Fall 2015

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96 Venice Pam Butler believes she can lead a blissful life. The yoga and meditation instructor, who will debut her radio show, "Return to Life," this month on VividLife Radio, has reshaped her life's work to give others that same belief. But things weren't always so clear. Nearly two decades ago, Butler suffered the darkest time in her life. Three weeks after almost dying in the delivery room while giving birth to her daughter, her father passed away unexpectedly from cancer. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she was wracked with anxiety and then depression, which rendered her bedridden. She was given a strong cocktail of medications, then given more to counteract their side effects. On top of that, she was trying to care for a newborn. Butler knew she couldn't sustain this lifestyle and sought to make a change. "I felt that there had to be another way to manage what I was going through," she says. "There had to be a better way to manage my care and my treatment, and I wanted to get better." A friend mentioned he knew Deepak Chopra, the celebrated guru in alternative medicine and spirituality, and suggested she visit his center in La Jolla, California. Butler spent a week at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, where she had one-on-one time with Chopra to learn more about meditation, yoga, diet, exercise and ayurvedic medicine. Meditating for 30 minutes twice a day had the biggest impact. "Meditation is not only healing our body; it's reversing the damage that's been done, so that we're able to rewire and restructure," Butler, 51, explains. "I want to make it accessible and mainstream so people don't feel that it's a religion, or that you have to shave your head and go to the Himalayas to meditate with monks." Butler brought her lessons back to Fort Lauderdale, and under doctor supervision, weaned off of her medications. She returned to the center a second time, then went on a spiritual journey to Egypt. So moved by what she had learned over the months, Butler became certified as a meditation instructor. "As I began healing myself, and in turn sharing what I was learning and sharing the traumas and the things that I had gone through, people were really starting to respond and wanting to learn more," says Butler, who currently teaches at The Yoga Joint. "So many people are suffering every single day." Currently teaching meditation and other ways to handle life, Butler says most of her clients—from teachers to stay-at-home moms to corporate executives— come to her for help with stress management. She encourages her clients to meditate every morning to start off their day relaxed and calm, fighting what she calls the "monkey mind" (the inability to focus racing thoughts), from which so many people suffer. Butler is excited to share what she knows with more people, including on her new radio program and in her upcoming book, "Return to Life: Waking Up Your True Self." The book will chronicle her experience with PTSD, discovering meditation and yoga, and studies in which she has participated that explore their contributions to healing. "We aren't taught what to do when life feels insurmountable," Butler says. "You do have to try and dabble in some different things and see what fits best for you. You never know where it's going to lead you. I never thought that I would be teaching and sharing these tools that I've learned." v MANTRAS & MEDITATION With a new radio show and book on the horizon, meditation instructor Pam Butler looks to share a mindful message—one breath at a time. RISING STRONG After using the power of meditation to triumph over tragedy, Pam Butler takes to the air waves, empowering others with her valuable lessons. BY CHRISTIANA LILLY PORTRAIT BY RYAN STONE

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