Giving Presence

As we cross the threshold from the holiday of giving thanks to the holiday of giving presents, I offer encouragement to include in your giving this year—in addition to whatever actual “presents” you may give—the gift of your actual presence both to your loved ones, to strangers and lastly, but not least, to yourself. “Easy for you to say!” you may well respond. “It’s the $@#! Holidays!” (Or: “Have you seen my $#@! in-box??”)

How do we find our own presence within; how do we re-discover what some would call our higher Selves, our own souls … in the midst of the busy-ness of this season, and of our overall lives?

We know when we have touched this place of quiet feeling, a sense of assurance arises within, and our problems seem smaller, solutions more evident, or we are content to simply enjoy life as it is, now, no matter what our circumstances.

"We know when we have touched this place of quiet feeling, a sense of assurance arises within, and our problems seem smaller, solutions more evident ... "

Our children benefit, our spouses, our families, our colleagues.

I have learned for myself that the how is as simple as stopping. In my work of late, I’ve been using the term “surrender.” Surrender in the very best sense, meaning we stop trying to control everything around us (a futile task!), and even what is within our own minds. We stop. Emotions may continue, energies in the body. Chaos may swirl, still, for a while. But we do not need to continue to feed our thoughts, which add complexity to the storm. We can stop.

What is here, under this surrender, within this stopping? Under thoughts of what must be done, what we must do, what we must achieve, or change, and how we can prove our worthiness, or disprove our unworthiness? What is under, beneath, within, before and after our “to do” list, whether accomplished or not?

Presence!

Beautiful Sunset - Ami Chen.

 

Within simple presence, when the mind is quiet, we discover the universal feelings of connection, love, peace—and a fulfillment that includes all others in its gentle embrace. When “me” and its non-stop trajectory is lost, when self-concept is forgotten, even if only for a moment, we are actually found.

I am very fond of the authors Hugh and Gayle Prather (Hugh has now passed on). They reflect in their book, Spiritual Parenting, on the idea that the Christian holiday at this time of year is perhaps particularly joyful because it celebrates the birth of a child.

The child’s mind, the child’s innocence, the child’s feeling all are not actually lost as we age. They are obscured by thought. It is that richness of mind and connection to life Jesus referred to when he said, “Be like the little children.”

I believe our gathering together and preparations for the holidays reflects our deep desire to feel love, to feel connected, to feel delight, to feel presence, to feel a sense of the sacred. Indeed, most of our efforts in life are directed subconsciously toward these goals. Ironically, and wonderfully, we can stop at any moment and find this presence is already here!

" ... We can stop at any moment and find this presence is already here!"

Perhaps we must first become present to ourselves before we can show up as present for our families … What does this mean for you today? An unscheduled walk in the woods, or by the ocean? A hot cup of tea, and your favorite chair? A good lie down in bed? A moment with your pet, or on your meditation cushion? Or perhaps simply slowing down in whatever activity you find yourself in, now.

Ask yourself (and tell no lies!): Does what you think needs to be done really need to be done? And if so, does it need to be done today? This minute? Is there something more important, more essential that could be discovered first—that might pave the way gently for good things to come?

Your present—your presence—gifted to yourself. I suggest this is this best gift you could “give” this holiday season. We could make a pact. I will give it to myself, if you will give it to yourself. What do you say?

Ami Chen Mills-Naim is author of The Spark Inside and State of Mind in the Classroom (revised, 2nd printing due in 2016). She leads the “Everyday Satsang” drop-in class through Santa Cruz Yoga. Next class is Sunday, Dec. 13, 2-4 pm at 1010 Fair Ave. Suite E. Class fee is $15. Ami also provides personal and professional coaching, is a global speaker, and leads retreats, webinars and trainings via the Internet and in person. Find more at www.AmiChen.com

 

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

Is!

Where we/I have thought

in the past

and perhaps for good reason

and based on actual

happenings actual

memories

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

Nothingness

and No Big Deal

Except that

Actually

It Somehow

Is ...

Is like

Love not moving

Until it does

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