Lena Franklin: Mindfulness Guru & Pravassa Guide

LENA FRANKLIN IN VIETNAM WITH PRAVASSA | PHOTO MADELINE PENFOLD

LENA FRANKLIN IN VIETNAM WITH PRAVASSA | PHOTO MADELINE PENFOLD

We love traveling the world with wellness guru's from all walks of life. Years ago we connected with Lena Franklin via Instagram - proof that technology can be used for good - and we've been following her own transformation ever since. Lena's latest interview in Where Traveler gives you a deeper look into her own journey.

How did you get interested in meditation?

It’s been a journey for sure. I’ve always known I wanted to be a therapist. I’m a psychotherapist by training, and come from a [family of] mental health professionals. My dad is a psychologist, I have two aunts who are social workers, so it was definitely all in the family.

While I was in University my mom suddenly passed away, and she was really the one who taught me meditation and mindfulness. Once I experienced this loss, I really realized there is something more we can utilize for our own healing. Something beyond the traditional therapy hour, and that’s when I really started delving into yoga, finding my meditation practice and then I went on to do different trainings in mindfulness meditation.

It was through my own experience that I felt how powerful it was, because it is really this way to be with all of our emotions, the ebb and flow of life, without breaking. The capacity to be aware, to honor our emotional systems and to be compassionate towards the self, all of those elements fit in, and there’s something really amazing here. I started my psychotherapy practice— a mindfulness-based practice where people come in and I do therapy and meditation instruction. That cascaded into doing retreats and mindfulness trainings and corporate trainings and talking more about mindfulness with companies and different organizations.

For those who haven’t practiced meditation, or perhaps busy travelers on the go, where do recommend they start?

I would say mindful belly breathing. Our belly area is where we feel grounded and where our intuition exists, and the energy there is usually very depleted when we are stressed, anxious or depressed. Most of us are under that category in some way. If we can wake up and do 5-10 minutes of belly breathing using an affirmative mantra—for example, inhaling, ‘I am’ and exhaling ‘at peace’ into the belly—and letting go of the tension there, just a few minutes of that practice can be transformational.

 

Want to join Lena's next trip with Pravassa?
We head to Bali, Indonesia March 14 - 25, 2018

 

11 World Class Wellness Resorts

It's no secret that our founder, Linden Schaffer, has one of the coolest jobs around. No matter where she travels around the globe, staying at a hotel that promotes health and wellbeing is paramount. From New Zealand to India to right here at home in the U.S., Linden reveals some of the best options in Singapore's World Travel Magazine.

Read the full article
Book a Pravassa customWELL journey to one of these hotels.

 

WANT MORE TIPS FOR HOW TO START OR MAINTAIN A WELLNESS ROUTINE AT HOME OR WHEN TRAVELING? PICK UP a copy of LINDEN SCHAFFER'S NEW BOOK
 LIVING WELL ON THE ROAD

US Wellness Travel Standouts

Our founder, Linden Schaffer, may spend most of her year outside of the country, but she still has a love for wellness when she's home. Check her some of her favorite US spots that allow anyone to add wellness to their routine. 

via Instagram

1 Hotel Central Park, New York, NY – New York does not lack in the hotel department, but this stunning new property is committed to bringing touches of wellness into your stay in the form of reclaimed wood decor, farm-to-fork food, Telsa electric vehicles, and eco-friendly cleaning products.

Laughing Lotus Yoga, New York, NY – You’d be hard pressed to find a more New York wellness vibe than that of Laughing Lotus with its pink crystal chandelier and street art homage to Ganesha. A yoga mainstay for the past 18-years, you’ll find plenty of asana to get your rock and roll on here.

via Instagram

via Instagram

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, New Mexico - These sacred hot springs have long been a gathering place for healing and rejuvenation. With transfixing, meditative views and a mud bath, it’s time to bake out the toxins under the desert sun.

True Food Kitchen, Phoenix, AZCo-founded by famous Integrative Medicine doctor, Andrew Weil, with now 16 locations (and counting) around the US, this southwest original was the first of it’s kind in 2008. Finding delicious organic, anti-inflammatory food at your fingertips has never been so easy.

via Instagram

Wanderlust Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA – Yoga studio, event space, café, and all around haven, Wanderlust has become the go-to spot for wellness seekers in it’s short tenure at its permanent home in Hollywood. Hosting guest speakers and teachers from around the globe will inspire you on your road to wellness.

Café Gratitude, Los Angeles, CA – 100% vegan and organic may be the current mantra of L.A., but this popular mini-chain, with 3 locations throughout the city, has been serving up yumminess since 2004. The bright beautiful beachy interiors will make you want to linger for multiple courses.

5 Essential Truths That Unite The World (From Someone Who Travels For A Living)

Linden in Thailand | photo: @sfreneenyc for Pravassa

Linden in Thailand | photo: @sfreneenyc for Pravassa

From the time I got my first passport at 16, I've had a case of wanderlust.

The need for constant exploration has taken me across six continents and into 40 countries and counting. Traveling opens your eyes to the fact that no matter our race, religion, ethnicity, or circumstance, we are all in this together. As Mark Twain so famously wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."

