Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing one’s awareness on the present moment without judgement. It can help you manage pain, lower stress, connect to those around you, and focus your mind—all of which can help you in managing your diabetes.
There are different practices that can help you cultivate the awareness that mindfulness brings. At its most basic, there are two forms of mindfulness meditation: formal and informal.
Informal mindfulness practices.
Informal practices are those where you bring your full attention to everyday events in your life. It can seem difficult to bring mindfulness to our busy lives, but informal practices allow us to bring mindfulness to just about every everyday activity. This could include such simple things as waking up, walking, exercising, eating, washing dishes, or taking a shower. You might even choose to do this with an aspect of your diabetes care! For example, you could bring mindful attention to testing your blood glucose levels, taking insulin injections, or bolusing from your insulin pump.
Let’s assume you have decided to bring a mindful awareness to testing your blood. Although you might have all sorts of preconceived thoughts and feelings about testing your blood, you would try to observe the activity from a curious and non-judgemental stance. How does the glucose meter feel in your hand? Is it warm or cold? Smooth or rough? What is does the test strip look like as it fills? What do the numbers on the glucose meter’s screen look like as you watch them count down your results?
If you find your mind wanders and thoughts of other things pop up during your informal practices, this is totally normal and not a problem. Simply bring yourself back to the task you have chose as your informal practice. This too is part of the practice of mindfulness: noticing when your mind wanders from the present task and gently bringing yourself back to the moment.
Formal mindfulness practices.
Formal mindfulness practices involve setting aside a block time out of your day to meditate. There are a variety of mindfulness meditation practices to choose from. Starting with a breathing meditation will give you a good foundation for other practices.
For best results, try to do a formal meditation practice for at least 10 minutes a day.
Click on the link below to access Virtue's guided meditations and see how easy it is to practice formal mindfulness.
- Looking for more information? Here are some suggested readings to get you started:
- “Getting Started with Mindfulness Meditation” by Mindful magazine
- “Mindfulness 101: The basics” by Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
- Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Full Catastrophe Living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness exercises for kids (and their parents) by Eline Snel