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Healing Emotional Wounds from Your Past

Summary: Learning to let go of emotional wounds can be difficult, but it's necessary to stay healthy.
Air Date: 3/26/15
Duration: 10
Host: Mike Smith, MD
Guest Bio: Charles A. Francis, Co-Founder of Mindfulness Meditation Institute
Charles A FrancisCharles A. Francis is the co-founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. He has studied the practice of mindfulness with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. For over 18 years, he has worked to help people find inner peace through mindfulness.

He has published numerous articles, and is the author of the new ebook, Mindfulness in the Workplace: How Organizations Are Using Mindfulness to Lower Health Care Costs and Increase Productivity.

Charles has a master's degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University, with a focus on healthcare management and policy. He has worked for the North Carolina State Senate in writing legislation to address childhood obesity, and improve government efficiency. He has a background in accounting and business management, and has served as CEO of ITC, an international telecommunications company.

In addition to teaching mindfulness meditation to individuals, Charles is a speaker and does consulting to help organizations develop mindfulness training programs for their staff, in order to help them realize the cost-saving benefits of the mindfulness practice. He also leads workshops and mindfulness meditation retreats.
Healing Emotional Wounds from Your Past
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Getting physically hurt may be painful, but the healing process is straightforward. You can take medication, wrap bandages around your wounds, and wait a certain amount of time before your body heals.

Emotional pain is trickier, because there is no physical wound to heal, and it can be hard to let go and begin healing something you can’t see. Over time, this pent-up negative emotion can result in even more damage to your mental and physical health. Fortunately, there is a great way to start healing those emotional wounds: writing meditation.

What is Writing Meditation?

Charles A. Francis, co-founder of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute, has developed a form of “writing meditation” that focuses on love and kindness. Based on the ideas of Buddhism and other traditions, writing meditation focuses on a set of affirmations that will help change your views of other people and see the world differently.

Traditionally, these meditations were comprised of reciting verses either aloud or silently, or listening to someone read them. Francis decided to use writing as an alternative to previous methods, and believes it can help one focus better on what is being said.

By implementing a writing meditation, the Mindfulness Meditation Institute hopes to help heal wounds from past, painful experiences and lingering anger. There is a large focus on compassion and understanding the suffering of others, which will help show you how to forgive easier.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

There is a huge emphasis on mindfulness in this type of meditation. For instance, there may have been an event when you were younger that still pains you, such as a parent saying hurtful things or a personal failure. Utilizing mindfulness will help you realize that perhaps there was a reason for those events that may not have been easy to understand, such as your parents trying tirelessly to make ends meet or going through rough times themselves.

Emotional wounds need to be dealt with, as they can prevent you from moving on. To get a better idea of what the term “good health” means, Francis points out that it’s not a matter of being physically ill; rather having the mind and body performing at optimal levels. Letting anger linger can hold you back and lead to mental, physical, and emotional fatigue. Getting past the negative thoughts will certainly give you a new sense of freedom.

Aside from helping you shed painful emotions, being mindful and practicing writing meditation can help improve your productivity, according to Francis. Concentration, focus, creativity, and the thinking process are all areas that work more efficiently with a solid grasp of mindfulness. Additionally, you will be able to view things from a much broader perspective, access memories easier, and see how everything ties in to the bigger picture.

In the accompanying audio segment, co-founder of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute, Charles A. Francis, joins Dr. Mike to discuss how you can heal the emotional wounds from your past that keep weighing you down.
Transcription:

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 26, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Anti-aging and disease prevention radio is right here on RadioMD. Here's author, blogger, lecturer and national medical media personality, Dr. Michael Smith, MD, with Healthy Talk.

DR MIKE: My guest is Charles A. Francis. He's the co-founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. He's published many articles. He has a couple books on mindfulness meditation. Charles, welcome to Healthy Talk.

CHARLES: Well, thank you for having me on.

DR MIKE: You know, before we go into this next part about, you know, emotional wounds and healing from emotional wounds—because I find that topic really interesting. Before we do that, there is something that was in your e-book. I think it was the Mindfulness in the Workplace e-book about writing meditation. What do you mean by "writing meditation"?

CHARLES: Well, I'm glad you brought that up because that's a very powerful tool that we've developed for healing the wounds from our past. It all works together. The writing meditation is based on loving kindness meditation which is not new.

That has its roots in Buddhism and other Eastern traditions. Basically, what it is, is a set of affirmations, for example, "May I be more loving, more compassionate, more understanding," and the idea being that we change our attitudes and our views about other people.

