"Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a right or wrong way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.” ~ Greater Good, U.C. Berkeley
To change the course of Parkinson's disease, you need to be mindful every waking moment of where all parts of your body are, and how they are moving. Conscious, intentional direction of movement must take over, because the neural circuits that previously guided movement have broken down due to neurons dying from the accumulation of a toxic protein, alpha synuclein. The problem of PD is not deficient dopamine, it is neuronal death. Consequently, supplementing dopamine does not solve any problems, it merely masks symptoms for a limited period of time. Evoking neuroplasticity recruits new neurons and new neuronal connections at the behest of consciously directed movement. The more movement is directed consciously, the more the brain rewires itself. Ultimately new neurons and nerve bundles guide movement and it once again can become unconscious.
So, the first order of business is becoming mindful. Meditation is the state of mind from whence mindfulness arises. While the ideal would be for each PwP to take a complete meditation training curriculum such as a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, here we will accomplish that objective by using the CALM app.
Picture there being two different applications of mindfulness. First is the meditative practice itself. The benefits are long-lasting and all positive. But even if you do not go on to be a regular meditator, being consciously mindful of your body—how it moves, how it is positioned in space— will allow your conscious mind to insist that you restore your posture and gait to what it was prior to PD.
PD messes up your brain maps. Left unchallenged, those maps become the new ‘normal.’ But that normal isn’t normal at all. The good news is with mindfulness and proper exercise you can regain proper posture and gait. And the sooner in the disease you do it, the better.
I summarize my thoughts in the following audio recording:
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD - Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 15, 17, 18, 19, and 20