Diagnosed with Diabetes? Mediation is a Good Place to Start

Shelly Young, LPC Health Guide
  • Having diabetes can bring about significant discontentment in your life.  If you are recently diagnosed, you may be in shock or possibly in denial. You may have unpleasant thoughts like, "Why Me?" or "I can't handle this." You might experience anxiety about the future and the possibility of developing serious complications. Unhealthy addictions to food may bring about doubts that you can follow a disciplined eating plan. Resistance to exercising could be a serious matter when it comes to your diabetes management. You may possibly experience a sense of despair or hopelessness. Maybe you absolutely despise what your doctor has ordered, and at the same time, realize that his or her prescription is necessary for maintaining stable blood glucose levels.

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    If you are suffering around diabetes, then mindfulness meditation is worth checking out.  It has the potential to positively transform your psychological relationship to diabetes as well as help with the physical issues involved.  There is a wealth of research to back up it's effectiveness with depression, anxiety, pain and many types of physical ailments and emotional issues of suffering (www.mindfulnessbibliography.org.) I have been a witness to amazing changes in clients and have experienced my own transformation through mindfulness practice. 


    What is mindfulness and how can it help?  Mindfulness involves being extraordinarily attentive to your present moment experience with a gentle acceptance of the internal aspect of that experience.  It's useful to do a sitting practice and also bring mindful awareness into your daily activities.  One of many ways it can be helpful is with the primary stress hormone, cortisol.  There is scientific evidence supporting the fact that various types of meditation, including mindfulness, decrease cortisol levels. This is very good news because when cortisol levels get too high, they can have a negative impact on blood glucose levels.  The good news on the emotional level is that mindfulness helps you to have thoughts, feelings and physical discomforts without being trapped, overwhelmed or controlled by the experiences ....or at least less so. Since thoughts, feelings and physical sensations are involved in every aspect of our lives, it is a worthwhile and potentially amazing life skill to acquire. 

    Mindfulness can be excellent for managing all aspects of diabetes since there are many types of unpleasant thoughts and feelings that may arise.  Have you noticed that your thoughts and emotions tend to have a "sticky, gluey" quality?  They seem to "stick" around for a long time, and no matter how hard you try to be rid of them they just keep on sticking!  Mindfulness melts the mental and emotional glue, so that thoughts and feelings can pass through more quickly, without getting stuck!  Instead of attempting to push our thoughts, feelings and sensations away, we open ourselves up to them.  A well known mindfulness teacher, Shinzen Young says, "We learn to love them to death."   We begin to observe what is occurring moment by moment and allow it to arise and pass naturally.  We sense "what is" and allow it to go on to its ultimate passing.  We don't try to hold on or analyze it. Since it is a  training, if we practice consistently, our internal reactions will arise and pass without imposing on our sense of well being. 

    Here's a "naming" exercise you can try if you find yourself suffering around unpleasant verbal thinking or "words in your head."  Everytime you notice the unpleasant words in your head,  just say the word, "talk" to yourself, instead of clinging to or trying to push the dialog out of your head.  This is a neutral name that is completely non-judgemental and not charged up with your own negative opinions and ideas.  Use a gentle, accepting internal voice since that will induce the loving quality of awareness. 

    You can also name your emotional body sensations, if they become challenging, and call them "feel." These types of body sensations seem to accompany anxiety, depression, and other emotional reactions both pleasant and unpleasant.  Again, use a gentle internal voice saying to yourself, "feel," which will help you to accept how you feel, right then in the moment.   Name your experience every few seconds until the experience dissolves or it's no longer a problem.  Notice the reality of change.  

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    Mindfulness can turn the challenge of diabetes into a wonderful opportunity to develop a useful skill that can help you with every aspect of your life.  I myself find that even my greatest challenges become my greatest opportunities for growth when mindful awareness is brought to my internal reactions.     







Published On: January 27, 2010