2 posts tagged “Karl”

Practicing Reiki and Qigong with Parkinson’s disease: Karl Robb shares the benefits of these complementary therapies

Posted October 31st, 2017 by

What kinds of complementary treatments can help people with Parkinson’s disease (PD)? PatientsLikeMe blog partner Karl Robb recently shared with us about his complementary therapies of choice: Reiki and Qigong.

Karl has been living with young-onset PD for more than 30 years and practicing Reiki for nearly 20 years. He and his wife, Angela, are the couple behind the PD blog, “A Soft Voice in a Noisy World: Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease,” and authors of two books. Karl – who went from “huge skeptic” to Reiki master and Qigong practitioner – acknowledges that practices like these may sound “too far out” at first, but he breaks down which symptoms they’ve helped him manage (along with taking prescribed treatments).

Reiki for Parkinson's disease

Karl practicing Qigong alongside his dog, Lily

Can you fill us in about Reiki and its potential benefits?

Simply put, Reiki is a very old complementary therapy that can assist the body to help itself through light touch. Reiki incorporates the use of the energy that is all around us. Reiki involves the placement of hands on different areas of the body to direct energy to release tension, reduce stress, lessen discomfort, and enhance well-being. A trained Reiki practitioner learns to transfer this universal energy through his or her hands and allow that energy to help assist the recipient. There are two ways you can experience the benefits of Reiki: You can receive a session with a certified Reiki practitioner or you can take a class to learn to perform Reiki on yourself.

My wife, Angela, (who does not have PD) and I have both personally experienced and seen many benefits of Reiki, including:

  • Alleviating pain
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Temporarily stopping or reducing PD tremor
  • Increasing calmness

Reiki is very much like explaining an emotionally moving photograph, a sunset, a song, or a work of art; you can talk about it all you want, but not until you experience it for yourself can you fathom the raw power that it can offer.

What do you say to skeptics?

When I first learned about Reiki, I knew absolutely nothing about what it was. The truth is that Reiki fell into my lap, much to my benefit. I don’t have any problem with skeptics, because I was a skeptic. When someone starts talking about the concept of universal energy or energy being transferred from one to another, it sounds too far out to comprehend.

Once I tried it, I was hooked! I was a huge skeptic, until I tried it, experienced the results and saw dramatic changes.

I took a leap of faith and trusted in my practitioner, a former Army Ranger, who is now one of my dearest friends. Since my first Reiki treatment, Angela (who was also an admitted skeptic) and I have both become Reiki masters (completing three levels of training plus a fourth level of a one-year Reiki Mastership program), so that we can share and teach Reiki. I write a lot on my experiences with Reiki and encourage anyone and everyone to experience it, at least once!

What is Qigong? When did you learn it and why?

Qigong is an ancient form of moving meditation, similar to Thai Chi. The Reiki that we learned, Reiki Jin Kei Do, in January 1999 is composed of three parts: A six-movement Qigong, mindfulness meditation, and a hands-on Reiki self-treatment protocol – which all promote self-care. The first degree of Reiki is all about taking care of yourself. Often, after you learn the first degree, you have less need to receive sessions from your Reiki practitioner, as you can do much of the treatment on your own.

I find that Qigong brings me peace and a sense of calm, improves my balance, increases my strength and centers me. The six movements are quite easy and can be done standing or in a chair. Qigong helps me to feel more energized and clear of mind.

How does Reiki help your Parkinson’s symptoms, in particular?

I am confident that if I hadn’t learned about Reiki and incorporated it into my life, I would be much worse off than I am today. I use it to keep myself calm and relaxed, reduce or stop dyskinesia, clear my head, keep balanced in my mind and body, and even get a good night’s sleep.

The first session that I ever had not only improved my walking, relaxed me, put a smile on my face, and made takeout Chinese food taste the best that I can remember it ever tasting. For me, it improved almost all aspects of my illness.

I give myself Reiki almost every day. Sometimes in the morning I place my hands on my stomach and breathe to start the day with some Reiki. I use my breath and Reiki to help myself, if I experience dyskinesia. At night, I may do some of the Reiki self-treatment to fall asleep. Just as everyone’s Parkinson’s is different, you may find your experiences with Reiki are different than mine. Discovering Reiki and other complementary therapies can be a very pleasant experience with minimal risk, have real benefit, and leave you with a daily practice that makes a lasting impact.

What advice do you have for people considering a complementary therapy for the first time?

Don’t be afraid to try something that might be out of your comfort zone, like Reiki. Just be cautious, smart, and willing to give it a chance. Some Reiki practitioners may be willing to offer a brief session at a discount to let you experience it and see if you like it. Make sure that your practitioner does their own daily self-practice and that they have some experience with people with Parkinson’s disease or your related health issue. Referrals are always a good way to find your Reiki master.

How often do people do Reiki? What other complementary therapies are helpful?

You and your Reiki master must work out a schedule that works best for you both and one that you can afford. A Reiki session can last from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours and a session usually can be close to the equivalent to the cost of a massage, depending upon where you live. Most providers do not take insurance.

