Meditation is a way of relaxing the mind through techniques such as focusing and controlled breathing. People meditate to reduce stress and relieve a variety of physical ailments. Recent research showed meditation can also help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
- Meditation helps people achieve a more peaceful state of mind. It takes focus and practice to reach a peaceful meditative state of mind. No special equipment is required to meditate. Effective meditative techniques have been shown to reduce mental stress, hormone release and lower blood pressure.
- There are different types of meditation. Research presented at an American Diabetes Association Conference showed mindfulness meditation is beneficial for people with diabetes. Quiet contemplation helps you put aside worries about the past and future. The motions of breathing can bring you into the present moment. This helps you quiet the mind. Mindfulness meditation relieves anxiety and depression, which are common symptoms for people with diabetes.
- Mindfulness meditation can be done sitting on a chair or the floor. You can also lie on the floor. The object is to bring yourself into the present moment by focusing on your breathing. Always wear loose fitting comfortable clothing while meditating. Beginners can start for 10 minutes a day then work up to 20 minutes daily.
- Another type of meditation is transcendental meditation. This is typically done sitting on the floor. You focus on one word or phrase, which is called a “mantra.” Your mantra can be as simple as the word “one.” or ‘om ‘. Chant the word and keep breathing for 10 minutes each day. After a week, try 15 minutes daily then work up to 20 minutes everyday. This helps clear the mind of any thoughts.
- If you are unsure about how to meditate, there are books and CDs available to help you learn. There are web sites on meditation as well. Yoga instructors and community centers may also offer classes in meditation.
- Mindfulness meditation helps minimize stress levels and lowers blood pressure. It reduces levels of stress hormones including cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Hormones such as cortisol contribute toward weight gain and belly fat and insulin resistance. Excess weight increases the risk of high blood pressure and related heart problems.
- A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed transcendental meditation can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. It can also lower blood pressure and reduce insulin resistance.
- Meditation is also used to relieve chronic pain. People with diabetes who have nerve pain or back pain are subject to increased stress and blood sugar levels. Reducing pain through meditation minimizes anxiety and related health problems as well as blood sugar readings.
- Use blood pressure monitors or blood pressure machines before and after meditation sessions to gauge your progress. Have a glucose meter handy to keep track of your blood sugar levels prior and subsequent to meditation. Give yourself a few weeks to master the techniques and start seeing real results.
Many people with diabetes find meditation is a good way to reduce stress, lower blood sugar levels and minimize pain. Discuss the possibilities of meditation with your health care provider or diabetes care team. Regular meditation can become an important part of your diabetes self-management program.