Everyday Satsang

Satsang is a Sanskrit word meaning “association with Truth,” or with “the Self.” In Hindu, Buddhist and other Eastern religious—and spiritual—worlds, this is a very common word that usually means: people coming together to listen to, to be with a spiritual teacher, and with each other, to “attend Satsang.” But to dive deeper into the word, and its meaning, is to see that satsang can happen anywhere, at any moment. Seeing some truth of life, whether a relative truth, related to our own families or lives, or an absolute or universal truth, this capacity to feel truth, to know truth, is perhaps the most important “resource” we can call into lives—for our families, with our loved ones, for our work, for everything.

"There is a source of insight inside of each of us, and inside of each child, that, when tapped, reveals truth that is just right for us, just right for our families and lives."

I was feeling stressed today, and running around the house sort of getting nothing done, but feeling like a lot had to be done! The kids were off school for a mid-week holiday, which, as a working mom, tends to leave me in the lurch—with stuff on my calendar (this article to write!), and a house full of my kids, and their friends needing to be fed and tended to.

My oldest daughter stopped me, looked me in the eye and said, “Mom, breathe!” She said it with the conviction of her own inner “truth.” Obviously, I was losing it a little. And then I looked into her eyes and smiled. I smiled because she was right. I smiled at her growing maturity and wisdom. And I breathed.

In that moment, association with Truth, satsang, meant tending to the deeper wisdom in the moment. Was stressing out going to accomplish anything? Was barking at the kids going to make life easier for me, or for them? Was I lost in thoughts of what needed to be done; and not looking at what actually could be done, or not done, for that matter? Could I stop in satsang, if only for a moment?

Diving more deeply into this word, with its meaning of Self, of “associating with Self,” we recognize the peace, the insight, the silence we experience as our Selves, our deeper Selves—our core. When our minds are quiet.

I have worked for more than 20 years with children, families and communities, helping people to see we each have access to Truth, and of course, to our own Selves! And the mistake I see most for parents, and for all people, is that we turn everywhere in trying to “fix” our problems or help our children—to experts, friends, books, to an absolutely endless catalogue of information on how to and what to—and we forget to turn within.

There is a source of insight inside of each of us, and inside of each child, that, when tapped, reveals truth that is just right for us, just right for our families and lives.

But it takes a calming down, a stopping, a trusting of a silent inner space that is both unknown, and also beautifully familiar. It may take a moment, hour or day of rest—of self-care. It may take even longer, but from a foundation in our own, inner satsang, life (the same life we have always had) shows up as more gentle, more fun, more graceful, more fulfilling, and, in the end, full of Truth … and full of love.

Ami Chen Mills-Naim is an individual and family coach, global speaker, and author of The Spark Inside and State of Mind in the Classroom. She leads public retreats (next retreat in Paonia, CO, July 15-17) and trainings, and a monthly drop-in class at her home base in Santa Cruz, California. “Saturdays for Mind & Spirit" (formerly "Everyday Satsang") through Santa Cruz Yoga. Coming dates are Saturday, May 14, June 11, July 9 & Aug. 13. 1:30-3:30 pm. Fee is $15 to cover facility and Meet Up costs. For the latest updates on this class, including possible venue changes, please join the local Meet Up Group or check Ami's Events page.

The Gifts of Sydney Banks

How will I ever repay the tremendous gift of my own fortunate birth--to a courageous father who would follow a call to go and meet a man on a small and quiet island off the coast of Vancouver Island, Salt Spring?

Indeed the very salt of the earth sprang forth from this place in the form, the presence and the words of Mr. Sydney Banks. A welder with a ninth-grade education, his profound awakening, without a spiritual "path," without religion, without a form of meditation, a self-help technique or psychoanalysis; his "death" to ego, speaks so very much to us all.

Spiritual truth lives within us, it is alive within us. As it was alive in an "ordinary" person by the name of Syd. As it is alive within you!

This week's radio show reflects on both the gift of Sydney Banks that he shared with my father and the world, the "Three Principles" of Mind, Consciousness and Thought ... and the simple fact of his being--with honesty, love, kindness, generosity, humility and at the same time, great power and even ferocity.

And then there is the moment in which we each must "grow up." To turn our attention away from the form of the teacher, the guru, and within, toward our own connection to living, infinite truth. When Mr. Banks died, those of us who were his students, in one form or another, were given the tremendous opportunity to find the truth that he shared inside of ourselves.

How do we meet this challenge? Can we trust that, as Mr. Banks said, "the truth lies within?" Can our lives be a testament to this fact?

I think you know my answer ;) ...

Tune in on Friday and join the discussion at www.cscmediacenter.org. Or listen to the archive at a later date. Your comments most welcome!

With Great Love,

Yours Mystical Mama

Note: the photo was taken on the evening of Syd's memorial service in Victoria, BC.

Being Spiritual Without Being Spiritual

My new and lovely friend Maureen, from Canada, recently read this blog and she wrote, in response:

Sadly, my own mother passed away last week ... So I've been thinking about motherhood and how my own mother addressed some huge dramas, and hardships, and losses during her life, and dedicated herself to her five (!) children. She had no interest in religion or spirituality and I honestly cannot remember a single "spiritual" thing ever coming out of her mouth ... and yet she was an amazing role model of non-judgment, caring and compassion.

Her true stature as a person is becoming clearer and clearer as time goes on. I wonder if she had had access to the kinds of teachings that we do now, whether she would have embraced a spiritual path. I suspect her rejection of religion was because it didn't sit right with her, and no alternative ever entered her world. She also didn't have the luxury of "seeking," as she was so caught up in survival issues right up until she developed Alzheimer's about eight years ago ...

Dear Maureen,

I don't think much more needs to be said about your Mother. I think your writing about her tells the truth about what it really means to be spiritual. Often, when there is much discussion about spirituality, or immersion in religion, the true meaning of "being spiritual" can become very lost. I have seen this happen many, many times (frankly, it is a massive epidemic in this world); and I have seen this happen in me! Kindness, gentleness, compassion, selflessness, generosity--rather than being "goals," when they are lived because they simply make sense to a person, that seems to me to be spirituality. What a teacher and role model your mother is for us all!

Perhaps she would have found a true path for herself in the kinds of formless spirituality that seem more prevalent in the world today--but perhaps she didn't need to.

Actions do indeed speak louder than words.