Deep relaxation and meditation are very natural and very powerful activities.
Meditation is the method of bringing a scattered, disorganised mind into a state of peace, quiet and tranquillity. It is about focus and calmness. You might wonder how you manage that when you have to fit a few dozen blood glucose checks or more in a week; multiple injections or pump changes and bolus corrections; navigate medication mazes; and deal with the usual run of the mill tasks of daily life! I know that every tiny little moment of checking my blood or changing my set comes as an interruption in my busy life. Time is of the essence and I have also had people tell me that the 10 seconds they need to stop and check their blood glucose becomes a chore – you would not think 10 seconds would feel like that – but it can and it does.
Taking time out for relaxation, activities that make you feel grounded and calm, and practices such as meditation, can really help. These things help us to realise that life is about the here and now; that the things we worry about, that we can not predict and that are not here right now, and may never even happen – do not matter so much, so we can put those worries away somewhere and enjoy being in the moment. It also helps you to realise that we need to treasure each and every day we have.
When you live with diabetes and the everyday stress of life, mediation can be an effective way of calming your mind and giving you focus. It can help you to feel more peaceful and more able to keep managing on a day to day basis.
Some people learn only concentration techniques, some relaxation and so on. There are many misconceptions concerning meditation. However all forms of meditating, where we are focusing and calming our minds, can have great benefits for overall health and wellbeing.
Methods such as “Mindfulness Meditation” are being used by doctors and a range of health professionals in managing illness and disease, anxiety and depression.
Meditation has three stages: one, Concentration, two, Contemplation, and three, Meditation (the state reached when the meditator is no longer aware of meditating). For health purposes, it is enough to reach a state where the mind is quiet and steady, the respiration calm and balanced, and the feeling is that of deep peace. With regular practice, this may be achieved, greatly benefiting the overall mental and emotional state.
You can purchase many tapes and CD´s , books, videos and DVD´s to teach you how to meditate in way that suits you. Many people find breathing techniques one of the easiest ways to meditate.
Sometimes the stress of dealing with diabetes can feel more difficult than the disease itself. Meditation is a simple, easy-to-learn tool that can help you feel more in control even when facing the life-changing challenge of diabetes. Meditation is highly effective at calming stress, and has been found to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, improve eating disorders and fend off the tendency toward depression and poor sleep so often associated with diabetes.
Mindfulness meditation, where you simply follow your breath and sensations arising in the body with curiosity and appreciation, without trying to change anything, soothes the nervous system and directly improves the symptoms of diabetes. A study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that meditation lowers blood pressure.
Mindfulness meditation assists with depression and sleep. Mindfulness meditation improves your coping skills. Researchers at the University of Louisville found that mindfulness meditation soothed depression in study participants, while another study conducted by the University of Kentucky found that transcendental meditation (TM), in which participants work with a mantra, or repeated sound, word or phrase, helped people sleep better. A study at Indiana State University found that mindfulness meditation helped obese women cut down their weekly binge-eating episodes from 4 to 1, thus reducing their risk for developing metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Meditation is an effective stress reducer. Constant stress wears down the body and compromises health, not a good thing for anyone managing diabetes. Your adrenal glands respond to stress signals from the hypothalamus and pituitary by releasing the fight-or-flight hormones adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and raises blood pressure, and cortisol, which takes sugar stored in the fat and liver and puts it into the blood, thus raising blood sugar levels.
Under normal conditions these stress-activated hormones are protective, surging momentarily to assist the body in coping with stress, then things return to normal and the adrenals move into rest-and-restore mode. When stress becomes chronic, though, it is as if the adrenaline switch is stuck in the “on” position. Cortisol surges in the body and puts you at risk for all kinds of health problems, including heart disease, insomnia, depression, central obesity and diabetes. The benefits of meditation are cumulative: the more often you practice, the more adept you will be at shifting your focus to healthful states. Meditation can be practiced anywhere; it doesn’t require any special equipment — just a willingness to sit quietly and notice what is happening in your body without judging it or trying to change it: awareness alone helps to improve your health. Find a time and place where you won’t be disturbed to begin a practice. Start with 10-15 minutes and work up to 30-40 minutes.
Ahhhhhh take a deep breath; prick your finger; have your insulin; take another breath and treasure the day.