Hugs Not Drugs


Scott, Tariku, our friend Julien and I went today to see Amma, the hugging saint from India. Amma spends most of her hours on this earth hugging people. She has also inspired and started many humanitarian organizations. I’ve always been moved by her mission and in awe of her profound selflessness.

I’ve been to see her every time she visited LA over the last five years and each one was a unique experience. I have blissfully waited for eight hours for a hug and watched the colorful Devi Bhava ceremony and I have also stood annoyed by the shoe racks wondering who the heck would show up to get a hug from a saint and steal my brand new clogs on their way out.

Last year Scott finally came with me and we took the baby to get a blessing. It moved us both to tears. Well, this year T isn’t a baby anymore and he had some other ideas about what he’d rather be doing than waiting around the airport Hilton to get a hug. Specifically, he could not understand how we could be spitting distance from AIRPLANES and prefer to sit with a bunch of hippies in a lobby with ugly chandeliers. He made his objections known for three hours.

It was hard to sing and draw and dance around and do everything I could think of to try to keep T from freaking out in the darshan line. He kept pointing to the stage behind Amma and saying, “Band? Bass? Band? Bass?” Like- what the hell? Where is the band anyway? This party is lame!

And of course Scott managed to say like twelve things that totally annoyed me, including one that made me want to respond with the bitchiest comment ever spoken within 100 feet of Amma. It was that kind of day. It was a rough one. Everyone was out to kill my spiritual buzz.

Amma gets me thinking about miracles. And I want to say something about miracles- sometimes they don’t feel very miraculous. I live with at least a couple of miracles every day: the fact that I’m not drinking and using drugs today and the fact that we have our son. Both of those things don’t always make me feel like I’m standing in a glorious beam of sunshine. There are some late nights that I want a glass of wine more than I want the next breath of air and there are some early mornings that I really wish I had a kid who didn’t think sleep is for losers.

I remember reading a quote from Amma once where (forgive me for paraphrasing) she said something like: Where there is love there is no effort.

I’m not always there yet. And I judge myself for it. Then I judge everyone else while I’m at it, just to keep things fair.

But I have moments when I get it. Riding home I remembered last Sunday, when we went for a walk out at Zuma Beach. Scott was holding T and T reached over to put his arm around my neck and pull us all into a group hug. And for just a moment, life felt absolutely effortless.

I keep going back to Amma to be reminded of the possibilities.

8 thoughts on “Hugs Not Drugs

  1. Oh, Jillian, I love this. You really have climbed mountains and you deserve every miracle and every ounce of joy that comes your way.

    I wish I could say I took THAT picture!

  2. When the hell did you get so woo woo and I got so cynical? Wasn’t I like reading The Seth Material when we first became friends and you thought I was a complete fruitcake?

    Still this is beautiful and I am also grateful for your miracles even if you have simply become a hug junkie.

    Sending you a jaded New York hug full of love.

  3. Jillian, I didn’t even realize how into hugs you were when I sent you one last week (Serendipity:)
    Amma sounds very much like the Mother Teresa I adored- selfless saints, well worth the wait…

    And lets face it…Life isn’t easy living with Rock Stars (30 yr.s old or 3, well.. 2 in your case:) But if all else fails, a can or two of Silly String in your purse does wonders (as does a bedside copy of “The Prophet” 🙂 Kahil would have loved the wonders of Silly String, as would Amma…;)

  4. Jillian, Came for the photo, stayed for the writing–what a scene. I misread the paraphrase of Amma at first as, “Where there is no love there is no effort,” or something like that. As a mom of little ones, it feels like effort *has* to be love and visa versa. So I’ll think on what you’ve written as I go cook dinner . . . Thanks! Oh, and I’m grateful for your miracles and for mine, too. Even if there is some effort involved, love surely is great luck. 🙂

  5. never heard of Amma, might just have to look her up- hugs are always good…I so get what your saying, every bit…it is the moments when every thing feels “effortless” that we lose too quickly- remembering to hold on to them is half the battle (I think?!) xo

  6. Thank you for sharing this – your honesty is so refreshing. I, too, can be so judgemental of others but only recently realized that I am the worst when it comes to me. Sometimes it amazes me how much time I can spend beating myself up.

    Will have to keep a look-out for Amma. I wonder if she comes to Ireland?

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