My Trip To See Mother Amma in London – The Hugging Saint & All That Love
About 8-9 years ago I had my first experience of meeting Mother Amma, otherwise known as the ‘hugging saint’. And tonight I had my second experience at a different venue – Alexandra Palace.
The way I see Mother Amma is as a human being who fully embodies the mother energy sorely needed on this planet today. She embodies the divine feminine and not just on the surface. She fully is the divine feminine, which we all have within us, yet she does not experience the same separation or doubts and fears that many of us do in our lifetimes. I see her as someone who came to uplift humanity at a time when many are beginning to awaken to who they really are. She acts as a conduit to trigger people into self realisation. A pure vessel for God’s love.
Now, I am not a religious person. My spirituality is expansive in that I take what feels right for me from many different paths. I have found that limiting myself merely limits the ability for change within me. So I take on the teachings of Buddhism, Advaita, Christianity, Paganism and so forth. All aspects of the same source, all different ways of reflecting God Consciousness on this planet today. Mother Amma deeply resonates with my own womanly need to embrace the feminine within me; to rediscover the nurturing aspect that I have been lacking in my life. Everyone has a mother but not everyone has that mother love feeling within and Mother Amma brings this out in me, and for this I am eternally grateful.
Well, before the first time I met her for a hug (darshan), I had met a gentlemen at Avebury Stone Circle who briefly mentioned her. I forgot all about the conversation until I had a dream where Mother Amma embraced me and I felt the most intense love. She was then at the top of a spiral staircase which I was not allowed to go up to yet. The next day I found out when she was coming to the UK and organised a trip to see her. This was when she was less well known in the UK and she was at the Crystal Palace venue. I took my friend Jo and my partner Mike with me. I did not know what to expect back then. All I know is that I was nervous. I collected a token for Darshan (the famous hug), and queued up in a line through the central area of the hall. My nerves built up; I had no idea what I was going to experience. And as I love hugging I knew how to hug, but I grew panicked on how do you hug someone who hugs all day; is there a special way to do this?
I had pretty low self esteem back then and it finally came to my first embrace with Mother Amma. She pulled me into an embrace and I pulled away slightly. I don’t know why, perhaps I didn’t feel deserving. Mother Amma pulled me back and whispered in my ear. As she did this, something amazing happened. All I can say is that I disappeared. Me, the identity known as Kelly, vanished and I felt as if I had fallen into the cosmos. I saw the universe, stars, space. I am not making this up; it’s what happened and I had no clue it was going to happen. She let me go and I was carried away from the stage area and I sat by the side for some time. My body felt so relaxed; I felt somewhat like soft marshmallow, all squidgy inside,uplifted, and tears welling up in my eyes. I feel I had just had my first glimpse of what Mother Amma experiences 24/7; that we are limitless, without form, form and formless all at once. We are all that is.
Why Did You Decide To Meet Amma Again In London 2013?
Mother Amma seems to call me. I had yet another dream this year. I dreamt I was in a hall and at the end of the hall was Mother Amma, with just a few people around her. It was very quiet. She was sitting on the floor on a rug of some sort. I sat in front of her and she sang to me and she then brought me close and instead of embracing me she placed her thumb on my 3rd eye area. I woke up that morning and I knew I had to find the resources to go and see her this year.
I originally organised to go with a friend but she pulled out a couple of weeks before so I knew that for me, this was going to be a very special mini-pilgrimage of sorts. And this time I decided to go on the night of Devi Bhava.
Devi Bhava in the way I interpret it, is when Mother Amma embodies the divine feminine even more than on her regular program. The energy is incredibly different in the room; the feeling of devotional energy intensifies. And so I chose this time to visit her in London.
I was slightly anxious about going on my own, but also that I would be spending an entire night without sleep and travelling back the next day. In total I went without sleep for 32 hours. It was hard going at times but I had Amma there as an inspirational reminder that anything is possible when connected to source.
What Was It Like In London This Year?
I found the lead up to meeting Amma quite challenging. I know that from my personal experience, something was going to shift for me, and my journey to Alexandra Palace was difficult. The route was fine but walking up the steep hill from Wood Green tube station was tiresome after the coach journey, and as I arrived to the top I sat on a seat overlooking a beautiful view of London.
And then all these emotions came up. I felt grief, loss. I felt this was the beginning of a change for Mike and me. I felt I was going to burst into tears. I felt incredibly alone.
I entered Alexandra Palace around 3.45pm. I dropped my rucksack into the luggage hold. I thought we were not allowed bags or phones or anything inside the venue but I later discovered that many people had bags and mobile phones in there. I was quite glad I didn’t take mine in initially, as I was on my own and had to face the feelings of loneliness without distractions.
