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Warrior Monk Conversations 005: Surviving, Enduring, and Thriving Through Tough Times

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Warrior Monk Conversations 005: Surviving, Enduring, and Thriving Through Tough Times with Pam Butler

Pam Butler is the author of “Return to Life: Finding Your Way Back to Balance and Bliss in a Stressed-Out World” and the creator of the Bliss Toolbox Kit, simple daily techniques to celebrate your life and make every day better.

Pam shares about that time when she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, how her medications affected her, being introduced to Deepak Chopra and how it changed her life, using the tools like yoga, meditation, and mind-body connection to rise above the dark hole in her life, and writing a book about her resilience story.

She further shares tips on wellness, choosing change (which is Chapter 2 of her book), and her inspiring advice to her daughter.

Check out Pam's book Return to Life, Bliss Toolbox and Bliss Coaching on her website returntolife.com

Connect with Pam Butler on Instagram @pambutlermeditation, Twitter @Returntolife_ Facebook: www.facebook.com/r2lifepambutler

Intro and Outro Music: Hearts on Fire by Immersive Music

Connect with me for inspiring and educational content on Instagram @warriormonk and Facebook: facebook.com/thewarriormonk

Read more about the Warrior Monk mission here: www.thewarriormonk.com

#personalgrowth #resilience #wellness #wellbeing #pambutler


Warrior Monk Conversations 005: Surviving, Enduring, and Thriving Through Tough Times with Pam Butler

Welcome to Warrior Monk Conversations, a treasure trove of inspirational discussions in personal and professional development.

I am Poonacha Machaiah. Join me on this journey where I have immersive conversations with the most thought-provoking leaders and everyday heroes from our communities to inspire, educate, and empower you to build resilience and reach your highest potential. Join me on this mission to create a positive societal shift through the compassionate transformation of humankind.

Pam Butler is the author of Return to Life: Finding Your Way Back to Balance and Bliss in a Stressed-Out World. Through her personal 15-year battle with anxiety, depression, grief, heartbreak, and even PTSD diagnosis, Pam teaches how these experiences can become stepping stones to break free, find healing, and thrive in life. Pam has developed a variety of creative workshops and classes to help people forgive, redefine, and live their lives with purpose and freedom. Pam is a mind-body connection expert, a certified Chopra Primordial Sound Meditation teacher, a certified Hot FusionTM Flow yoga teacher, and Creative Insight Journey transformational coach.

Poonacha: Pam.

Pam: Hi, Poonacha!

Poonacha: After all these years, we started off wanting to do coffee with Pam and Poonacha, and today, it's a great pleasure and honor to have you on my podcast. And I have to tell you, it's my pleasure and honor because over the years I've known you, and I can honestly say you're one of my dear friends.

Pam: Oh, thank you. I love how our friendship and relationship has evolved over the years.

Poonacha: Right.

Pam: And we are able to share and support one another in many, many ways. So thank you for having me here today.

Poonacha: Thank you. So I'm going to start with one question. The first one is, what is your purpose?

Pam: My purpose is my passion. My passion is sharing my story, sharing the heartaches and the tough times that I've been through, and how I've not only survived through those times, but really have thrived through those times.

Poonacha: So let's go back, we were talking about 1997 in La Jolla. And I suddenly, I mean, that's a good starting point, if you don't mind, or if you want to say. What are those, what are those milestones? Or what are those moments in your life which is---when you look back today, you say, 'wow', you know, 'wow, did I---not only endure, I thrived, and now, I can find some meaning and the purpose'? And, and you wrote a book about it, right?

Pam: Yeah. So the book Return to Life was really about that resilience. Back in 97, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and was on a lot of medication for the depression, anxiety, and insomnia. And the medication actually, over time, left me feeling worse than the original diagnosis. I was then introduced to Deepak Chopra out in La Jolla, and really kind of dove into yoga, meditation, and the whole mind-body connection, which back in 97, was kind of foreign to me, you know. Now, it's become much more mainstream, much more acceptable, but back in 97, you know, it really hadn't been talked about, but I was feeling so bad in my physical body and my mind that I was willing to give it a try. And once I dove into it, it forever changed my life. I mean, just the practices of learning to get comfortable, being uncomfortable, and learning how to move your body, allowing the breath and the mind to begin to heal your body. So those practices enabled me to, over time, get off of all of my medication, and really begin to feel better and stronger than I ever had before.

