A new year means a new mindset. I recently had the chance to chat with mindfulness-based psychotherapist and international spiritual teacher, Lena Franklin. I had the opportunity to take a class with her, and I appreciated how impactful and much-needed the class was. Lena has a mindfulness business based in Atlanta, where she sees individual clients, provides mindfulness corporate trainings, teaches personal growth workshops, and guides meditation retreats around the globe.
She is also head of Mindfulness for Welzen, a mindfulness meditation app featuring practices and programs to enhance your health and happiness. Raised in a hybrid Buddhist/Christian household, Lena was introduced to meditation as a young child.
Today, this mindfulness foundation has grown into a deep passion to guide others on a journey towards inner peace, emotional balance, and a felt sense of wholeness. She has been featured in various media outlets including The New York Times, Modern Luxury, and World Traveler magazine.
What was your journey like to get where you are? My journey was one of profound loss to profound awakening. My beloved Buddhist mother died suddenly when I was in graduate school, and the seeds of mindfulness she planted within me as a child began to bloom. By embracing suffering as a teacher and taking up mindfulness as a path, I began my journey to a life of deeper connection, presence and meaning. Now, as a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, wellness speaker and international spiritual teacher, I share the ancient, eastern wisdom teachings that my mother first exposed me to in order to help people heal and ignite their personal power.
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps? My foundational wellness principle is, “To journey inward is our highest calling.” My advice is to drop IN to inner awareness, LISTEN to what your soul is truly saying, and TRUST that inner voice to guide you in the direction of your limitless human potential. Beyond societal expectations, limiting beliefs and fear lies the life that is most aligned with your happiness, wellbeing, and the unique gifts you have to share with the world.
In a world that isn’t always authentic, how do you manage to stay authentic and transparent with your audience and content? My intention in sharing with my audience is always to center The Work. Beyond glossy photos in lush locales and enviable captions exists the potential to share content that is REAL, informative, and consciousness-elevating. I make it a priority to share informative mindfulness tools and tips as often as possible, as well as reach more people so that I can HELP more people. More than likes and followers, this is the reason I share.
What are some of your favorite self-care tips? My three favorite self-care practices are Mindful Eating, reading, and Silent Sundays. When I practice slow and Mindful Eating, it allows me to drop in to gratitude and presence. In reading, I remain a perpetual student of mindfulness, cultivating a beginner’s mind. And each Sunday, I spend at least the first half of the day in silence, journaling and meditating to reconnect to my soul.
What is your favorite recipe/dish to create for a dinner with friends and why? I just made a really delicious and soul-warming Vietnamese chicken, mushroom and ginger soup, straight out of my Mindful Mama’s playbook. It’s made from bone broth, chicken, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, greens, garlic and ginger, and is excellent for the immune system and gut health. B-Vitamins GALORE. Don’t forget to season with Tamari, fish sauce and sriracha!
What is some meditation tips you have for beginners? My 3 ground rules for every meditation practice, especially for meditators who are just starting out, are: *release judgment* — it’s okay to have thoughts and you DON’T have to be a perfect meditator; *release comparison* — you don’t have to compare yourself to the yogis you see on social media, the Buddhist monks in the monastery, or to yourself at any given moment; and *embrace a beginner’s mind* — each moment is new and we can restore and rejuvenate ourselves with every practice.
Why do you recommend mediation? I recommend meditation because scientists are beginning to learn what the ancient yogis have known for thousands of years: it creates profound brain change, literally re-wiring our minds to be more receptive to presence and peace. Additionally, meditation facilitates the greatest relationship we’ll ever have… the one we posses with ourselves.
What can one expect from one of your retreats? Practitioners at my retreats enter a safe and sacred space to learn about Buddhist psychology, Energy Medicine, meditative tools, Mindful Movements and more; to process; and to dive deep into their own inner being. Members of the retreat sangha, or spiritual community, that we co-create walk away with easy-to-implement mindfulness practices that keep them aligned and attuned well beyond our time together.
What would be your last meal? Noodles! My Vietnamese cultural roots are strong, and I’ve never met a noodle I didn’t love.
What is your favorite quote and why? “Your biography becomes your biology.” This quote from medical intuitive Caroline Myss encapsulates a deep truth: we hold every thought, emotion and life experience in the vessel of our bodies, and in doing the body-based work of presence, we can heal ourselves on a cellular level.
As creativities, we get burnt out what do you do to stay creative? Our body houses a system of energy centers, and the creative center is located in the same physical space as the sexual organs. Sexuality is an inherent part of our creativity and a part of our fundamental nature. I stay tapped in to my creative energy by embracing rather than repressing my sexuality and my divine feminine essence.
What exciting things can we expect from Lena Franklin in 2020? In 2020, there are an abundance of exciting happenings! I’m so excited to share my *Journey to Awakening* Vietnam retreat alongside Pravassa Wellness Travel! I’m taking an intimate group to my maternal homeland March 26 – April 5 for a Mindfulness Vacation like no other. I’m also offering a *THRIVE in Self Love* half-day retreat at the Waldorf Astoria in Atlanta alongside Christina Garrand, yoga teacher and energy worker, on Saturday, February 29th! From 10 am – 3 pm, we’ll embrace a day of sacred self-care where retreaters will have the space to ignite intention and tap into their inner power.
Please visit Lena’s website to learn more about her practice and schedule of wellness trips, retreats, and continuing education offerings: www.lenafranklin.com
Photo Credit: Wanders to Wonder photography, Christian Hutter Photography for Pravassa, Chelsea Patricia and Libby Malcom