Lena Franklin

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 Sri Lanka in October

 

Changed By Travel: Lena Franklin

PHOTO: LENA FRANKLIN IN VIETNAM

PHOTO: LENA FRANKLIN IN VIETNAM

Gazing upon water buffalo in rice fields. The scent and sights of incense wafting through the air. The hypnotizing hum of an open market. Vietnam is a seductive assault on the senses. Growing up with a Vietnamese mother and American father, both of who loved SE Asia, I learned to embrace the organized chaos of my maternal homeland. And somehow, each time I journeyed back to Vietnam, there were always personal transformations to be had.  

My 2008 trip to Vietnam flashes like a vibrant picture movie in my mind. After my mom and I spent a week visiting my family in the Mekong Delta, we jumped in a van along with a handful of adventurous aunts and cousins (in typical Asian fashion!), and headed for a remote beach area on the Gulf of Thailand bordering Cambodia.

Hours (and many Vietnamese pop songs) later, we arrived in a small beach town/fishing village nestled into the side of a limestone mountain. Inside this mountain existed an ancient Buddhist temple, hundreds of years old. As we began wandering around the marketplace, we bought various tropical fruits and trinkets. Then, we spotted a peculiar stand where the vendor was selling rare looking birds and mammals for medicinal purposes. The sadness was palpable.

A light glimmered in my mom’s eye and I knew we had a plan! Using what money we had left, we bought as many of the birds and rare squirrels as we could. Operation freedom began! My inner-PETA-loving self was elated! Carrying cages of squirrels and birds, we began scouting the jungle area around the temple. Unbeknownst to us, two Buddhist monks had witnessed our strategic purchases and ushered us into the jungle at the base of the temple’s entrance.

In noble, focused silence, the monks gathered incense, a gong and a pair of pliers. They began chanting. The chanted vibrations penetrated every cell in my body. Blessing the sentient beings before us, one monk pried the wires open, releasing the animals back into the sanctuary of their natural habitat, their jungle home.

Through presence, these monks witnessed the desire of our hearts. Through action, they displayed the purest of compassion. Beneath words and tears, we sensed the simultaneous beating of our hearts. Through the present moment experience of my senses, my lens of the world was transformed. In that moment, I pledged to share the spiritual beauty of SE Asia with those in the West and, yet again, I was #ChangedByTravel. - Lena Franklin

Want to travel with Lena? Take a look at our upcoming small group tours to Asia.