Is spiritual work part of battling Parkinson’s?

Yes. Spiritual work, like meditation or prayer, can help you situate yourself in a larger scheme of things, finding a place where Parkinson’s disease is just one aspect of the human experience. For me, quiet reflection is calming and offers a respite from symptoms. At the soul level, I imagine myself as whole, well, and happy.

Hello, this is Lynne writing. Early on, our support group decided to be a “growth group:” we learn about and experiment with natural treatments for Parkinson’s, like amino acid therapy. In this post, I describe a viewpoint that informs our larger understanding of this disease.

Soon after my diagnosis, I met John through our doctor. He urged me to go, immediately, to Santa Cruz, CA to participate in The Parkinson’s Recovery Project. There, I learned to view Parkinson’s through an alternative lens. The project team challenges mainstream notions that Parkinson’s is incurable. Instead they propose drug-free ways to recover from it. (You can freely download the treatment book, Recovery from Parkinson’s, by Dr. Janice Walton-Hadlock at http://pdrecovery.org/recovery-from-parkinsons/.) John and I completed several courses of treatment in Santa Cruz. Then, we helped other group members study the project’s teachings from afar. I cannot do justice to over a decade of work by this team; consider this post an invitation to learn more. Why? Because, as John and I can attest, this perspective has currency—it boosts healing.

Dr. Walton Hadlock and her team are trained in Eastern medicine traditions. They propose a new theory for Parkinson’s: one’s dopamine is not dead, it is dormant. What happened to it? They suggest that many of us with Parkinson’s are “type A” people: hard-working, perfectionistic, and control-oriented. We have, unconsciously, lived our lives in adrenalin, fight or flight, mode, stifling our dopamine. Alternatively, joy, release, and relaxation nurture it. The team encourages clients to see themselves as part of a beneficent universe, governed by divine will. In this view, we are, ultimately, safe; guided by a power larger than ourselves. The team supports spiritual healing through meditation, rhythmic movement, and attention to “chi,” or life force (Tai Chi movements should help you imagine this energy force). Yin-Tui-Na, gentle, Asian massage that eases trauma and tension is important to the treatment too. Recovery can be spontaneous, as in a few cases, or a long-term effort to nurture feelings of safety.

During meditation focused on directives such as “release and let go” or “relax deep mind,” John can be asymptomatic. For me, recovery is an essential goal; it gives me hope and pushes me toward “living outside the pharmaceutical box.” Spiritual practice helps me consider questions like: why me, and what am I intended to learn from this experience? Yet, The Recovery Project’s tools fell short for me. Try as I might, my symptoms remained. Amino acid therapy alleviates my symptoms, so I am not too tired or stiff to consider spiritual safety and envision ultimate wellness. Spiritual contemplation and amino acid therapy offer a powerful force for recovery.

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