The Mindful Leader: How to Lead with Clarity and Compassion  | Pamela Marcheski

EP162 Nicole Greer square (6)

How Can Mindfulness Enhance Your Leadership Skills?

In this episode of the Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast, Nicole Greer interviews Pamela Marcheski about mindfulness and its application in leadership.

Pam Marcheski is the principal owner of Intentions to Actions Leadership, a company specializing in mindfulness-based leadership. She has twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive in Fortune 500 companies, leading teams of over 1,000 employees, and managing billions in business. Pam now focuses on coaching individuals and organizations in operational excellence, leadership development, and strategy implementation.

Her coaching approach combines practical experience with certifications in mPEAK (Mindfulness, Performance, Enhancement, Knowledge) and Marshall Goldsmith’s coaching methods. As a certified Executive and Organizational Leadership Coach, she excels in helping leaders align their intentions with actions through customized coaching.

Pam is an active member of the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Institute of Coaching, SHRM, and Women’s Leadership Institute. An alumnus of the Executive Leadership Institute and Leadership California, she has worked with executives from NASA, Raley’s, Black Hills Gold Utility, Mary Kay Cosmetics, TSA, Sempra Infrastructure, Chevron, and Leadership California. Pam resides in San Diego, California, close to her adult son.

🌟 Main Lessons & Ideas:

  • Mindfulness in leadership
  • Transition from corporate career to opening a mindfulness-based leadership company
  • Definition and benefits of mindfulness practice
  • Mindfulness, Performance, Enhancement, Awareness, and Knowledge (mPEAK) program
  • Internal aspects of mindfulness practice
  • Formal and informal mindfulness practices
  • Importance of self-awareness and intentional practice
  • Mind-body connection and brain’s response to mindfulness
  • The power of mindfulness in breaking habit loops
  • Small mindful practices for everyday life


As the host of the Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with some truly inspiring thought leaders. In a recent episode, I sat down with Pamela Marcheski, the principal owner of Intentions to Actions Leadership, to delve into the transformative power of mindfulness in leadership. Pam’s journey from a corporate career in retail to founding her own leadership company is a testament to the profound impact mindfulness can have on our professional and personal lives.

The Essence of Mindfulness

During our conversation, Pam demystified the concept of mindfulness, explaining that it’s much more than a trendy buzzword. Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose, in a non-judgmental way, to the present moment. It’s about recognizing our thoughts and emotions for what they are—simply thoughts and emotions—without getting caught up in the stories we tend to weave around them.

From Corporate to Coaching: Pamela Marcheski’s Story

Pam shared her personal transition story, revealing how she left the corporate world to start her own company focused on development and coaching. Her emphasis on mindfulness in leadership is not just a professional choice, but a personal passion shaped by her own experiences and the benefits she’s witnessed in others.

The Mindfulness Performance Enhancement Awareness and Knowledge (mPEAK) Program

Pam’s expertise is further solidified by her certification in the mPEAK program from the University of Southern California. This program integrates mindfulness, positive psychology, and strengths-based strategies to help individuals achieve peak performance. It’s a holistic approach that fosters resilience, focus, and emotional intelligence—key components of effective leadership.

Mindfulness in Practice: Formal and Informal Techniques

We explored the practical side of mindfulness, discussing both formal practices like meditation and informal ones like mindful breathing exercises. Pam emphasized the importance of these practices in managing the barrage of information and stimuli we encounter daily. By cultivating mindfulness, we can build resilience and navigate the complexities of modern life with greater ease.

The Mind-Body Connection and the Power of Presence

Pam eloquently described the mind-body connection, noting how our thoughts and emotions manifest physically. By becoming more attuned to these sensations, we can gain strategic insights into our well-being. For instance, someone with TMJ or frequent headaches might discover they’re clenching their jaw often, and through mindfulness, learn to release that tension.

The Cushion: A Metaphor for Intentional Practice

The “cushion” became a central metaphor in our discussion. Whether it’s an actual cushion, a chair or even your bed, it represents the space of intentional practice. Pam and I talked about the importance of posture, breath, and the act of observing without judgment. This practice isn’t about perfection; it’s about presence and returning to the breath, again and again, to cultivate awareness.

Mindfulness Beyond the Cushion: Applying Practice to Life

One of the most powerful insights from our talk was the idea that mindfulness practice serves us in active situations. It’s not just about getting good at sitting still; it’s about preparing ourselves to handle life’s challenges with grace. By practicing mindfulness when we feel our best, we strengthen our mental muscles for the times we need them most.

Leveraging Personal Strengths Through Mindfulness

Pam connected the dots between mindfulness practice and the ability to leverage our strengths more effectively. By being present and aware, we can stretch ourselves without succumbing to burnout. Mindfulness allows us to tap into our innate capabilities and bring our best selves to our work and life.

Creating Tools for Mindfulness: A Book and Cards

Pam and I also discussed her process of creating a book and cards designed to facilitate mindfulness practice. Filled with quotes and quips, these tools are meant to prompt reflection and deeper understanding. Pam’s initial dissatisfaction with her book’s first version led to a reworking that transformed it into a meaningful journey of practice.

The Ripple Effect of Mindfulness in Leadership

We touched on the concept of social contagion—the idea that our energy and emotions can influence those around us. As leaders, being mindful of how we show up can have a significant impact on our teams and organizations. Mindfulness helps break habitual responses and fosters a more intentional, positive presence.

