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The Compassionate Warrior in the Battle Against Parkinson’s

compassionate

“C” is for compassion in my CHRONDI Creed, a warrior’s guide in the battle against Parkinson’s disease. It may seem odd to label a warrior as compassionate. Normally we picture the warrior as fierce, brave, courageous, and strong. We don’t often associate compassion with such an image. However, in the battle against chronic disease, being both a warrior and compassionate person has important benefits. The compassionate warrior brings a special set of armor and weapons.

Compassion is the mindset upon which the strength and courage of a warrior are set in motion. I have defined compassion as empathy plus wisdom; empathy is the ability to sense and hear the suffering of others, while wisdom is the ability to do something to reduce that suffering. Compassion is about the reduction of suffering in the world.

The first step to becoming a compassionate warrior is making a commitment to a life of compassion, or having a philosophy of compassion. The second step is to realize that you can change your behavior so that you contribute less to the suffering of those around you. The third step is realizing that you can act in a way that helps reduce the suffering of those around you without sacrificing your well-being. In fact, this path of the compassionate warrior promotes personal well-being.

The challenges of living with PD are many. The most obvious are the motor and coordination issues that impact every movement. There are also equally impactful emotional issues such as impulse control, grief, loss, depression, anxiety, and anger. Also included is a decreased ability to manage those emotions.

When the actions connected to these emotions spill out into life, the consequences can be costly and add to an already arduous chronic disease battle. The biggest contributor to human suffering is the objectification of the other person, which often happens when emotions overflow. This is where the practice of compassion plays an important role.

Practicing compassion is very much a scenario looping skill, and as such, it is good brain training for people with Parkinson’s. Without doing so directly, the practice of compassion helps us to moderate those emotions and decrease their consequences.

compassionate
(Graphic by Dr. C)

It may seem odd to say that acting compassionately has selfish benefits. That’s not the goal of compassion or its mindset, but those benefits are simply positive side effects. Compassion focuses on the other person. The skill at which a person can do this depends on their history with practicing compassion. You don’t have to be an expert to have it make a difference.

Practicing compassion at any level is good for relationships, and healthy relationships improve the quality of life for anyone with a chronic disease. The compassionate mindset is also one of gentleness, which can be (and should be) applied to self in healthy doses. Being a compassionate warrior does not mean we sacrifice our well-being for the sake of another. Two people in a rowboat, both manning the oars, makes the journey easier.

Compassion, after some practice, can move from contemplated action to the first action taken. It then becomes the first thought considered, which then becomes living as a compassionate warrior. I have been training as a compassionate warrior for decades, and PD has set me back. As a compassionate warrior, I continue to work as hard as any warrior would when preparing for battle. The compassionate warrior does this preparation along with meditation and a calm mind.

It is a commitment to a way of living that’s foundational for the other parts of the CHRONDI Creed. Additionally, the other parts of the CHRONDI Creed help to support this foundation to becoming a compassionate warrior against the chronic disease of Parkinson’s.

It is not easy to become a compassionate warrior in the battle against PD, but the benefits are worth the effort. What is your experience in applying compassion in your life?

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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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post The Compassionate Warrior in the Battle Against Parkinson’s appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

The CHRONDI Creed: A Guide for Parkinson’s Warriors

CHRONDI Creed

The challenges of any chronic disease require the mental attitude of a warrior. Like the code of the samurai, the CHRONDI Creed is both a guide for battle and for living.

CHRONDI is an acronym from the first letters in the words chronic disease. The letters stand for each part of the creed as follows: C – compassion, H – happiness, R – rehabilitation, O – others, N – nature, D – death, and I – individuality.

Following is the CHRONDI Creed and its self-affirming dialogue. This is followed by a description of each self-affirming statement in this chronic disease warrior’s creed.

C – Compassion: I will act compassionately toward others and find gentleness toward self.

H – Happiness: I will seek the inner bliss of happiness that is not material in nature.

R – Rehabilitation: I will apply courage and mindfulness to my part in fighting the disease.

O – Others: I will genuinely communicate to others my experiences and maintain an attitude of gratitude for their help.

N – Nature: I will take time to embrace nature and all its beauty.

D – Death: I will find the courage to face the terror of “death” (loss) and not let it control me.

I – Individuality: I will continue to express my individuality and my purpose, beyond the disease.

These CHRONDI Creed statements are short “I” statements that not only can be self-affirming, but also they can change how a disease affects one’s life. If these statements become an inner dialogue, a way of thinking and acting, then they can contribute to quality of life.

Compassion as a way of thinking and acting is the foundation of the CHRONDI Creed. It is a state of being that is expressed both externally and internally. In the face of chronic disease, this is certainly difficult. But it doesn’t have to be perfect saintly compassion. It can start with small steps, such as taking the time each day to do something for someone else. In addition, this sense of a gentle kindness can be applied with a kind word to self, such as: “You did well today.”

Happiness is not tied to material things, although it may appear to be. Rather, happiness is tied to an internal state of being often connected to events, not possessions. We are happy because we feel happy. A state of bliss can accompany times when an event generates ecstasy — a bliss of happiness. Happiness is an important part of well-being in the face of chronic disease. Returning to the bliss can be as simple as finding things we enjoy and taking time to laugh out loud.

Rehabilitation means that we will do our part to support all treatment modalities that are used to fight the chronic disease.

The term others stands for all relationships in our lives. The statement is a promise to speak in an authentic manner with a sense of gratitude.

Nature, and all its beauty, when incorporated into life can make a difference in our well-being. A stroll through the woods or a park while maintaining a quiet mind can add to our quality of life. Gardening is also therapeutic.

Death” has quotes around it because it refers to the death of those things the disease has taken and will continue to take. There is “terror” in facing this “death.” Terror management takes courage and practice to find a calm center in the middle of the storm.

Expressing individuality is balanced against the time used by the chronic disease, the thought and emotion that the chronic disease consumes. Find your inner voice, your unique identity, and your purpose. Let that light that is you continue to shine forth.

The CHRONDI Creed is a list of statements I have used to help me as a warrior against the ever-worsening effects of Parkinson’s disease. Not for a single day can I achieve a level of perfection with all aspects of the creed. Perfection is an illusion, perhaps a nightmare. Rather, I hold these statements as an inner dialogue, a path to follow, a gentle guide for living. It is in this way that the CHRONDI Creed improves my quality of life.

How does the CHRONDI Creed sit with you?

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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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post The CHRONDI Creed: A Guide for Parkinson’s Warriors appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.