Using sacredness and shaping of intent to manage Parkinson’s disease
Bringing insight meditation to the process of working around midbrain damage
Parkinson’s disease creates midbrain damage that can hijack your life.
To decrease the intensity of such brain-stealing experiences, I’ve found that insight meditation, which requires sanctuary, solitude, and proper intention, is very helpful. I visualize working around the midbrain damage as a sacred process. That’s the intention I bring to my meditation.
Intention drives our brain’s ability to rewire because developing new neural pathways requires attention that’s connected to significance. In his book “Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine,” Larry Dossey speaks to the impact of sacred intention for promoting well-being. Proving prayer to be as valid and vital a healing tool as drugs or surgery, Dossey, a New York Times best-selling author, offers a bold integration of science and spirituality.
Framing the process as sacred
Sacredness for me is about holding the healing, shifting, and brain-rewiring work I do within a place of reverence. Simply, it’s sacred work, not “I have to do this because” work. Sacredness is also about connecting to something beyond, and yet within, me. I’m OK with using the word “God” to describe this. Others may use different terms. It’s the framing of the process as sacred that is important.
Everything in my outer and inner life has a sacred connection to my purpose for existence — even this challenging disease. I deeply believe this. But when my Parkinson’s brain bombards me with noise, keeping sacredness as an intention to guide both thought and action is difficult. Holding a simple mantra helps me “be the light.”
If one is living a sacred life, then it should be easily observable to others. It can be a life filled with amazing accomplishments that are a testimony to the benefits of sacredness. It can be a sense of humble gratitude with compassion toward others. I apply this credo to changing how Parkinson’s affects me: Be a beacon others can easily see. For me, this starts with placing myself within a sense, or a feeling, of the sacred in the moment.
Because I am in “dis-ease” nearly constantly now, a short prayer, mantra, or deep-breath work no longer gets me to that same familiar sense of the sacred as easily. It takes much more effort to create the conditions for sacredness, to create intention that steers my focus in a way that lessens symptoms.
To find sacred intention, I focus on the following thoughts:
- Be the gentle observer.
- Seek homeostasis.
- Practice compassion.
- Be authentic in the moment without adding to my suffering or anyone else’s.
When I shape my mind and life around these four conditions of sacred intent, then solitude and my insight meditation practice are more successful. The result is often a decrease in Parkinson’s symptoms.
Achieving calmness first
This insight meditation with sacred intent cannot be done within the maelstrom of a crisis event. Inside that chaotic brainstorm, my focus is solely on achieving calm. I need to keep myself from reacting to the mayhem of my malfunctioning midbrain Parkinson’s noise, which can get annoyingly loud and overwhelming. Sometimes that means I need to be patient and still until it passes.
Crisis events happen every week, and getting past them requires a level of mental focus that seems impossible at the start. My head is saying, “This is so horrible.” I start thinking that it seems impossible to concentrate on anything. But through experience, I know that this confusion is created by the brain damage associated with Parkinson’s. I know that when I calm it all down and avoid fighting with it (even though it will feel like I must), this delusion fades. I then see the path to deeper calm. It is that first hour or two that requires the most focus for me.
Once I’m past the crisis event, I can put those four conditions for sacred intention in place. Outside the storm, the sacred intent steers the mindfulness and meditation work around Parkinson’s problems.
I cannot cure things that are broken by the midbrain damage. Instead, I shift to new ways of thinking and acting. I have found that maintaining sacred intent while I’m doing the hard work of rewiring my brain for the workaround makes steering Parkinson’s to lessen symptoms more successful. Shifting to new ways of thinking with sacred intention is not easy, but it is helpful.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are appreciated & I look forward to your articles.
I believe this life can be compared to running a race. A competitor will (should) do their very best to train & prepare themself (learn) for a race (life). A long the course stumbling obstacles will occur (PD for one) but obstacles shouldn't discourage the competitor from running (doing their very best) toward the finish line - to win! - to obtain the 1st place prize (why else train for the race).
You help to accept (learn from) the obstacles (PD) & for that I am grateful.
I pray for you as you continue to run for the finish line.
Have been meditating for a number of years. It helped me heal after a motorcycle accident in 2025/16. Then diagnosed w PD a few months ago. The experience of meditation helps me accept this issue. Nothing is solved yet but I am not crazy.
Lately I have been working the Parkinson’s Voice Project which emphasizes Intent in everything a PwP does. It seems to really help making challenging activities more doable. Movement is still tough but when I stay determined it can be accomplished. There is no doubt as I progress in my journey my intention is critical. Dr. C. it helps in managing my mid-brain damage. Blessings, Mike
Once again I am awestruck by your ability to put words on-to "how to" steer. As the caretaker all you write I take to my heart and am so grateful that I can rely on you to "Lead the way" and put words to "How To" handle myself and the whole situation when Parkinson steals away my loving husband and tosses our lives around like as if we were hit by a tsunami, swung around, not knowing where or how to get a grip, but your words so palliative, has such calming effect and life is all of a sudden not like I am in a small boat with a thousand Lighthouses to steer after, but you offer the only Lighthouse, being that very light. Thank you, thank you once again for easing, broadening and widening our Lives. Indeed sacred being in intent is the word. Gratefully, Jan.
Thank you for the information