Gratitude and Encouragement

As we wrapped up our enlightening conversation, both Pam and I expressed our gratitude for the opportunity to share these insights with our listeners. We encouraged everyone to start incorporating small mindful practices into their daily routines and to approach life with curiosity and compassion.

Mentioned in this episode:


Pamela (00:00:00) – You know, mindfulness becomes just kind of a word today, right? That’s like a buzzword. But it truly is a practice. And we really want to do something with intention. And it’s really about paying attention on purpose and being, non-judgmentally, to what’s happening in the mind.

Voice Over (00:00:16) – This is the Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast, your source for the strategies, systems, and insights you need to turn your dreams into your destiny. Every week, we dive into dynamic conversations as our host, Nicole Greer, interviews leadership and business experts. They’re here to shed light on practical solutions to the challenges of personal and professional development. Now here’s your host, a professional speaker, coach, and consultant, Nicole Greer.

Nicole (00:00:42) – So welcome, everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast. My name is Nicole Greer and they call me The Vibrant Coach. And I am here with another amazing guest. It is Pam Marcheski. Pam is the principal owner of Intentions to Actions Leadership. It is a mindfulness based leadership company that centers around helping individuals and their organizations identify their desired leadership intentions in both their personal and professional life. With the structure of using the traditional leadership development model combined with the foundations of mindfulness, Pam helps to guide a roadmap with actions that align with those intentions. Welcome to the show, Pam. I’m so glad you’re here.

Pamela (00:01:26) – Well, thank you Nicole. So glad we get to be together.

Nicole (00:01:29) – Yeah, yeah. Tell me about where you are on the planet right now. Where are you at?

Pamela (00:01:33) – On the planet right now? I am in San Diego, California. Yeah, yeah.

Nicole (00:01:38) – Oh my gosh. Beautiful there.

Pamela (00:01:40) – It is , although, we have a thing called May Gray and June Gloom around here. oh.

Nicole (00:01:45) – Really?

Pamela (00:01:46) – Yeah. But, it’s blown off. And now the sun is out, and it’s beautiful, so.

Nicole (00:01:52) – Oh that’s fantastic. So tell me a little bit about your company, and then we’re going to dive in, everybody, into a program that is called mPEAK. Am I saying that correctly?

Pamela (00:02:04) – You did. Yeah. Yeah I’ll tell you I’ll tell you the long version when we get to it.  So, yeah, yeah. So, you know, thanks for asking. About six years ago, my life really changed, and I made a transition out of my corporate life and made a decision that I was going to open my own company and really focus on development and coaching. And I had some really great supporters and mentors that encouraged me to go down this road. And, in my old world, I really felt like coaching was very much a part of it in what I did. But now just doing it in a different setting, right, with different people, and working with different organizations. And then I also felt something really important is that there was a gap missing, mindfulness in our development today. And, with the conditions of the world changing so much and so much coming at everybody, I had really started my own practice in my old world, and I really wanted to bring those tools and skills to those that I coach. So I spent a year getting certified through UCSD in mPEAK, and that really helped guide intentions, actions, leadership, really helping people get to what their intentions are, setting those actions in place and really making sure we close the gap to make sure we align with that.

Nicole (00:03:22) – That’s fantastic. And you had a career in retail. Do I have my story right?

Pamela (00:03:27) – Oh, you do, yes. Yeah. Decades in retail. Yeah.  Twelve  years at Sears and thirteen years at JcPenney’s and a blip of a couple of years at Kohl’s. So I got to see a lot of big boxes along the road. 

Nicole (00:03:43) – That’s right, that’s right. And, for those of you who are sitting there going, retail, I had a little stint in retail. And we all know that, like, that is just a place where you could lose your mind.

Pamela (00:03:54) – You know, it is, I loved it. It was obviously a completely different landscape today. And the conditions are completely different than they were then.

But, you know, I started in a fitting room and my last role was a vice president. So I must have enjoyed it along the way. 

Nicole (00:04:13) – That’s fantastic. So I was in the hotel business and the restaurant business. And so I think it’s a little the same.

Pamela (00:04:19) – Well, if you don’t have a degree in human behavior, just spend some time in the service industry serving other human beings and you’ll get a degree. Yeah. Yeah. Because you learn all about yourself. You learn about your relationships to people. And, especially when, you know, you’re talking about a consumer and employees. Yeah, it’s a real life practice for sure.

Nicole (00:04:39) – Absolutely. Well, I love this focus on mindfulness. So will you tell us, like, what’s the definition of mindfulness? We hear it. It’s out there. Everybody’s talking about it. If you’ve been to the yoga class they talk about it. So I just recently got certified in yoga. And so we studied it a little bit, but, like, not as deep as I would like. So I’m so excited to hear what you have to say about it.

Pamela (00:05:04) – Yeah. You know, mindfulness becomes just kind of a word today, right? That’s like a buzzword. But it truly is a practice. And we really want to do something with intention. And it’s really about paying attention on purpose, non-judgmentally, to what’s happening in the mind.

Nicole (00:05:21) – One more time, say it one more time so they can catch it. That was great.

