Maria at Bored Mommy got the idea of having herself and others who want to participate read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and linking our opinions of the book.
I have been having a lot of trouble getting through this section of the book. The main reason is the head space I’m in. There is just so much going on right now. Moving for the second time in three weeks which has been beyond stressful. My daughter cutting her molars and understandably feeling bad and cranky. A death in the family. I have been loving this book so it was frustrating that I couldn’t just simply sit down and read about Elizabeth’s journey to enlightenment in India, especially when I could use some myself.
Finally I thought if she can spend hours upon hours meditating and scrubbing floors in an Ashram, I could find time to sit down and read about it. Off to India we go.
Elizabeth makes her way to India straight from Italy and arrives in the middle of the night to the Ashram, a religious retreat. Soon after she dives right into morning prayer…at 3:30 in the morning. There are times I haven’t even gone to bed by that time because of insomnia. I applaud Elizabeth for coming to this place for that alone.
I have to confess right before we moved and even before I even knew about this book, I bought a few books on Buddhism and a couple of meditation cd’s. I have anxiety and panic attacks so I was looking for something to help with that. I’ve been on medication and have gone through therapy and while those two things help, it’s only temporary.
I haven’t gotten the chance to read the books or listen to and try the meditation cd’s because soon after I got them they were packed away. They’re still sitting in a box somewhere but after we move (again) this weekend, I’m hoping to find them. After these disastrous past couple of months, my stress is sky-high and my anxiety is eating away at me so I’m really looking forward to seeing if meditation can help.
I’ve also tried Yoga several times over the years but I find it very difficult. It is nearly impossible to take a break from my mind since it’s always on the go. The author says “Yoga is about self-mastery and the dedicated effort to haul your attention away from your endless brooding over the past and your nonstop worrying about the future so that you can seek, instead, a place of eternal presence from which you may regard yourself and your surroundings with poise.” Reading those words makes me want to give Yoga another chance but this time I’ll try not to abandon it so easily.
While at the Ashram Liz is given the work assignment of scrubbing the temple floors. So she gets up at 3 am and spends hours meditating, chanting, and has to scrub the floors. Talk about dedication.
Then one evening Richard from Texas arrives. I fell in love with him immediately. Every time Richard is mentioned or he speaks, I always picture and hear actor James Brolin. Richard has lived quite a life; soldier in Vietnam, oil-field worker, reformed junkie and alcoholic, hippie farmer, the list goes on. He had his own medical equipment business but then his marriage fell apart and he gave it to his ex. He got left “scratchin’ my broke white ass again.”
He gives Liz the nickname “Groceries” because of the amount of food she can eat. Liz has been struggling with meditation. She tries to focus but her mind wanders to the point of distraction. She tells him the problem she’s been having with meditation to which he tells her that her ego is what’s getting in the way. He also tells her “Instead of trying to take thoughts out of your mind, give your mind something better to play with.” Liz asks “Like what?” Richards response “Like love, Groceries. Like pure divine love.”
Meditation isn’t the most difficult for Liz, it’s a chant called Gurugita (Richard calls it “The Geet”) that is done every morning and is 182 verses long. She goes to one of the monks and tells him about her issues with it. One of them being her physical reaction to it. It makes her sweat and gets her agitated.
He tells her that this chant isn’t supposed to be comfortable and is supposed to be a purifying practice so in fact it seems to be working on Elizabeth. One morning she wakes up and realizes that she overslept. Then she finds her roommate had accidentally locked her in the room. At first Liz thinks that’s a good excuse to miss the chant. Instead she jumped to action, literally.
She jumped out of her window so she can go to the chant that she dreads and scrapes her shin in the process. She arrives, bleeding, and finally has an awakening. Since this hymn is about pure love she thinks of her nephew and spends the next hour and a half singing it, to him. After that day, she never misses “The Geet” again.
While she’s at the Ashram, Elizabeth learns the ongoing process of taking control of her thoughts. Richard tells her “You need to learn to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes your going to wear every day.” She repeats the vow” I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore” several times a day.
I loved this part of the book because I always over think things. It starts as soon as I wake up and doesn’t end until I’m asleep. I also worry about things before I actually need to start worrying about them. I like to think I’m preparing myself just in case. I know it’s just causing unnecessary stress that I don’t need. My thoughts can be put to much better use than what if..?