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Founder, Katrien Franken

Katrien Franken is a multiple award-winning artist/photographer, researcher, facilitator, philanthropist, activist, social entrepreneur, as well as founder of Open Up, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Through her organization Open Up, founded in 2015, she challenges and supports humans in theory and practice to open up in consciousness and the body for transformative change - socially and culturally. Building practice that can provide holistic solutions to global problems. 


Designing methodologies and approaches that leverage the psychosocial, experiential and educational potential of breathing. Individuals and organizations hacking into the new to discover new places of power and responsivity that help shift/shape new realities, new cultures. She is inspired to include a breathing philosophy and practice that investigates what respiration and opening up means in a complex changing world and society.

She started life in generic network engineering, and soon got fascinated by the potential of human networks and became increasingly engaged and curious about with the inner dimensions of change and healing. Katrien works across multi-disciplinary projects, and with organizations, universities, executive leaders, artists, health professionals, politicians, policy-makers, and refugee youth. She is a leading facilitator who has guided individual and group experiences for thousands of people around the world, both in person and online. 

The many dimensions form part of her research into what she coins "Alive Learning education", which is in service of opening up a space for a different and extra-curricular form of learning. How to join the alive, and how to care for it, makes up the possibility we are as humans. Katrien is calling for collaborations across nations, sectors and generations where she is weaving visions of the possible for whole systems change through inner systems learning. Not just our inner lives, but the connections between us and how we make sense of the world.



I consider myself part innovator, empowerer, activist, philosopher, research inquirer, and a natural disrupter. I deeply explore the question: "How can we open up in consciousness in such a way so we may improve our interaction with each other and with the world? And, how can the depth of experience in and shared process become a center-piece in creating our future?" 


Engagements & Education

Katrien actively creates and participates in opportunities for true impact and healing in the world. Opening innovative possibilities to improve the inner health of humans, and inspire each other to build a future of conscious–connected–actionIn for-profit and non-profit arenas she's creating avenues to bring new ways of seeing and being in the world. In 2020 she founded two independent philanthropy initiatives which deeply invest and aim to make visible what's possible in exploring new understandings of human healing potential and growth. Katrien is part of the faculty of THNK School for Leadership and mentors, advises and coaches executive stewards of all ages with their inner transition and transformation. She is an Essential Counsellor and trained as a therapist in trauma and tension release, accredited by SIAF and approved by the CRKBO by the Dutch government and within the European Union guidelines for quality vocational education. In 2020 she was certified as a Warm Data Lab host by Nora Bateson of the International Bateson Instituteand helps create new ways of shifting perception of interdependency. She is a returning lead breathwork facilitator at the Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Research (ICPR), and has introduced Breathwork for/as Psychedelic Therapy in 2022 at legal psilocybin retreats in the Netherlands. She is part of the teachers team for IPI, Integrative Psychiatry Institute in Colorado, and a Retreat Lead in Breathwork for the first group of Dutch general healthcare professionals and Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy training in the Netherlands.

Vik Muniz, Fragment in Four Dimensions (Blue and Green), 2017 and Five Rips, 2018_edited.j


Katrien was introduced to conscious connected breathwork in 2004 which completely changed her perception on life. She realized that using this modality produced an increasing sense of wellbeing, cultivating the exceptional. Whenever she encountered presence, she experienced a completeness of being while becoming more open, experiencing effortless peace, explosive insights and profound, awakened relaxation. This alive learning entwined the journey of inner and outer learning, and eventually healing. "If we truly start to notice that nothing is more important than breathing, it would challenge us with new ways and tasks of thinking and of learning". A continuous search for “how” to live — the “how” also is the very nature of inspiration.

With a history of cancer, and "being in recovery", responsible for her own well-being, Katrien was introduced to re-discover her response and ability to engage with life. Her cancer affected her whole being, and all layers of existence. She journeyed to a number of places with illness and had to address it on all levels. This experience;  a falling into death opened up a transformative alive' learning. This ecological awakening, together with a deep interest in the evolution of consciousness led to the birth of Open Up.

​With Open Up she hopes to support deeply meaningful changes in people's lives, and encourages an educational and experiential approach in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas and discoveries for mutual learning, growth and enrichment. To push gently into our edges, soften and open to our strength and vulnerability, delight in the joy and freedom in our authenticity – and come home, individually and together to our intimate belonging. Ultimately the wholeness she seeks is in the creation of our connected wisdom.

Open Up is founded in 2015, community focussed and always heart–led, challenging and supporting new ways of seeing, thinking, doing and being.


Things that have guided Katrien for the past 20 years:

  • I am curious about the confluence between mysterie and knowledge, openness and growth, longing and belonging, relation and connection, and the "space in between"

  • I deeply listen and through that offer questions that open to the source of the issue where human complexity can be unravelled in quest for depth, meaning and healing

  • My work is non-linear and experiments are central in everything I do. Nothing is fixed or final 

  • I value experience as the highest good. Seeing's believing, but feeling's the truth

  • I work with what is most alive to come alive, because that is often where life is

  • Bridge-building between worlds (e.g. inner work, psychology, cognitive science, the arts, theatre)

  • I work with the inner dimensions of change and healing

  • I weave visions for the possible, uncovering and discovering stories to re-store, re-imagine and expand perception of the interrelationality

  • Building praxis for embodied action

  • The appetite for time-bound experiments, curiosity, miracles, imagination and mutual enrichment. 


Methods and teachings Katrien is trained and/or certified in:​

  • 20 years of Zen buddhist practice & meditation

  • Holotropic Breathwork as created by Stanislav Grof (ongoing since 2016)​

  • Certified level 3/4 BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release by Giten Tonkov

  • Breathwork based on the work of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen

  • Certified Warm Data Lab host by Nora Bateson of the International Bateson Institute

  • Certified Essential Counsellor by Rafia Morgan and Turiya Hanover (School For Essential Counseling and SIAF) including The Enneagram personality typology, Essence work - the Lataif

  • Certified Yin Yoga teacher (200 hrs by Anat Geiger through Yoga Alliance)​​​

  • Trained in Client Centered Therapy based on the work of Carl Rogers

  • Trained in The Diamond Approach - A.H. Almaas

  • Trained in Somatic Experiencing (Peter Levine)

  • Trained in Emergent Dialogue by Elisabeth Debold and Thomas Steiniger

  • TRE (Level 1) - Tension and Trauma Release Exercise of David Berceli

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