Saturday, January 24, 2009

Eat Pray Love: Ria's Bali

The third part of Eat Pray Love is... Love!!! Ooooh, I get to write about Love?!!!

If I recall correctly, Liz selects her three destinations based on her quest for balance between physical experiences (Italy) and spiritual experiences (India). Early in the book, her Balinese medicine man tells her how this balance is achieved by way of a picture; of a man with his head in his heart, and two feet planted on the ground. It goes without saying at this point that the whole book resonated with me but the idea of balance or continuous tension between two seemingly opposing forces is especially topical for me, especially when it comes to love!

I've always been an assertive person. I go after what I want. I make things happen. This has been my pattern, in my professional and personal life. In my recent past, I've come to the realization that I know how to be assertive. My lesson is in being receptive... instead of making/forcing events or relationships, I am learning to allow events or relationships to unfold. At some point in India, was a quote "Life's metaphors are God's instructions." For me, in 2009, the metaphor for the lesson I must master is The Dance.

It began with the poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer that I found by accident at the library. And then (mom's of preteens will laugh), I took my kids to HSM3 and started crying (yes, crying) when Gabriella sings with Troy, "Can I have this dance?" And by a string of strange coincidences, I found myself enrolled in an Argentinian Tango class.

Let me tell you about tango... it is the best metaphor for the perfect, functional relationship ever! Both the leader and the follower are strong, in different ways. As the follower, my focus is on my partner's chest. I'm responding to the energy and the intention he projects with that part of his body. His focus is behind me, steering me safely around traffic in the line of dance. I have to surrender to him and trust that he is making the right choices, because he can see what I cannot. My job is just to take the next step.

Quite literally, I put my head in his heart.

People think that tango is so sexual. But the alignment isn't in the root chakra. The whole dance is built on "the embrace," the perfect alignment between the two dancers' heart chakras.

But honestly, it has taken a few months for me to be ready for this. I felt like Liz, very tenuous about "showing up for the dance." Allowing... following... requires vulnerability. It requires the lowering of the armor that a close friend of mine pointed out to me was my "blind spot!" But again, Liz showed me how. The secret was in the opening of the heart, just like Liz does on Gili Meno, to accept EVERYTHING about ourselves.

In Bali, Liz learns about the four brothers. I'm a little fuzzy on the details but I think I recall that these four spiritual brothers are there to protect you from doing stupid things like... condemning and judging yourself. Nonproductive thoughts, as it were.

During this tumultuous period in my life, I had a difficult time allowing myself to be angry or bitter or resentful. I just didn't think that was productive. But I had to learn to accept where I was and not beat myself up for those feelings too. Yes, the part that was cruel and hurtful... I had to open my heart to those aspects of myself. The me that was capable of betraying a trust... that was part of me too. Acknowledging those parts in me allowed me to stand in the shoes of every other person who has acted out of anger and hurt. Or anyone who has betrayed another... and forgive them!

One of the last messages I received from a former lover said, "It's your Highest Self that I fell in love with." I realized how small that was... but it was ME who put limits on that love because I never gave him the chance to see anything other than my Highest Self. I was too afraid of being vulnerable. I was always strong, always the one saving someone else. My lesson (and Liz's) was to love my WHOLE self, the highest and lowest. I'm not always Vitamin D in human form! Now that I've accepted my flaws and share it with the world (the self that sometimes needs saving too), amazing dance partners have miraculously shown up. Is it really a miracle? Because all I did was allow it to happen. By learning how to follow, I've created space for someone to lead.

I am in love... with the dance!


  1. "love my WHOLE self, the highest and lowest"

    Very good reminder.

  2. Lovely post, Ria. Very beautifully articulated. My favorite line is:

    "Acknowledging those parts in me allowed me to stand in the shoes of every other person who has acted out of anger and hurt..."

    Empathy is a loving and wonderful thing.

  3. You are the BEST, Ria and I love your writing. It is so clean and honest...very cool indeed.

    When your lover said, "It's your Highest Self that I fell in love with," I shook my head. Most of us are not Buddha. . .we have highs and many lows. You may not have shown him all of your beauty, but you did show him love.

    I guess that's why we need unconditional love, right?

    Well done...WONDERFUL post!!!


  4. Thanks, Kevin. Yes, we need unconditional love... there's something really empowering about first DEMANDING it from ourselves! ;)