Tana Amen’s Best Mindfulness Meditation Techniques to Feel More Present

What’s the first thought or feeling that comes to your mind when you hear the word meditation? Some people might picture a calming, safe haven in their everyday lives. For others, it’s something to avoid at all costs. I’m always surprised that there are still a lot of misconceptions and even fear around such a helpful practice.

For example, I hear from many people that they aren’t able to meditate or don’t know how to. They claim they can’t clear their mind or turn off the endless mental chatter that seems to run 24-7. And it’s understandable, in today’s busy, information-overloaded world, that we would have problems being with ourselves, sitting still, calming those anxious thoughts, and enjoying silence.

But we don’t have to complicate this process, and we also don’t have to be perfect meditators on day one. There’s a reason this is called a practice. It’s something we keep showing up for, and eventually, we find that we’re more able to simply be with ourselves. We also learn to tune in to both our inner selves and the divine. (There are a ton of other benefits, too, which I will discuss further below.)

Today, I’m going to share with you my own method of mindfulness meditation, plus some helpful tips if you’re just starting out. These techniques are what work best for me, and I know they’ll help you discover some practices that are best for you.

The Top Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

There’s a lot of talk nowadays about meditation and the importance of doing it. How and why should you practice this, and what are the benefits?

I can talk about what it means to me. In the first place, it’s great to do meditation when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed in life. But it’s a better idea to meditate on a regular basis—before you hit crisis mode. It helps calm you and gets you ready for anything that comes at you during the day. In addition, numerous studies have shown the physical benefits of meditation. It helps decrease your blood pressure, settles the emotional centers in your brain, and promotes an overall sense of well-being. Meditation has also been shown to help you sleep better, lessen symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, and increase energy and focus.

But did you know that it can also help you live the life you want, simply through the power of setting intentions? Living with intention is the opposite of thinking about what you don’t want, which is what many of us focus on as we move through life. That’s right—meditation can actually rewire those negative ways of thinking.

For me, meditation combines two powerful forces: prayer and intention. It’s my way of communicating with God, and that means both listening and talking. It basically welcomes the Holy Spirit into my body. Of course, your meditation might be driven by different intentions, or may incorporate different techniques, but this is how I envision my own practice. I encourage everyone to find what works for them.

My Mindfulness Meditation Routine

Tana Amen's Mediation Tips & Techniques | BrainMD

First, I settle down and imagine a light filling my body, healing me and grounding me. I’ll move my attention from the base of my body upward, with each part being associated with different effects. For example, focusing on my heart, I ask for more empathy, love, and forgiveness for others (and that same empathy and forgiveness for myself). Moving up the body, I put extra attention on any places I’m experiencing pain. I also focus on my throat, since I had thyroid cancer in the past and want to emphasize having a strong voice. (As I wrote about in my book The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, my past trauma makes it extra-important that I embrace my voice as a way to heal and reclaim my power.)

As I move upward in my body during this mindfulness meditation, I continue to be aware of the light filling me, and I ask for wisdom in my life. I set the intention of being congruent and authentic, because I want my thoughts and actions to match my values. Throughout this process, I take deep breaths. With each inhalation, I focus on what I want, and with each exhalation, I envision releasing anything negative—such as thoughts or habits—that I want to let go of.

By the time I’ve completed this full-body, deep-breathing daily check-in with myself, I’m ready to face the day and move through it with a greater amount of grace and ease. I reduce the anxious thoughts that can sometimes invade the mind, and I’m able to lower my stress levels all day long.

And you should try this practice at nighttime, too. Getting into the habit of meditation for sleep is a great way to conquer insomnia or feelings of nighttime restlessness. It calms the mind and body so we can drift off into a more peaceful slumber.

My Best Meditation Tips

If you’re new to meditation, don’t worry about doing it wrong—any attempt is a win. Try these helpful tips to kick off your journey:

Start Slowly

Build your practice over time. Even a few minutes a day is better than nothing. And you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment by making unrealistic goals right off the bat. Put aside even 5 minutes every morning to check in, breathe, and set an intention for the day. If that’s still too intimidating, start with 3 minutes—just do it! With more experience, you can add minutes, then add a nighttime meditation for sleep, too. I love starting and ending my day with meditation. It’s the perfect way to wake up and get ready for bed.

Speak Some Inspiration

You might try picking a word or an affirmation to begin your day. Think about how you want your day to unfold or what quality you want to embody—such as strength, balance, or love. Or use affirmations, which are short statements that give you a positive boost, such as: “I love and accept myself,” “I choose to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit,” or “I live in alignment with my values.” While you may choose to repeat the same one every day, you may also find that your needs vary on different days. Use whatever feels right at the moment.

Carry Your Meditation With You

Especially if you’re a beginner, it can be easy to start your day with a few minutes of meditation and then carry on with business as usual. But one of the best side effects of meditation is how it can infuse our entire life with a greater sense of mindfulness. So often we’re rushing around, ruminating over the past or projecting into the future, that we’re barely living inside the moment right now. Make a conscious effort to go through your day with awareness: noticing your breathing, fully focusing on an activity, or taking in the sensory pleasures around you. Being more present will do wonders for your levels of joy, happiness, and gratitude—and meditation can help you get there.

Go Easy

Is your mind racing with anxious thoughts? Do you find it impossible to focus? First of all, don’t beat yourself up or fall into the trap of telling yourself you “can’t do” meditation. Show yourself some compassion and keep trying, day after day—you’ll soon see your behaviors start to shift. In the moment, if you find your mind wandering, reground yourself by directing your attention to something steady, like your breathing. It’s normal for your mind to feel scattered, especially at first. Just return your focus to your body and breath, and continue with your practice. It gets easier over time to notice these distractions and to redirect yourself when they happen.

Try one of the mindfulness tips above and start feeling the difference today!

Tana Amen, BSN, RN