Pamela (00:05:24) – It’s paying attention on purpose, with intention, non-judgmentally to what’s happening in the mind. It’s really giving yourself the space to really sit with what’s and explore with some curiosity. It’s the non-judgmental part that I think often gets people tripped up, or the desire to stop your thoughts. There’s no stopping your thoughts. So your mind is always working and this is just creating that capacity, the working out of the brain, because it is a muscle to allow yourself to just watch your thoughts as they play out, to be present to them, and to not have judgment with them. Why does that matter? It matters because everything that’s happening in the brain decides how our body is going to respond. And so much is happening, especially in our world today, that when you can take the time to and do that and find that space to ground and be with and be present, you can respond and you can create your own roadmap versus continuously reacting to everything that happens. So I always tell people, like, it’s a practice that I do every day so that I can show up in the external world, my best self for myself and others. Right? It’s not about getting good on a cushion. It’s not about having a good sit. It’s not about hours anywhere. It’s about intentionality around that practice and really being present. And you can read all the articles, you can say it all you want, but you have to do it. It’s a real practice, but it’s a practice worth doing.

Nicole (00:06:52) – That’s fantastic. So tell me about your university that you went to and the program that you took. What was that like?

Pamela (00:06:59) – Yeah. So mPEAK was designed by the UCSD, University of Southern California, and it was designed by the Neuroscience and the Mindfulness Department, and it was tested on the BMX Olympic team. And the course was using mindfulness, positive psychology, and strengths. And it’s basically an eight module course that really works towards mindfulness and in a way of how to reach your peak performance. mPEAK stands for mindfulness, performance, enhancement, awareness, and knowledge and it’s a mouthful. So we’ll go with mPEAK. But the intention around the course is really to take a real practical approach with some really good activities, some meditations, and an exploration in a very directed way in our total performance and performance can be on a team. Performance can be in a family, performance can be at work. Right? It’s how do you want to show up? How do you want to find those moments of flow? How do you deal with the difficulty and the inner chatter that goes on? Right? So we do a lot on resilience, strength of the mind,

and really that exploration of the story in the head, and really learning our habit loops and how to be with it. So what I love so much about it is I tell people what mPEAK does is it builds the internal stuff so that we can do the external stuff. And I took it just for myself. I had no intention, I did not go there with any idea that this was going to be something that I would be bringing forward. I went and I just loved it. And I had been actually exploring opportunities back in the retail world and had a pretty good opportunity. And I chose to stay and, thankfully, convinced people that I was a worthy person to take on and stay. And I went through the year-long journey of getting certified in the course because I believe so much in it. 

Nicole (00:08:55) – Yeah, that’s fantastic. Okay, so let’s talk about the internal stuff. What stuff are you talking about? Can you kind of break that down for us? What is our internal stuff? A lot of us know what the external stuff is that we want to do. We want to do, like you said, do good at work, maybe do good in our, in some kind of activity. We do it outside of work. Take care of our families in a great way. So what’s the internal stuff we need to work on? Or we could work on if we did the mPEAK program.

Pamela (00:09:20) – So when you think about internal stuff, right, we have 60-70,000 thoughts a day in our head. That’s a lot, right? It’s a lot. And on a day to day, we don’t really pay attention to the day to day activities that we do, right? We jump up in the morning, we brush our teeth, we whatever, have coffee, have your breakfast, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush. We’re in a very hurried world today, right? Well, everything that’s happening, everything we’re doing, whether we’re paying attention to it or not, subconsciously or consciously, something’s happening in the mind, in the body.

Right? The mind is getting the triggers and the things to do. Right? And in mPEAK, what we do is really talk about the intentionality of our day to day. Or the day to day when you’re on a team per se, and when, say, you’re going into a performance, maybe you have to give a hard conversation if you’re a leader, or maybe if you have to talk to your kids, it can show up anywhere. Performance is everywhere, right? In mPEAK, you start to recognize, okay, what does that feel like in the body and how do you not react to it but really respond to it? And you start to pay attention. And when you start to pay attention, you start to see why your body’s really responding. So when people are starting to say, like, I really, I can’t sleep at night when we pay attention to what’s actually going on in the mind, and we learn how to breathe at a deeper level, because so much of the breath determines how we live our day to day.

So it’s really an act of having a conscious awareness to maybe the things that we subconsciously are just constantly doing all the time because it’s become our condition of behavior. The world is really different today. We all know that. But knowing it and actually working with it are two different things. Two decades ago, we could go to work and we would come home and we would have a conversation. Maybe if we live with somebody or maybe we talk to our cat, or maybe we’re mad at our boss, or maybe we would talk to our neighbor, right? But we wouldn’t have this thing attached to us that might be pinging us and dinging us, or some kind of social media that would be reminding us we wouldn’t be so attached to it. Right? There was a separation. Children would go to school, they might have a bad day at school, they might be mad at their friends. Something might have happened. But when they came home, there was a separation. There wasn’t this constant attachment.

Those are gone. There are no natural boundaries today. We live in a world where there are no natural boundaries and they’re not coming back. But the fact is, the mind is a muscle, and the mind and the muscles can only take so much. And so it’s really important to recognize that. How do you work with the conditions in which you’re operating? And when you can be honest about the conditions you’re operating with, then you can create some space because you really need to give that muscle space in order for it to respond, rather than to constantly be reacting. So that is why I know it is so critically important today to put these practices to work, so that you can actually be intentional about what you’re doing in your daily life. You can have a wider perspective, you can be more strategic, and you can make better decisions for yourself and you show up better.

