Carol Hendershot

What Is This Thing Called Mindfulness?

“…we don’t have to look outside the present moment to experience wisdom, compassion, and the boundless purity of our true nature. In fact, these things can’t be found anywhere but the present moment.” —Mingyur Rinpoche We use the word mindful or mindfulness in a lot of different ways. Be mindful of your step. Do that mindfully. Be mindful of the planet by recycling. But mindfulness is not just watch your step, be careful, or recycle. Those things have been around for a long time and they are very important, but not what we mean when we talk about mindfulness here. …

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Change Your Brain With Mindfulness

It wasn’t all that long ago that scientists believed that our brains stopped growing and changing in our mid-20s. Then, new technologies were born. EEGs, PET scans, and fMRIs gave us the ability to observe the inner workings of living, functioning human brains, and everything changed! These amazing machines created a window into a brain that is constantly molding and re-molding itself from birth to death. When we learn something new or train in a new skill, our brains get bigger in areas that relate to that new knowledge. When we quit using certain areas of the brain, they shrink. …

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You’re Stronger Than You Think

I’ve been contemplating resilience in adversity a lot lately. We’ve been forced into a position where we can either fold to the insurmountable obstacles in our path or reach deep down inside and find the reserves to climb out of the hole. This pandemic has pushed us all into a place of discomfort and uncertainty, and the question we must ask is how are we going to respond? Because as we are continually reminded, we don’t get to choose our circumstances, but we do get to choose where we go from here.  Where it All Began When I was younger, …

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I’m Not a Mess! Life is Messy

“Life is hard!” It was such a relief when I first heard that. Until then, I had believed that life was hard because of some internal flaw and I was to blame. When I hit a bump in the road my internal message was, “I am such a mess.” I had entirely missed the message that “Life is just messy.” From my vantage point, all those other people were perfectly happy, enjoying wonderful vacations, and doing meaningful work because they had it together; not that they had found ways to triumph over the messiness of life. Struggling is Not an Error—It’s …

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Resilience During COVID-19

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” —M. Scott Peck The Coronavirus pandemic has shuttered schools, closed restaurants, canceled events, disrupted travel, and changed our lives in both small and dramatic ways. We are truly in uncharted waters as we try to navigate the choppy waters of uncertainty and change.   Please know that we are …

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What is Resilience?

Resilience in nature is often defined as the ability to bend without breaking, or to return to an original condition. Resilience in human beings is the capacity to weather adversity, to encounter difficulty and to bounce back, and to even grow from our struggles.   Resilience is important because no matter what we would like to believe, we can’t insulate ourselves from misfortune. The fact is, no one gets out of this life without experiencing struggle and suffering. And it is often these very challenges that give our lives meaning.   So, how do we meet the inevitable challenges of …

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We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” —Hopi Elder Anyone who has spent as much time as I have in the self-help section of a book store can tell you that there are innumerable opportunities to improve upon this thing called “me/you.” The possibilities of self-fixing are mind-boggling and endless. Self-improvement is our national pastime, and there are all kinds of ideas about how to be different and better or how to make up for some flaw. Some books share their insights with humor, others in seriousness, but what they all have in common is the absolute conviction that …

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The Gift of the Breath

“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes If it were always a fist or always stretched open You would be paralyzed Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding As beautifully balanced as birdwings” Rumi I remember the first time I felt my breath. No, it wasn’t as a child in my mother’s arms or even as a young adult; it was in some nondescript moment, sitting on my sofa, simply breathing in and breathing out and feeling the soothing comfort of my breath. That was a big AHA moment for me because I realized that …

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Letting Go of the Tail of the Elephant

There is a story about a group of blind men who came upon a strange and wondrous creature called an elephant. None of them had ever heard of such a strange beast before and decided to check it out. With some trepidation, they approached the animal from different angles. One approached from the front and touched the elephant’s trunk, proclaiming that this creature resembled a very thick snake. One came from the side and as he grasped the elephant’s ear, shouted, “No, this animal is like a fan blowing in the breeze.” Another bumped into the animal’s leg and was …

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Caught: How We Can Get Addicted to Almost Anything (and How Mindfulness Can Help)

The brain is an amazing, simplifying mechanism. It loves to automate as much as possible; otherwise, how would we make it through our lives (or even one day)? The more automatic our brain can make our life, the more energy it can conserve for the hard work of meeting new experiences and figuring out how to make them more automatic. So, how does the brain do this in real-time? It’s a process called Reward-Based Learning. In other words, something happens, the brain decides on a strategy to deal with it, and there is a result. It might be good or …

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