I waited hours to receive a hug from Ammachi, or Amma or The Hugging Saint, today. Last year was my first experience with receiving the darshan, aka blessing, from Amma. It was an interesting experience. I loved being with thousands (yes, literally thousands) of her devotees or perhaps people just like me, curiuous to see what this was all about.
It reminded me a lot like Disney World. A very, very long line for a ride that is over in a blink of an eye. The entire situation is a well oiled machine. You are guided every step of the way, told when to kneel, basically (gently but forcibly) pushed in front of Amma to receive your hug and then (gently but forcibly) pushed aside again so the next person can take your spot.
Sadly for me, I didn’t feel anything after my hug. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I expected to feel something. Last year, I ran into a yoga teacher who told me that he felt something the second time he got a hug.
Based on what he said, I was very excited to receive my second hug this morning. I woke up super early to catch an early train. Even though the website said the line to receive a token (you need a token in order to receive a hug) wasn’t supposed to form until 9 am, I knew the line would form earlier. Unfortunately my train was delayed so I didn’t get to the location until nearly 8:30 am. As I suspected, there was a long line already. Most everyone had on regular clothes. I was one of the few, aside from Amma’s devotees, wearing all white. You don’t have to wear all white, but I figure if I am going to receive a blessing, I might as well go all out.
At 10 am, they started to hand out the tokens. You have to stand in a single line, with your right hand extended so they can place the token (a card) in your hand. Mine was c3. After you receive your token, you are guided where to sit.
Amma arrived around 11 am. We chanted and meditated. Amma started giving out hugs around 11:30. I walked around and purchased a scarf while I waited for my hug. (Side note, you may want to bring a parka or a heavy sweater as it was FREEZING).
I received my hug around 1:50 pm. I had photos of my two daughters in my right hand, which Amma kissed. While I did enjoy her hug (this one either lasted longer than my first hug or maybe I was more present since it was my second time), I didn’t feel anything. Maybe I had too high of expectations? Maybe third’s time the charm? Or, maybe, we’re not meant to feel anything. Maybe the blessing is subtle or comes at a later time? I have no idea.
After my hug, I was starving so I had lunch there. $7.50 bought me a huge plate filled with yummy vegetarian dishes. I loved it.
When I came home, I googled to see if there were other Amma hug reviews. I didn’t find any but I did come across a Yahoo group for ex-devotees and questioning devotees of Amma. I did submit a request to join since I am very curious to hear what others have to say.
I have an acquaintance who considers Amma to be her guru. I would love to speak with her about her experiences with Amma. I hope what I’ve written doesn’t come across negatively. I do feel bad or even guilty that I don’t have something more positive to say. I will admit that I don’t know that much about Amma except for what I saw in the video that was shown while we waited for her to show up. She and her devotees do a lot to give back to the community and to places that have suffered devastation. Plus, there were so many volunteers there helping this event happen and countless events all throughout the United States. They must have a strong connection with her.
Maybe I’m just not enlightened?