to hold onto your negative emotions.
Instead of living in turmoil, trying to be perfect all the time and trying to control everything that is going on, and then being angry and frustrated with yourself because you are not perfect and you realize you control very little, 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 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!”
Okay. Here is the method I used to help me calm my mind at a higher level than the relentless awake-mode-self-talk-acceptance called “okay.” Sitting zazen, a form of breathing and counting. Two things you already know how to do.
Breathing and Counting. In the Recipe, 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 you generally view it with the exhale now coming first), and by simultaneously counting those breaths (having to go back to 1 each time you hit 10), your mind is 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 yourself to a place of calmness allows you to better gain control of your emotional reactions to events in life. Many people have reported a complete elimination of symptoms while sitting zazen.
“Okay!” Now, I will address Cause 3: “Kidney and Liver Wind Deficiency, which is caused by overwork and insufficient rest which unbalances the body’s natural rhythm.” In simple terms, the kidneys and liver are worn down because you have been “burning the candle at both ends and in the middle.” This is the Adrenaline-mode mind, which runs from fear (fight or flight), and wears down the kidneys and liver, making them susceptible to being invaded by wind, which causes shaking and deficiencies in their functioning.
Okay, maybe that wasn’t such a simple explanation. Here is the solution…stop running from fear, and stop running from FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real)!
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.”
Adrenaline Mode — your mind keeps running well after the lion has stopped chasing you…and fear is what keeps your mind running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running, and running. I know, just reading this probably increases your tremors. I needed to make my point.
What I am describing here was me. This was the me whose tremors were so severe I could no longer ignore all of the physical changes and limitations that I had been ignoring for the previous year (probably should say “years”). In my Parkinson’s recovery, I learned that my brain was hard-wired to fear. As soon as a situation occurred, my brain’s reflex action was to jump on the fear train and put it in full throttle.
Fear of what? Everything! Fear of: “Maybe I won’t be prepared for ______;” “Maybe I won’t know the answer to ______;” “Maybe I am not good enough for ______;” Maybe _____ (bad thing) will happen.” I think you know what I am talking about, and it is a long list. It is the list of things that could happen that we feel compelled to have all of the possible scenarios to so we will be prepared for everything that could possibly happen for the rest of our lives so that nothing will go wrong or bad and everything can happen according to plan. Fear of what? Life!
Think about it: If you are afraid of roller coasters, you don’t go on them. If you are afraid of scary movies, you don’t go to them. If you are afraid of the dark, you sleep with the lights on. When you are afraid of life, your options are limited. I could come up with two options only: 1. Continue to live in fear. 2. Face the fear and get beyond it. I knew that continuing to live in fear meant I would not be recovering from Parkinson’s, so number 1 got scratched from the list. That left number 2. Face the fear and get beyond it. I had no choice.
Interesting thing about having one choice only…you choose it, and then you deal with everything that comes afterwards. So, how do you choose to “not be afraid?” This was no easy task. First, it took a lot of faith (the next three posts will be about faith and opening the heart; yes, it is that big of a topic in this recovery). Second, it required me to face the fear that had become so much a part of me, or should I say, so much a part of who I thought I needed to be.
That is the crux of it: Fear to not be who I thought I needed to be when “that guy” is the one who had Parkinson’s. The thing about Parkinson’s, getting it and keeping it, is that when you jump into Adrenaline mind mode, as many people will call “fight or flight” mode, people with Parkinson’s do not fight…they flee. That is how I was. So, Adrenaline mind mode ALWAYS meant fear equaled flight…and I fled, just like all of you.
To clarify, ask yourself this question: “When faced with a fight or flight situation, what do I do?” For me (my old self me), and for every person with Parkinson’s who I have discussed this with over the last 5 and 1/2 years, the answer was quite easy…flee. Why do you flee? It is not your nature to be involved in conflict. You avoid conflict, and your Parkinson’s knows it. Oh, I almost forgot…you are also filled with fear. Fear of failure.
Fear of failure, so you flee. And while you are fleeing, your mind is racing faster than your legs. Your mind is engaged in this type of dialogue: How do I avoid this conflict (the fight)? What are all of the possible options? If I go with option 1, then what are all of the possible consequences? If I go with option 2, then what are all of the possible consequences? If I go with option 3, then what are all of the possible consequences? If I go with option 4, then what are all of the possible consequences? You see where this is going — you are intelligent people, so the list of options is never ending and the list of possible consequences is never ending and your brain does not get a break and your body is worn to a frazzle and your spirit is all but given up on you because all you can do is flee and flee and flee.
You see, your mind is telling you that if you stay and fight, there are only 2 possible outcomes: success and failure, and most certainly, you do not want to fail, so you flee and look for another solution where you can justify your actions and not have the possibility of a dreaded failure. That is your nature. You avoid conflict and you make other people happy, even if on some occasions it means you are not happy. However, when others are happy, they like you and life is easier, and you avoid conflict. So, Parkinson’s is standing on your path to recovery. Are you going to stay and fight?
Parkinson’s has bet the farm that you will flee. Why? Because it knows that’s your nature. It knows that your nature is part of what brought your symptoms to the surface in the first place. And, it knows that to recover, you have to change your nature. You have to fight. You have to fight your fear. You have to fight your Parkinson’s.
So, when your Parkinson’s sees in your conviction that you are digging in for the fight, it decides to force you to flee. It gives you some extra tremors, and it gives us some extra pain, and it gives us some extra stiffness, and it gives you some extra fear. It expects you to flee.
