Postcard from the Front Porch

How are you all?

I thought I'd check in on this lazy blog of mine. We get several hundred visitors (400? 500?) per month here--nothing stunning by blogging standards--but I do consider all of you my friends, and I so appreciate your coming back from time to time to check in on me, even though my blogs land here erratically.

And once again, How are we?

I was visited recently by Jenny and Rudi Kennard of the amazing 3 Principles Movies website--a site featuring hours of totally inspirational 3 Principles-based audio & video footage that this young and energetic couple collected using their own monies and volunteering their time.

They sent me the video blog they've posted of their recent travels, and I noticed that in the midst of the elegant offices and fab kitchens of many other 3P "practitioners," their footage of my own front porch showed a sort of shabby, cluttered entryway--and me opening a front door that started to need paint many years ago. All the rest of the footage of me was with my kids--as is the norm these days, especially with school out.

"On the Front Porch" with Kid (Tori Elle) and Chantal Burns from England

 And so, here I am! My front porch, the nominal inspiration for my radio show, "On the Front Porch with Ami Chen," is indeed rather ragged. The paint on its cement steps peeling horribly. Scattered about in a thoroughly unorganized fashion are garden tools, snail bait (organic! so they say ... ), lots of shoes (thankfully, mostly in pairs), and a shoe organizing contraption that is, of course, completely empty.

Filling in any otherwise clear, uncluttered space would be the children's various formal and informal arts and crafts projects, plastic cups, hair bands, twigs ... that have made it out from the car but not quite through our front door and into the garbage, or onto shelves.

The whole thing is terribly unimpressive. We have plans to blow it out completely and create a spectacular sun room/entryway/mudroom type space, everything in its place. But who knows when this will happen? Perhaps next month. Perhaps never.

In the meantime, Life continues. And here I am. I used to be "waiting for" things to change and "happen," for more money to be coming in, a new "level" of work to unfold--and while these things have happened, I have discovered that "waiting" is a waste of time. It is endless. And endless distraction.

My next radio show on "Money and Support," (this coming Friday, July 13) will be all about this--the constant leaning into the future we do, expecting something "better" to come along, whether that be more money, a better job, a better relationship, or even a better state of mind. This constant leaning is a direct interference with our experience of Reality as it is. Now. The wonder of what is!

This leaning, I have discovered for myself, can be into the next year or the next five years and beyond. Or it can be into "when the kids finally fall asleep," "when this traffic clears up," "when I finish cooking dinner," "when I can finally work on that book project," "when I lose 15 pounds," "when I get so-and-so's approval," "when I experience enlightenment," "when I can find some time to meditate," or any time after this moment.


Just not this moment, God forbid! I can't relax now! Look at this mess!

We would then have to accept our circumstances, internal and external, exactly as they are.

Yet in this stopping, this relaxing, this acceptance, we discover the depths of Life, God, Love itself. We discover who and what we are.

Life is so incredibly short, and yet we spend so much of our Thought energy, and resulting emotional and physical energy on trying to distinguish and decorate it (the personal life) in various ways. We miss, in these efforts, the overarching fact that Life Is. That one is part of Life, and the absolute miracle of That.

We become entangled in the particulars of our own lives, and we miss the constant support we receive, always, from the Energy of Life--that Universal Mind, with which we are one.

I have learned to surrender: to the porch, to life, to the children, the husband, to the Truth as I see it (and as unpopular as my current opinions may be). Surrender to disapproval. Surrender to nothing-to-be-done-about-it. All of it is what is. And here I am, what I am. What I gloriously am!

Past, future, goals, obstacles, problems, "not enough" ... All require a sort of "fantasy projection" that distracts us from Stillness, now, and the impersonal gratitude of Consciousness recognizing Itself in everything it sees and hears and feels and touches. All of it!

So, here I am. My family and I muddling through the summer, summer camps, camping. ... We've been hosting visitors like Jenny and Rudi, Robert Jackson (of the "A Quiet Mind" podcast), Drs. Bill and Linda Pettit, brave 3 Principles colleagues. All of it a blessing beyond belief ... Heading out soon to Grass Valley, later in the summer, Kauai. Exasperation with children. Complete exhaustion from time to time. Forgetting to surrender. Surrender. Love. Intimacy. Peeling porch. Joy and laughter. New ridiculously cute puppy. There will be a garage sale, a new drop-in class in Santa Cruz, a larger retreat in North Carolina in September. How will any of these events "go?"

Who knows?

Does it matter?

During my interview with her, the renown spiritual teacher Gangaji and I spoke of "stopping," a word, she said, that has no end. "Surrender" too, she said, is another such word. No end to surrender!

I surrender to this Life. All I have, will ever have, have ever had. All of it collapsed into this one moment, Consciousness, Formlessness, regarding itself in form after form after form. An endless entertainment, springing from Love itself.

From this space of surrender, I greet you, my Friend. Are you in the midst of your own surrender? To every experience? Every thought? Every state of mind? Letting it go, letting it be ... No effort to control, get rid of or gain anything.

Perhaps one day, we will sit together on my old and shabby, or chic and spiffy, new front porch

 ... and simply laugh.

With Love from

Your Mystical Mama

Comments from "On the Front Porch"

Dear Friends,

I can't tell you how much fun it's been, and at times frightening (!), actually, to launch the new radio show & podcast "On the Front Porch with Ami Chen: Spiritual Dialogues for the 21st Century." Thank you for your e-mails, phone calls and Facebook messages of love and support. I include some of them here as we step into the fourth show (this Friday, March 23) ... on which I am now encouraging callers-in.