No matter where in the world I find myself, my journey of discovery has led to these universal truths.

1. Simple is better.

During a family vacation I took as a child, my mother accused the maid at our hotel of stealing her engagement ring. After a day of upheaval, my mom found her ring, secreted away in a hidden layer of her suitcase. She had been so afraid of losing the ring that she had actually hidden it from herself. After much embarrassment and profuse apologizing, nothing like this ever happened again—to my mom or me.

The experience taught me once and for all that you need less than you think when you travel. Today, I advocate for using a carry-on whether you're traveling for five days or five weeks. Having less with you at the start of your trip is physically and spiritually freeing, and it shows you can really survive on less than you think.

2. Intuition is your guide.

Fear stops many people from ever taking a step outside their comfort zone, let alone outside their country. Remember that some basic common sense and intuition is all you need to head in the right direction. A motorbike ride up a mountainside, a trek through the woods, dinner with a family of strangers—these are all experiences that have enhanced my travels. I've embarked on these somewhat uncomfortable adventures because they felt right, and I've declined a fair share of offers that did not. You know more than you think, so be open to your intuition and trust what your body tells you.

3. Plans change.

Traveling is a lesson on relinquishing control, as something is always bound to go wrong on the road. Life goes on after canceled flights, lost hotel reservations, sudden changes in local government, and other unexpected hiccups. Sometimes these diversions from the original itinerary can even lead to unexpected lessons or exciting discoveries. Stressing out over the things you cannot change is wasted energy. Early on in my travels, I began leaning on my yoga teachings and quickly noticed that being able to go with the flow can mean the difference between an amazing trip and a terrible one.

4. You have the power to make someone's day.

Energy, both good and bad, is contagious. If you make the decision to start your vacation on a positive note—saying hello to the person next to you before you curl up to sleep on the plane, smiling at the taxi driver who picks you up from the airport, learning how to say "thank you" in a new language—you can set yourself up for a wonderful experience. It may not always be easy, especially when your plans change, but take a breath and tap into the feeling you had when you first booked your trip to give yourself a boost.

5. People are inherently good.

Travel is the best educator, and learning from other cultures is priceless. Everyone in the world is seeking a way to feel more connected and less alone. From the waitress I chatted with in a cafè in Istanbul to the history professor I met in Cairo to the young woman studying to be a nurse in India, I've connected with all types of new people and found it extremely easy to make friends on the road. These complete strangers have enhanced my travel plans by suggesting new things to see and do, inviting me to their dining tables so I wouldn't have to eat alone, and sharing their life stories—all of which have shifted how I relate to my surroundings. To me, these chance connections are what make the world so beautiful. - Linden Schaffer

Article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen

CustomWELL: Mix & Match Your Perfect Getaway

With thousands of travel companies out there, how do you know who to trust with your hard earned money and limited vacation time? Pravassa's scouted, vetted and specially curated wellness travel offerings are always being updated. We spend about half the year traveling to track down the best places in order to offer you the most incredible experiences. Here's a sneak peak at some of our latest finds throughout Southeast Asia.

Want to book a customized wellness vacation of your own? Get started here.

5 Ways To Wellness: New Mexico

America’s Southwest is filled with vast sprawling landscapes and colorful floral oases that can be mistaken for mirages. New Mexico has an added air of Wild West and Butch Cassidy fused with healers and art galleries that make it unique in its own right.

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

Physical Activity

Rock Climbing. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, rock climbing is a year round sport in Taos (though morning shade is the best time to get started). Test your skills with the vertical to low angle granite cliffs in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which offer beginners and experienced climbers bolted routes or multi-pitch climbs. Pack your gear and set out for an adventure on these uncrowded cliffs that offer magical panoramic vistas.

Stress Reduction

Absolute Nirvana. Located in a quaint B&B and run by an ex-pat French couple who were inspired after numerous trips to Bali, this spa has an other worldly feel. Spas and healing treatments are available on every corner in Santa Fe; to stand out, Absolute Nirvana only works with Master level therapists (that’s 17+ years of experience) and only use green, chemical-free massage products. I’d give you more details, but I only remember being expertly rubbed down and coming out of the room feeling like jelly.

Photo by Pravassa

Food Education

Santa Fe School of Cooking. In its 25th year, the award-winning Santa Fe School of Cooking led the charge toward a local, sustainable lifestyle tradition when it opened in the late 1980’s. Offering more than just hands-on cooking classes, you can make reservations for a restaurant walking tour or sit down and enjoy the spoils from a demonstration class. If you don’t have time for any of the above, just swing by for the market place and stock up on clay pots, cookbooks (written by the founders of course), and southwestern spices.

Spiritual Connection

Ojo Caliente Hot Springs Tranquilo. The sacred hot springs of Ojo Caliente have long been a gathering place for healing and rejuvenation. One of the oldest natural health resorts in the U.S., these springs have been generating geothermal mineral waters for thousands of years. The cliffside pools have transfixing, meditative views and the mud baths allow you to bake out the toxins under the desert sun.

