Eat, Pray, Love
For those who think they can't go on the same journey, Liz says you don't need to jet set around the globe to capture an Eat, Pray, Love experience. Instead, your journey can start with an internal conversation. "I really feel the one non-negotiable thing you need is to find a tiny little corner of your life, of your day, of stillness where you can begin to ask yourself those burning essential questions of your life," she says. " Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What am I here for?"
Liz is the first to admit that finding time to meditate every day is difficult. "I live in New Jersey, you know? I don't live in an ashram," she says. Liz has made a rule to never feel that she isn't good enough. She says that even women with busy lives and children can begin a spiritual journey with just 10 minutes of silence a day. "You know, my friend Richard from Texas says if you're meditating more than 10 minutes, you're asleep anyway." Liz's biggest piece of advice? Learn to say no. "Be realistic about what you can and cannot do in one day and one life," she says.
Liz says she attributes her voice to a piece of advice her sister gave her years ago. "She said never sit down and write anything unless you know exactly who you're telling your story to. Bring that person into the room with you and talk directly to that person, because if you try to talk to everybody, you're talking to nobody." Liz says she kept that in mind while writing Eat, Pray, Love. "It sounds like I'm talking to a friend, because I am," she says.
After talking to Richard, Liz says she changed her perspective on the definition of a soul mate and now stays away from using the wordeven when describing her husband. "He's got a soul. I've got a soul. We are each other's mates and we're walking through earth, together side by side, looking outward—not sewn together in a really dysfunctional way."
Do you need a breakdown before you can move forward? "Some of us who are a little more evolved don't need to be broken in half before the light gets in," Liz says. "I needed to be made into scrambled eggs before the light got in." Because everyone is different, Liz says that a breakdown is not a part of the journey for every person. "I certainly wouldn't advise that you begin your path by trying to have a nervous breakdown," she says.
Since then, Audrey went skydiving, volunteered after Hurricane Katrina, visited Ghana and rode a motorcycle. She's also training for a half-marathon and has taken tap dancing lessons. Audrey says these experiences have transformed her. "Now I have a greater sense of who I am and what I want," she says. "It's really been wonderful. I'm sort of reminded that when you discover the world around you, you also discover the world within you."
Still, Audrey wants to know how she can go through her list without becoming self-centered or selfish. "In Mandarin Chinese, they have two words for selfish," Liz says. "One means doing that which is beneficial to you. The other means hoarding, greedy and cruel."
Liz tells Audrey to look at the items on her list and ask herself if she is being greedy or if the activity is beneficial to her. "When you operate from a place of doing those things that help you step into your own worth, when you fill up your own skin with yourself, that alone becomes your offering," Elizabeth says. "Every single person that you meet, you transmit that to. Be a good example for how to live a happy, wonderful, blessed life."
While in India on her spiritual journey, Liz says she had an encounter with God while meditating. How does she define God now? "The perfection that absorbs," she says. "It is the perfectness of the universe which can bring you into that state where you are absorbed in that perfection, then you will know it. … I was absorbed in that perfection for a brief, glorious moment, and I knew something in that."
Meditation helped Liz realize everything is connected. "One of the amazing things about meditation is if you practice it long enough, and you watch your thoughts come and go, what you slowly realize is I am not made out of these thoughts. I am not composed of this. I am composed of something else that is watching this," she says.
Liz and Felipe's home is decorated with memories of their travels around the world, but Liz says her favorite part of the house is her reading area, which is in the church's old choir loft. "This answers a childhood dream of mine to have a tiny little cave-like spot that was only for reading," she says.
Liz says her next book is about what happened after Eat, Pray, Love, including her marriage. To help her write, Liz always fixes herself a cup of tea. "Celestial Seasons Bengal Spice, which is the tea that reminds me the most of the chai that they make in India," she says.
When she needs a break, Liz loves to walk to the Delaware River Canal bike path near her home. "It's awesome because you get to be in this really beautiful setting and it's just peaceful and a really nice place to walk. I didn't have time for stuff like this, and that was kind of the crisis of my life."
Liz says she loves her simple life. "Toward the end of my first marriage, I just kept saying, I want a bigger smaller life. What I meant by that was smaller materially. Bigger spiritually. Bigger emotionally. Bigger full of pleasure. Bigger full of family, friends, joy, time, space, books. I am my best person when I have less on my plate," she says.
Liz's story inspired her to journey to Bali to find Ketut. After 32 hours of traveling, it took Kristin only seven minutes to find someone who knew where he lived, and another 15 minutes to actually meet him! Kristin says she doesn't usually like to travel alone. "But I did it and I loved it. It was pretty great because I was on a mission. I wanted to be there and I wanted to meet him," she says.
Kristin also got to meet another one of Liz's friends—Wayan, the holistic healer Liz helped buy a home. "It was just incredible, but really the best part was coming home and telling people I did it. They were so blown away that these people actually exist," she says.
The journey was eye-opening, Kristin says. "It just made me feel like you can do anything. Then when I got home, I realized I didn't need to go there. The work I need to do has to be done here. I need to say out loud what my problems are and what I want, because I don't do that."
Carole says she's not surprised that Liz has become a guru of sorts. "This girl was the guru in fourth grade and ninth grade and twelfth grade. She has always touched people," Carole says.
"That's why I've never made a single mistake with my entire life," Liz jokes. "Even in fourth grade, I knew everything!"
That is, until she found Eat, Pray, Love. "I felt free," she says. "I felt free of that burden and I felt like I knew that I made the right decision. I felt inspired to live a better life."
In the book, Liz enrolls in Italian language classes. That inspired Lisa to also expand her horizons. "Before I even got all the way through Italy [in the book], I enrolled in a Spanish immersion program at Dartmouth for 10 days," Lisa says.
Find more pleasure in your life!