The queue outside the hall was probably 100 by the time I arrived. A winding queue with people sitting on the floor in groups or standing. I was aware I had 1 hour 30 minutes until tokens for darshan were given out and realised I was on my own. I tried to strike up a conversation with a gentlemen who had started talking to a young woman, but I was rebuffed and this brought up feelings of insecurity, so I sat on the floor, recited the Heart Sutra and felt my feelings. I felt soothed and okay and then began talking to a lovely lady called Jacqueline in the queue. We had some great chats and it was good to make a connection. They asked whether we wanted a seat or to sit on the floor for the Puja and meditation section of the programme. I said yes to sitting on the floor, thinking I could handle it. She said it would be 2 hours. As we walked into the hall I was led to space on the floor beneath where Amma would be. And I was told if I wanted the toilet to go now and stay seated. So it turned out I was sat for nearly 3 hours. Not something I would choose to do again. If you are deciding whether to do this next year, ask yourself if you are able to sit cross legged for that long comfortably on a hard floor. I was in a lot of physical pain so was unable to embrace the meditation or talk as much as I would have liked.
The Atma Puja is a ceremony devoted to world peace. This involved a beautiful talk given by Amma. This year she spoke of purpose, and how we are all matter. She related it to how a screw in an airplane may seem insignificant but if that screw falls out and the plane crashes as a result, suddenly that screw is very important. She really spoke to me about how it is not what you do in life that is important, but the attitude with which you approach it. My friend Mike told me how he knew a road sweeper many years ago and he did not understand how he was so happy. The road sweeper said to him, “Do you see this road? Have you ever seen a cleaner road? You have much to learn!”.
She recited some of the words for God and did a ritual of purification I think, where a flame was lit and I think this represented the burning of the ego, and water was blessed and we all received some beautiful water.
After Puja – Darshan Began
Unlike a normal Darshan (hug), Amma wore a beautiful ruby and gold robe (sari) and wore a silver crown. Some may say that this is all just one big show but it all depends how you view what it represents. To me it was simply Amma showing that energy was shifting tonight and she was mirroring the energy of divine feminine Shakti.
Amma was seated inside a beautiful ruby red tent surrounded by her support team and sat awaiting people for darshan. On Devi Bhava night you get the opportunity to ask for a sacred mantra, to support your own spiritual process. We are quite blessed to receive this because for many generations mantras were only ever given out to disciples of a guru after many years of training and only when the disciple was ready. I guess in this age of change when people are awakening faster, and we are all needed to remember who we are, receiving the mantra will help humanity and the planet.
I opted to receive a mantra also.
My token was taken just an idea of what tokens can look like
My token said F1, so I was not going to receive darshan into the early hours but relatively soon. I decided to go for something eat around the back of the stage area as I had not eaten since lunchtime. I bought a token for food and collected a plate for some curry. Much like my initial ‘lonely’ experience, dinner was no different. All the tables were full so I sat on the floor on my own. This was a great challenge for me but I knew it was all part of my own inner journey towards wholeness and reconnection with my inner divine self.
The curry was okay, a bit strong for my liking, but it filled my empty belly and I was grateful for this. I then sat down on a seat to watch Amma give darshan to those before me. There was a beautiful atmosphere as chanting and singing was taking place the entire time in the hall. The loneliness was building for me and my ego was screaming at the sheer 12 hours I would be on my own and I embraced the feelings; it was all I could do. And eventually my number came up and I went to queue for darshan. I was blessed with the new friend I had met in the original queue and we enjoyed chatting and moved our way up the row of seats until we were on the stage. We were given a card that explained about receiving a mantra and slowly made our way towards Amma.
I have to admit after my first mind-blowing darshan and my dream, I had allowed myself to have expectations. So if you are going, try to release expectations. Each darshan differs for everyone. The last time I met Amma my friend Jo burst into tears, Mike felt nothing. Sometimes the effects of darshan come on later and whatever we are ready for, we receive.
As I was told to kneel in front of Amma I felt rather rushed for some reason. It felt a lot quicker than before. Perhaps because more people knew about Amma or I suspect it was what I needed to not feel ‘special’, for my ego was wanting that. She held me close and whispered in my ear. Many people hear what she says but each time I have not been able to make out what she says to me. This is a good thing for me, stops me intellectualising it. And as I felt it was over I went to move away, and again, like last time she pulled me back. This is strangely surreal as this was the second time this had happened. But this time she sniffed my head, really strongly, and I had this urge to sniff her. This was bizarre and I have no idea why this happened but it did.
Receiving A Mantra
I left the stage with a sweet and a rose petal as Amma smiled at me, and I was guided down to the mantra section. I had no idea I was to meet Amma again. I was so grateful for this and this was totally unexpected.
