I having a discussion about Eat Pray Love because Elizabeth Gilbert is coming to Sydney and giving talks on creativity.
There were some less than glowing reports about the book, but I remember it fondly. Perhaps Elizabeth waffled at times, but as a fellow waffler I’m not one to judge.
To me, at that time, Elizabeth Gilbert represented a person that I would love to be. Brave, adventuring, spiritual and at one with carbohydrates.
Her time in Italy was something I would love to do. I’ve yet to experience pizza in Rome, gelato on the Amalfi Coast, and pasta pretty much everywhere that says “Bellisima!”
I once spent three months in Indonesia. Instead of honing my spirituality, I honed my tan and took strolls on deserted beaches and smoked joints. I also spent time in Thailand and East Timor so I felt like I had kind of nailed the South East Asia part of the book.
The other part of the book that really inspired me was the PRAY bit. Elizabeth spent a large amount of time in an ashram in India chasing her ‘kundalini’ spirit whatever the hell that was.
The way she described it in the book made me feel as though this divine state of enlightenment was really at my finger tips if only I just reached out and grabbed it. It made me decide that I was going to trot off and become One with my higher self.
I was totes a spiritual Earth goddess, right?
So. Fucking. Wrong.
I went to Vipassana- a 10 day silent meditation retreat- in the Blue Mountains in NSW.
You were not to make eye contact with anyone, nor speak to them ever. We lived like monks in bare dwellings, eating only two meals a day. Once a day there was an opportunity to speak with a ‘guru’ if you had spiritual questions, or to a facilitator if you had questions regarding your physical self or needs.
Firstly, it was winter.
Those monks digs were like freezing cold jail cells where I got ice-cream headaches just taking a pee.
I had my own duvet, blankets and pillows from home, with a hot water bottle so I was plenty warm in bed but I’d wake at 4am to go to the first meditation of the day and the ponds would all be frozen and my breath would be frozen on the windows… and icicles hung from my nose if I’d accidentally allowed my head out of the fart sack in my slumber.
All day we would sit there, in various crippling positions trying to breathe our way to enlightenment and I began to curse that Elizabeth Gilbert, the uppity Kundalini show off.
I became fixated on a pain in my right shoulder and after two days of sitting on my folded legs, deep breathing and not giggling at stangers’ resounding farts caused by vegetarian food I was ready to go home.
They take your mobile phone and wallet for ‘safe keeping’ when you arrive but I would bet my ass that it’s so you don’t sneak off in the night.
My stupid pride would not permit me to ask for those items back but if I had them I may well have commando crawled on my freezing belly to my car and driven off, leaving a massive burnout in my wake and sped home to a bottle of whiskey and loud rock and roll music.
I was wracked with aches and pains. Although forbidden I would flick my eyes around the room to see if anyone else could possibly feel as uncomfortable as I and I saw heavily pregnant women blissfully breathing and old people rising above their discomfort to achieve enlightenment.
I went to my guru and explained that she had no idea how uncomfortable my body was. She smiled a beatific smile and nodded
mockingly knowingly. I went back to the guru and cried and cried. I couldn’t quiet my monkey brain, I was no nearer enlightenment than a can of baked beans, and the war between my desire to leave and my ego filled every thought.
I looked into her kind eyes and I asked her tell me to “buck up, Little Camper”, which she kindly did.
I was freezing, hungry and miserable but I would not give in.
Where was my kundalini? Where was this blue snake like energy that connected me to my higher self? Where was my astral projection?
I was spiritually crippled.
It was all Elizabeth Gilbert’s fault.
If you;’re expecting this to have a big enlightened ending, I’m sorry to disappoint. I hated the whole 10 days. Every second of it. One of the veterans had been 30 times over 15 years and she swore that perseverance is the key.
Screw that, I say.
I’ll seek enlightenment in carbohydrates and great sex, laughter and the smell of my children’s hair.
Thanks just the same.
Tell me, do you meditate?
Are you better at it than me??
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