But you don’t. Why? Because you are willing to change your nature and fight! You are willing to look Parkinson’s in the eye and say, “I am more than this body.” And you are willing to look Parkinson’s in the eye and say, “I am more than this mind.” And you are willing to look Parkinson’s in the eye and say, “I am this soul. This is me. I am strong in spirit and you cannot touch this!” And you fight.
The thing about your nature that you keep in this fight is that once you set your mind to something, you stay at it until you win. Failure is not an option. It is deep within all of you to win this fight and recover.
So, please take a careful look at yourself and know that you are worth fighting for. If it is your nature to flee, please change that part of your nature and fight. If ever you were going to decide to stay and fight, don’t you think fighting for your life against Parkinson’s is worth changing the part of your nature that makes you flee.
Do not be afraid of failure. Success is the fight, in an of itself! Success is every time you say to yourself, “I am going to do the Recipe today.” Choosing a journey of recovery in your life, and getting on the path and staying on the path, in and of itself, is SUCCESS! There is no failure, so my friends, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR!
If worse symptoms means failure, then I failed one month before my full recovery, and I should have quit. Click here to see how my rigidity symptoms were one month prior to my full recovery.
At the time I was suffering like that, I had no way of knowing that one month later, I would be cured of Parkinson’s. I can tell you this, though: The reason I suffered like that is because I was resistant to everything I have instructed you about today. The more I was resistant, the worse my symptoms got.
My mind would say, “But you have to worry about what the other people think about you. How can you let go of that?” And, my mind would say, “But you have to strive to be perfect. How can you let go of that?” And my mind would say, “But you have to be in control of everything. How can you let go of that?”
This is a very long list, but I think you can see where this is going…the things I thought were real, the things I thought mattered, the things I thought were most important…they were not real, they did not matter, they were not the most important…they were a life-long-Adrenaline-mode-mind-chatter-running-from-fear-of-not-being-perfect-illusion. How, and who, I thought I needed to be was nothing more than thoughts that were not real. And I was so resistant to expelling those thoughts that it literally brought me to my knees in agony.
Interesting thing about agony. It made me “re-think” what was going on in my mind. It made me realize that I needed to find my soul, my essence, the “me” that made me truly “me,” and nurture that seed and help it grow again from deep inside to break away the toxicity of my body and my mind. (More on this tomorrow and the following two days).
Click here for more on chipping away at Parkinson’s from deep inside.
The medical profession says that with Parkinson’s, dopamine is depleted in one’s brain and the basal ganglia controlling movement are 60-80% dead. Having lived in a Parkinson’s body and thought with a Parkinson’s mind, and held my firm faith with a Parkinson’s soul, I can tell you they are incorrect.
Click here for more information about the scientific study that also says they are incorrect, and that says your dopamine is not depleted.
It is why after nearly 200 years, they are no closer to a cure than when they started. Parkinson’s is an electrical problem and they are trying to fix it with chemicals. The dopamine is there, but the flow is interrupted. Adrenaline has taken over, which ultimately leads to dopamine taking a back seat. Just like anything else, after years of operating in adrenaline mode, the dopamine faucet goes down to just a trickle. I tell you this because prayer opens it up.
Prayer may not be the correct word, but I believe you will understand with this explanation. Here is what I did to slow down my Adrenaline and open up my Dopamine. I would pray/meditate like this: “Hello Adrenaline. Thank you for all of the years you have run my body. Without you in charge, I would not have survived. However, all of life’s stresses that required you do be in charge are gone, and you can take a break and you do not need to run my whole body anymore. Hello Dopamine. It has been a long time. Thank you for all of those years you stayed closed and allowed Adrenaline to run my body. I appreciate that you understood it was for survival. Now that those stresses are gone, I need you to flow again. The thing is, I do not know how much Adrenaline needs to shut down and how much Dopamine needs to flow to achieve the correct mix. The two of you need to figure this out with God, and I am going to meditate on something else so I do not get in the way.”
I need you to look carefully at the last part of this:
“The thing is, I do not know how much Adrenaline needs to shut down and how much Dopamine needs to flow to achieve the correct mix. The two of you need to figure this out with God, and I am going to meditate on something else so I do not get in the way.”
I highlighted four words: “I do not know.” I would imagine that this was the first time in my life that I ever had said those four words in that order: “I do not know.”
“I do not know” says, “I am not perfect. I do not have all of the answers. I do not control all of the situations in life. And, I cannot worry what other people are thinking about me as a result of me not being perfect and not having all of the answers and not controlling all of the situations in life. AND, that is okay. My best is good enough.”
I so much wanted to be recovered in my life and my Parkinson’s that I was finally willing to lose my mind, that Adrenaline-mode-mind. As Socrates tells Dan in Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior, “Sometimes you have to lose your mind before you come to your senses.”
I lost my mind and came to my senses. I admitted that I did not know how much Adrenaline and Dopamine had to adjust themselves for my recovery…I had provided my body the tools and materials for my recovery, and then, I surrendered control of the outcome: “The two of you need to figure this out with God, and I am going to meditate on something else so I do not get in the way.”
You are worth it!!!
I will be back soon.
All my best,
For those of you who may have missed my previous post about the fifth person to have recovered doing the Recipe, click here to read the details of “Fighting Parkinson’s, and Helen Gill in Australia is symptom free!!!”
Please note: I will be posting a post per day for the remainder of the year. If you subscribe to receive email notifications when I post new blog posts and you would prefer to not receive those daily email notifications, simply send me an email at email@example.com, and let me know that you do not wish to receive a daily email with a link to each post. I will remove you from the list for the rest of the year, and add your email back to the list at the beginning of 2016. However, I still would recommend you checking the blog on a regular basis as it will contain very useful information for understanding and doing the Recipe more effectively.