Reiki may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but what I do write repeatedly is that you must look for something that works for you and excites you! Massage, yoga and meditation are just three wonderful ways to get started and exposed to a therapy that may open new doors that you might not have experienced before.

You may find classes in your area that are devoted to people with back issues or mobility challenges. Look locally for adaptive yoga to find a class that may cater to your needs. Some instructors may come to your home for an added fee and some may have studios near you. I wish you the best on your path to health and wellness.

See what PatientsLikeMe members are saying about Reiki and Qigong, and join the community today to learn and share more about complementary therapies for your health condition.

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“Dealing and healing” together: Karl and Angela Robb team up with PatientsLikeMe and share about living with young-onset Parkinson’s disease

Posted August 30th, 2017 by

PatientsLikeMe is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Karl and Angela Robb, the husband-and-wife team behind Karl’s blog, “A Soft Voice in a Noisy World: Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease,” and the authors of two books. You might’ve already seen Karl’s #MoreThan story. Karl and Angela recently shared even more with us in a Q&A about Karl’s diagnosis with young-onset PD, living 30+ years with the condition, and maintaining a strong relationship and an award-winning blog, to boot. Stay tuned for guest blog posts by Karl and Angela as part of this collaboration!

Young-onset Parkinson's

Your blog’s name – and much of its content – reflect your appreciation for calm, peace and quiet, especially in the pursuit of “dealing and healing” with PD. How did you arrive at a peaceful outlook after being diagnosed at a young age with a serious condition? 

Symptoms began in my teens. My diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease came about six years and eight or nine doctors later. Knowing hardly anything about Parkinson’s disease at age 17, I was sure that I had a brain tumor. I prepared myself for the worst possible outcome and made the decision that whatever the result may be, I was going to make the best of it. I was going to live and be thankful for it.

I have not always been at peace with this illness but it has definitely improved and mellowed with age. I believe that learning Reiki almost 20 years ago and lowering my stress has played a big part in accepting this illness.

How do you manage on days when you’re feeling more frustrated and stressed?

We all experience days that we would prefer never getting out of bed. With Parkinson’s, you have your better days and your less good days. You can never be certain that your medication is going to function—you just hope. I try to not allow stress or anxiety to dominate my body. It doesn’t always work. The best results that I’ve come across are complementary therapies like yoga, meditation, massage, and Reiki, as well as reflexology and staying open to new options. I’m a pretty positive person.

What aspects of PD do you find most frustrating and how do you get back to a peaceful mindset? 

The most frustrating aspects of PD are the loss of control and the unpredictable twists and turns that may come at any time. I often feel that I need a backup plan to my backup plan. All I can do is to move forward and be as strong as I can be. Keeping balanced, vigilant and calm is best, if I can do it.

It’s clear that you two work as a team. How did you form such a strong partnership, in your work in the world of PD and in your marriage? How has PD challenged or strengthened your bond?

Karl: We started as good friends and our relationship just grew from there. I would say that we are soul mates rather than just a couple. Sure, we work and live together, but we argue on occasion just like everyone else. I love her completely through and through and love her company. I am so lucky to have found her. She inspired the creation of the blog and books.

Angela is an amazing person — she has a very big and loving heart. She married me post-diagnosis and I am ever so grateful for her love! I love collaborating with her!

I would have to say that the greatest challenges might be a reduction in clear communication. I need to focus more on being clearer with my speech and finishing my thoughts. I have to keep reminding myself that nothing is easy or automatic anymore. Everything I do requires more effort more. Thirty years with PD is a long time.

I think that we stay open and honest with one another and we talk to each other about almost everything. More than anything, we laugh a lot! We continue to learn from each other and enjoy being together.

Angela: I’ve only known Karl with Parkinson’s disease since I met him 4 years after his diagnosis. I love Karl but I do not love Parkinson’s. We are never guaranteed a life without challenges. The most important thing we can do when facing any challenge is to do our best to live as best we can.

From the beginning, open and honest communication has been the key to our relationship. When we fail to communicate well with one another, that’s when we notice tension in our work and home life. Learning to spot the “warning signs” of bad communication helps us to put things back on track.

We work hard to make sure we agree on our goals and consciously check in with each other to assure we are working toward those goals. Not just for our work but also in our marriage. Our commitment to each other has also meant a commitment to a shared purpose: We both agree that our greatest work is to help those living with Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions.

Lily Robb 

What gives each of you a sense of peace or joy? 

Karl: I love going to new places with Angela and teaching people with Parkinson’s about reiki and techniques that can make life better. I love to write and take photos of nature and animals in the wild. I love traveling with Angela and our chocolate lab, Lily.

Angela: I love: 1) The touch of Karl’s hand or his hug. 2) When our dog, Lily does something goofy and makes us laugh. (She’s such a clown!  She steals a sock then turns around and shows us the sock.) 3) The beauty of nature. From the smallest flower to the vast sky – there is so much peace to be gained by just stopping for a moment and being in awe of the nature around us.

 

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