“Compassion will always lead you down the right path.” with Beau Henderson & Terra LaRock

Self-awareness, authenticity, and compassion will always lead you down the right path. When we live our values — especially values that aren’t always popular in business, like vulnerability — we give everyone we interact with permission to do the same, and not just people on our team. When vulnerable authenticity, deep caring for others, and […]

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Self-awareness, authenticity, and compassion will always lead you down the right path. When we live our values — especially values that aren’t always popular in business, like vulnerability — we give everyone we interact with permission to do the same, and not just people on our team. When vulnerable authenticity, deep caring for others, and awareness of our own needs and blind spots all come together, teams can really thrive and workplace culture can only bloom from there.

As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terra LaRock.

Terra LaRock is founder and CEO of Mindful Mamas and a child, family, and school psychologist. In February 2020, she launched a mindfulness and self-care app for moms and moms-to-be called “Mindful Mamas.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us Terra! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Asa school psychologist, I’ve used mindfulness as a way to teach my students and their families how to take better care of themselves and process their emotions. Then I experienced postpartum depression and OCD after the birth of my first child, and I realized how paramount mindfulness was to my own healing and overall well-being.

Mindfulness has become an integral part of my daily life. It is really quite incredible to look back on the challenging days when my daughter was born. Those were the hardest, most rigorous days of my life, but that path led me to where I am now: filled with compassion, gratitude, and a whole lot of love.

My experiences led me to launch a mindfulness and self-care app for moms and moms-to-be called Mindful Mamas. I can now teach mindfulness to mothers everywhere.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

A formative moment of my career happened when, as a school psychologist, I realized that mindfulness was something you could start teaching at a very early age. I taught a whole classroom of 25 kindergarteners how to lay on their backs, put a stuffed animal on their bellies, and rock the stuffed animal to sleep. All 25 of them lay there in silence for ten minutes without one redirection, without one kid not buying into it. Afterward, the teacher said to me, “Can you please come do this again and lead this every single day? This was incredible!” To her, the day felt more anchored and calm after that, and she even noticed a change in herself. At that moment, I realized how powerful intentional pauses can be, even for small kids. They get the opportunity to just BE, be exactly how they are without anyone putting demands on them. Mindfulness allows you to be your true form, with all the emotions you have now and without a sense of urgency to fix them. Trying mindfulness with five-year-olds was my big aha moment.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Self-awareness, authenticity, and compassion will always lead you down the right path. When we live our values — especially values that aren’t always popular in business, like vulnerability — we give everyone we interact with permission to do the same, and not just people on our team. When vulnerable authenticity, deep caring for others, and awareness of our own needs and blind spots all come together, teams can really thrive and workplace culture can only bloom from there.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Belonging by Toko-Pa Turner will always be one of my favorite books, and I consider it recommended reading for every human being. It bridges psychology, spirituality, and universal human experiences. It’s one of those books that is so powerful that you have to read it one chapter at a time, savor and digest it slowly, then pick it up when you’re ready to be transformed again. It impacted me so much not just because of the exquisite poetry of Toko-Pa’s writing style, but because it gave words to experiences that I thought were unique to only me. The pains and sorrows that had me feeling misunderstood for years became connections to every human being throughout all time after reading this book.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Mindfulness is gentle awareness. Engaging in a mindfulness practice is like mini-meditations sprinkled throughout your day that help you bring your attention to the present moment. Meditation is a process of aligning the body, mind, and emotions through conscious breathing and awareness of your thoughts, sensations, environment, or inner landscape.

You can meditate in any position but it’s typically practiced in a seated position or lying down.

You don’t need a lot of time to practice mindfulness through meditation. You can take “short sips” of self-care by giving yourself little mindful moments throughout the day.

Mindfulness takes the practice of meditation and applies the skills to your day-to-day life.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Researchers say that brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Meditation gives you a way to clear the mental noise, so you can feel calm, clear, and centered.

Mindfulness counters chaos and helps foster your wellbeing. Practicing mindfulness helps you shift out of a state of chronic depletion, into a more stable, energized, and emotionally controlled individual.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

1. Breathe Deeply. When we are stressed, our breathing tends to become shallow and quick. When we take slower, deeper breaths, it stimulates the vagus nerve and downregulates the nervous system, sending a flood of relaxation and calm throughout the body.

