Friday, August 8, 2008

Eat Pray Love

I just finished this book while on my relaxing vacation to Bear Lake with Ryan's family. I had heard both good and bad about it, so I went into it with low expectations, but I ended up really enjoying it. There were a few things I could have done without (thus, I won't recommend it across the board) but overall it was an interesting record of "one woman's search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia". The author spent a year searching for balance between pleasure and devotion--her first four months in Italy focusing on pleasure (there's nothing more pleasurable than pastries, pizza, and pasta!), her next four months praying and meditating in an Ashram in India, and the last four months trying to find a proper balance in Bali, Indonesia.

She had some great insights, particularly in the Pray and Love sections.

I loved how she described the progression of her prayers:

"My prayers are becoming more deliberate and specific. It has occurred to me that it's not so much use to send prayers out to the universe that are lazy. Every morning before meditation, I kneel in the temple and talk for a few minutes to God. I found during the beginning of my stay here at the Ashram that I was often dull-witted during those divine conversations. Tired, confused and bored, my prayers sounded the same. I remember kneeling down one morning, touching my forehead to the floor and muttering to my creator, 'Oh, I dunno what I need...but you must have some just do something about it, would you?'

"Similar to the way I have oftentimes spoken to my hairdresser.

"And I'm sorry... but that's a little lame. You can imagine God regarding that prayer with an arched eyebrow, and sending back this message: 'Call me again when you decide to get serious about this.'

"Of course God already knows what I need. The question is--do I know? Casting yourself at God's feet in helpless desperation is all well and good--heaven knows I've done it myself plenty of times--but ultimately you're likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end...

"Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine."

I need to do better with my own prayers--I thought she articulated very well what I have so often thought.

Another idea that hit home is that I often spend time worrying about things that I really can't control. I loved this thought:

"There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction... I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life--whether I will see them as curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can't rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I'm feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook). I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts."

And finally, I loved this idea on happiness that she recalled as she traveled down the streets of Bali on her bicycle:

"I keep remembering one of my Guru's teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul to hold tight to its good attainments."

There are many other gems of humor and wisdom throughout the book--overall, a great read.

**Any thoughts?


Kristy said...

I am always looking for a new gem of a book! Thanks for sharing.

Janene said...

Sounds like she does hit a lot of nails on the head. That happiness quote...I ought to read that every morning. :o)

Sally said...

I was just thinking the same thing as Janene. Is it too long to be made into one of those vinyl sayings that hangs on your walls? It sure beats the inane, trite phrases that are so popular. I am assuming that this woman isn't LDS, and that's what I think I like the most. Her way of describing prayer and happiness uses different words than the ones I usually hear describing those two thoughts. I like the newness. I must read this!