About Charles A Francis:
Charles 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 meditation.
Charles has published numerous articles, and is the author of the new book, Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple. He is also the creator of 12 Steps of the Mindfulness Meditation Practice outlined in the book.
Charles has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University, with a focus on health care management and policy. He has worked for the North Carolina State Senate in writing legislation to address childhood obesity, and government efficiency. He has a background in accounting and business management, and has served as CEO of ITC, an international telecommunications company.
Charles also earned a master’s degree in International Relations while studying in China and Japan. There he studied various facets of Asian culture such as society, history, economics, and politics. He also studied both the Chinese and Japanese languages.
Charles has conducted research in systems evolution, and has made major breakthroughs in identifying key principles regarding the evolution of systems. These systems include organizational, social, economic, and biological systems. His research has significant implications toward not only how organizations are managed and how public policy is structured, but also in how humans evolve physically and consciously.
Over the course of our hour-long conversation, Charles and I discuss his new book Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner Peace, his tips for cultivating a successful meditation practice, mindful consumption, studying mindfulness with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and much more, including:
- The book’s purpose: “To give beginners a solid foundation of the practice, and to help experienced practitioners get more from their efforts…This new approach will help you find the peace and happiness you’re searching for, and to discover your true potential.”
- The growing interest in mindfulness and meditation in society and in the media, including Anderson Cooper’s recent 60 Minutes piece.
- Knowing that meditation is good for us, but not really being sure what we’re doing. “Part of the problem was that I didn’t realize there were many forms of meditation. And each person who I asked for advice gave me different advice. I just ended up more confused than before.”
- The importance of setting goals, making a simple goal statement, and writing it down. “Once we get on that track, it’s easier to stay committed.”
- “Just as an athlete trains his body, a meditator trains his mind. We train oursleves to observe more clearly because we often see things through the lens of pre-concieved ideas. Things that we believed in from our past; just our general perception of the world is slightly biased.”
- Mindfulness meditation as a practice, not a religion. “It’s compatible with most spiritual traditions.”
- What are they key tools of observation in mindfulness meditation? “Concentration and mindfulness itself. Concentration helps us steady our mind. If we want to be able to observe anything with clarity, the first thing we have to do is be able to focus. We need to keep our attention on something to be able to see it.”
- How do we develop concentration in meditation? “The way we develop that is through the counting technique. It’s very simple. You count your breath one through five silently in your mind. When you get to five, start over again. What that does is anchor our attention in the present moment. The moment that our mind drifts off into the present or the future, we’ve lost complete touch with reality. Because reality is always in the present.”
- What’s next? “Once we establish a little mental discipline through the concentration meditation, then we transition into the mindfulness portion of the meditation session. So we can look deeper. We’re looking at things beyond the surface.”
- The ultimate goal of mindfulness meditation: “The whole idea is to see the world with greater clarity, so that we can make better decisions on how to interact with other people and the world to reduce our own pain and suffering.”
- “Because a lot of our pain and suffering is self-created. It’s like walking around in a dark room and you stub your toe because you can’t see clearly. That’s the way we walk through our whole lives. We don’t really understand relationships and so we do things that create pain and suffering in other people and in ourselves.”