Monday 11 | 26| 2017
Recognition and Responsibility - Part Two
Hey, hold on there! The insidious grasping tiger has found its way back on to the path with me. Rushing to sit with, grasp
on to, the bliss of the moment I lost sight of all the important people in my life who have contributed to not only where I
am, but who I am. I can also hear their advice as I move forward. This is a common response for me, to want to grasp
on to relief from suffering only to find it slip from my grasp. The tiger then takes over to do battle in an effort to hold on
to what has been gained, to defend it ferociously.
I have been telling friends and family that this new path is closer to my true self. A Divine moment does not mean that
all is cured, seems that way in many stories about those who walk a mindful soul’s journey. But even King David of the
Old Testament was not blessed to follow a path without issue (Bathsheba). The blessings of the Divine moment are
discovered in the wisdom provided which shows us a way to live more healed, more connected. Disavow oneself that
wisdom and we risk wandering down that other fork. This wisdom starts with the knowing there is something I can do to
change how Parkinson’s is affecting my life. It is possible, and even more, it is probable if I follow the rehabilitation plan.
Trained in the speciality of designing rehabilitation plans for persons with cerebral neurologic impairment, this was
something I could sink my teeth into. It is also a message I had not heard from anywhere: “You can take steps to push
back the effects of Parkinsons in your life.” Armed with a vision, the personal resources, and a strong support team, the
rehabilitation plan begins to take shape.
The first step is that I had to slow down, in just about everything. All motor activity, all of the time, now needs to be
mindful. Why? Because with Parkinson’s there is this effect where the “autopilot” doesn’t work correctly all the time.
There is a part of the brain which is responsible for storing overlearned motor sequences; for example – reading. We
may not think of reading as muscles moving, but the eye muscles do quite a bit of work while reading. There are days
when I can read a whole page with my eyes and then upon arriving at the bottom of the page, realize I don’t know what I
have read. This can happen when you are walking a usual route, walking, mind drifting, you look up and realize you are
not where you last remember. Talking a second, you orient yourself using the cues around you (signs, landmarks). Now
your “autopilot” is reset. This happens over and over quite naturally for most of us. In Parkinson’s this is not so. Any
new and novel stimuli can interrupt the “autopilot” and cause a “freeze” to occur. Being mindful of all body movement
can greatly reduce this freeze effect.
The second step, bring the quiet the mind along with the mindful movement. For me, life needed to move toward being
more of a tea ceremony and less like fast food. The practice of quiet mind is accompanied by proper breath and proper
intent. This is something which needs to be practiced multiple times a day during “off periods”, spinning episodes, pain
surges, and to help with a personal nemesis of mine – fatigue from doing too much complicated by the disease.
Our culture is one of “busy”. “get it done fast”, and “a crisis is looming, we need this yesterday”. We are surrounded by
“hurry up”. After a life time of this it is habitual. If we are not running around multitasking then we don’t feel like we are
doing enough, that we are not doing our part. In the process of slowing down we will run into this head on. The busy
mind is the first barrier in the way of finding a deeper and more resilient state of calm. It may be hard to believe that we
can get all that we want from life without being busy minded, but it’s a tranquil path written about by many before Dr. C.
Slowing down does not mean we lie around doing nothing. It means we “do” in a calm purposeful, mindful, manner.
From the mindful, quiet, and sacred place it is possible to see this infirmity, and the chronic pain, as a teacher helping me
stop using medical marijuana for the pain and to sit with more neurological noise, heightened stimuli and pain. Slowing
down and quieting down has helped me see more clearly the rest gap between the heightened stimuli and my emotional
responses, as well as the rest gap between by emotions and my actions. These rest gaps acted as pauses in the action, a
place where a filter can be used to better evaluate the nature of the incoming stimuli. At this point in my personal
rehabilitation I am concentrating on spending time in the rest gap, in this calmer state of being. Every day is filled with
practising! This is my responsibility.
The brain is plastic and it can change in response to how it is used. It is designed to function that way. Frequently used
mental pathways become easier and easier to travel the more they are used. The mind tends to wander to places it’s
been before. The rehabilitation plan calls for some changes, new pathways, and all within the context of a sacred
promise of successful outcome. The first parts of the plan are now in place and more pieces will be added, slowly, but the
most important is stated above. Now it needs to be practised as a response to every time the pain increases - even
slightly. It especially needs to be put in place as a response to off periods, surges and spinning.
A quest of compassion and finding our “true self”
in the midst of a hectic world