Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, came out in 2006, and the movie debuted in 2010, just in time for my divorce. It may sound a bit woo-woo, but do you believe that the universe brings you resources, whether they are books, articles, movies, talks, etc., when you need them? For me, this was the case with Eat, Pray, Love.
If you are not familiar with the title, this post contains spoilers. After a divorce, Gilbert shares her personal healing experience through a year of travel to three distinct places: Italy to eat, India to pray, and Bali to love. I flew for the first time in a year and was excited to see the movie in my download queue. I rewatched it and was inspired to share my favorite lessons from each destination.
Italy – Il Dolce Far Niente (The Art of Doing Nothing)
The art of doing nothing is a skill, and honestly, it overwhelms me. I am an overachiever, which until just recently, I thought was a good thing. I pride myself on constantly producing and ‘working hard.’ Growing up, I had to earn my relaxation time by doing chores, and this pattern has followed me throughout my life. The Italians see Americans as anxious, overworked people who are about to crack. If anything, this past year of quarantine has hopefully taught us all to slow down and embrace the art of doing nothing. (I’m still working on it)
In the nothing, you find yourself.
I genuinely believe that silence is the best teacher, especially when going through a life-changing event like a divorce. Divorce may have pushed you to add more to your day/social calendar. I went through my divorce in my 30’s and treated it like a prequel to my 20’s. The art of doing nothing scared the hell out of me, partly because of my conditioning and partly because I had to face some hard truths.
I challenge you to give yourself at least a few hours a week to embrace your inner Italian and do nothing. At first, it might take planning, and then gradually, you will allow yourself this time intuitively. Be prepared; it won’t be easy if you usually fill your time with tv, chats with friends, books, social media, podcasts, etc. I challenge you to sit in silence. Some people call it being mindful, but I love that the Italians call it art. Expect nothing, and you might be surprised what revelations come up. Want to make it more fun? Prepare yourself an antipasto plate, slip into something super cozy, and enjoy an Italian picnic in a space that makes you feel beautiful. Consider it your Eat, Pray, Love moment.
India – Forgive Yourself
As Gilbert shifts from indulging in Italian delicacies to an Ashram in India, she realizes the amount of work she needs to invest in healing. Have you ever heard of a monkey mind? In yoga, teachers address calming the monkey mind that tends to move from thought to thought, task to task, without resting. Silencing your monkey mind with yoga or mediation takes a lot of time and PRACTICE. Gilbert explores meditation at the Ashram and interacts with another student who ultimately asks her to forgive herself. Whether you asked for your divorce or someone told you, forgiveness is the key to moving forward in your life. I think this was the hardest pill for me to swallow because I felt like a victim at the beginning of my journey. It took me a long time to work through those feelings and forgive. When you think of your ex, send love and light every time, then drop it. As mentioned in Eat, Pray, Love, “It won’t last forever; nothing does.” Forgive yourself for any missteps during your relationship. Forgive yourself for wanting a different journey. Forgive yourself for being a victim, feeling sad, feeling joy, feeling angry… and let it go. You can only head to Bali, my favorite place in the world when you do this.
Bali – Find Your Balance
The year before her journey, Gilbert travels to Bali and meets a healer who predicts her divorce and says that she will come back to Bali to live, heal, and teach him English. She ends her year-long excursion to fulfill that destiny. I have been lucky enough to visit Bali two times and think it’s one of the most magical, artistic, happy, and inspiring places in the world. My last visit was in 1999 or 2000, so I’m sure it has changed, but never the less, I encourage you to visit if you ever have the opportunity. There is a reason that so many yoga and spiritual retreats go to Bali.
During Gilbert’s time in Bali, she works with a healer to ‘find her balance,’ incorporating some of her practices from Italy and India. When I think about balance, I think of everything in harmony. I’m eating right, moving my body, meditating, spending time with friends and family, engaging in meaningful relationships, educating myself, helping the world……are you exhausted yet, because I am? What I have come to understand is that balance can shift and as Gilbert’s healer says, “Sometimes to lose balance for love, is part of living.”
Ask yourself, what does balance look like to you, especially in times of emotional distress?
Balance may mean starting one new healthy habit and seeing it through for a month. Balance may mean taking time out to do nothing, especially when you are busy. Balance may mean forgiving yourself and reframing so-called ‘mistakes’ from your past into lessons. Balance may mean losing yourself in love for a few months. Just like wellness, balance is something that you have to work at your entire life. It isn’t a check-off on the to-do list. Be flexible with your balance. It will look different each day.
If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, I encourage you to. Please let me know what you learned from each section and share with our private Facebook group or in the comments below. Happy adventuring and healing!