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A Celebration of Slowness

The sun rips through the window shades on a particularly chilly winter morning, and I feel myself grumble beneath my comforter. It seems to take everything I have to roll over and look at the digits on the clock. I place my feet on the cold wood planks of the floor, and feel my skin bristle against the sensation. I don’t want to get up.

As I start the day, my movements are slow. It’s as if my body is growing accustomed to moving again, giving itself a pep talk to get through another day. This must be what it feels like to age, I think. My joints already crack. The thoughts cross my mind, creating a maze of early-morning musings. And it’s not long before another thought pops into my head. I wonder if this is what mornings are like for dad.

Battling bradykinesia

Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013. Every time I’m home, it seems like the most challenging part of the day for him is the morning. After spending all night in bed, growing accustomed to the rest, his body takes time to adapt to the waking circumstances.

Like many people with Parkinson’s, dad battles bradykinesia – or a slowness of movement and abrupt stops. And it’s most obvious in the morning before he has taken his first dose of levodopa. This is one of several symptoms that he experiences. And I wonder if it’s one of the most difficult.

He, like I, takes his sweet time pulling himself from the comfort of his stupor before making his way to the kitchen in the morning. His movements are cautious, as he evaluates the surrounding environment for threats like an obstacle on the floor or a protrusion of some sort. He makes his way from the bed to the door frame, and from the door frame to the table. And his body usually hesitates when it has to abandon the sturdiness of a stationary object. It’s not so confident in the morning.

Slowness creates opportunity

As an American, it’s easy to assume that slowness is a bad thing because our culture insinuates that our value is determined by our ability to produce, and contribute to society. But sometimes slowness creates a different kind of opportunity.

It allows you to look more closely at the floor as you take your steps. Or to tune into the sounds in the background, while you attempt to determine who you might run into around the corner. Slowness is a certain elixir, tempting us into a mindful existence. It’s only after we abandon the desire to rush that we begin to live to our full capacity.

Morning routine

Dad’s morning movements are typically cured by his medications, allowing him to walk about without such disruptions. But I think that his morning routine is an important reminder that slowness isn’t a bad thing.

Instead, it presents an opportunity to see the world from a more intimate speed, allowing us to treasure each moment with a little more notice. While the loss of body autonomy is never kind, there are quiet moments in the morning when it may provide silver linings, too.

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