Amma, the 61 year old cherub-faced Indian woman, known as ‘the hugging saint’, just wrapped up her North American hugging tour. I’m one of a small group, some 33 million of us, who have received her embrace. Her followers call it Darshan, and it’s said that her divine energy is transferred to you via touch. Whether that happened to me or not, here’s three things I learned:
I know this sounds like an obvious one, but let me explain. No one talks about how many hugs Amma has received: the conversation is about what she gives. Unlike most of us, she doesn’t ask for love. She just gives it out, a whole lot of it, every day of her life. Judging from her boundless energy, the warm look in her eyes, and the constant smile on her face, the love comes right back to her with just as much vigor as she gives it out. Here’s the universal law in plain sight: what we put out into the world always comes back. Amma is a living, breathing example that giving love is the surest bet to be loved in return.
Amma doesn’t give a meek little hug. She places her hand on the back of your head, pulls you into her bosom, and literally wraps herself around you. When asked about how she manages to keep her energy, she’s says (translated by her interpreter) “I am connected to the eternal energy source, so I am not like a battery that gets used up”. The point is, she doesn’t question what she has to offer: she knows it, and her confidence clearly resonates with us. For those of us who suffer from impostor syndrome – we could learn from her example, and step into a greater, more confident version of ourselves.
Everything is Perspective.
For many of us, our daily consists of a handful of meetings & deadlines at work, maybe some yoga or gym time in between, and an evening meal to cap it off with family or friends. According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of Americans consider their lives stressful. At the same time, here is Amma, who on any given day gives as many as 20,000 (that’s not a typo: twenty thousand) hugs, for up to 22 hours straight. She could perceive her work as tedious, but she chooses not to. She performs this incredibly energy intensive work, day-after-day, with a huge toothy grin on her face the whole time.
Perspective is everything.
After she embraced me, and shot me that unmistakable smile along with her powerful, loving gaze, she slipped two Hershey’s Kisses into my hand. Whether I experienced Shaktipat (a direct transfer of her divine energy), or a sugar high from the chocolates, doesn’t really matter in the end. The lessons she was meant to share with me had already been passed along.