I really don’t understand why so many Yoga chicks are into Eat, Pray, Love. Surely, you’ve heard of it? Eat, Pray, Love is Elizabeth Gilbert’s book about eating her way through Italy, whinging … oops … I mean praying her way through a stay at an ashram in India and goofing off … errr… falling in love in Bali. Warning: rant follows.
I’ve written a review of Eat, Pray, Love at Desert Mandala. Being sick, and at home rather than at work, I’ve been amusing myself from time to time reading other people’s yoga blogs and listening to podcasts. I find that a lot of yoga gals seem to like this book which I found tiresome and alienating. I’ll summarise my critique here:
1. Pigging out on pasta is not only gross, it’s bloody boring.
2. Elizabeth was uncomfortable whilst meditating. Big deal.
3. Self pity. Self pity. Self pity. Self pity.
Perhaps I could abbreviate my critique to: ‘self pity’, but that undermine the mighty struggle I had just to finish the section on Italy, let alone the rest of the book. Other people have criticized Elizabeth Gilbert for being in a privileged position, able to take a year off to recover from a broken heart. I don’t have a problem with that. I say: “Good on you, Liz, Bon Voyage!”
But what I don’t understand -what I simply fail to find in this book- is any form of enlightenment, inner realisation, inspiration …. even half decent writing and story telling, let alone how it has a connection to yoga.
What irritated me the most about this book (after the Italy section) is that the book is a wallowing, procrastinating portrait of a woman digging herself in deeper and deeper and not doing a thing about it.
There’s the affair with David and the depression it causes Elizabeth. That she just can’t let go. The whining over her being uncomfortable in the ashram. The fact she won’t finalise the legal settlement with her ex-husband…
Now before someone writes to me and says: what the hell do you know about this stuff?, let’s get this straight.
I have been in this situation, too. Furthermore, I’ve also been depressed; so depressed I’ve tried to end it all. Not once, but twice. Yoga, meditation and the love of my children were the only things that saved me. And ending the affair (please note that I was single at the time, not having an affair when I was married).
When I finished the book, I wasn’t left with the feeling that Elizabeth had developed or learned anything at all. All she had done was finally cut things off with David (the affair) and fallen in love with a rich Brazilian. No union of self and Atman, no yoga, no spiritual awakening.
So what is it about this book that I am missing and others see? Is it because I’ve been to both India and Bali, and I find Elizabeth’s portayal of these places so shallow? Or was it the utter grossness of all that eating in Italy that spoiled the book for me? Whatever it is, I just don’t get why yoga gals dig this book.
And my own recommendations for yoga/travel lit reads:
- The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiesson
- Buddha or Bust, Perry Garfinkel
- The Wisdom of Yoga, Stephen Cope
- Bringing Yoga to Life, Donna Fahri
Here endeth the rant.