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Healthy Living

The Power of Mindful Meditation in Managing Chronic Illness

Embrace the mind-body connection.

At first, the connection between your mind and physical health might seem like a stretch, but everything within your body is truly connected. Think about it: if you’ve had a decent night of sleep where your brain is allowed to fully relax, then you wake up well-rested and ready to take on the day. That’s just one example of this powerful connection, and it can also play a huge role in helping manage chronic conditions like diabetes.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of staying present in the moment, right where you are, without judgment. The practice simply asks you to pay attention to your mind, body, and how both of them feel in the moment. As a concept, mindfulness is nothing new, but what might be new to some is how simple acts of everyday mindfulness can benefit both your physical and mental health!

Where does meditation come in?

Meditation requires using mindfulness to focus on the moment for a certain period of time, in stillness. Some use guided meditations to help them focus. Others prefer to sit in quiet stillness and grow attuned to the present moment. The key to meditation is to try and not let your mind wander. But when it inevitably does, you practice bringing it back to the present.

How can mindfulness and meditation practices help with chronic illnesses?

Mindfulness and meditation can help directly with stress management. Because of its ability to boost the body’s immune response, studies have shown mindfulness and meditation have the ability to reduce symptoms associated with chronic conditions, lower blood pressure and improve sleep, as well as brain function. Although medication and a healthy eating plan are often critical components of a treatment plan, mindfulness can certainly help. Additionally, stress reduction as a result of continued mindfulness practices can help improve the body’s control over glucose levels and blood pressure. Put simply, mindfulness can be beneficial for your overall health, which is a great reason to incorporate it into your daily routine.

How can I start practicing mindful meditation?

Another great aspect of practicing mindfulness is that it costs nothing and is easy to do on your own. Here’s how you can begin to incorporate it into your daily routine. 

Step 1: Find a comfortable seat where you are supported, but not so relaxed that you’ll fall asleep.
Step 2: Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
Step 3: When a distraction, like an itch, or thought comes into your mind, notice it and, without judgment, let it go.
Step 4: Continue for any amount of time that feels right for you—between one minute and one hour.