My friends who have been studying Yoga for a long time say you don't really see the impact that an Ashram has had on you until you leave the place and return to your normal life. "Only then," said a former nun from South Africa, "will you start to notice how your interior closets have all been rearranged." ... You may find that lifelong obsessions are gone, or that nasty, indissoluble patterns have finally shifted. Petty irritations that once maddened you are no longer problems, whereas abysmal old miseries you once endured out of habit will no longer be tolerated now for even five minutes. Poisonous relationships get aired out or disposed of, and brighter, more beneficial people start arriving into your world. (p. 202)
One W0man's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia is found in Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat Pray Love. I have read several reviews and heard several opinions on this book and they tend to take one of two positions: love it or hate it. I fit easily onto the side of LOVE IT. Gilbert experienced a mid-life crisis of sorts after a nasty divorce and an intense relationship with a man that she couldn't seem to leave permanently. She decided she needed to rediscover some balance in her life, primarily a balance between pleasure and devotion. So, using the advance for this book, she travelled for one year to the three I's: Italy ("Say It Like You Eat It"), India ("Congratulations to Meet You"), and Indonesia ("Even in My Underpants I Feel Different). The structure of her book is based on the string of beads called japa malas ... that assist devout Hindus and Buddhists in staying focused during prayerful meditation (p.1), which is strung with 108 beads. Gilbert's book includes 108 tales, or beads, that are subdivided into 3 sections, or countries, that each include 36 tales of her experiences in each country. This makes the reading of the book very easy and extremely enjoyable.
Many reviews that dislike Eat Pray Love claim that it is a book of complaints, whining, and self-centerness. I, on the other hand, found it to be a book of complaints, reconciliation, and self-discovery. Yes, Gilbert does seem to be a bit self-centered and whiny, but I can so relate to where she is coming from! I, too, have experienced a divorce (though not anywhere near as bad as hers) and also have ended an intense relationship that was extremely difficult to walk away from permanently; therefore, I found that I could relate to much of what she was trying to reconcile within herself.
While reading, I also created my own "beaded necklace" from the tales that moved me in some way. The beads that I strung together while reading included: 9, 16, 21, 27, 33, 41, 44, 49, 57, 77, 81, 86, 87, and 107. Why am I recording these beads? I guess so that I can refer to her book on tough days just as she referred to her "notebook" when things seemed a bit overwhelming.
Italy was a fun read. Gilbert finally lets her hair down and rediscovers pleasure. India was a bit of an unusual read. Gilbert practices Yoga to an extreme and rediscovers devotion. And Indonesia, Bali to be exact, was a happy ending. Gilbert rediscovers balance and love in more ways than she ever expected. The people she meets also add to her healing and her discovery. I especially enjoyed Richard from Texas, the medicine man from Ubud, and Felipe from Brazil!
I say: "Attraversiamo."
Let's cross over. (p. 331)
I highly recommend Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's a personal journey that readers will either very much enjoy or very much dislike.