Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blogs moved to new website at

Dear Followers of "Mystical Mama,"

My great and everlasting gratitude to you for your support and friendship over the years!

All of my blogs have now been transferred over to my new Ami Chen Coaching & Education website at ...

At this new site, you can also find information about my services: individual and family innate wellness coaching, customized personal and group retreats in Santa Cruz, CA, and public retreats in various locations, including Kauai, Hawaii.

Also there: how to order books, radio show podcasts, my bio, my story, and other good stuff. Sign up for my (infrequent) e-newsletter, and you'll get updates from me about innate wellness, Mind, Consciousness and Thought, inspirations, poems, reflective questions and coming events.

Much Love &

Your Mystical Mama

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Assumption-sumption: What’s Your Function? … To Make a Mess!

Part of the “Parenthood Way” current series

If there is one thing that throws a wrench in our parenting—in fact, all relationships—it’s ASSUMPTIONS. An assumption is, of course, just a thought, but one we often mistakenly confuse with the truth. I cannot tell you how many times I have assumed one of my daughters (or my mother, husband, colleague) is operating with a certain sinister motive. When I slow down enough to look and listen again, I discover that the motive at work is actually quite pure. Most people and children are not “out to get us.” Most people are just trying to get through life the best they know how—and children, often, with a great sense of joy. Although children don’t know all the societal rules and behaviors we grown-ups consider sacrosanct. Quite often, their behaviors are simply a reflection of their not having learned what "proper" behavior looks like.

So, when we see a child in act in a certain way, a whole flurry of thoughts can occur for us, as parents--assuming a motive, projecting the action into the future (certain doom for our beloved child!), projecting images of ourselves as "good" or "bad" parents, and assuming our child should "know better" somehow.

I’m embarrassed to admit that once, when my older daughter was “hiding” out in her room and not wanting me to come in, I assumed she was somehow up to no good. (I admit I also felt hurt that she did not want me to come in.) In the end, she was working on a surprise present for me! As I wrote last month, we respond to our (often untrue) thoughts, and not the current reality. When we can take a pause and question our own assumptions—about others, and even about ourselves—appropriate action, love and compassion arise in the space we have freed in our minds. It is often not what we know, or think we know, that helps us most on this parenting journey—it is how willing we are to not know.

Ami Chen Mills-Naim is your Mystical Mama, a member of the Westlake School Site Council, Education Director at the Center for Sustainable Change, a family coach & author of The Spark Inside: A Special Book for Youth, & the forthcoming, State of Mind in the Classroom. Send your comments or questions to her at

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Parenthood Way: The End of the Rope

Dear Friends,

I'll be writing a series of posts here I am calling "Parenthood Way," for the next few months. These posts will be based exclusively in and on family life and parenting. My theme is that I, for one, am not perfect as a mom, wife, household manager, dog owner, chief cook or bottle washer ... I imagine very few of us are. As we realize that we are all "in this boat together," we can begin to take our focus off our personal mistakes and look at the boat as a whole, with a gentle but intent curiosity.

I have had clients whose childhoods and parenting experiences have been much, much more challenging than mine--and continue to be. I recently told one such client: "Look. Everything is already broken. People hurt each other every day, and you know all the stories. You have lived them. We must find peace now--in the midst of this brokenness. In ourselves. If we can do so, we become a part of the hope, of the solution, for all children."

I wrote this recent article on "The End of Our Rope" for my kids' elementary school newsletter. I dedicate it, and this new series to all parents and child care givers and caretakers, everywhere. Peace exists here and now. Let's find it. It's contagious!

Parenthood Way: “The End of the Rope”

With two, still young daughters, (one growing up fast), a job, a dog, a busy husband, a house to maintain, finances to organize (worry about, forget about, worry about), I, like most parents and caregivers, am busy!

I find parenting to be a series of moments in which 1) we feel we have come to the absolute end of our rope, and then 2) miraculously, more rope appears! Suddenly, there is a moment to breathe, to enjoy our children and our lives. How does it happen that sometimes we are terribly stressed, and at other times, we remember (and experience) the reasons we became parents? We experience the present moment. We experience humor, love and gratitude.

