Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

Grams has just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book was the March selection for my book club, The Book Snobs.

Grams is an avid reader and is not too particular about books. I enjoy a wide variety of books and am enthusiastic about reading almost anything. There are a couple of exceptions. As a general rule I don't enjoy reading horror because it keeps me up at night. I read at night and since Grandad sometimes travels for his job, sometimes I'm sleeping alone. Stephen King books scare the heck out of me. I'm game for almost anything else except "Christian" fiction. I absolutely detest this genre of literature. It's contrived and preachy. And, while I'm willing to concede that many people actually strive to live their lives this way, it's not something I care to read about.

Even though several people I know have read Eat, Pray, Love and have recommended it with varying levels of enthusiasm, I was less than enthusiastic about reading it. But, in my mind, being a member of the Book Snobs means I have committed to reading each month's selection, I borrowed the book from my daughter and reluctantly began reading.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book. I was able to relate to Elizabeth Gilbert's search for balance in her life. Elizabeth took a year off to recover her life after a nasty divorce. This year off is a luxury that most of us don't have.  She was able to take the year because she got an advance on the book. She spent four months each in Italy, India and Indonesia (Bali). 

During her sojourn in Italy she comes face to face with her own depression and loneliness. She goes into some detail about her use of mood-altering prescription drugs and how they helped her cope with this difficult time in her life and then her ultimate decision not to continue their use. I was impressed by the fact that she found her own internal voice of wisdom and learned to channel it and use it to overcome her own challenges. I also enjoyed her lust for Italian food and the Italian way of life. My favorite quote from the Eat portion of this book is "Ours is an entertainment seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one."  This is a distinction that I had not consciously thought about before, but I really agree with the assessment.

In the Pray section of the book she travels to an ashram in India and focuses on meditation and prayer. Quite a few of the people who recommended this book reported that they struggled with this section of the book and many of them didn't finish the book from this point. I was fascinated by her efforts to learn to calm her mind. Elizabeth struggles to find her own mantra and eventually decides to impose a period of silence on herself. I related to this because sometimes I too struggle to turn off the thoughts that run through my mind. I personally have learned to meditate using the prayers from the Rosary as a way to calm my mind. My favorite quote from the Pray section of the book is when she realizes that she must be vigilant about her own thoughts and vows many times daily "I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore." I find that very often we limit ourselves by what we think.  There are also some interesting insights on the world's religions and how God is bigger than our limited religious doctrines have taught us.

Then she travels to Bali in her search to understand and open herself to Love. I thoroughly enjoyed the information about the Balinese practice of "happy" meditation. Her Balinese healer teaches her to meditate by smiling. He tells her she must learn to smile "even from her liver." My favorite quote from this section is when the Liz and the healer are discussing how people argue about religion. He tells her "I have good idea, for if you meet some person from different religion and he want to make argument about God. My idea is, you listen to everything this man say about God. Never argue about God with him. Best thing to say is, 'I agree with you.' Then you go home, pray what you want. This is my idea for people to have peace about religion."

This book is entertaining, fun and has a great message. Liz discovers the power that is within her. Near the end of the book she says "We get seduced by our own mantras." That is so powerful. Negative thoughts become self-fulfilling prophesies. If we constantly think "I'm a failure ... I'm lonely" over and over again, those thoughts dominate our actions and become our truth. We become what we constantly think. Words have so much power that we must learn to control them ... both spoken words and the words we think. Just as negative words have negative power, positive words have positive power. The power to stop suffocating ourselves with negativity is within us.

I enthusiastically recommend Eat, Pray, Love.  

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Learning to meditate has been one of the single most powerful things that I've learned to do in my life, and I regret to admit that in the whirlwind of motherhood I've let it get away from me, at the time that I've needed it most. Having control of your own mind truely gives you amazing power over the rest of your life.