Photo by Pravassa

Photo by Pravassa

Cultural Involvement

Taos Pueblo. As the only living Native American community, this UNESCO World Heritage site is worth a visit. Local residents will give you a tour through the village and walk you through their oral history. The adobe buildings date back to 1000 A.D. with most of the structures having been preserved from their discovery in the 16th century. Take time to chat with some of the 1900 Taos Indian residents about their thoughts on advancement of modernization and how it will impact their cultural heritage.

Pravassa’s 5-tenet wellness philosophy is rooted in Breathe. Move. Mindfulness. Nourish. Experience. These principles have guided our company’s wellness practices from inception and are the foundation on which we build our travel vacations and educational content.

1 Thing We Never Fly Without

IMAGE PRAVASSA

IMAGE PRAVASSA

MindBodyGreen asked top travel experts, including our founder, Linden Schaffer, what is the one thing they never travel without. 

I never board without my essential oil wet wipes — your plane seat doesn’t clean itself!
— Linden Schaffer

Read what the other experts had to say here.

 

India: A World of Wonder

PHOTO: PRAVASSA

PHOTO: PRAVASSA

Full of colorful saris, fragrant spices, and rich cultural heritage, India is magic and one of my favorite destinations of all time. My first visit to Northern India included being welcomed into a family’s home for an extravagant dinner, a privately guided tour of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur led by a Sanskrit scholar, and sitting in silent meditation in Sarnath, where it is said the Buddha gave his first teachings. But it was in Varanasi on the Ganges, where my hand was grazed by a dead body laid to rest in the holy river, that the cycle of life and how small a role we all play in this world became apparent and provided me with a #changedbytravel experience that will forever be like none other. - Linden Schaffer

Want to plan a custom wellness vacation to India? Tell us more!

 

Article was written for and originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.

Dispatches From the Road: #changedbytravel in Vietnam

PHOTO: MADELEINE PENFOLD FOR PRAVASSA©

PHOTO: MADELEINE PENFOLD FOR PRAVASSA©

Almost one year ago on a scouting trip to Vietnam I ended up in a White Thai village on the outskirts of an area called Mai Hich. Walking around the empty streets it was quiet and peaceful – birds singing, laughter in the distance. I asked my guide a question about one of the houses and not knowing the answer he looked around for a local to ask.

At that moment, coming toward us up the road was Minh Chung, a 19-year-old boy. A chance meeting that would change my life and his life forever. After our brief conversation, which happened on November 9, 2016, I could not get Minh Chung out of my head. With thoughts of the U.S. election on my mind and the crazy divisiveness on display for the world to witness, I was moved to send a very personal email to my close family and friends. It read:

I’m writing to you from the jungle of Vietnam. Today I met Minh Chung, a 19-year-old White Thai Villager who is studying English on his own from a journal where he writes down every new word he learns. His hope is to pass his university entrance exam and win a free scholarship to school to study to be a tour guide. This is just one example of the many #changedbytravel experiences I am lucky enough to have every time I travel. It reminds me there is hope and the desire to better ourselves all around the world no matter your current situation.

What this email did not convey was the depths of my compassion and empathy for Minh Chung. I literally called my husband to discuss the possibility of sponsoring Minh Chung and sending him to University. As thoughts of helping him continued to swirl in my head, I struggled to find a sustainable solution that would further Minh Chung’s education without taking him away from his single mother, who desperately needed him around for her care and to contribute to their household.

Last week, Pravassa and our Vietnam group of travelers were lucky enough to return to this White Thai village and meet Minh Chung. What I had decided to do was ask our wellness travelers to bring university to him, by building a library to help him further his studies. Thirteen people from the U.S. (and Costa Rica) traveled thousands of miles with their favorite English language travel novel and shared how important these books were to them. Sitting in Minh Chung’s house being served tea in borrowed cups from the neighbors and sharing our collective knowledge was an indescribable moment. At a loss for words, Minh Chung wouldn’t stop smiling and saying thank-you, telling us how words were failing him at that moment.

He did mange to tell us that often the tourists he meets give him money. And while “I like money, sure. It is a gift like this that is much more meaningful and will help me in my life.” This is the reason I travel. This is how I’ve chosen to use my place and privilege in this lifetime and pay it forward. It is small moments like these that I strive for. These moments connect our souls to each other and the to the world. Many thanks to the Pravassa group and our guide Lena Franklin that helped make this dream come true and truly offered a #changedbytravel experience to Minh Chung. And a big thank you to Madeleine Penfold for the beautiful image that captured a moment of pure joy. – Linden Schaffer

 

Looking to have a #changedbytravel moment of your own?
Pravassa curates both group and custom wellness travel opportunities around the world. Just tell us where you want to get started.

 

We Know You're a Super Hero.

Ever thought about traveling with Pravassa, but weren't sure what to expect? Self-care takes center stage. Thank you Organic Spa Magazine for shedding some light on our wellness travel philosophy.

At Pravassa, we purposefully build in free-time during our trips. We know you’re a super hero in real life, so just because you’re sitting by the pool or sleeping in, you’re not lazy. Sometimes people just need to hear that.
— Linden Schaffer, Pravassa Founder