By Eva Skaar
Julia Roberts at a meditation retreat? Does that seem incongruous? Julia Roberts, beautiful, successful, wants to find the meaning of life? In the process, will she be facing up to her own imperfections, confronting her low self-image and her own limitations?
First came the book, Eat, pray, love, by Elisabeth (Liz) Gilbert – an autobiography which became a bestseller in 2006. Then came the film, starring Julia Roberts. The story is about the newly divorced Liz, who spends a year travelling in Italy, India and Indonesia in search of change and meaning in her life. In India, she wants to meditate. A serious, seeking soul? Or a beautiful, wealthy, western narcissist flirting with spirituality? Will her book increase genuine interest in meditation or reinforce popular myths about it? Some people may not want to touch a book recommended by Oprah Winfrey. Others can’t wait to get a copy.
Eat, pray, love has become a phenomenon, loved and hated. Sales exceed 7 million. For many women, it is the number one self-help book. Elisabeth Gilbert writes in an intelligent style and with a sense of humour. Her early experiences of meditation will be recognizable to many practitioners of Acem Meditation. This is not a review of the book or the movie, but a discussion of how meditation is represented in popular culture, based on the book.