Friday, December 31, 2010

Thanks to Eat Pray Love

I've been reading (no, savoring is a better word, slowly savoring) Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for the past couple of months and have just begun reading her book, Committed, about marriage. Both books are memoirs, exploring the important concepts of faith, love, marriage, language, prayer, food, and self, written it seems almost more for her own benefit than for the reader's. So many things she says make sense to me, plus I appreciate her wordsmanship skills. I like her.

At the end of Eat Pray Love, she writes about a time before the events of the book when she retreated, alone, to a remote island for 10 days, vowing to utter not one word to anybody and with no books or anything to distract her from her purpose which was to work out some kind of deal, some way to get along with her demons, her pain and fears. I so resonate with the description of her reasons for silence:
We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I'm a failure... I'm lonely... I'm a failure... I'm lonely...) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.
After some days of silence, the mantras dropped away and raw emotions - sorrow, anger and shame - bubbled to the surface of her awareness. Do you know what she did with them? She invited them into her heart. She told each of them in turn, "It's over. It's safe. I love you."

I love the idea of inviting my unpopular feelings, like hers - fear, shame, resentment, guilt, anger - into my heart. Giving up resistance to them. Accepting them into the warm home of my heart.

I see the value of silence in this process, but don't feel it is absolutely necessary. Perhaps I can take some baby steps here, thinking about the emotions of the day (today some fears about mortality, particularly my Mom who is approaching her 94th birthday and the husband of a good friend who was just diagnosed with incurable cancer and given only a few weeks to live) and practice inviting them into my heart. I have goosebumps thinking about it. I will try.


  1. Silence does have SOME value but inviting things into our hearts takes commitment, it is true. The silence can also fool our minds. For me, it is looking at the words and what their REAL meaning is NOT how I emotionally define them!

    Thank you for all that you write and remind me how integral the 12 steps are within my heart!

  2. Hi PB! Happy New Year!

    Glad to read that you're still trying to figure it all out. Me, too!



  3. I absolutely love your thoughts here, Peaceful Bird. I also got a lot out of Eat, Pray, Love though it's been awhile since I've read it. Thank you for pointing out how Eliz. Gilbert invited the deep down painful, shameful, "unpopular" thoughts and feeling into her heart and how you're striving to do the same.
    I'm in a 12 step recovery meditation group and your thoughts will help me when I next sit again tonight.

    I found your blog because I've been writing on my own about OA and abstinence and whether I want to get involved in the program again. Your blog is helpful and inspiring!


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