1-2-3|Reset: Learning from People with Parkinson’s Disease

doorway-3056178_1920-by ramykabalan-CCBY-pixabay

When I began assisting in a community yoga class for people with Parkinson’s Disease my mentor taught me two things I’ll always remember. The first is this funny twist on an old saying: “You’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s . . . and you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s.” Everyone’s experience of PD is unique; the syndrome manifests in many different ways and everyone adapts in their own ways. So don’t make limiting assumptions.

The second thing had to do with doorway thresholds. Sometimes when a person with PD is moving forward, ¬†especially through a threshold, their body will freeze. A trick to help them move forward is to count aloud, “1 – 2 – 3 . . . go!” It somehow helps them reset and reintegrate body and mind.

This got me noticing doorways differently, thinking about the physicality of the “threshold” metaphor and how feeling stuck between one thing and another can be both an experience and an idea, a state of body and a state of mind. Transitioning through a door can of course be a deeply symbolic act. Access often takes courage and help (whether we want it or not). I wonder how our body-mind holds all those memories of thresholds, how a part of us intuits what’s safe or harmful on the other side.

How many times each day do we cross thresholds without noticing? What passages make us feel stuck? What sort of countdown could help us move forward?