hugging Amma: one of the most profound experiences of my life


She enters and the Love is palpable.  Waves begin to rock my body.

Picture the shore—any shore—water lapping in, over and again, but it’s not a distant shore or water, it’s your body and the waves are glittered sparklers of warmth coursing through every cell, nonstop.  It feels like drugs.

In short, it feels awesome.

I catch a glimpse of Her, and involuntary tears spring.

My eyes well, and these are not discreet, pretty tears, two-inches down my right cheekbone at a moonlit angle.  These are cannonballs; face tipped forward, puddles forming on my silky patterned pants.

Lips wobbly, I press them quiet.  Her orange clad, right hand man takes center stage, leading a meditation, urging to us go in, with a long drawn-out tone that I used to think was annoying; now its drama reads as pretty apt.

I am in the Javitz conference center in the least attractive section of midtown Manhattan, surrounded by thousands of others, and Amma, the “hugging saint,” has just entered.  She’s hugged millions around the world, given away tens of millions in money and folks travel to the ends of the earth to bask in Her Grace.  She is considered by most to be an incarnation of God in human form.

Her blessing, her Grace, is bestowed via this hug.  She sits for hours and hours on end, with no breaks to go to the bathroom or eat, take a call or stretch her legs.  This day, she sat for ten hours straight and hugged thousands.  Her resilience is inexplicable magic.

It needs to be noted that Amma is not my guru.  I have teachers of my own, coincidentally not super far from where She resides in India, but my spontaneous springing emotion is not build up from anticipation of seeing “my” Amma, per se.

I smile now as I think back to my early years of spiritual study when I was reticent to touch my Indian yoga teacher’s feet, as all the rest of the yogis so eagerly did…

Over the years, I’ve opened to the more Indian mindset of: It’s holy?  Give it to me, douse me in it, I don’t care who or what it is, any form, any blessing, I want it: stream the Shakti over me, baby.

…not the more American view of: Could you please forward me a New York Timesarticle? (here you go)  …and some more data, tell me exactly what I am supposed to expect, I’d like a signed contract to guarantee my experience, and then, would you also be open to feedback afterwards?

It’s been 15 minutes.  I’m still heavily crying.

The tears are a form of Grace, as a result of Bhakti (devotion) and as all pure Bhakti/Grace, they are automatic, not conjured.  It is a reaction of my body and emotions, my spirit, sensing and perceiving something that that my mind could not fathom, much less understand.

In the same way a mother would reach to snap her child back from an oncoming car, my instinctual reaction knows: this is Divinity before me, cue the waterworks.

Now, to be fair, I am raw and ripe for this.  It’s been an unbelievably tumultuous week.  I quit a job that showed great promise for reasons that aren’t necessary to list here.  In the two months of having it, I ran myself into the ground and as a byproduct lost sight of everything I hold dear. Pretty much every one of my closest personal relationships is in crisis mode, for other reasons, but the timing blows all around for these things to hit at once.

And so I am on self-imposed reboot: day three of a juice cleanse, and a dedication to hug this Amma, receive her “darshan” or Presence, blessing, and wait as long as it takes—which ends up being eight hours.

If I count right, I think this is my 5th or 6th year seeing her in NYC.  If we’re going to be sticklers about it, I think there was one year in there I skipped.  But this time, it feels profoundly different.

I am riveted to my seat.  As she begins her hugs and my initial Bhakti’d breakdown settles down, I’m unable to open one of the two books I have brought.  I was perfectly fine reading one before she arrived.

The energy is electric.  It continues to course through my body.

Hours go by.  I see a couple of friends.  I have a ginger lemon tea.  I am just sitting there, letting these waves wash over my body, bathing in this Grace.

Finally it is time for me to approach and I join the line that will slowly bring me toward her, clutching my number and a garland of flowers to present.

If you haven’t been, it is an elaborate production, the likes of which are more precise per person’s movement than even the secret service.  I was able easily to get an arm around President Clinton in a procession once.  The devotees between Amma and me are dozens.

I move forward in line and am overwhelmed with gratitude for the amount of time and effort hundreds, thousands of volunteers took to make this happen.  Not just in New York, but everywhere on her tour.

Emotion joins the energy in my body—it swirls everywhere.  Places I didn’t know I had.  BEYOND the confines of my body but still connected to me.

I think: If people understood what was really happening here, every single person in the city would be in this room.

The line moves quickly in a jolt, and before I know it, I am on stage and two seats away from Amma.  I hold the flowers I have bought to offer to her.

Two chairs away, and the tears erupt again.  More violently this time, I begin to heave as my chest breathes deeply.

