A while ago, I read the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I resisted reading this book cause I considered it chick lit and kind of new age-y and I was in a Tough Girl phase of life. Ya know, with the “screw off whiney women and stick that incense burner up your ass while you’re at it” attitude. I had some issues with the new age movement…and anything that was overly girly. Identity crisis maybe?
Prior to reading this book, I was thinking about a friend who I had lost contact with. The one with whom I had visited an ashram and met a guru. In fact, I was telling the story of how I met this friend and how I visited the ashram and how I was so grateful for the experiences I had and how those times taught me that I will always be taken care of no matter what.I was so young to find such faith and it had alot to do with this friend and our trip to the ashram. This was right about the time I finally broke down and bought Eat Love Pray. I mean everyone was talking about it. Fine, I’ll read it.
It was a great book. I totally identified with the woman, her struggles, her desires, her journey. And the really neat thing was she was talking about the guru I had met! She spoke of the ashram that I had visited! Although the author’s experiences weren’t exactly mine, the feelings definitely were. I related to her depression, her abandonment, her search and her eventual peace within herself. I had been there done that and had the mandala beads to prove it!
I went to the ashram when I was 18 years old. There were free roaming cows and statues that were about 6 and a half feet tall of important people in history. There was one of John Lennon and Martin Luther King, Jesus and Kennedy. There were beautiful temples and gardens. I slept in a dorm, with 40 other women, on a steel frame bunk bed…and I actually slept. I sat cross-legged on a marble floor for over two hours while the guru spoke. I ate vegetarian food and wore clothes that covered my body. It was very different from the life I was living at the time. Extreme opposite as a matter of fact.
I was smacked with peacock feathers by a woman, a guru, who was stunningly, beautifully bald. Learning about the choices she had made for her life was so interesting. She had given up all material things. She had given up sex! What??? She was so young and beautiful! I came to understand that it was to pursue her calling, her desire. She had no time for vanity, or selfish sexual pleasures, or the pursuit of financial gains. Come on, you’d be in awe also. The chanting was soothing and everyone around was so serene and peaceful. It was like a bit of heaven after living in the strange hell-like atmosphere of my life in the early 90’s.
I haven’t returned to the ashram although it has always been something I am intending to do. I want to bring my kids to give them an In Real Life taste of something different. A different idea or philosophy, way to look at life. My friend who brought me was lucky enough to actually travel to India, when she was just a little girl, with the Guru to live and learn in the ashram there. I am still amazed, when I look back at that period in my life, how incredibly blessed I was to move half way across the country and meet this particular group of kids (we were all just kids) who helped shape me into the woman and mother I am today.
When I lived in texas, my friend and I were selling beaded necklaces to raise money for her trip to Afrika. We had a nice mexican made blanket that we were sitting on, in the middle of a festival. We got up to go grab some drinks and came back and the blanket was gone! I was immediately pissed off and ready to search around and find the thief who took something that was ours! My friend made a quick search of the immediate area, asked a few people in the vicinity and then turned to me and said “Well, who ever took the blanket must have needed it more than me. I hope it will keep them warm.” I was like “WHAT??? Call the police we have been STOLEN FROM!!” I think she laughed at me, which made me laugh at me and a lesson was learned.
I eat, but nothing spectacular. I pray, when I remember to. I love, in the most basic sense. I grew up knowing that there is power greater than myself and that power lives within me. I have kids and believe they will eat, pray and love in their own ways on their own terms. All in all, it was a great book, I am looking forward to the movie and I am reminded today that love is in everything we do, in who we are and all around.
I’m off to pull that incense burner out of my ass and maybe do some chanting. Love to all and all to love.