The Road to Bliss

  • My spiritual journey into health and wellness began 20 years ago with the birth of my daughter. She and I both almost died during the delivery. After about two weeks, I was able to bring my daughter home with the help of a nurse. Five days later, my dad died.
  • I began to feel anxious, very depressed and very uneasy—it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. It took a toll on me and my nervous system; I went to see a therapist, who diagnosed me with PTSD and put me on a lot of medication.
  • I started to feel the clouds lifting, but I still wasn’t feeling myself. Every time I would have an anxiety attack, the doctor would give me more medication. The answer was, “Let’s just up the dosage.” At a certain point, I felt worse than I did in the first place. There had to be a better way.
  • A friend of mine was friends with Deepak Chopra, one of the pioneers of alternative mind-body medicine. My friend suggested that I go to his center in California; I met with Deepak, and he put together a program of yoga and meditation. I had always been into fitness and health, but I had a type-A personality and didn’t think I would be able to sit still and meditate. It was counterintuitive to what I had known throughout my life. But, at that point, I felt like I didn’t have another choice.
  • I practiced meditation twice a day, every day, for 30 minutes at a time. I started yoga, and I started eating healthier. Over time, I weaned myself off the medication. Because of the profound effect it was having on me, I got certified to teach meditation and help people find that balance and peace in their lives. (Editor’s note: Butler later became certified to teach yoga.)
  • About six years ago, I started to slip again and found myself feeling anxious and depressed. Things had happened in prior years that [pulled] me away from my practices. My sister’s 24-year-old son died. I went through a third divorce. I had an early-stage cervical cancer diagnosis. I had a hysterectomy that sent me into menopause. So, I immersed myself back into meditation and yoga—and, again, I started feeling so much better.
  • The book was borne out of wanting to process [what had happened in her life] and continue to heal. I felt it could be a resource for people experiencing loss and trauma. Each chapter starts with a part of my story and at the end of the chapter I have something that I call my bliss toolbox—[guidelines for] breathing exercises, mindful journaling, meditation, and establishing those habits to build your mind muscle in a positive way.
  • Having a gratitude practice every day is so important to get you out of thinking negatively. Everyone has something in their life to be thankful for. This also helps people to shift their perspective. If we are feeling sorry for ourselves and feeling alone with ourselves, the best thing is get out of our own head and go be of service to others.
  • We are a society that is addicted to instant gratification—taking a pill, rather than doing the work. But taking the pill, over time, just keeps you running on the hamster wheel.
  • I encourage people by telling them, “We’re all going to fail. We’re all going to mess up.” How can you redirect that failure? I look at that and think, “What a great opportunity to learn and grow.”
  • Living in bliss is really finding that happiness within yourself. No one can take that from you.

The Butler File

  • The Philadelphia native moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1991; her daughter, Brittany, is now 20.
  • Butler, a certified meditation and yoga instructor, currently offers classes at Yoga Factory & Fitness in Fort Lauderdale (1116 N. Flagler Drive).
  • Her recently released book, Return to Life: Finding Your Way Back to Balance and Bliss in a Stressed-Out World, focuses on using the obstacles in life as stepping stones for healing.
  • Return to Life is available as a paperback or e-book; it can be purchased on the HayHouse publishing website (hayhouse.com) or on Amazon.
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