I'm currently finishing the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Typically I don't get into popular books like this, but this one was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I value, and she gave me her tattered copy that she had taken to the beach to read. I wanted to be able to discuss this book with her, and I figured that any book that has been to the beach must have some good energy vibes in it. So, I've been reading it, and I honestly have loved it so far. If you're not familiar with the premise of the book, Ms. Gilbert chose to spend one year in self-exploration, beginning with four months of gustatory indulgence in Italy. She then spent four months in an Ashram in India where she devoted herself to prayer and meditation, a journey which she describes as quite difficult but rewarding for her, as she (like most people) found herself struggling with her mind and thoughts when trying to focus more on God. Finally, she spent the last four months of the year in Bali, where she attempted to learn and practice a balance between love, pleasure, and spiritual health.
Unless I am reading a book purely for the entertainment, such as I might do with a Rex Stout mystery, I always try to apply a book to my own personal life, as I'm sure most people do. Ms. Gilbert has got me thinking quite a bit about the balance of my own life, or rather perhaps, the imbalance of it. What are the different components of my life, and how can I improve upon living a more fulfilling existence? What can I bring more of into my life, and what should have less importance than it currently does? What I have particularly been practicing in the past month, and quite successfully I might add, is eliminating the self-judgment that often comes with an evaluation. It has been quite a new thing for me to decide to exercise, for instance, without the accompanying disparaging thoughts of “Why haven't you been exercising all along?” and “Stop eating that, it only negates your jog!” and “You have such a long way to go!” Instead, I have finally made the decision to stop the tomfoolery (yes, I said the word tomfoolery) of thoughts that need have no place in my life. So I want and need to exercise more? Do it, and with no self-blame. Should I be praying more? Yes, I should be, so I'll do it, without berating myself for wasted opportunities gone by. My life can slowly be shaped this way into more of what I would like for it to be: pleasure and fun, physical health, spiritual well-being, and responsibilities. My interpersonal roles as a mother, wife, daughter, and sister depend on a healthy me. No place in this wheel of health includes judgment toward self or others. So thanks to Ms. Gilbert for sharing her journey, as she has inspired me to seek my own balance.