Poonacha: What was, can you just take me back to the day, if you can remember, when you just had to listen to the diagnosis, what was it like? What are your feelings? And what were your initial thoughts? We just,

Pam: Yeah, you know, it's interesting. I kind of relive that when I wrote the book. And at the time, I was honestly very numb to everything. I was so depressed, and I was kind of walking through life as a zombie. The diagnosis had kind of left me paralyzed, to, at times, I couldn't even get out of bed, to, at times, I couldn't step out my door to walk my dogs without taking the Xanax. So, the diagnosis itself, I think I was numb to, but I had a newborn child, and I knew that I wanted to be able to function as a mom, not only for myself but more importantly for my daughter, and I wanted to be able to give her the love and attention that she needed. And then, as she got older, I wanted to be the role model, and allow her to see that life can knock you down, it can bring you to your knees, but it's a choice, and it requires action and dedication to work your way through that, and finding the tools, and for me, that was the yoga and the meditation, to be able to bring yourself out of that dark hole.

Poonacha: You know, just before this, we were talking about the resilience framework and ABC, the one is the attitude, two is the belief of impermanence, and C is the choice. And I guess the choice which you made is about 'Here's my daughter coming into this world, and I need to be there for her. I need to be a role model.' And that's a radical choice, right? And people always ask me, like, when I speak to people, it's like, "how come some people in the biggest adversity, they kind of pull themselves out of it?" Right? They initially kind of exist, and then they thrive. So if we can really help them make, give them a toolkit to make these tough choices, right?

Pam: Right. So chapter two of my book is called Choosing Change. Because I do really think that that can be a pivotal point for people to identify why you want to make the change in your life, what is your---what's the reason to get up every morning? What's the reason to pull yourself out of that difficult time? It's difficult to make that change and make that choice. Because when you're in a dark place, and I've worked with many people that have been in that dark place, and you really have no ability, your brain has kind of shut down, and you have no ability to really be able to think, and to think about moving forward. But finding that reason, whether it's a child, whether it's a pet, whether it's a parent, just anything that you can grab on to, that's like your life vest. And that's really what can kind of pull you out of that dark time. So just finding that one thing that you feel you need to make that change for.

Poonacha: Life vest. You know, Martin Seligman, who is Dr. Martin Seligman, who is the father of Positive Psychology, he has a framework, and he calls it PERMA. P is for positive emotions, right? E is for engagement, really impor---observing what you do, R is relationships, M is meaning and purpose, A is a sense of achievement, right? I think we all need this meaning and purpose, and another thing is tribe. We were just speaking about, 'who is my tribe?' It is ironic, today, that we live in a world, we are super connected but really lonely, when it comes to meaningful relationships. And actually, I am fascinated, right? Through life, when you go to the Olympics, you probably have 10 coaches. Right?

But when you go through life, who are your coaches? Who are your mentors? What does the tribe look like? So I think one of the big, most important things, as we kind of look into this whole area, how do we create tribes? Right? For me, I feel good that, you know, 'you know what, if there's something, I can call my friend, Pam.' Right? It's interesting, right? So if I had to make a Hail Mary pass, I feel I'm not alone. I can make those calls, and I can get help. But there are so many people out there who feel nobody will ever understand what they're going through. Right? So building this connect, who was there for you when you were going through this?

Pam: My family 100%. Because they're the people that love you unconditionally. So it is, it's, it's finding, you know, even if it's just a handful of people that you can rely on, and I would have to say that having like-minded friends, right? So you and I have been connected through the tribe of meditation, and that kind of brought us together with a commonality, but being able to connect with people, and creating community with like-minded people, and having the conversations that are difficult that you might not normally have in a social setting, you know, there's the cocktail conversation, which is always very surfacey.

