I’d first heard of Amma whilst in India a fair few years back, as the lady who gave out free hugs and had an ashram dedicated to her. In spiritual circles across the World, she’s worshiped almost for being a living God.
People will travel hours to see her and wait equally as long to experience just a few seconds in her embrace.
Being naturally curious and fascinated by anything and anyone spiritual, I had to see her when I found out she was going to be at Alexandra Palace in London for a week, doing talks, meditations, and of course, giving out hugs.
Amma at Alexandra Palace 2014
So, last Thursday evening, I found myself stepping into Alexandra Palace and waiting in line with a load of other people who had come for their moment with the hugging mother.
Before I even saw Amma, I have to mention that as soon as I stepped into the building, I instantly felt so much love. Unlike most places in London where you have to wait in queues for a long time, everyone seemed quite chilled and happy in this one.
It was in the queue where I discovered that the event was going on all night, finishing at 9am the next day, which meant Amma would be hugging people all the way through the night. Where does this woman get her energy from?
After I’d been issued my ticket, eaten a huge plate of Indian food and volunteered in the kitchens for an hour and a half (my karma yoga for the evening), it was time for my hug.
As I waited, I got talking to a Swedish woman who had been going to see Amma for almost a decade. She’d flown into London from Stockholm to experience being in the presence of Amma because her energy was so powerful. The feeling in Alexandra Palace certainly was special, but I wondered if this woman would have felt the same if she’d met Amma in other, less glamorous circumstances… at the corner shop buying milk, taking the bins out, waiting for a bus…
As I got closer to the stage where Amma was seated on a throne like chair, I watched person after person be hugged and leave looking lighter, more in love and generally happier. I felt like I was going to cry. It was emotional watching. I don’t know whether it was because there was so much positive energy, because Amma really does have special powers or because watching lots of people get hugged and feel good about it is an emotional experience.
I was certain that when it got to me, I would burst into tears, but when the time came, I didn’t feel emotional or overcome with love at all. It was an all embracing, quite tight hug, but nothing else. Amma chanted something that sounded quite slow and powerful in my right ear, then she let me go and hugged me again before sprinkling flower petals over me and handing me two sweets.
I left to sit on the stage and meditate, wondering if Amma really did have healing powers. Before the hugging began, Amma gave a talk, and we watched videos of all the incredible work she has done for people in India and throughout the World.
She’s helped provide homes for thousands of people in India, started an ‘Empowering Women’ programme as well as opening a school in India for children with speech and hearing impairments. These are just a few of things Amma has done for charity over the last 40+ years. You can read more about Amma’s charity work on her website.
It’s clear Amma has a powerful energy, but does she really have the power to change people for life and rid people of disease with her healing powers? Sheer belief and the placebo effect are powerful too.
Is Amma powerful purely because we want her to be or is there really something different about her that must be worshipped like a God? Or is it that she helps the rest of us self remember and realise we are all essentially one collective consciousness?
Overall I’m grateful for the opportunity. There was certainly a powerful feeling of love in Alexandra Palace and I’m pleased to have been a part of the evening.
Have you ever met Amma, been to her Ashram in India? If so what was your experience like? Did your hug change you or were you indifferent? Share your thoughts below.
Top photo — Image source Amma.org