It’s difficult to explain this kind of reaction to Grace if you haven’t ever felt it.  The first time you do, it’s absolutely jarring—it comes out of nowhere—there is no thought that precedes it—no emotion that builds.  It’s not the friend that sends you the Facebook message he’ll be in town next week, it’s the one that rings your doorbell when he’s out in your neighborhood at an odd hour; the totally unexpected visit.

This Grace, this thief in the night, as sudden as It is in its surprise, It is equally magnificent.  They are tears of the purest joy.  Raw emotion that is crystalline in its expression, a reflection of inherent Love—impossible to hold back.

I am aware that I am the only person, downstage center in the middle of the gigantic hangar of the Javitz center, bawling unabashedly.  There is nothing I can do to stop it, and I would never for all the world want to stop it because to me, this is proof.

This is proof of that Love that is rich and ever-present and effervescent.  The Love that connects all of us and streams through every animate and inanimate object: I know that this is not even feeling one gajillionth of a smidge of it, and even just that is so overwhelming… everything else is inconsequential.

Once you have felt this, there is no going back.
You are always trying to get back here.

I scootch a chair forward.  It’s my turn.  Her six handlers guide me.  First to kneel, but I am too short, so a chair appears at my behind.  A woman to Her right thrusts a Kleenex at my cheeks, no doubt to wipe the generous amounts of black eyeliner I most certainly have staining my face.

My arms are led to position the garland of flowers over Amma’s head and I lock with her shining eyes.  She pulls me toward her voluminous right breast in an embrace and my senses are beyond overload:  I feel my body simultaneously expanding in and out with space around me, like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix where he is breathing the world.  Yet, contrasting the wave-like energy beyond even my skin, my body feels very steadily pressed against her chest, shaking with tears, as she tells me “my Daughter my Daughter my Daughter” over and again in my ear and rocks me back and forth.

I am pulled up to my knees.  I can barely steady myself and Amma places her palm right between my breasts and flattens it there for a few moments.  The energy is radiating out from this spot, like the waves of stone’s throw, but much, much more grandiose, out beyond my breastbone and into the cavern of the Javitz.

A Hershey kiss is thrust into my palm by a devotee.  I am on a cleanse, but I am sure as sugar going to eat that later.  That shiz is blessed.

They bring me to my feet, I have no balance, and fall forward, steadying myself, absolutely ungracefully on Amma’s thigh, but her devotee crew are expert and I’m swiftly moved to the side.

I’m still sobbing.  I U-turn the corner and am allowed to kneel in front of Her for a while.  It is a very long time before I can calm myself.

A woman steps to kneel in front of me, obviously connected to someone as she’s allowed to sit in a prime spot.   She looks back at me to excuse herself, and it is a yoga teacher from the shala I have been desperate to get back to, my home of many years, from which, for various reasons,  I have been away for several months.

“How are you?”  She smiles, like an angel,  (For reals, like an angel, this woman is gorgeous; I remember someone once saying she was a model.  Not to mention, angelic from within.  Double beauty whammy.  Here she is, a touchstone…)

At the same time, I glance up and a dearest friend Kenneth is getting a hug from Amma just in front of me.  Kenneth teaches from the same lineage as I; we have taught together and joined in on countless events.

In my week of tumult, I had asked for a clear sign to bring me back to my purpose.

The odds, that out of all the thousands of people here– that these two would be here, now, at this moment of Bhakti breakdown, both at the feet of Amma, and next to myself, are staggering. 

So.  Many.  Blessings.

I’ve knelt so long in front of her, integrating, I feel guilty I’m taking too much time.  I make my way unsteadily back to my seat only to realize I am still wobbly.

Who am I kidding?, I cannot ride a bike home right now. 

I sit longer… half an hour?  Waiting for the energy streams in my body, this fantastical light show of divinity to settle in.

I have crazy, unrealistic thoughts for a moment:
I’m going to fly my mother and sister out here this weekend!
I’m going to camp out here all weekend! 

This feels so unbelievably AMAZING.  I want everyone to feel this.  I can feel it is healing things within me I have no other way of accessing.  I am internally singing gratitude for blessing New York with this massive Grace.

Here’s what I want you to know:

I never used to feel energy this way.  This was cultivated and gifted.  This is where we are going.  It is what will heal us.  It is what will make us one.

All of this is within us.  Always.  Amma travels to show us how to access it, to give us glimpses so we can get in touch.

Because the time is here for us to be this light.

To live these fireworks.

For life to be more marvelous and supernatural and beyond anything we could have ever known.

It’s real.  And it’s now.  Welcome.

Amma’s NYC + tour dates CLICK HERE