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Meditation and diabetes, can meditation aid in the management of diabetes? We hear so much about meditation and the power of positive thinking that it really got me thinking about all the possible ways to put it to use.
We know that stress can raise blood pressure, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease throwing those blood sugars out of whack.
We also know that meditation is a way to relax the mind through focusing and controlled breathing and has been used for centuries to benefit the body and mind.
Meditation effectively reduces stress and can help relieve a variety of physical ailments.
Because meditation lowers both the blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease it seems it can be beneficial to diabetics.
Let’s learn more.
Meditation can help people achieve a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind.
It does take focus and practice but having a peaceful mind is possible.
You don’t require any special equipment to be able to meditate.
Effective meditation has been shown to reduce mental stress which also reduces the amounts of cortisol (stress hormone) released into the body.
Elevated levels of cortisol can raise blood sugars. It is more important than ever to take the necessary time for self-care in today’s fast-paced world.
Meditation is important for your overall health as well as diabetes.
Types of Meditation
There are several types of meditation so finding a type that suits your individual tastes or needs shouldn’t be a problem. For myself, I enjoy yoga which is a form of moving meditation. I also enjoy mindfulness meditation at times as well.
Mindfulness Meditation – involves focusing on your breathing as a method of achieving moment to moment awareness rather than focusing on the past or future.
Here you take long, deep breaths while you meditate and is an excellent form of relaxation. Mindfulness meditation can be practised for 10 to 20 minutes twice daily.
Some people practice it for three or four minutes several times throughout the day.
Transcendental Meditation – involves repeating a mantra (sound) to aid in the clearing of the mind and focusing the attention.
The mantra is a sound, word or phrase that you repeat over and over to yourself and acts as a way to help you focus.
Transcendental meditation is usually practised for 15 -20 minutes twice daily (usually upon waking and at bedtime).
Focused Awareness Meditation – involves staring with your eyes half open at a burning candle or another object while listening to the sound of your breathing.
Meditation can be anywhere and anytime including while walking, eating, lying down, on a cushion, on the floor, in a chair, outside, in a group or alone. I have even done it on our sailboat or in my garden.
Moving Meditation – there are many forms of moving meditation including:
- tai chi
Each type involves a series of certain movements or poses that are held while focusing on slow and deep breathing. The main advantage of moving meditation is that you also get a workout. There are many forms to choose from and depending on your level of flexibility and fitness you should easily find a form that suits you.
Physical exercise is an important part of a diabetes management plan. Check out this article on exercise guidelines for diabetics.
How Meditation Can Help Diabetes
Several studies have linked the regular practice of meditation with lowered blood glucose levels.
Stress is known to cause blood sugar fluctuations, makes sense that meditation would have a beneficial effect on glycemic control.
There was a six-month study in which 60 people with diabetes and coronary artery disease were divided into two groups. One group practised mindfulness meditation and the other group did not. Blood sugar, A1C and fasting insulin levels were significantly decreased in those who practised meditation.
Several smaller studies have shown mindfulness meditation to have a significant positive effect on glycemic control, weight, blood pressure and psychological symptoms(anxiety and depression).
The Role of Mindfulness in Diabetes Care
Meditation is a form of training the mind to have greater control over our thoughts and emotions. This helps cultivate a range of positive attributes such as:
- and love.
Meditation also helps us reduce undesirable emotions including:
- or hatred
By controlling our emotions we can effectively improve our coping skills, attention. awareness, memory, sensory perception and cognitive regulation of emotions aiding in developing a strengthened sense of self and identity
How to Meditate
Simple Beginners Meditation is an excellent technique to get started with.
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Some people may want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe naturally, making no effort to control the breath.
- Focus your attention on your breath and how your body moves with each breath. Notice how your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly feel and move with each inhalation and exhalation. Just observe the breath and the feel of your body moving with each breath without controlling the pace or depth of each breath. When your mind wanders simply return your focus to your breath as soon as you have noticed your mind wandered.
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes, to begin with, gradually increasing the length of time until you are meditating 10 to 20 minutes twice per day.
How long does it take to see results
As you begin your meditation journey you may be wondering how long it takes to see any results from meditation. It is important to realize that meditation is not a quick fix for anything. Try meditation for a full month before deciding whether it is a fit for your life or not.
Some positive effects may become evident after just a few weeks. You may notice that you feel calmer and have a more stable mind. Meditation trains your mind to focus on something (your breath) and this exercise gently trains you how to be more focused in general. Eventually, you will reach a point of achieving an uncluttered mind, and finding yourself less distracted by wayward thoughts. Clarity, calmness and improved focus are benefits that we may notice fairly quickly.
The main goal of meditation is accepting ourselves and our abilities without judgement.
Most often the benefits of meditation sneak in the back door without us realizing.
Eventually, we may notice our mood is lighter, and we don’t react negatively quite so often.
Our close friends or family may notice the improvements and wonder what you have been doing.
Once this happens we realize that the benefits of meditation are becoming a part of our psyche.
Longer-term benefits of meditation can include improved communication skills, enhanced memory and cognition and you may be more motivated.
According to neuroscientists, meditation rewires the brain by increasing the density of those regions that are responsible for concentration, self -awareness, compassion and memory while simultaneously reducing the density of the parts of the brain responsible for anxiety and stress.
Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries.
Without a doubt, meditation is an effective tool which when used regularly can calm our minds and increase our awareness.
It can give us permanent access to happiness, mental peace, life energy and can really open the true power of the mind.
The physical and mental health benefits make meditation worth taking the time to effectively learn how to implement it in our daily lives.
The fact that it can combat depression, reduce anxiety and stress are three main reasons why meditation should be more widely taught and used.
We all know that stress causes significant blood sugar fluctuations and there is no doubt recent events (global COVID lock-down) have added significant stress into all of our lives so it makes sense to make use of any tools that can help reduce that stress.
Anyone living with diabetes and finding themselves under stress at times should consider adding meditation into your daily regime to relieve stress and help ensure your blood sugar levels are as close to target as possible.
If you have personal experience with meditation and diabetes I’d love to hear about how meditation has benefited you in your life. Please share your experience in the comment section below.
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