I was asked to choose a word that represented God to me. It was not to be something general like the universe. I guess it was to be something specific so that it would be focusing the mind more. A volunteer wrote it on a piece of paper and I was then led to queue for the mantra. I sat next to my new friend and we talked a little and eventually got close to Amma again. I found this a really special experience. In some way it was better than darshan for me this time. I was seated next to Amma on her right hand side. I felt I was being shown our equal status; that we are one and the same. I was blessed to experience Amma giving darshan to other people. I felt my heart open and tears well up. I felt a lot of love on that stage. And after Amma had given darshan to several people, she turned and looked at me, smiled and whispered in ear. She whispered my mantra to me and then she looked at me again and touched my face. I feel very blessed remembering this now and still my heart feels warm.
I left the stage and a volunteer gave me a piece of paper with the mantra on so I would not forget and I was led to another area where a group of us were told about the meaning of the mantra, how it could help give us strength and protection when needed, and how to work with the mantra. I have never used a mantra before. I have chanted aloud before but not internally. Something personal and private to me. So I left the area feeling pretty damn grateful.
I had a small bite to eat with my new friend and she left to go back home. I sat back on the seats and by this time it was 1.30am. I felt very relaxed and then it dawned on me I had a long time to go. My energy had become really tired so I went and got myself a coffee.
After Darshan Embracing The Love
So I sat watching Amma share her love. I listened to the music and inwardly wished for someone to talk to. Not because of loneliness but because my energy was flagging. I was gifted a lovely lady called Sharon and we talked for pretty much most of the night. My energy returned and the music became more upbeat, people were dancing, singing turned from devotional chanting to a rapping gentlemen combined with chanting, which actually worked really well and gave a great energy.
As darshan was coming to a close and the final people were queueing up to be seen, I think one of Amma’s main swami began chanting. I would love to know what this was as he chanted 1000 times. It was a devotional chant, bowing down to Amma in gratitude. This was a very powerful experience. As he got to around the 800 mark my pulse rate began to quicken. I was slightly scared because my heart was pounding. Yet I was also glad that I had read something on the energy of kundalini the previous week (I had been having intense heat in my body for weeks every single day), and how the energy can cause this, so I took some deep breaths as I had learned from Thich Nhat Hanh: “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.. breathing out.. I know I am breathing out..” and the chanting continued. As it neared the end my body began to shake and all I can say is, I felt like a volcano that had just erupted and I felt this energy shoot out of the top of my head.
The energy from stage kept coming over me in waves, like ripples on a pond, each time revitalising my spirit. I had plenty of energy yet no sleep. This was pretty damn amazing to me.
I had watched Amma for over 12 hours and any sceptic would have have to agree that no ordinary human being could sit for 12 hours without moving, without going to the bathroom and still look radiant and smile and laugh the entire time. Yet this is exactly what Amma does.
Marriage – Children – Singing
As darshan came to a close we were asked to gather either side of the stage and we watched as Amma fed some babies their first solid food, and blessed them. I shed a tear as a beautiful couple were married/blessed on stage and then Amma stood up and stood at the edge of the stage. She was shining from within. You would never believe she had been doing this all day and night, with hardly a break in between London and Paris.
She stood at the edge of stage while we were led beneath her and she scattered rose petals over us. It was lovely to see her smile and to look into her eyes again. A reminder of what is possible.
Shortly after this we all sang Amma Amma Tae as she embraced our love and then she entered her sacred space, the curtains were closed and I must admit I shed a tear but had to remind myself she is inside me; that Mother Amma is a physical representation of who I am.
Leaving Alexandra Palace
I said good-bye to my new friend and left the Palace. I was blessed with the most beautiful scene, London was shrouded in a fog and the sunrise had made it so beautiful. I left a new woman. I felt I had been in the womb of Amma and coming out the doors I had given birth, to myself.
No sleep but feeling refreshed and renewed!
Will I Visit Mother Amma Again?
Yes, definitely. I may not go to Devi Bhava again, but who knows I will see what happens.
Mother Amma is a vehicle to show what is possible for a human being. She reflects compassion, love and the spirit of radiant quality that is available for every human being from within. If people choose to worship Amma without question and lose their own inner message, this is when things get out of balance. So long as people see Amma as a reflection of the eternal light in us all, we can all learn a lot from Amma.
No guru, no teacher is better or less than any other human being. We all take what we need, and for me Amma teaches giving and service better than any teacher I have come across. She encourages us to see our fellow humans within us and that nothing is separate.
Amma bases her teachings on selfless love and continues to serve this planet in a phenomenal way through her darshan and her charitable contribution work.
How was your experience of darshan?
For more information on Mother Amma and her schedule of events please click HERE for UK and HERE for USA.
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Remaining Photos : Copyright Kelly Martin All Rights Reserved 2013
Kelly Martin is the author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ , a passionate writer and blogger questioning life’s illusions. After what seemed like a decade of intense anxiety, feelings of failure and grief from the loss of her father she chose to take a mindfulness path and has not looked back since. Kelly encourages people to find the treasures that lie within the pain and suffering and to learn to see themselves as ‘enough’ exactly as they are, right now through her writing and You Tube channel .