Nicole (00:12:17) – So my internal stuff is like all those major thoughts you’re telling me that I’m having, and then also my reactions to all this stimulus that is in our modern world. And so I’ve got to counteract that with mindfulness practice.

Pamela (00:12:32) – Yeah, a perfect example. You have been so good about you and us trying to find our schedule, right? And that’s not a judgment. It’s just we have lives, right? We have so much going on. Then we have email and then we have messaging and then we have calendars. We have so many different ways that information is coming at us.  And we don’t recognize that all those funnels of information, our brain has to do something with it. It’s like an overload. So when you start to see all those funnels of information, then you can decide, okay, how do I work with that? Right? Do I need to be more strategic on the prompts that I have on my computer? Do I need to be really intentional about what I do with my phone? Do I need to find one way to communicate that works for me, versus constantly reacting to everything that’s offered? Because it can only do so much, right? And we’re fooling ourselves to think that we can just do all of it, right? So it allows you to kind of have some of what we call wise discernment on how you work with the tools that are offered.

Nicole (00:13:29) – So share with us what you mean by a practice. You’ve got to have practice, you’ve said. This is like some kind of activity I’m going to put into my daily that’s going to help raise my mindfulness. And really you’ve said that there’s so many benefits, greater focus or concentration, being more intentional about leveraging your personal strengths, responding wisely during stress, cultivating resilience. I mean, like, the list goes on, right? All the reasons to do mindfulness. So, like, I think people are like, okay, how do I do it? What’s the practice?

Pamela (00:14:03) – You know, mindfulness is an intangible and our world is very tangible. That’s one of the things that I can relate to from retail. Right? We sold products. Right? You know, I always say we don’t really sell anything essential here. We sell feelings. So you have to make the, you know, the sell of feelings.

It’s kind of the opposite of mindfulness. It’s an intangible. So you have to be intentional about the practice because you will just do the day to day because you’re a good human. That’s what good humans do. When I say to have a practice, you can have a formal practice, which means that you have a set amount of time on a daily basis in which you sit and do a meditation practice. The meditation practice can be a simple mindfulness practice. I say it’s simple, but it’s hard to do. It can be a mindfulness practice. It could be a walking meditation. It could be a full body scan. There are various different ways to do the practice, but there has to be an intention around it for a set amount of time. What’s the right amount of time? The right amount of time is what works for you, right, when you’re starting. It could be five minutes on a cushion, could be ten minutes on a cushion. For me, it’s a little bit longer. The more you do it, the more you’re working the muscle. Optimal from the neuroscience, if you read the book, Peak Performance, which is a really good, really great book, and she’s a wonderful neuroscientist and I won’t say her name because I know I’ll mess it up, but the optimal amount of time is fourteen minutes a day.

Nicole (00:15:24) – Fourteen? Okay. Isn’t that interesting?

Pamela (00:15:25) – Yeah. Now there’s also informal practice. Right? So an informal practice is before you go into a meeting that you set one minute before you go into a meeting and really do intentional breathing. So in that informal moment you’re just going to breathe in and out. You hold and you do a series of what we call box breathing.

Nicole (00:15:45) – Yeah, I know that one.

Pamela (00:15:47) – There you go. Right? Yes. So but doing it for a solid minute, that’s an informal way for you to go in and show up with your presence in a meeting. Right? Or going into a conversation. An informal practice would be if you’re standing in line somewhere and I always say I have impatience. And so I will use the time in line as my practice. And you start to just watch your mind, look at me judging other people that are too slow. Look at me making sure you only have ten items in the ten item line, right? You can start to just play with yourself and see those judgments, right? So there’s lots of different ways that you can bring in some informal practice. Brushing your teeth. Really? Can you sit and actually brush your teeth and just brush your teeth slowly and just watch how the mind works and just notice the rushing, the rushingness that we have. So there’s little informal ways. And then there’s the formal way. Both are really very effective. When you can combine both of them, your self-awareness goes up so much, so much. So those are some different ways you can practice.

Nicole (00:16:56) – Yeah, I love what you just said. If you practice these things, your self-awareness goes up. So where my brain immediately went was to the idea of emotional intelligence. Right? So those of you who have heard me talk about emotional intelligence, or you’ve read Goldman’s book or whoever’s book about it, there’s four buckets to it. And the first one is self-awareness. You know, like, what’s up with you?

Pamela (00:17:22) – Awareness is everything. It’s the first thing in my book when I talk about noticing as a gift space is a grace and response is the power. Everything starts with awareness. And it’s amazing when you actually put it to practice and see how much you’re not aware of. And it’s not a judgment. You know, oftentimes people get really hurt, it’s not a judgment. We wouldn’t function in life if we had to stop and think about everything we do. 

Nicole (00:17:46) – Right. You would get nothing done.

Pamela (00:17:49) – It’s amazing how our mind and our bodies work like such an incredible gift.

Nicole (00:17:55) – Yes.

Pamela (00:17:55) – And yet sometimes we have to pay more attention, and especially in today’s world. We’re a very complex world. We’re connected at every level and we have to give ourselves the opportunity to put these practices into play so that we can trust ourselves a little bit more and listen to ourselves a little bit deeper.

