Diabetes Management: Tips For Starting A Meditation Practice

Meditation is a state of inner peace and ready energy occurring when the mind is not thinking, but aware. This state provides many health benefits, some especially favorable for those with diabetes.

Research shows, for example, that regular meditation reduces the chronic inflammation associated with diabetes onset and progression, it benefits blood sugar control by lowering stress levels, and helps lift and stabilize our mood.

Eight Practice Tips

The problem most of us have with meditation is getting started, and once we start, continuing long enough to make meditating a pleasurable habit. The remedy is to let go of believing that meditation is difficult, since it’s not, and then to consider these eight tips for beginning and maintaining a practice:

  • Seeding the Habit. We can eliminate meditation resistance by starting small. If the thought of meditating for ten minutes creates internal rebellion, then begin with three minutes, or two. Consistent daily practice, no matter how short, plants the seed of habit. After four to six weeks, we can add another minute, or two, or five to our sessions.
  • Link Magic. By linking daily meditation to an already ingrained habit, we eliminate some of the effort required to start our day’s practice. In the book Secrets of Meditation, author Davidji suggests a morning routine of “rise, pee, and meditate.” We might also link our daily session to brushing teeth, showering, a morning glucose check, or arriving home from work.
  • Go With A Guide. Those unsure about how to meditate may prefer starting with guided meditations. Following another’s voice through relaxation exercises, breathing techniques, visualizations, or mindfulness practices helps many people learn and enjoy the meditation experience. Guided sessions are also helpful for those with extremely active, hard to harness minds. There are many short, free guided meditations on YouTube.
  • Warming Up. Whatever type of meditation we use, three to five relaxed belly-expanding breaths makes a great warm-up routine for our daily practice. It calms the mind and relaxes the body, making it easier to enter a meditative state.
  • There’s An App. While texting and talking are off limits during sessions, there are several meditation enhancing apps available. Most let users set length of meditation time, choose session ending tones, and may offer interval chimes, background music, meditation encouragement, and practice reminders.
  • Strength in Numbers. Meditating with others strengthens practice resolve, gives us access to people with meditation knowledge, and lets us experience the uplifting, motivating energy generated by group meditation. Just Google “meditation groups in your city” to see what’s available.
  • Pencil It In. People who love, or need to plan their time can benefit by scheduling their sessions. Preferably, meditation will be given priority status and penciled-in the same time each day. Those who never use day-planners are better off linking their practice to another daily habit (e.g., brushing teeth).
  • Location, Location. Practice is enhanced by setting up a meditation space; just the corner of a room will do. We can keep our meditation props there (e.g., pillows, cd player) and create ambiance with inspiring objects such as books, candles, or photos. Eventually, just entering this space will trigger the body’s relaxation response, and settle our mind.

People new to meditation might also consider reading “Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming The Present Moment—And Your LIfe, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. ~ Pema Chodron

Source: Erin Easterly/Chopra Center

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