Eat Pray Love: Ashram Proves a Rewarding Challenge

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the Eat Pray Love ashram? Why does Elizabeth Gilbert visit the ashram?

In Eat Pray Love, the ashram is the second stop on Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey. She goes to the ashram to connect to her newfound feelings of spirituality and comes away feeling strong and connected to God.

Read more about Eat Pray Love, the ashram, and how it changed Elizabeth’s spiritual beliefs.

Eat Pray Love: Ashram and Enlightenment in India

Gilbert arrived at her Guru’s Ashram the night before New Year’s Eve. She was eager to start her journey through meditation and connect with God. Her first day, she meditated with the other residents for hours to welcome in the new year. She chanted and sang all night, finding energy in her prayers, and welcomed a new beginning for the world and herself. Italy became a distant memory, and in Eat Pray Love, the ashram was her new reality.

At first, Gilbert struggled with her meditative practice. She’d always struggled back home and hoped being at the Ashram would help. But she couldn’t turn off her mind enough to concentrate. Every morning while she meditated, she became distracted by thoughts of sorrow, struggle, frustration, and failure. Her thoughts were critical, and she felt trapped in a downward spiral. She’d open her eyes and spend the rest of the hour staring at the other residents meditating successfully, which made her feel worse. 

But help was on the way. It took the form of a man named Richard from Texas. Richard and Gilbert became friends quickly. He even nicknamed her “Groceries” for her insatiable appetite. Richard became a spiritual guide for Gilbert. He helped her see that she was allowing her thoughts to rule her. Her ego was afraid of her transformation and was trying to stop her from achieving it. Gilbert took this lesson to heart and was able to stop giving her thoughts emotional power. She was finally able to meditate, and she grew closer to God. 

The Last Hurdle

Even though Gilbert found success meditating, she still felt stuck in her sorrow regarding her divorce and David. Richard helped her with David. He told her to give her heart time to heal in this spiritual place without disruption. David was likely her soul mate, but that only meant he was supposed to come into her life to help her grow. If not for David, Gilbert wouldn’t have searched for a transformative experience, and she wouldn’t be at the Ashram in Eat Pray Love. She should thank David for his important role and move on. God would step in and fill the space with love. 

Another resident, a poet from New Zealand, helped her with her husband. Gilbert wanted to be forgiven and set free from the guilt of hurting him. She wanted to talk to her ex-husband so he would stop hating her. But her friend showed her that she could find forgiveness and freedom even if her husband wasn’t there. He took her to the roof of one of the buildings and told her to pray. Gilbert prayed that she and her husband could find a way to forgive and move forward with love. She beckoned her ex-husband’s spirit and engaged in a metaphysical conversation with him. When it was over, Gilbert knew the pain and hate had been laid to rest. She was free. 

Gilbert still didn’t know who she was on her own or what her word was. She continued to practice meditation and grew stronger in her ability to quiet her mind. Then, one day, she had a deep experience with God. She slipped into turiya, the fourth dimension of consciousness, and realized that God was inside her. God was love, and that love lived in her soul. She didn’t have to fear losing it. As long as she opened her heart to God, she would embody pure love. 

in Eat Pray Love, the Ashram proved important. By the time Gilbert left, she was balanced and at peace in her heart. She’d found a place to put her demons and surrounded them with love. She didn’t need to run from anything anymore. Every ounce of her was part of God’s love. She also found her word while reading a Yogic text. The word was antevasin, which roughly meant someone who lives on the border of two worlds. That was who she was now. She existed on the border of her past and future. There were so many more levels of discovery to encounter, and she would keep moving forward, learning more along the way, and following the path of her heart forever. The Eat Pray Love ashram experience was over, but the enlightenment would last a lifetime.

Eat Pray Love: Ashram Proves a Rewarding Challenge

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Eat Pray Love summary:

  • Why Elizabeth Gilbert needed to divorce her husband
  • How she was able to find joy again in Italy
  • How Gilbert was able to find balance with Felipe

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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