The truth is that we are most often not actually experiencing our children, our spouses, our current realities—we are experiencing our thoughts about them. And while negative thoughts can be triggered by many “external” situations, parental stress comes from hanging onto negative thoughts (worries, concerns) that cycle around without solution. Then, in a quiet moment (and this can be in the midst of chaos, too), the mind clears and we are back in the present—noticing the turning leaves, the holiday lights, the beautiful sunset … And, interestingly, solutions to “problems” with our kids percolate up to help guide us through this endless mystery and challenge called “parenthood.”

I call these changes in thinking (busy thinking, then clear mindedness), states of mind. The other day, a “Walking School Bus” day for us—which means getting all of us out the door 20 minutes early—my husband was tired and slept in, I was singly trying to make breakfast, lunches; blaming my husband, blaming myself, the kids, the dog, whoever; and I finally got the kids out the door, but without me! … I had to finish dressing and run to catch up with the “school bus.”

Then, as we were crossing a neighborhood street, my youngest daughter dropped our dog’s leash and Coco went free in the street. I stopped to gently lecture my daughter and took the leash. I was heading on down the road with most of the school bus group way ahead, when my daughter began to cry. She was standing still, crying, upset that I took the leash, and she didn’t want to go to school. She wanted to go home. She wanted her daddy. Here it was again: the end of my rope.

The end of the rope can be a very good place, a fertile place. It means we have run out of ideas and (hopefully) are about to give up on our current way of thinking. In that moment, I just stopped. I had no idea what to do. I sent the rest of the school bus on its way. I tried to apologize, but that did not work. I tried to explain that we really needed to go, but that did not work. And so I just stopped, and looked up at the sky and the clouds, waiting in the unknown. I realized my frustrated thinking was not going to get me anywhere. Perhaps it had caused this mess. And, after a few moments of waiting, my daughter hugged me. I dried her tears and we got ready, slowly, to move on.

Taking a moment, an hour, a day, to just stop, or as one parent I worked with once said, understanding the "Power of the Pause" can be powerful.
“End of the rope” feelings include hopelessness, frustration, anger and fear. To be able to recognize these feelings and understand that another state of mind is possible is one of the most profound lessons of parenthood I have learned. It is actually one of the most profound lessons of life I have learned. When we learn to embrace the unknown, “the end of our mental rope,” we have created space for insight, wisdom and good feelings to re-emerge.

Ami Chen Mills-Naim is a member of the Westlake Elementary School Site Council, Education Director at the Center for Sustainable Change, a personal and family coach, and author of The Spark Inside: A Special Book for Youth, and the forthcoming, State of Mind in the Classroom. Send your comments or questions to her at 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Very Tricky!

Oh, you are so
Very tricky!

I thought I had shut
That front door
But here you have
Come in from the back!

And now the air
Reeks of your
Sublime perfume

I hope it is the kind
This time
That never goes away!

There is divine danger here
As I am becoming intoxicated ...
And I no longer seem to care
About what happens
Outside this house

Maybe one day I will
Go out again
But for now I am
I am

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Things I Know for Sure

My coming radio show (this Friday at 10 a.m. PST), "Things I Know for Sure," is a reflection on the Truth as it has manifested in my life over 40-some years, and speaking as someone who, as a child, was immersed in the world of the Three Principles of Mr. Sydney Banks. I also speak from my experience as as an avid reader, writer and journalist, a researcher, a scholar and lover of many spiritual traditions.

In this show, as a general theme in my life at this time, I will reflect on what these many various traditions have in common. What is the common truth we might all be able to trust in? How do the Three Principles relate to that truth?

And, as a follow up to the recent webinar I did with Sheela Masand (in Spain), I am posting here some of my favorite quotes from various spiritual authors I have read that seem to me to have a common thread.

I start with Mr. Sydney Banks himself from his DVD set, "The Hawaii Lectures," and the DVD entitled "Going Home."

"The Buddha told you: 'You are the world.' You create the world you live in. Yet, you have to find this for yourself. Listen carefully. Not just to what I'm saying, [but] to some wise person that YOU think knows the secret. You can go to the library, you can find the Truth. You can go to the church of your choice and find it. You can go to a Kahuna and find it. You can go anywhere in the world, and once you know what Truth is, you'll hear it spoken all over the world. You'll hear it on a day-to-day basis.