Poonacha: Sure.

Pam: But then, when you, whether it's through the podcast or a blog or a conference that you attend, you're with like-minded people that want to have those deeper conversations, that actually want to talk about real things. So it gives you permission. The more that I can share my vulnerabilities, the more that I can share my story and what I've been through. That gives you permission to be able to share your vulnerabilities and, and to be able to ask for help. I mean, that's the biggest thing.

Poonacha: Ask for help.

Pam: People don't want to be a burden. People don't want to ask for help. But now, I'm the first person, I mean, I went through a challenging time with my daughter a couple months ago, and you were one of the first people I talked to about it.

Poonacha: Yeah. I'm very grateful for that, that you called me.

Pam: So, you know, it's nice to be able to have that kind of deeper connection.

Poonacha: You know, I've taken your yoga classes, and in your yoga classes, I really, you know, kicked some butt.

Pam: I think your Mom is yoga. (both laugh)

Poonacha: So, you know, having done yoga and meditation all these years, and what is, where do you want to take yoga? I know, do you have your own style? Or do you want to kind of, have you come up with something which is a Pam Butler yoga style, or are there something which you have done to tweak it to make it yours? Or what's a, because I know yours is slightly different. So what do you, what do you incorporate into your style?

Pam: Yeah, that's interesting. There has been an evolution over time. I've been teaching meditation for almost 20 years. I've been teaching yoga for a little over 10 years. And my practice for myself and the practice that I've now kind of brought out into the community where I live is really a combination of yoga and breath work, mindfulness, and just holding that safe space for people that might not have ever done yoga before. When I first started off with yoga, it was in a studio, it was a yoga community. Everybody knew what they were doing. Everyone was flexible. And you kind of become robotic to a point, with that kind of yoga. Where I now feel that my teachings have evolved to is being able to take yoga out into the community of people that may have never done it before. They're curious about it. Maybe they're a little bit older. Maybe they've had some sort of ailment, and they don't feel that they can go to a studio setting because they would feel stupid.

Poonacha: Right.

Pam: So I kind of make it very inviting to move your body slowly. And really, honestly, Poonacha, it ties back into that sense of community. When I encourage people to come to one of my workshops or my classes, I talk more about how it's just bringing people together in community, to be able to support one another in a safe space.

Poonacha: Absolutely. I think it's Sangha, right? The community. I think what you've really done well, I've observed your own process, is that creating a community where you live,

Pam: Right.

Poonacha: And now, I know you're branching out and looking at helping first responders, police, and fire department, which is such an important aspect. Because these people are warriors and at the frontline, and the amount of stress they go through, I think a practice of yoga and meditation, breath work, or movement and breath work, whatever you want to call it, with how you're bringing it in, is really important. But I think, having observed, what I think you really bring to the table is not just yoga and breath, you bring your intention.

Pam: Right.

Poonacha: Right?

Pam: Yeah.

Poonacha: You bring your intention. Because, you know, just listening to you earlier on today, by the way, we are preparing for the Impact Forum, and the thought process you are getting, thinking about 'how do I get people engaged? What do I, how do I raise the vibration?' I think so much of what we do is bringing that energy into what we do. Right? And I think so much of the teacher or the practitioner is about what do they bring in to their community, and that is not just a class.

Pam: Right. So it's setting an intention as a teacher. It's setting an intention as a leader, just like you set your intention when you start a yoga class. And the more mindful that we can be with what we're doing in our day to day life, the more intentional we live, the more intentional our practices become, the more intentional our relationships become. And that's just something, you know, with time, and wisdom, and experience, and, unfortunately, age, you begin to realize the importance of intention.

Poonacha: So you are reverse aging?

Pam: I am.

Poonacha: So, what are any, any key tips you want to share?

Pam: Key tips for reverse aging, I would have to say, it's really living your life in wellness. So getting up and moving your body every day, no matter what it is. It doesn't have to be a yoga practice. It could be just walking outside in Mother Nature, connecting with Mother Nature, eating mindfully and respectfully, you know, trying to be very conscious of the food that you put in your body. What we put into our body fuels our body.

