Although I have yet to read the book, "Eat, Pray, and Love" I did see the movie and really enjoyed it. Watching the movie generated some of my own ideas about how I, as a Christian, can incorporate some of these great disciplines in my own life. I left the theater thinking that even if we had the luxury of taking a year-long excursion to far off places, it really isn't necessary to learn the life lessons so eloquently depicted on the author's journey. Whether you are a Christian, or of any other faith, these life lessons can benefit us all. Below are some Eat, Pray, Love Lessons we can all learn from.
Eat foods that nourish your body, satisfy your palette, and build relationships. The author's first destination took her to Italy, where the art of food is celebrated and cherished. Forgetting about calories, food labels, and all those little "shoulds and should nots" blaring on every health and fitness magazine in America, she embraced every bite with love and enthusiasm. In almost every scene she is seen eating full-course meals with her new-found friends, engaging in heart-felt conversation, and enjoying every bite. No eating in front of the television, in the car, on the go, or pulling out of fast food joints. And the one time we see her eating alone, she prepares her food with love and intention. While sitting on the floor she eats her beautifully prepared meal with her full attention wearing her newly purchased lingerie. Eating was no longer just for health, nutrients, or even to suppress unresolved emotions. No, eating became a part of life, something that added value to her day, something that she could look forward to as an extension of who she wanted to be.
So how can we eat with more passion and substance without taking a trip to a foreign country? First of all, change your perspective about food. Instead of looking at food only for as a source of health and necessity, make meal time a celebration and daily ritual. As often as you can, prepare meals at home, set the table with favorite plates, tablecloths, and utensils, and make dining a family affair. Make it a rule that everyone must sit at the table for a set amount of time, even if they finish before everyone else. Don't allow meal time to be just another daily task, but a time to reconnect with family. If you live alone, frequently invite friends over to break bread together. You can cook healthy foods that are satisfying and good for you too. Browse through cookbooks and online to find healthy versions of your favorite meals and at least several times a week, go all out. Not only will your food be healthier for you, you'll enjoy eating more, while satisfying our cravings for human connection and intimacy, something so many of us are missing today.
Spend time with God in prayer and meditation. The author's second destination took her to India, where she would learn the art of meditation to conquer her fears and quiet her restless mind. Initially she failed in her quest to be still and stop thinking. Thoughts about her past mistakes and even her present circumstances plagued her mind constantly. She was in the Mecca of the meditation world and couldn't find inner peace. Just as it eluded her, it eludes many of us today. Fortunately, with the encouragement of others and the constant practice, meditation became a part of her daily life that helped to keep her balanced and centered. As a Christian, you may shy away from practices like meditation; however, meditation is clearly supported by scripture and Jesus himself. We are told in the Bible that it was Jesus daily custom to find a solitary place and spend time with God. And before Jesus started his public ministry, he spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness with God. Joshua 1:8 tells us to meditate on God day and night if we want success in life.
Yet meditation has gotten a bad rap. Of course, there are types of meditation that Christians want to avoid. However, meditation is just another tool that can help us grow in our relationship with God. By learning to quiet our mind we create an environment to "Be still and know God" in a more intimate way. By meditating on the word of God, we allow His word to inwardly transform us. By meditating on God's presence, we learn to abide with God and learn to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. So how does prayer differ from meditation? I have often heard that prayer is talking to God, but meditation is giving God an opportunity to speak to us. Many Christians know how to pray very well, but few know how to listen and hear the still small voice of their Heavenly Father.
Although the author learned how to meditate by studying under the spiritual gurus of India, we can learn to meditate on God anytime and anywhere and get the same results. There are also many forms of meditation that are suitable for Christians from purchasing a guided Christian meditation CD, meditating on God's word, dwelling in God's presence, or even practicing centering prayer. You can explore many types of Christian meditation that will enhance your life and relationship with God. Making prayer and meditation a part of your daily life is all you need to add more meaning to your life and daily experiences.
Love God with all your heart, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. The third destination of the author was the beautiful island of Bali. I don't suspect that when she arrived there she knew that love was right around the corner. In fact, it ran her off the road. Her soon to be beloved knocked her off her bike as she rode through the countryside. However, because of a failed marriage, her fear of losing herself, or making another mistake, she almost let love sip through her fingers. It was the medicine man she visited frequently who told her that "love" is a part of a balanced life. Up until this point I think she believed that she didn't deserved love, she wasn't good at love, or that true love didn't really exist.
I know that many single women and men would love to go to an exotic island and meet the man or woman of our dreams. Yet there is a part of me that believes it is difficult to love another person without first loving God and loving yourself. As a result of loving God we learn valuable lessons about love. Corinthians chapter 13 tells us that love is patient, love is kind, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, and it always hopes for the best. In fact, true love can never fail; however, we fail when we refuse to operate out of a spirit of love.
You have heard that you can't give away something that you don't have. Love is no different. When we learn to love ourselves that love flows out to all who surround us, male, female, young, or old. In fact, the scripture tells us that in order to love our neighbor we must first love ourselves. We love ourselves when we take the time to examine our hurts and shortcomings and then offer them God for internal healing and wholeness. We love ourselves when we learn who we are in Christ and set loving boundaries that protect us from the harmful intentions of others. We love ourselves by taking the time to nurture our inner spirit, physical health, and emotional well-being, and when we are true to our own needs and desires with the courage to integrate them into our presence situation. Of course, this will always be an ongoing process, but the healthier we are mentally and spiritually, the more successful we will be in attracting and maintaining loving relationship that will flourish and grow.
As you learn to be patience, kind, tolerant, and trusting of yourself and your needs, you are learning the traits that will cultivate a strong love relationship. The author truly loved herself when she took this long-expedition to heal her life and find her place in the world. We can do the same right from your own home.
Ask God to bring to your attention any areas where you are being unloving to yourself or others and then ask Him to help you heal in these areas. Don't give up on love. Whether you are already married or praying for God to bless you with a mate, keep love flowing in your life and relationships. Following these steps will help you to incorporate the lessons of Eat, Pray, and Love in your life starting today.
Rhonda Jones is the creator of over 25 Christian meditation and affirmation Cds and the author of the Christian makeover program, Detox Your Life & Awaken Your Inner Spirit. Learn more about books, CDs & annual Christian Meditation and Yoga retreats at http://www.thechristianmeditator.com.
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