09 September 2010

Eat Pray Love: a quest for change and happiness

Eat Pray Love is a film about a woman's quest to travel and heal herself after a messy divorce.

The film is beautifully shot and Julia Roberts does a pretty good job of displaying the emotional pain of the character Liz Gilbert. She gives up her life as a successful writer in New York and sets off on her travels to Rome, India and Bali in an attempt to change her life.

Liz Gilbert took a risk and took herself way out of her comfort zone, she explored not only different cultures and countries, but also took a look at herself on a deeper level

I too have travelled a lot in my life I have stayed on retreats in India, hugged trees in Greece, practised headstands in the Sahara… Yes, travel has been amazing, and some of the people I have met on these journeys have had a big impact on my life.

My inner journey started off more than 20 years ago in Australia, where I had a respiratory arrest after suffering an acute asthma attack. I stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. Three months later, one of my sisters experienced exactly the same thing at home in London. She, however, did not survive. "Boom!" my world shifts.

When you grieve, be it for a marriage (as in Liz Gilbert's case) or through bereavement (as in mine), you go on a roller coaster ride of emotions: anger, guilt, self pity, regret; asking yourself repeatedly "What if I could have done something to change this", as well as lamenting over things you cannot change.

I took myself off on a short break, on what was called a "holistic holiday". It was here that I met a yoga teacher who opened a door for me and I tentatively walked through it.

On returning home, yoga and meditation started to creep into my life. It was a slow process. I tried different teachers and methods and - like Liz in the film - I went off to India and California to practice yoga (subsequently becoming a yoga teacher).

What did I discover on my travels?

I discovered that wherever I went, I took myself with me and that I wasn't leaving behind any of the feelings. So, whether it were on an exotic beach or on the comfort of my own sofa, I had to look deeper within myself, find self-acceptance and compassion; but, above all, I had to let go of the past as it was holding me back.

Letting go frees you up to all possibilities. In Liz Gilbert's case, when she lets go of the pain of her marriage break up and finds compassion and love for both herself and her ex husband, her life transforms. You could say that it is an inside job with outside guidance.

The journey continues... It takes a lot of courage to step out of the darkness and into the light.



Images taken from Eat Pray Love, courtesy of Sony Productions

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