So, we reinforce these ideas in our minds and we'll begin to see the world along those lines. Now, traditionally, what they've done is they've either recited the verses or they've listened to somebody else read or repeat them silently in their minds, but I don't know if it occurred to anybody to see what would happen if we write them down. So, that's what we did. We've taken the verses and we've kind of modified them a little bit to specifically target certain things that we want to reinforce and then we just write them, by hand, in a notebook, for about 5-10 minutes a day.

That's all it takes. What we found is, within less than a week, we found our attitudes and our behaviors change because we start to see people differently. For example, some people who were very shy, all of a sudden, they're at the store talking to strangers. You know, just engaging them in pleasant conversation; talking to the cashier. And, what we found later on, is that was very instrumental in resolving issues with people from our past. People that we may have had some anger and resentment towards and the reason that happens is because we change our views about people in general. So, that allowed us to see them with more compassion; be more understanding of their suffering when they did the thing that harmed us.

DR MIKE: Does this naturally, then, just lead to forgiveness more? You know, being able to forgive somebody that's harmed you in the past. By understanding them more, are you able to forgive them a little bit more—easier—and now you can move on from that?

CHARLES: Oh, absolutely. That's exactly what it does. It just changes our overall attitude toward people. People in our present day and people in our past. Also, the practice of mindfulness as we being to see things a little deeper. We start to, say, for example, our parents may have done things or said things that hurt us, but when we were children, we couldn't understand what they were going through. Maybe they were struggling to make ends meet and they were under a lot of stress. You know, as children, we don't understand that. All we know is that they made some comment that hurt us. So, when we can see that, we begin to let go and forgive.

DR MIKE: In your experience, Charles, when you are dealing with somebody with an emotional wound from their past; dealing with somebody or a situation—whatever it is—if they don't deal with it, if they can't move on from that, how does that affect them in the "now"? In the present? Not just emotionally, but even physically. I mean, do you see holding on to these kinds of emotional wounds, does that even affect people physically?

CHARLES: Oh, yes. Well, what the mindfulness meditation practice does is, it helps us function at a more optimal level. When we think of good health, we generally think of not being ill. However, on the flip side, how do we want to perform better? You know, we don't think of how can our body and mind perform at an optimal level? The mindfulness meditation practice does that. So, anything that prevents us from being mindful is going to be an obstacle to us having the best health possible. That's both mentally, physically and emotionally because they've found that mindfulness meditation actually improves the immune system. So, if you improve the immune system, that's something that's going to prevent a whole host of physical ailments.

DR MIKE: Yes. And, you know, just as a medical doctor myself and doing some counseling and stuff, I also notice that when people hold on to a lot of things in their past, even when there's something good happening in their lives, they somehow taint it a little bit because of that past. They somehow are always able to bring up that past and use the word "but". Things are going well, "but".

CHARLES: Yes.

DR MIKE: I just feel like they never fully experience the success of something that's going on for them in the present. I'm going to give the website real quick again. It's MindfulnessMeditationInstitute.org--all one word. His name is Charles A. Francis and on that site, you can find his articles and his book.

I want to move the conversation a little bit to this mindfulness in the workplace. You mentioned that organizations are using this to increase productivity, for instance, so are you working with specific companies and corporations, Charles?

CHARLES: At the current time, no. Right now, my focus has been the book itself. But, the way mindfulness and mindfulness meditation helps us increase productivity is because it improves a lot of our mental functions. It improves memory. It improves concentration, focus. It improves our abstract thinking. It improves our creativity.

Now, these are skills that are vital for us in being productive in the workplace because, very often, we go into the workplace and we do the best job we can, but if our mind is filled with unnecessary or excess thinking or cluttered...A lot of things that go on in our mind is just rehashing of things. So, that's like unnecessary traffic. But, when it's clear from that, the thoughts that we want to get through can get through a lot easier and a lot quicker. So, it literally improves our ability to think faster and, therefore, our I.Q. and our memory, as well. It makes it easier to access our memory.

So, it makes us more efficient and with mindfulness, we can also see things from much broader perspectives. In other words, you can see things in terms of our departments or the whole organization; the whole community; how our actions are affecting and having farther reaching implications.

DR MIKE: So, I'm going to give the website again. It's MindfulnessMeditationIntitute.org. My guest is Charles A. Francis. He's the co-founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute.

So, what's in your future, Charles? Are you working on a new book or something? What's up?

CHARLES: Well, I'm thinking about next year. The next book is going to be about mindfulness and relationships. How to delve deeper into that.

DR MIKE: Well, we're going to have to leave it there, Charles. I appreciate you coming on.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike.Stay well.

Alonso is a long-time health and wellness advocate who loves to write about it. His writing spans the scope of blogs, educational magazines, and books, both on and offline.

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