"But you’ve got to listen, not with your ears. You don’t look with your eyes. It’s beyond the senses. It lies deep in here [points to chest/heart]. And once that secret comes out and is divulged to YOU, it’s a secret that cannot be told. It cannot be told by words. It has to be found within your own soul, because your own soul holds that secret.

"And what stops you from getting in here [points to chest] is your own thinking ... You could also call it Ego. [But] ego is a delusion. It’s non-existent."

From Gangaji, and her book (my favorite), You Are That:

"Living truth, whether it comes from the historical Buddha, or from the beggar on the street, is true nourishment ... I once heard it said that religion is the tracks where something alive once passed. In the tracks, there may be a great emanation of power and truth. If the tracks can serve to inspire you to turn to truth, then they are to be honored. Follow the tracks to their source."

From Ramana, from the book The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharishi:

"Know that you are really the infinite, pure Being, the Self Absolute. You are always that Self and nothing but that Self ... Know then that true Knowledge does not create a new Being for you; it only removes your ignorance. Bliss is not added to your nature; it is merely revealed as your true and natural state, eternal, imperishable. The only way to be rid of your grief is to know and be the Self. How can this be unattainable?"

From Toni Packer, The Work of this Moment:

"Why did the Buddha say in parting, "Be a lamp unto yourself--take only the Truth for your refuge"? Why do we seek refuge in things created by thought and memory? ... Human beings communicate, commune with each other freely and lovingly only when the mind is not anchored in any system whatsoever--when there is a coming together empty-handedly.

"With any division into groups there inevitably arises the feeling: 'The group is me' ... In facing our own deep-seated need for security and belonging, can we see the immense attachment and dependency on groups and organizations? Can we see the need to feel that our organization, our religion, is superior to all others? And can we see what that does to us?

From me:

The formless Truth is so vast and infinite as to encompass all forms of Truth, and go beyond all of them. It goes beyond any form of individual or personality, Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Abraham, Ramana, Sydney Banks, as much as they are to be honored and loved. It is both within and beyond any posture or form of the body--health or disease. In the end, the Truth is you. It has never not been You.

Everyone has been pointing you in this direction. Inside. You then discover what is inside you, what is outside you, what is everywhere. You discover Home, and you discover that Home has no location. It cannot be contained and encapsulated in a specific formulation of Truth. As helpful as all those formulations, all those past insights, all those beautiful teachers have been, they do not "contain" the Truth.

The Truth is a moving, flowing river--fullness, allness, Alive. And it is Nothing. Quiet, silence, Ground Zero, stillness. It lies in the unknown, past everything you have ever thought. And all of this is You.

Join me this Friday!

With Love,

Your Mystical Mama

Friday, May 24, 2013

Most People

"That which is in You, when released, will Save you. And that which is in you, if not released, will destroy you." 

"And I say to you: What you seek and inquire after, look, it is within you."

--Jesus of Nazareth.
Most people
I meet
Live according to rules
They did not create
And which have NOT
Been stamped
With the Sacred & Tender
Of their own Soul

Most people
Ascribe to values and
Aspire to dreams
Down through
These bloody, tortured Eons.
Unquestioned, Unexamined
Leadening, weighty, death-giving.

Most people
Are not quite sure
Where they are going
But know only
They must
Get there soon!

Most people
Cling tightly
To gems that once
Were of Great Value
But now have turned to dust
Within their grip

And so,
With most people,
Conversations can be
Rather dull

Once you have had a taste
of This Freedom
My Friend,
Once that door has cracked open
So that the light gets in
So that the light gets in
You will not be going back!

You have Embarked
On the Pathless Path
And become
Unique in All the World.

Loved, Lover, Loving
with One Allegiance only ...

And, so, you are Welcome to stop
For tea
In my home

On Tuesday, May 28, Your Mystical Mama will be presenting a free hour-long webinar, hosted by Sheela Masand, & entitled "Beyond Borders of Culture and Subculture: The Truth is Everywhere." Here is a brief description:

"Looking past our teachers, cultures and sub-cultures sometimes takes courage. Understanding our Selves as the source of truth involves faith and fortitude. When we do this, however, we become Free ... Free to live, work and speak authentically as the unique and powerful channel of wisdom that we truly are. Finally, we begin to understand Truth as the very air we breathe, as everywhere. And the borders and boundaries we once lived within begin to dissolve, until we see there is nothing left to overcome."

Information & registration here: