Bouncing Back! Resilience for Ourselves Means Resilience for Our Families

This morning saw a major kerfuffle in our household. Has this happened to you? You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and then your kid or someone else in your family has a bad moment, and you react, they react—and thus ensues a delightful downward spiral of upset … until one kid is perhaps crying, and perhaps you also are about to cry, or throw something at the wall, or storm off to a neighborhood bar (if only one were open at 7:30 in the morning!) You might see these incidents as thought storms, and if we can see them as such, the storm clouds pass, and we can welcome the sun of a clearer mind back pretty quickly. For me, "resilience" means returning to a more flexible mind, a more natural state of caring and compassion for ourselves, and our families that always lies within us.

That also happened this morning, when my youngest (who was crying because I raised my voice and told her she could no longer watch a TV show which was making her afraid of things … like, taking showers) suddenly was able to shake it all off, and say she was sorry. I, in turn, told her I would sit with her, near the shower when she bathed, for as long as she needed me to until she was no longer scared. This calming down happened within the space of 10 minutes or so. (The TV show is still banned.)

The danger of thought storms is that because of resultant intense feelings from such storms, we can begin to gather “evidence” for our feelings in the form of more negative thoughts. As we accept and believe these new thoughts, as we add fuel to our mental fire, resiliency or “bouncing back” begins to seem more and more distant.

I have worked for many years helping people see the connection between their thoughts and their resultant feelings. They begin to see that what they think is not necessarily true, and certainly, the “taking it personally” part is always optional.

They begin to see the distance to resiliency as the simple measure of a thought … either we follow a thought to its bitter end (or rather, miserable endlessness) or we let it go.

Sometimes, the best we can do is just not take our current thinking so seriously. This does not mean we never have a negative thought or feeling again in our lifetimes. It simply means that resiliency becomes a moment-to-moment experience, and not an in-born personality trait, or special skill. We all have resilience (the capacity to come back to our natural state of love, of simple being-ness). Although most of us will not escape the occasional thought storm, the way we handle such storms is our modeling for our children. Do we have to take a negative thought or judgment (of another, of ourselves) into the rest of our day, month … or life?

Even some of the “worst” moments in my marriage, for example, have come and gone quickly because I and my husband have refused to make a lot of meaning out of some kind of ego eruption between us. The ego will always react defensively, angrily. And being human means that we will be subject to "ego" from time to time. Yet, as a very wise person once said to me: “You can never get rid of the ego, but you can find out what it is, so that it does not control you.”* What is the ego? A kind of thinking. A kind of thinking that comes and goes, and actually begins to diminish as we shine the light of awareness on it.

We can hope for many things for our children, and for others in our families. But there is one thing we can always do on a daily basis that will help them more than all of our hopes and dreams for them. We can become more resilient ourselves. We can begin to see Thought in action. As we see ourselves more often as simply caught up in the human condition (like everyone else on the planet), caught up in Thought, we begin to transcend our own suffering, and become a part of the answer: for our children, for our world.

Ami Chen Mills-Naim is a mother of two and author of The Spark Inside: A Special Book for Youth and State of Mind in the Classroom. She leads a monthly drop-in class at Santa Cruz Yoga, including one this Saturday, April 16, 1:30-3:30 pm ($15 class fee). Ami is also a global speaker and wellness coach, with ongoing retreats and events worldwide. Find more at

Future Drop-In Classes are second Saturdays, through Aug. 13.

*That wise person was Mr. Sydney Banks, author of The Missing Link and The Enlightened Gardener series, among other works.

"Spiritual Maturity"

I first came across the phrase “spiritual maturity” in a book, I believe, by the (North) American spiritual teacher Adyashanti. It spoke to me because I had been recognizing myself as spiritually “immature,” actually. I was just beginning to see the light, as it were, about how I was personalizing spiritual growth or expansion. For me, “spiritual growth” simply means freedom—freedom from constriction, freedom from fear and freedom to express Love.

But when we seek something for ourselves, as individuals, we are necessarily contracting down into ownership, something gained for the identity or “ego.”

At this time in my life (about six years ago), while I had grown tremendously, I still (subtly, subtly!) thought money, for example, meant something about my “level of consciousness;” I still thought that high spiritual experiences or awakening experiences were something to be sought, and meant something about me, and my growth.

I still sought confirmation from outside teachers about some level of achievement I had in my mind. I still saw “holiness” often times as something either outside of me (in a place or teacher), or something I had yet to totally attain. I still thought one might live in a constant state of bliss—and that this would be ultimate spiritual achievement.

The phrase spiritual maturity, as I stumbled onto it, spoke of something deeper than experiences, something deeper than achievement, deeper than moods that come and go, something deeper than identity itself.

As it often happens, one thing led to another, one book to another, and I was led to the teachers Gangaji, Toni Packer, and John Wheeler (a student of “Sailor Bob,” himself a student of the venerable Nisargadatta Maharaj). Through these vehicles of truth (and others), I began to see that identity was the trap.

My first and highly significant teacher, Sydney Banks, used to say the “whole problem” was ego, or the “image of self importance,” as he put it. I began to see that.

We imagine some kind of spiritual (or material) glory for the individual, or, on the flip side, we imagine the individual as broken, wounded, unworthy or insufficient.

In the process of seeking glory, repair, redemption or punishment for the identity, we completely miss the boundless, current presence of Life itself—expressing itself as us, and within us, as this remarkable world, this universe. All existing here and now.

Amounts of money, popularity, roles, importance, recognition, spiritual experiences, moods and insights, tragedies, dark nights, our personalities and histories … all come and go within this vast energy and impersonal intelligence called Life or Love, or Mind.

When we identify, through Thought, with a self-concept created over time—and which we project into the imagined future, we ostensibly bind and narrow this energy, which cannot actually be bound.

Understanding the “Three Principles” of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, we understand that the very energy of Life has created this “personal” experience of Life, and so even our darkest darknesses have been divine! We have imagined ourselves to be separate from Life … in order to return to Oneness and wholeness again.

To see through identity, to see identity and ego as simply illusions created via Thought, is to understand one’s intrinsic worth and “enlightenment” as pure and simple Beingness—before, within, and after all thoughts.

When one gives up the self, one then enters into--or experiences--what one has actually always been, energy, God, Life, Love.

Sydney Banks once offered the analogy that the spiritual journey was like climbing a giant hedge on a ladder. The higher up you go, the better and bigger the view, and the less fear. Then, he said something quite interesting. He said that once you get to the top of the hedge, you look down and realize there was never any hedge, nor ladder, at all. You are, and have always been That.

The hedge was a thought creation. The climbing both necessary and totally unnecessary! This insight is “spiritual maturity,” as I use the term.

Beginning November 3, I, along with Jen Lucas and Brett Chitty of Three Principles Supermind will be offering a four-part series toward the release of the thought-created identity, and what it thinks it still “needs” …

Registration at least one week in advance (at reduced cost) is encouraged, as reading and audio-visual assignments from a variety of teachers will be recommended prior to our first meeting.

An online forum will serve to support all participants in the series toward our shared freedom, and our oneness in this energy and intelligence called Life. When one stops being “in service” to the self concept, true Service flows through us unimpeded, in whatever form it may take. May life bless life through this series!

Registration information here:



Also Silence

Let's say also there is silence here Relative Silence broken

by words, turkey calls, the

swish-thud-thud of deer

jumping in natural fear

And there is too

Silence Silence

Silence of Nothingness

How simple

this Silence


Where we/I have thought

in the past

and perhaps for good reason

and based on actual

happenings actual


and certainly

stories told

I thought

Great fireworks would come

And Revelations!

Constellations re-arranging and

bowing down

To Some Experience

(we have all heard of one at least one)

But I find

in the end

that Nothingness is really


and No Big Deal

Except that


It Somehow

Is ...

Is like

Love not moving

Until it does