Nicole (00:18:14) – So I absolutely love what you just said. We could trust ourselves a little bit more. I think we have self-awareness a lot of times, but we don’t pay attention to what we realize. We kind of skim over it because we’re moving too fast. And I think like just doing that box breathing. We’re saying before a meeting that’s kind of like, you know, you’re doing box breathing, you’re trying to focus on your breath. But a thought might come in your mind, be careful to overtalk people. You know, like, that’s because, you know, you do it or you interrupt people or you stay too quiet. Speak up in the meeting. You know what I mean? I think sometimes when you get still for a second, your self-awareness might visit you and help you if you could, if you could be still for one hot minute. Right?

Pamela (00:18:59) – Yeah. Yeah. Whenever the mind senses any kind of friction, it wants to do something with that. It doesn’t like it. Right? Because the mind, the brain’s job is to protect you, right? That is  fundamental.  So whenever it senses any kind of friction and everything you feel here, something that happens here will be felt in the body somewhere, right? So when you can take that time to really let yourself ground and get settled in, you can kind of see it for what it is. It’s just a thought, it’s just an emotion and noticing how we always want to explain it or we want to tell a story about it, because that’s what good humans do. And mindfulness really helps us just drop. Let’s just drop the story. Let’s just see it for what it is, and then we can get really strategic about what  we have to work with.

Nicole (00:19:44) – Yeah. So, you know, I think people want to know the part about the cushion. So I mean, I could stop, I could focus for a minute. I could do box breathing, which is taking several breaths in, holding your breath, letting the breath out.

That holding, going back and forth. So the reason you do that is so that there’s a pattern of intentionality, right? So that you’re getting your focus in on the breath. But I’d like to hear about the more formal meditation. Now, there’s a lot of people who are like, I need to meditate. They’ll joke about it. And you’re probably thinking, you do. You definitely need to meditate.

Pamela (00:20:22) – Non-judgment, right?

Nicole (00:20:23) – Yeah, yeah. But like, people are like, I don’t know, I’ve never sat on the floor cross-legged and got a cushion. What are you talking about? So could you kind of take the maybe the woo, or the whatever, judgment people have about sitting on a cushion? Talk about that. And I know there’s a ton of science behind that. And as Pam’s talking, she’s really talking about your mind-body connection. Your brain is triggered, your parasympathetic, your sympathetic nervous system, all this stuff gets triggered. And so she’s talking about controlling all that more instead of letting it hijack you. So help us see what you mean by getting on the cushion.

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Pamela (00:21:29) – So the cushion is a metaphor, right? Because you can see people across legg-ed and in the yoga pose. But I don’t care. It could be a chair. I don’t care if you’re in your bed. Right? So, but, it is an intentionality to do the act. So you’re sitting in a chair right now. So we’re sitting in an awareness but we’re sitting more up. Right? So we just notice our posture. Right? We don’t want to be stiff, but we want to hold our posture with some. And we do that because the air has better access when you do that, not because we want you to be stiff, but because we want to give the air access. Right? And then you take a deep breath in and an audible exhale can soften your eyes. We soften the eyes and close the eyes. Why do we do that? Because the eyes are your sense that reacts the most. So it starts to tell the story. So if you can soften your eyes, then you can come right back. Then you can really get to present with your mind a little bit quicker. And then just allow yourself to fall into the breath, breathing in and breathing out. And you just breathe as natural as you can. And I most often will guide people to really sense the breath in your body where you feel it in the body, not thinking about the breath, but really sensing it. And it might be the first time that you really tap into the body, right? So I feel it in my chest, or my cheeks, or my back, or my seat.

You’re just breathing in and breathing out, and then you use the breath as your awareness that you should could come back to. And then your mind will hear a sound and you’ll notice it. But you come back to the breath, and then your mind will have a thought, and you’ll notice it, and you’ll come back to the breath. And then maybe you’ll get two breaths in, and there’ll be another thought, and you’ll see it, and you’ll come back to the breath. And it’s just continuously allowing yourself to see what shows up. It can help sometimes. Just to note, I hear a sound. I notice a sensation in the body. It’s just that intentionality around it and you’ll feel, not trying to do anything with it, just to see it for what it is. Then you come back to the breath.

Nicole (00:23:18) – So one of the pieces of language I picked up, not only through yoga, but through centering prayer practice that I do is, like, taking the seat of the observer. Is that part of it just observing?

Pamela (00:23:34) – It’s just an act of curiosity. Yeah. Sensing into the, you know, the body scan honestly was one of the one of the meditations that was probably the most challenging for me in the beginning. I was like, what is all this? It’s just my body. Right? Like that’s silliness,  right? Now, I can’t imagine not having the practice. Right? You know, and the importance of really knowing and being able to tap into the body. People with TMJ, jaw problems, headaches, all the time. We’ll start to pay attention. Let’s just pay attention and start noticing every five minutes what’s your jaw doing? And they’ll start to notice how much they clench their mouth. And so let’s just open this to open the mouth a little bit. Right? So there are different ways that when you do this practice, not just from a mindful, just a physical way, right, that you can help support yourself as well. Right? I used to have some claustrophobia in tight elevators. Now I’m aware, you know, before, you know, I get into that state, I’m feeling a little anxious. I can breathe into it, right? Now, it doesn’t have to own me. Might still be there. I don’t have to deny it. But I have the tools to breathe in and breathe out. And it’s not taking me down a rabbit hole.

