Eat Pray LoveEat Pray Love with actress Julia Roberts is the movie version of the famous book by Elizabeth Gilbert. I've already written an extremely in depth review of the book, and it's fair to say that this movie is a sanitized version of the book. A lot of the complexity was removed, perhaps it was necessary in order to fit it into a 2 hour movie. However it means a lot of the moral dilemmas and thought-provoking issues are now gone, leaving us with a fairly banal woman who - for seemingly no reason - leaves her husband and goes traveling the globe for a year exploring their cultures. A casual travelogue.
So that being said, I decided to look at the movie from another angle. Let's skip through the intro scenes in New York where she decides in a heartbeat that hubby is no good, has a fling with an actor, and then rolls around Italy for a while consuming pasta and pizza. The US section drags quite a bit, and the Italian section is mostly about regaining at least a little equilibrium by eating well and being surrounded by supportive friends.
Where the repair work really begins in earnest is in "phase two" - when Julia heads off to India. She's spending time at a quiet sanctuary where her focus is on meditation and learning to forgive herself. This for many people is the most challenging part of healing - and some people never make it through this mental repair. They remain stuck in it for years or decades. It's interesting to me that some people find this section "boring" because it's not sexy or about food. Really, though, that is the whole point. Introspection is quiet, it takes time, and it's absolutely essential. It's not flashy. It doesn't make your heart race. But you need to love yourself, to forgive yourself, and to find peace with yourself in order to be able to love and help others to your fullest capacity.
So I found it very heartening that if anything the movie went "beyond" the book in this part. In the book the heroine barely connects with the meditation. In the movie, you can see her learning how to listen, how to spend time alone, and how to sit at peace. Life isn't about more-more-more. It's not about consuming. It's about finding the voice within, and being still enough to hear it.
Julia holds on to her meditation practice as she moves on to Bali, and here I think we find it truly flowers. Now she is joyful as she meditates, she has incorporated it into her daily life, and it is part of what helps her maintain a balance in her world.
So from that sense, I am glad that the movie is helping bring that practice to a wider audience and hopefully presenting the message that it is easy to do, helpful for all parts of life, and doesn't take any special tools. You just sit. And you be.
In terms of hearing the actual message of the book, and of Elizabeth's experiences, for that I think it's best to read the book.
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