How To Meditate Daily & Observe Mindfulness, As Told By Psychotherapist Lena Franklin
When wellness comes to mind, one would equate the physical aspect of it. But wellness transcends fitness, and mental wellbeing is integral to one’s holistic health. Today, mindfulness is recognised as the equilibrium to exercise, with wellness warriors like The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, curating retreats, spearheading digital detoxifying Silent Night programs, and inviting prominent gurus like Lena Franklin to lead a weekend of meditation and inner peace.
Armed with an eastern-western approach to spirituality and healing, the mindfulness-based psychotherapist of American and Vietnamese descent integrates science and Buddhist meditation into her sessions, of which we were fortunate to experience on her last visit. Before the session begun, we got Lena to expound about establishing inner peace and balance, and how we can weave it into our lifestyle.
What is meditation and how do you practice it?
Meditation is like doing bicep curls for your mind. I like to say it’s a lifestyle, it’s a way of being and it’s our natural state. We have to peel back the layers to get to our natural state, like unlearning some things we were taught, in order to get to our true selves. It’s not always about establishing a very long seated meditation, it’s about weaving in skills through the day that are portable practices to bring you back into the state of presence.
How can one meditate off the mat?
Even if I’m not in a seated meditation, I have the little tricks and tools to bring my mind back into the present. Besides my mala bracelets as reminders, I’m always connected to the sensory experiences around me. If I’m walking to the car; I feel the sun, the ground below my feet, the breeze. This is a more sustainable way to practice mindfulness.
Why is it important to meditate?
Meditation and mindfulness benefits everybody because we all have a mind and human brain and most of us are stressed. The key is to find a practice that resonates with you.
What does your psychotherapy session touch upon?
First, we establish intention. I would ask a client how they want to feel day to day and their soul’s deepest desire. We don’t often pause to ask ourselves that and end up living lives that aren’t in alignment with our intention: it could be a sense of balance, more joy, or more compassion. Most people find that where they’re spending their time and energy are not in alignment with how they want to grow in their lives, as they are not from places of joy and self-care and love. It’s about conditioning. This is how we build a relationship, before moving into the practices.
How do you handle scepticism from clients?
The mind creates so much thought and scepticism so we explore what your resistance is and the stories you’re telling yourself around that. Then, we explore the parts that guided you into the room. Fortunately, there’s a lot of powerful research supporting mindfulness. It is now common knowledge that these practices change the brain in a very powerful way when done consistently.
What are some main modern problems people seek healing for?
Usually it’s living a life not aligned with who they are. It’s either a job, career, partner, or living in a city that doesn’t speak to who they are. That creates stress, anxiety and depression, and sometimes disease. Then there's addiction to technology–so we find ways to to use technology consciously. We have a choice to pick up our phone or get on social media or check email, and when we notice the urge, being mindful can help with addictions.
How does a typical retreat look like with you?
We begin with a talk on the benefits of mindfulness, where mindfulness comes from, and its philosophy. I teach grounding–connecting earth energy with the body to create a very stable foundation for mindfulness practice, then we transition to mindful movement practices with Yin yoga. Halfway through the morning, we’ll do a long seated mindful meditation, and during lunch break I teach on mindful eating, the sensory experience of food that can be observed daily. In the afternoons, I work on releasing people’s barriers with contemplative journaling, breath work to release energy, and ending with mindful manifestations. I’ll talk about the art of manifesting, how do we truly manifest our attentions. At the end of the day, I do a restorative practice like a yogi mudra.
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