It’s well-known that stress can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate in people with diabetes. The practice of meditation not only helps relieve stress, it may also lower blood sugar levels. Check out three meditation options for diabetes and blood glucose levels.
1. Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing your mind on experiences (for example, your emotions, thoughts or sensations) in the present moment, rather than focusing on the past or the future. It involves taking long and deep breaths as you meditate.
To practice mindfulness meditation, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit and then close your eyes. Become aware of your breathing rhythm, focusing on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body. As you breathe slowly and deeply, consider every thought as it comes and goes from your mind, whether it’s a worry, fear or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don't try to ignore or suppress them; rather, simply take note of them, use your breathing to anchor your feelings.
Mindfulness meditation can be practiced for any length of time: some people do it for 10 or 20 minutes twice daily (morning and night), while others practice it three or four times for a few minutes over the course of the day.
2. Transcendental meditation
Transcendental meditation involves the repetition of a sound – called a mantra – to help focus your attention and clear your mind. The mantra is an otherwise meaningless sound or syllable; the most commonly known transcendental meditation mantra is the sound “om.” The mantra is meant to act as a ‘vehicle’ to propel your mind into increasingly subtle levels of thinking.
Transcendental meditation is generally practiced for 15 to 20 minutes twice per day (usually first thing in the morning, and then right before bedtime).
3. Moving meditation
Moving meditation is a method of achieving a meditative state while performing physical movements.
There are a number of forms of moving meditation, including yoga, tai chi and aikido. The advantage of moving meditation over other forms of meditation is that it also provides users with a physical workout.
Each type of moving meditation involve specific movements (also known as poses or positions) that are held, while practicing slow and deep breathing. Depending on your range of motion, dexterity and physical fitness level, you can find a form of moving meditation that is right for you. You can also determine the best moving meditation regimen, whether it’s daily or a few times per week.
Benefits of meditation for diabetes and blood sugar
A number of studies have linked the use of meditation with lowered blood sugar levels. Since stress is closely linked to blood sugar fluctuations, it makes sense that stress-lowering activities – such as meditation – has an effect on a person’s glycemic control.
In a six-month study of diabetes and coronary artery disease, 60 people were divided into two groups: one group practiced mindfulness meditation and other did not. Blood sugar, A1C and fasting insulin levels of all participants were measured before and after the study ended. The researchers found a significant decrease in blood sugar, A1C and fasting insulin levels in those who practiced meditation, compared with those who didn’t.
In a smaller study, 14 patients with type 2 underwent a mindfulness meditation program. All study subjects had glycemic control, weight, blood pressure, and stress-related psychological symptoms measured. After one month, 11 of the 14 study subjects had lower A1C, lower blood pressure, reduced body weight, and a reduction in psychological symptoms (i.e. anxiety and depression).
If you’re living with diabetes, and find yourself under stress at times, consider these meditation techniques to relieve stress and also help make sure your blood sugar levels are at target.