From Wall Street to the Yoga Mat
Back in 2002, I believed I was “Master of the Universe,” trading and earning millions on Wall Street. On April 11 of that year, I had a doctor’s appointment before work, to check out some strange symptoms I’d been having—my right pinky finger kept twitching, and I had a weird overall body stiffness. The doctor diagnosed me bluntly: Parkinson’s. Later that day, I told my boss, and he let me go.
I was taking lots and lots of pills, trying to distract myself by buying a jet boat and getting into boating, but not really living my whole life. Then I read about the Rejuvenate and Reclaim Life After 40 program at Kripalu, and I decided to go. I never sleep more than two hours together in a night but, that first night, I put my head on the pillow, and woke up seven hours later. The next day, we were sitting in a circle, taking turns describing our situations. It came around to me, and I just burst out crying. I didn’t expect it, I didn’t know where it came from. When they let me go from my hotshot job—nothing. When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s—nothing. But here I was, sobbing. I didn’t realize how much grief was inside me. It felt good to let it go.
When I came back to Kripalu for the Wellness Retreat for People Recently Diagnosed with Parkinson’s, cocreated by Kripalu and the National Parkinson Foundation, I learned ways to approach the disease that most people don’t know about—particularly through nutrition and yoga. When I was in my twenties, I used to do yoga—just a few basic positions, but I’d come out of it feeling so tranquil and comfortable. It was a skill set I’d completely forgotten about, but at Kripalu it all came back to me. Now I do yoga and qigong at home to help me relax. I’ve stopped drinking. I’m eating lots of salads!
Parkinson’s has made me focus on the quality of life, and being happy. I want to give back, too. I’m looking into how I can get involved in supporting Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange. I’m even thinking about taking yoga teacher training at Kripalu, so I can introduce yoga to people with Parkinson’s. Kripalu is the thread of happiness that runs through my life.
—Randy S., Armonk, New York