Your wisdom and your questions, your dialogue, will help to ground the show in the "real world," the issues we all face, and in the aliveness of simple truth shared between human beings. Here is what I have heard so far from you ...

"I love your spirit of bringing spirituality down to earth where we can be ordinary and where we can support and help each other with our blind spots and misunderstandings.

And your courage has been such a support for me, more than you can realize. I have studied the mystics from all the major religions my whole life and I am passionate about doing what little I can to help end religious intolerance.

I applaud your willingness to throw away any form, even one created around the 3P's, for the sake of Truth. There is such freedom in this."

--Dicken Bettinger, Ph.D.

"I really enjoyed last week's show...
I found it beautiful and touching.

I love how you talked about teaching & teachers being everywhere.
And what I also heard is how truth is everywhere."


--Chantal Burns, Coach & Consultant

"I got goosebumps today when I heard you speak of sharing life changing experiences that bring insights to all ... through expressing our true selves. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and I'm looking forward to the next show!"

--Listener

"I so much appreciate the inclusive way you talk about being on the path of realization. It is like a breath of fresh air."

--Listener

"You spoke from your heart with courage and humility, so that only clarity,
respectfulness and neutral-ness came across. How did you do that?! ... It
was so perfect and inspired. It hit me that, yes, this will be a classic ... and so helpful to many people."

--Listener

The show airs live every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month at 10 am Pacific time, US. You can click on this link to get to the radio station & my host page at Contact Talk Radio. In the next month, I will be lining up guests for the show--some of the most beautiful people alive in this world, as far as I'm concerned. And what kind of life am I living to be able to do this? Blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

You can find podcasts of the show on iTunes and it would be helpful if the show started to get some iTunes "reviews" there.

To sign up to receive automated emails with a link to each show's recording (just after the show has aired), click here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CTR-AmiChen

With Love and Blessings to you all ...

& the invitation to "join me!" again, this Friday at 10 ...

Your Mystical Mama

Understanding Thought

and Finding Emotional Health and Immunity from Stress

Dear Friends: I wrote this for an on-line newsletter at the request of an organization that asked me to give a talk on "immunity from stress." I thought it might be helpful to re-post it here. I find this kind of strict, self-help-y writing a bit dry, actually. But I think, and hope, the content might be useful for you and yours.

“Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” --William Shakespeare.

For decades, researchers have shown that “stress” impacts physical health. To date, doctors, therapists, and the media have generally defined stress as a traumatic experience: a divorce, or breakup, the death of someone close, a health or financial crisis or other “major” life event most would interpret as negative.

In my work of two decades, however, learning and then teaching people in a range of settings (from young people in juvenile hall and adult inmates to teachers and organizational executives) the role that Thought—as a creative, causal principle—has in creating emotional reality, my conclusion is much different. Life circumstances have impact, of course, but it is the way we think about such circumstances that creates “stress,” or even well-being, in the face of life’s events.

One young woman I know, who was a student of the “3 Principles” I teach, and then became a teacher herself, has lived with advanced multiple sclerosis for several years. She has difficulty walking and climbing stairs, and must be helped eating, because of her tremors. At a retreat she attended with us at Mount Madonna Center, she described her condition as “a gift” that had opened her to new worlds of learning. “I am one of the luckiest people in the world,” she said.

Dr. Peter Ubel, a University of Michigan researcher and author of “You’re Stronger Than You Think,” found that people who had gone through “stressful events” in their lives, had lost both their legs, or undergone complete colonostopies, for example, were actually just as happy as their healthy counterparts with more “normal” lives.

Studies by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel-prize winning psychologist, showed that what society thinks of as “positive” circumstances, such as wealth and its perceived freedom, or power, has almost no effect on happiness and well-being, after people escape from poverty.

How people think, and what they think: how much gratitude they feel (no matter what their lives look like) and how much they engage in thoughts and feelings of love and generosity are the causal factors for emotional resiliency and well-being.

I experienced a miscarriage during my first pregnancy, after I got married. I was sad for some time, of course. But by understanding the role Thought played in my life, I had no inclination to “carry thinking” about the miscarriage into my future, or to interpret the event as especially negative.

Seeing Thought is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to gain emotional health and immunity from stress, because the truth is that we are not our thoughts. The truth is also that life will continuously throw apparent “problems” our way—death, illness, wayward children, conflict, difficult family members.

We do not even need to resolve our problems to become happy and emotionally strong. Rather, our very perceptions of such “problems” constitutes the mental “soup,” or consciousness, we live in. When we perceive problems as difficult and un-resolvable, for instance, our thoughts create feelings of hopelessness and despair—mental “stress” that ignites a chemical cascade throughout our bodies, and ultimately (and of course!) impacts physical health.

When we create a more objective relationship to Thought, as the great spiritual teachings of the world have taught, we see that peace of mind and well-being exist within us already, at our core, regardless of what we are going through. Indeed, peace of mind helps us navigate life’s obstacles with wisdom, grace and clarity. Or rather, finding peace of mind allows us to appreciate Life, the flow and dance of Life, no matter what we are going through.

With Love,
Your Mystical Mama

P.S. An important note: although our thinking impacts our physicality (of course!), do not let this fact be an added judgment on yourself. We are all human and suffer through many unhappy thoughts and physical states. It is so lovely to get off our own cases! Do you know what I mean? ... Of course you do!