Nicole (00:24:39) – And I think, too, one of the really important things about mindfulness is you said there’s the informal and the formal, and so getting on your “cushion” or in your chair or wherever, in your bed, laying still for a minute and doing the practice, which means giving it intention and attention. You’re practicing. You’re mindfulness, you’re doing the meditation. It’s to serve you when you’re in the active situation. Like Pam, jump on this elevator with me. Let’s go upstairs and see Susan. You could panic. Or because you’ve been practicing on your cushion, you go right into breathing.

Pamela (00:25:15) – Yeah. You do the practice to serve your life, not to get good on anything. Right? It’s how you want to serve your life. You work the muscle before you need the muscle so that the muscle works for you and you need the muscle.

That is a difference in the West and the East eastern cultures. Mindfulness really has been a practice that is pretty embedded in a lot of eastern cultures. In the west, it’s a practice we go to when we’re all stressed out, when everybody’s really anxious. Right? And it made the rage on the stage through suffering. And I find that, like, that is kind of disappointing because then people think once I get through the suffering, I don’t need it anymore because it’s an intangible and we forget to do it. When I try to emphasize with everybody is the best time to practice is when you feel the best. It is the absolute best time to practice, because that’s when you can truly work that muscle and have it show up for you, when you really need it. It’s like going to the gym. We don’t go to the gym when we’re completely exhausted and, you know, our muscles are completely broken down. We go to the gym to work the muscles so that we can use the muscles in the ways that we want to in our daily life. It is the same thing.

Nicole (00:26:29) – Absolutely. And you said that people who practice mindfulness have the ability to leverage their personal strengths in a much more powerful way and, like, stretch themselves without giving up or going to burn out. Can you connect the dots between doing this practice and then being able to bring your strengths more fully to your work and to your life?

Pamela (00:26:53) – It’s a great question. During the module, when we talk about suffering, we talk about mental pain and physical pain. What we teach is, and what we learn is, how to be with pain and not not have to tell a story about pain to actually breathe into it and be with it. And so that capacity to actually be with it and, and pushing it, it’s called balanced. And we call it a balanced effort. Right? When we use some balanced effort rather than trying to move away from it so quickly or tell a story about it. So in one module we learn about our performance story. And then in the next module we learn about our pain and suffering and our relationship to pain. We really learn that we don’t have to tell a story about it. We just have to see the pain for what it is, and then we have to be able to learn how to be with that, and then we can determine, right, that’s build up that resilience. Right? Then things might be not as big as we might think, or maybe we have more in us than we thought. Right? We can push it just a little bit further. So when a setback comes, we don’t have to tell a story about it. Maybe we can look at that story a little bit differently.

Nicole (00:27:54) – And when you’re saying the story, correct me if I don’t have this right, but I think sometimes people when they experience pain, whether it’s emotional, spiritual, physical, whatever they can catastrophize it is that.

Pamela (00:28:09) – Yeah, yeah, right. We are really good at blowing it out.

Nicole (00:28:11) – Right? Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Pamela (00:28:13) – Yeah. We’re really good. Right.

Nicole (00:28:15) – Blowing it out.

Pamela (00:28:16) – I don’t know a human that doesn’t do it, right? But when we talk about, you know, how do you want to take your performance to the next level and really use it in a peak performance, right? Well, the only way to really do that is to really understand that the muscles gotta work at a little bit different level. And so when you learn how to say no mud, no lotus, when you can sit with your discomfort, things bloom. It’s the running away from or the denying of or telling the story and giving it more than it is that really makes it challenging. And it’s not that we’re not, we’re not wrong to do it. That’s what we do to try to settle ourselves. But the power is really seeing is it necessary to stop and really sit with this because it’s causing enough suffering that I need to explore it? 

Nicole (00:29:03) – Yeah, that’s great. And so if we can sit with it and not let it get the story going, which, you know, trying to think of the word that my mentor uses, you get yourself in a tizzy.

Pamela (00:29:15) – Tizzy’s a good one, right?

Nicole (00:29:17) – Yeah. And so your mindfulness practice can help you not go to tizzy stage.

Pamela (00:29:23) – Yes, yes.

Nicole (00:29:24) – Right? So that you can see it for what it is not. You make it bigger and then maybe even start to find solutions or strategies that would take you out of whatever that pain is.

Pamela (00:29:36) – Yeah, yeah. And really, it’s a fundamental, really good primer for flow. So flow is when you drop the story altogether, there’s no story to be there. When people are in a flow state, what science shows us is that the prefrontal cortex just literally gets bypassed like the other brain regions light up. So it goes past that whole reactionary stop you and you’re just in that place. That’s in your ultimate place of strength, right? We don’t even have to think about it. And when you’re in that flow state, you don’t even know you’re there. You’re just feeling it. You can feel yourself in the zone. Right? So mindfulness is not flow, but it is a primer for flow.

And so when we teach it in mPEAK we really recognize, like, that using that practice so that we can drop the story and it allows more access to more flow states.

Nicole (00:30:21) – Yeah. And you know people are like oh flow. So here’s what flow might look like if you need to write something. And instead of thinking about writing it, you just write it. Right? Or another example might be, like, I gotta get up and I gotta give this presentation. And so I’m thinking about giving the presentation while I’m giving the presentation. But if I’ve practiced mindfulness, I’ve prepared, I’m going to stand up, I’m going to present. And so I’m more in flow. And so I think the thing about mindfulness is it brings a lot of ease. And you know, you already mentioned the suffering and the pain. You know, it helps the dis-ease. It gives you ease. Right?

