Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love

I got up early this morning to finish reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Quite simply, I loved this book and it may have made a profound impact on my life! Oddly enough, it was a book that has been out for awhile (2006) and I never had any interest in reading about some lady traveling around seeking herself. But I found it for $.70 at Goodwill one day and decided to try it.

As the sub-title states: "One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia", this is a true story of Elizabeth's Gilbert search for happiness. Coming off a hard, bitter divorce, dark depression, then an impossible love affair, she decides to go away and find God. First, she goes to Italy and learns pleasure...just in being, enjoying friends, food and landscape. She stays there for, I believe, 3 months. By then, she feels emotionally and physically restored and is ready to travel to India, where she spends 4 months at the Ashram, learning to mediate and seek God on a higher level. This is the part of the book that I found so inspiring and yet simple.

Elizabeth's time in the Ashram is shared with various people who come and go, also seeking their own spirituality. I was most struck with her friend, Richard, from Texas. In his own way, his wisdom is ancient.

I wish that I had read this book years ago (although it hadn't been written) because I would have used some of the wisdom in my own work with clients. In one instance, Elizabeth is talking about her inability to let go of David (the affair), stating that after a year, she still can't let go of him. Richard suggests that she give it another 6 months. "Just keep throwin' six months at it till it goes away. Stuff like this takes time."

Elizabeth then goes on to lament that David was her soul mate. Richard's response:
"He probably was. Your problem is you don't understand what that work means. People think that a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll every meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can't let this one go. It's over, Groceries (his nickname for her). David's purpose was to shake you up, drive you out of that marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. That was his job, and he did great, but now it's over. Problem is, you can't accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life. You're like a dog at the dump, baby-you're just lickin' at an empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And it you're not careful, that can's gonna get stuck on you snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it."

What wisdom! And that is just a sampling of Richard's wisdom! He should write a book, too! (***Note: just found this online: Check it out!)

Anyway, Elizabeth spends 4 months in India learning various ways of mediatation, then travels to Bali and it appeared to me that there she spends her time (again, I think it was 4 months) living the life that she had learned to live and appreciate over the past year.

I even learned a new way to meditate that I have been trying for the past 2 days. And I never in my life, have ever had the desire to do so!

The book certainly left me with wanting to know how Elizabeth's life has been going for the past 3 years! I highly recommend this book. It is very easy to read and reads like a novel...very entertaining. I think that this book, and it's messages will stay with me for a long time.


Bybee said...

We both had the exact same experience with this book...I shied away from it for a couple of years. Then I read it during vacation and couldn't put it down. I loved it & I want to go to Bali for winter vacation. Not to mention Italy. And I was also intrigued by that method of meditation where you sit and smile for ...I forgot how long. Anyway, great review! You said everything I wanted to say & now I don't have to!!!

You're not gonna believe this: Your word verification is "undies" LOL

Jamie said...

I completely agree! I love this book and I love how Elizabeth describes gaining weight while in Rome. She gained the first several pounds to become healthy again, and then gained some more -- just because she was in Rome!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this book too.