2. Visualize Rooting. A visualization is a powerful tool that can’t be overlooked. Your brain can’t actually tell the difference between having an experience and imagining one. Because it is so effective, visualization is increasingly recognized as a powerful tool for physical healing, emotional wellness, and much more.

3. Foster Gratitude. Gratitude is known to “gladden” the heart. Keep a Gratitude Journal where you write down a few things you are grateful for each day. Or enlist your family to write one thing they are grateful for and place these gratitudes in a designated jar. You can even decorate a label for it and title it “Gratitude Jar.” Place your pieces of paper in the jar and watch it fill. Randomly take one out each day to read aloud and feel grateful.

4. Recite Mantras. A simple yet powerful mantra is “I am feeling ______ and that’s okay.” Fill in that blank. When you name an emotion, you are less likely to suppress it, and when you say “that’s okay,” you give yourself permission to feel exactly what needs to be felt in the moment. The first step to process strong emotions is to identify them.Write down mantras and stick them up on your wall, refrigerator, bathroom mirror. Listen to and recite mantras using an app.

5. Practice Meditation. In a meditative state, quiet and still, close your eyes and allow your consciousness to expand outside of your body. Whether you have 60 seconds or 10 minutes, a mindfulness practice that helps you lock into the here and now can help to reduce stress, deepen relationships, get better sleep, and cultivate self-love.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

1. Breathe Together. Try breathing in unison with your family or partner. Your brain feels safer when your actions mirror the actions of others. It helps you feel connected to the other person without needing to have a full conversation. This can be especially helpful with very young children. Try to match their breathing pace. Breathe in when they breathe in, and out when they breathe out. Your breathing can connect you with others.

2. Make gifts for others. Sometimes the best way to connect to someone is to simply think about them. Think about something they would love to have. Think about something you could do for them, or something you could make for them. Taking the time to make something for a loved one puts them into your thoughts, just like spending time with them. Take a few hours to create a gift and let your mind focus on the lucky recipient. Connect through your thoughts.

3. Acts of Service. If you know that a particular chore, task, or type of conversation activates anxiety for someone you love, doing it for them can be one of the most loving acts you can do. For example, if going grocery shopping feels overwhelming for your partner, doing it for them can bring some welcome relief. Plus it makes you feel like you are contributing in a bigger way.

4. Support them facing their fears. Anxious people avoid. While that avoidance is protective, it can also narrow their life. Someone who avoids an anxiety-inducing activity can often face that activity head-on when they have the support they need. For example, if your partner is anxious about going to a party, talk beforehand about what specific circumstances or people come to mind about the situation, and discuss how they would feel most supported in those moments (perhaps you offer to step in during a lull in a conversation). Anxiety can be very isolating and having support can be the very thing someone needs in order to boost their confidence and feel more fearless.

5. Support their relaxation. Anxious people need pockets of time to relax deeply, off-load their thoughts, and get into their body, though they may not always create these spaces for themselves. Running them a bath with epsom salts, rubbing their feet while you watch Netflix together, or setting up an at-home yoga class for them while you take the kids for a long walk to give them space can all be unexpected ways to show love and offer additional touchpoints of wellness, caring, and connection.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

There is a convenience to using mobile apps for developing and practicing mindfulness. Some of our favorites are:

Down Dog — Customizable yoga classes of varying length, difficulty, style, and voices (our Carina Devi is one you can choose from).

Headspace — General meditation lessons and practices.

Insight Timer — Use this to meditate with others around the world.

Mindful Mamas — I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our mindfulness app geared for moms at all stages of motherhood.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“The lessons don’t appear until the emotions have cleared.” That one came from Carina, our Head of Mindfulness. She’s a walking mantra generator. We had just had a moment in our business where we thought that the whole thing was going to come crashing down. Every entrepreneur runs into moments like that, and it’s important to not be too quick to find the lesson in the experience. We have to let ourselves feel and process our frustration, disappointment, and any other uncomfortable emotion that may be coming up. Only then can we take clear, strategic action from a grounded place, when the lessons of the challenge become apparent.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

When things go wrong, when there is chaos or trauma, we hold our breaths. We fail to breathe deeply and fully. I want everyone to really, truly breathe and be fully aware of their breathing. I believe that if everyone around the world paused at least once a day to put their hands over their heart or belly and took one deep, rejuvenating breath, we would have more regulated and connected human beings. Breath is powerful. Breath gives us life.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Instagram and Facebook at @mindfulmamasclub, Twitter @mindfulmamasapp, and Linkedin at

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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