Pamela (00:31:04) – Yeah. Oh it does, it does.

Nicole (00:31:06) – Yeah. Yeah. It makes it easy.

Pamela (00:31:06) – Yeah. I mean from a flow state when I tell people because oftentimes that can feel, like, what is that? Right. Just think about times in your life and when you feel like you’re your most natural self, you don’t even have to think about it. For me, for example, in my old world, when I was visiting a store and walking a store, I didn’t have to think about it. I had done it. I loved it so much. I was just right there in that moment, I was present and I could be in it. So we all have those things, right, internally, those things that we do. Right? And we don’t really have to think about it. When you say it stops, when you use that great metaphor, the dizziness of it all, it also is a great practice to learn how to laugh at ourselves. I laugh at myself all the time now. Serious, that’s not a lot a thing, right? You know, because we can bear down on things that we care about pretty hard sometimes.

Nicole (00:31:58) – Absolutely.

Pamela (00:31:58) – And, caring about things is not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. But in this practice, what I found for me is, when I’m doing it with intentionality and my regularity, I’m just able to live for myself so often and the things that my mind will do. And I can just see it and be a little bit more light hearted about it. And I don’t spend a lot of time as much anymore worrying about what somebody else might think or not think, because human beings are going to do what human beings do, right? I spend more time worrying about my own, the only actions that I’m taking. So yeah, I like laughing at myself now.

Nicole (00:32:38) – Oh yeah. I’m hilarious. I know you are too. Yeah. So that’s great. So, this whole conversation with Pam about mindfulness, hopefully it is helping you see, so I love the tips at the beginning about a couple things you can do that are informal. And then I love the idea of getting yourself on your cushion, right, for fourteen minutes and really just be still. Right? So are there any tips or tricks or techniques to getting yourself on that cushion and being there for fourteen minutes? Anything I can do in that space that will help me?

Pamela (00:33:16) – Yeah. You know, I’m trying to remember the book I was reading and I feel bad not citing the source, but it’s in there about habit loops. If it’s not something that you’ve done on a regular basis and something that you want to do, the best way to do it is to create access to it as close to you as possible. So, for example, if it’s not something that you practice now, bring a chair or set a timer right when you wake up in the morning, don’t even leave the bed. Just just have a meditation, perhaps on your phone that you want to practice and just do it before you get out of bed. Right? Or an informal practice for you is to set an intention that when you wake up in the morning, you’re not just going to jump out of bed and notice how impulsively we jump out of bed, right? But giving yourself quick access to it. That’s why mornings are a really good time to do that, right? Set a timer to wake up ten minutes earlier and move straight to the place that you’re going to do the practice. Or, after work. If you’re in an office, or even at home, set an intention to say, I’m going to do the practice five to ten minutes right as soon as my last call or my last moment of the day is for work, and build that into your calendar, right? Set a reminder for yourself. I give people tools through the M kit. It’s one of the things that we also do. I call it the stop, drop, and roll of mindfulness. And it’s tangible reminders. And we do this because mindfulness is an intangible and we want to make it tangible. So, in the M kit, when I do these presentations everybody gets a kit, and so these tools are things that put people in front of people to remind them to do the practice. So there are different things that you can put in front of you, but make it as accessible to you and use the tools that you have to guide you. There are a lot of great apps out there that can help guide you as well. A lot of it. And there’s a lot of meditations on my website available to people as well.

Nicole (00:35:20) – And so tell them what your website is and how they can go get one of these immediately upon finishing listening to this podcast, you can stay right where you are and do it right here.

Pamela (00:35:30) – Right where you are and do a body scan.

Nicole (00:35:31) – Yeah, people start now.

Pamela (00:35:33) – Yes, yes yes, my website is We close the intentions and the actions. So is where you can find me. And you can find a resource page that has lots of guided meditations on it and all the different information about the book, M kits, and mPEAK, and the other things that we offer. 

Nicole (00:35:56) – Okay. So let’s not let this go by. So you wrote a book called In My Own Words. This could be part of your practice, you know, reading one of the short chapters in here where Pam lays down some serious wisdom, and then you could move into your practice. You know, this could be the thing that calms your mind, makes you think for a minute, and then takes you into a softer, quieter place. Talk about this book. How did it come to be and how could people use it other than maybe what I’m suggesting?

Pamela (00:36:30) – No, I want to take you on the road because it’s exactly the purpose for the book.

Nicole (00:36:35) – Oh, great!

Pamela (00:36:36) – That it became a practice. It wasn’t meant to be a book that you read from, you know, from cover to cover. You can’t write, but it is meant to be a practice. I say, you know, watch the video by the book, start your journey, find your own words. In fact, in the fall of last year, I haven’t put them out globally yet, but we did the cards to support the book.

Nicole (00:36:57) – Oh, fantastic. 

Pamela (00:36:58) – And I’ll have to send you a set.

Nicole (00:36:59) – Oh, I want a set.

