In my previous two posts, the discussion was about sitting zazen, or meditation, as a way of calming the mind and clearing out the old negative thoughts and drama from the mind. This is an important part of getting control over the Adrenaline-driven, over-thinking Parkinson’s mind. When you finish sitting and get up, it is equally important that you can walk. So, today, get up out of your chair or off of the floor, and let’s walk!
I have had many conversations over the last few weeks regarding walking. Feet getting stuck to the floor, freezing in the middle of walking, and anxiousness over falling down are at the top of the walking, not-walking-well, list. Before you walk, let’s take a closer look at the dynamics of walking.
Prior to Parkinson’s, you walked without thinking about it. The body knew exactly what to do. When the Parkinson’s symptoms were starting to appear and you noticed you were not walking like you used to, you lost trust and faith in your body and you turned to your mind and said, “I am not walking the way I should be, please figure this out because I want to walk well.”
This granting your mind with control over walking gave your mind a promotion well above its expertise, abilities, and experience. Simply put, the mind does not understand all of the little nuances that have to occur when walking or doing any other moving. However, today’s discussion will focus on walking.
You think (that is your mind talking to you) that your foot must “step out” in order to walk. What your mind does not realize is that your knee must bend and come up to clear the way for your foot to “step out.” As a result of the mind not knowing this but still being in charge of walking, here is what happens:
1. Feet are stuck to the floor.
2. You can walk only by taking very tiny “baby steps.”
3. In the middle of walking with tiny “baby steps,” you freeze.
4. Your upper body goes forward and your feet stick to the floor, so you fall down.
And what do all of these cause? Fear and FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). Here is where you will really see how the mind distorts reality as a result of its own shortcomings and then creates fear like there is something worse with you. Instead of the mind saying, “Sorry, I really do not know how to help you walk correctly,” it messes up your walking and then gives you the impression that something is dreadfully wrong with you and your walking. It is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to break out of the fear cycle associated with Parkinson’s…the mind is contributing to the poor walking and then blaming it on the Parkinson’s allegedly getting worse.
Since you have turned over walking power to your mind, you must now educate your mind on the dynamics of walking and do some exercising and stretching to assist your mind and your body in helping you walk better.
Okay. We begin with the gallbladder meridian and the knees. Click here for the gallbladder meridian. Please look at points GB 30-33. If you are sitting in a chair, chances are you are sitting on and compressing points GB 30-32, and possibly 33. These points trace the outer edge of the hamstring muscles. Look at the gallbladder meridian graphic again. If your hamstring muscles are tight (and chances are they are tight), you will have a very difficult time getting your knee to come up so that you can “step out” with your foot.
Okay! Let’s walk!!! Okay…I am a little ahead of myself.
Okay! Let get best prepared to walk!!!
1. Knee lifts. Stand where you can hold onto something for balance. Lift your right knee as high as you can as if you were in marching band. Return your foot to the floor. Do as many of these as you can up to 10 with your right leg. Then do the same thing with your left leg.
2. Hamstring muscles stretch. Lie on your back, bend your knees with feet on the floor (or bed if you do this in your bed), grab your right upper leg at the top of the back of your knee and pull your knee toward your chest. Return your leg to the original bent-knee position. Do as many of these as you can up to 10 with your right leg. Then do the same thing with your left leg. Here is an example.
No. This is not a picture of me.
3. Strengthening legs. Here is Qigong exercise to strengthen your legs, knees, and hips. Stand with your feet like this:
Bend your knees and rotate your waist so that you are facing the direction the front foot is pointing. Bend your arms at the elbows so that your elbows to your hands are pointing forward with your palms facing the ground. (If your balance is poor, stand between two chairs with their backs facing each other and hold onto the chair backs for balance). The movement: Inhale and lift your left heel slightly while shifting your weight to your right foot in front. Exhale and shift your weight to your back foot, lowering your heel to the floor and slightly lifting the toes of your right foot off of the ground. Repeat this rocking back and forth motion for a total of ten repetitions. Then, switch your feet and repeat ten times with your left foot forward and right foot back. This will help with balance, lubricate the joints of your ankles, knees, and hips, and increase your energy as you are “pumping” the the kidney meridian.
Okay! Let’s walk!!! Now you are ready.
Since you have completed the pre-walking exercises and stretches listed above, you have lubricated your joints, activated your hips, and stretched your hamstring muscles. This gets you ready to walk. However, you still need to teach your mind how to initiate walking.
Stand with your feet pointing forward, roughly shoulder width apart and look down as you bend and lift your knee up and step out with your foot. This will make the mental imprint that will teach your mind the dynamic of initiating walking.
I know you can do this. It takes time and effort to teach your mind how to walk correctly. As you realize that your body never forgot how to walk, you slowly will re-gain trust and faith in your body’s abilities, and then your body will take over walking again.
Take your time, follow the steps…and walk!
You are worth it!!!
All my best,