So being mindful with movement, being mindful with what you eat, and then, having that sense of compassion for other people, and really wanting to be able to hold and support other people, and allow them to go through their journey, but feel that, you know, 'I can be a part of that,' and be a positive change in that. So my mindset every day is really to be a loving, compassionate person, friend, mother. Whatever it is. I really feel very responsible with that.

Poonacha: So, 1997. Now, your daughter is just finishing up college. What are the three lessons or three messages you want to pass on to your daughter as she moves into the next phase of her life?

Pam: Self-esteem, you know, having that sense of self-worth within herself, particularly as a young woman. You know, I think it's important to be able to have your own identity and to have your own passion and purpose.

I think passion and purpose would be number two. You know, giving yourself a reason why do you want to get up every day? What is it that you can contribute to society in a positive way?

And then, I think the third thing is to have fun and not take life too seriously. I think we've seen so many young children and teens having so much stress put on them by their parents, by society, to perform, get great grades, get a great job, make all this money. And it's, you know, as we know, kids are suffering from mental illness, kids are committing or attempting to commit suicide. And that pressure, I think, is just way too much.

So I really, you know, as much as having passion and purpose and working hard is an important part of life, I think also that playfulness and having fun in life, which is what I hope to bring to Impact Forum, you know, let's just have fun. We're having very serious conversations, but we have to have fun.

Poonacha: And we do have fun every time we hang out.

Pam: Yes, we do. (laughs)

Poonacha: And I think, because, you know, inherently, isn't it ironic that we have no control? Right? If you talk about it, like, with, what, if you want to think of a next thought, thoughts come and go.

Pam: Right.

Poonacha: We don't know---we are born, and then, eventually, we are going to die. We don't know when. We don't know the mode. But in between, we really get caught up in this thing called ego. Right? And I think, like Dr. Ara said, 'a bad', he was quoting somebody else, he said, 'a bad day for the ego is a great day for the soul.'

Pam: Right.

Poonacha: You know, and I, I do agree that we have to live lightly, lightness of being. And I think that's something, I think it's, it's a message we have to share. Any parting thoughts? You know, when we look at, you know, you work with people from all walks of life, you know, from leaders to CEOs to community, when you look at business today, how can business leaders be more conscious? Do you have things which you want to share from your perspective in looking at business and leadership?

Pam: I think the notion of living an intentional and mindful life. So as a business leader, you know, and taking that ego out of it, and having that connection with your employees and the people that work with you, and making them a part of the community of the workplace, having, I think wellness brought into the workplace, you know, you think, 'oh, it takes time away from productivity,' but it actually adds time to productivity because people are building their immune systems. They're not sick as often. They're able to focus with more attention and get things done more productively. So, I think, you know, creating that sense of wellness community within the workplace is a really important thing.

Poonacha: And I think, to everybody listening, you know, one of the things, if you want to ever understand well-being in the corporate world, do reach out to Pam Butler. The information is going to be on the show notes. And I think if you really want employees to be engaged, to be present when they're at work, I believe it's essential to look at how you can incorporate wellness. And obviously, working with you, Pam, I think you've been an amazing person to work one on one, to work with groups. And I really think bringing what you're doing into the corporate world would be an essential thing because today, we are on all-time low in trust. People, when they go to work, they don't trust their CEO, they don't trust their managers, their engagement in the job is all-time low. And so if you can bring in this mind-body connection, right, movement and meditation into the workplace, not only will it impact the bottom line, but we'll have more healthier, joyful, in the workforce.

Pam: Right.

Poonacha: So anyway, with that, I'm really grateful to you.

Pam: Me too. I love our conversations all the time.

Poonacha: To be continued. More version.

Pam: Thank you, Poonacha.

Poonacha: Thank you, Pam. Lots of love.

Imagine a world where no one ever feels helpless or hopeless. Join me on the Warrior Monk mission to create a positive shift through the compassionate transformation of humankind.

Warrior Monk Conversations 005: Surviving, Enduring, and Thriving Through Tough Times with Pam Butler

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