Pamela (00:37:02) – Because now we do the book and the cards together and they have prompting questions on the back. So now it can become a practice. Right? So the book, I speak in quips and quotes a lot, and I have for many, many years. And often people would say, you know, you just got to write these things down. And, finally my partner said, can you just write them down and put some meaning behind it? And he’s so great with the pictures and he’ll put the story together. So we did, and I sent them off to him. And then we got together and he presented it to me and, to be truthful, I hated it. The first version. I was like, this is nuts. Like, this is like it was just a bunch of quotes and descriptions. And, he was like, but it’s good. And I’m like, no, I couldn’t do it, right? And so I sat with it by myself. Actually, I broke my arm.

I was in Saint George, and I was by myself with my broken right arm. And I had this, all these quotes and all these beautiful pictures he put together, and I just ripped it apart. And I just sat with it and and and then I just started putting it together and I just said everything starts with awareness. Noticing is a gift, space is a grace, response to the power. And when we do, we can dance with the partner we brought. And from here. And so it evolved. So all the quotes then kind of fell into place. I got rid of several. Right? Now, it has become a journey. Now, it was a journey of practice. RighT? And then I recorded it and then I sent it off to him. And we knew then that was right. There didn’t need to be anymore. And if we used each one of these quotes and the descriptors as a practice, right, it could be really powerful.

Nicole (00:38:45) – Yeah, yeah. And so just to give you an example, you know, one of the things in here is a chapter, What You Promote. So the reason why you need mindfulness is because whatever you’re thinking about is creating a feeling. And then that feeling is causing an emotion which you’re then putting a vibe out there. So be very careful. And, I will tell you, there’s a lot of leaders that listen to this podcast and we know how you feel, whether you tell us or not. 

Pamela (00:39:16) – Social contagion is real. It’s proven. It’s not, you know, anything that we have to, like, act like doesn’t. It’s real. We pick up on each other’s energy. That’s a good and a bad, right? Because with that we can get it wrong. Right? Because we’re good humans, so we get it wrong often, but in the essence, we feed off of each other. So how do you want to show up? What do you really want to put out in the world? Right? And so paying attention to that is really important, especially if you’re leading other people. And a reminder of that and just paying attention to how you are molding yourself in the world, right? If you’re leading other people and you’re showing lots of anxiety and all this anxiousness, well, that comes through to your team.

Nicole (00:40:00) – Right. And it catches. It’s like a virus. Everybody gets upset and anxious.

Pamela (00:40:06) – Yes, yes. Stop Chewing Old Gum is about habit loops. That’s in there. I’m doing that right now with my habit loops in this. I’m on this twenty-one day, intense cleanse and it wasn’t about weight loss or anything. It was more about inflammation and all that. And I went into it thinking food Isn’t that big of a deal to me. I’m not a snacker. All of that, you get to a whole lot of habit loops that I’ve been able to revisit and really see that the story in my head had been telling me, and what was really true.

Nicole (00:40:43) – Yeah. That’s fantastic. All right. So we have been talking with Pam, and Pam is an amazing human. She has a company called Intent Act Intentions to Actions Leadership. And you can find her at So let me spell it for you. And she has a program called mPEAK, which will help you learn mindfulness so that you can have peak performance and don’t we all want that? And tell us again real quick what the PEAK stands for. So if we were to get up with you and we were going to find out how we do this, we would improve four things. Do I have my story right?

Pamela (00:41:24) – Yeah. Well, it’s really about awareness. It’s about performance and it’s about resilience. Right? So a lot of it is having awareness, building your strength, having resilience. It’s learning compassion, the yin and the yang of the compassion. Right? So when do you need a blanket and when do you need a nudge.

So it’s bringing compassion in for ourselves. And then how we show up at our highest level.

Nicole (00:41:49) – Fantastic, fantastic. All right. Well, I know there’s somebody listening that’s like, it can’t be over already. So what last gem, what little last nugget, would you leave people with? I want to be more mindful, Pam What should I do?

Pamela (00:42:03) – Just in the act of saying that to yourself? Right. Like, you know, because we do throw the word around if you want to be more mindful, just start noticing. I always tell people, don’t make it a heavy hold. Dip your toe in the water. Just dip your toe in the water. Go wash your hands really slowly  and pay attention to the sensations in the body and just see what that feels like, right? Go smell some flowers. Really smell them, right? Go listen to a song and really listen to it and just notice the vibrations, right? It doesn’t have to be something that, like I said, is a heavy hold. Just dip your toe in the water a little bit. Notice when you’re in a car, right? And all the body sensations, especially if you’re caught in traffic, notice the sensation and the stories in our head when somebody cuts you off as if they actually know you, right? Just play with it. Just just be intentional about it. Drop the judgment. Because the judgment adds on to it. Just to see it for what it is and let it play out. Thoughts and emotions are what we have. They are not what we are. We have to see them for what they are and just thoughts on emotion. And that is easy said, hard to do. Just play.

Nicole (00:43:17) – Fantastic. All right everybody, this is Pam Marcheski and Nicole Greer wishing you a wonderful rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the build of Vibrant Culture Podcast. And,Pam, it’s been such a pleasure to be with you. 

Pamela (00:43:30) – Nicole, it’s been a joy. Thank you for all the time. Yeah, I loved it.

Voice Over (00:46:52) – Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast. If you found value in today’s episode, please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback helps us improve and reach more like minded listeners. Remember, the journey to building a vibrant culture never stops. Stay inspired. Keep nurturing your vibrant culture and we can’t wait to reconnect with you on the next exciting episode of Build a Vibrant Culture podcast.

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