Eat, Pray, Love (one woman’s search for everything) by Elizabeth Gilbert is a memoir of her travels and spiritual journey across 3 countries. Recently divorced (and a bad divorce at that), Elizabeth is feeling depressed and lost. So she decides to travel for 12 months, spending 4 months at a time in Italy, India and Indonesia, in an effort to find some balance in her life.
Elizabeth is in her thirties, settled in a large house with a husband who wants to start a family. But she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a rebound fling later, Elizabeth emerges battered yet determined to find out what she’s been missing.So begins her quest. In Rome, she indulges herself and gains nearly two stone. In India, she finds enlightenment through scrubbing temple floors. Finally, in Bali, a toothless medicine man reveals a new path to peace, leaving her ready to love again.
This is one of those rare gems of a book that although an enjoyable read, funny and entertaining, it really holds a very important message for us all. We live in a world where discontentment is like a disease. Most people seem to suffer from this disease at some point during their lives and need to find ways to get around it (or in some cases resign themselves to their fate) but Elizabeth wants none of that and takes drastic steps to try and find peace. Yes, she travels to some wonderful countries, makes lots of really great new friends and has some amazing experiences, but in the end she learns, peace and contentment can only be found in one place – within.
First Elizabeth travels to Italy where she indulges in pleasure. Much pizza, pasta and wine later she is much happier… and fatter! But that’s ok because she then travels to India where she spends her time living in an Ashram. Here she is assigned the job is scrubbing the temple floors, the rest of the time she takes part in Yoga and meditation. Here, through the help of her guru and her new found friend, Richard from Texas, she learns how to find inner peace and enlightenment.
Finally, Elizabeth travels to Bali. Many years before, she traveled to Bali for a writing assignment for a magazine and met an Indonesian medicine man who told her she must come back to Bali one day to teach him English and he would teach her meditation. So that’s exactly what she does. Meeting some wonderful people and finding new love all while enjoying her new found peace with herself.
This book is broken up into 3 chapters (one for each country) and 108 tales (to symbolise the 108 beads on a japa mala – beads used in Indian meditation). This format makes it easy to read and easy to put down when you need to. Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing style is relaxed, funny and very conversational, making this the sort of book you can read quite quickly.
I really loved reading about Elizabeth’s journeys. I must admit I struggle to get through the first chapter of this book. I love Italy and I really want to travel there someday but I found it difficult to stay interested in the copious amounts of pasta she was eating.. I don’t want to read about that.. I want to DO IT! There was only so much self-indulgence I could take and I got a little bored after a while.. but then she went to stay in the Ashram in India and this was, for me, where the book got really interesting!
I found her experiences whilst meditating and the lessons she learned quite profound and fascinating. It reminded me how much I love to meditate and how much I used to love Yoga – it’s inspired me to get back into it. I think this was the most important chapter of the book and it really spoke to me. In the end, contentment with our lives and ourselves can only by found within and it’s important to strive towards that with mindfulness.
Lastly, Elizabeth spends her final four months of travel in Bali. This chapter was also very interesting as it was nice to see that she was able to find peace and learn to love again. Everyone loves a happy ending right!?
I recommend this book to anyone who loves travel memoirs and stories of other people’s spiritual journeys.