My Two Cents: “Eat Pray Love” On A Budget

Not everyone is as lucky as Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame, to spend a year in exotic locales to recover from a bad breakup. As a 30-year-old New Yorker returning to singledom after a string of long-term relationships, I can only dream of consulting a Bali guru to show me the right path. With graduate school loans, rising rent, car payments and the need to hold on to my job in this shaky economy, the thought of getting away to reflect and restore seems out of reach and, in Gilbert’s case, very expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. Here, I put together nine affordable things a newly single gal could do to feel better and possibly find love again.

1. Eat To Heal Your Heart: Instead of pining over an ex over a pint, why not gather your close friends and have a delicious potluck? Tell them to find unique healthy recipes and surprise you. Not only will you feel loved when each arrives with her special dish, you will be happy this get-together cost you less than your therapy session. Add a little wine and memories of your ex will disappear in no time.

2. Master Meditation: India is a place where ashrams promising enlightenment are abundant. But the amount of meditation it takes to sit through a 16-hour flight is frightening, not to mention financially draining. Going through all that when spiritual centers offering the same experience are only a few hours away is absurd. Ananda Ashram, my own personal escape, located in picturesque upstate New York has yoga, mind calming exercises and vegetarian food for an all-around authentic experience. Some retreats offer overnight stays for less than 80 bucks. A hot deal like that sure beats the heat of India.

3. Chant Affirmations: My 83-year-old grandpa living in India advised me to recite the Gayatri mantra a hundred and eight times a day to ward off bad omens. I struggle to do it even once without my mind wandering over to those omens. Gilbert may have succeeded in chanting 182 Sanskrit verses of the Gurugita every morning, but I think chanting affirmations such as, “I am beautiful and smart,” or “I have abundance” and “I am loved” are just as good to repeat. But make sure only you can hear them.

4. Build Endurance Outdoors: Growing up in the middle of nowhere in India, I thought I was immune to mosquito bites until I found myself on Watch Hill, Fire Island, a nature preserve paralleling Long Island, where in addition to beautiful beaches and wandering deer, blood-hungry mosquitoes take refuge in the surrounding campgrounds. I thought if Gilbert could endure the fly assault and find enlightenment, I am no quitter. Spending time outdoors can be nourishing to the soul, but a hike in the woods or a bike ride up a mountain will teach you that anything worthwhile in life takes a bit of endurance.

5. Yoga Your Way To A Healthy Mind And Body: I’ve seen yogis live to be a 100. Their secret — a daily dose of yoga, which has proven for centuries to be the best way to improve your inner and outer selves. If the challenging asanas aren’t whipping you into shape and taking your mind off your worries, try blocking out the overly expressive patrons in heightened states of yogic ecstasy. Now that’s a lesson in training your mind to ignore the unnecessary.

6. Seek Guidance: We all need a wise Texan in our lives to tell it like it is and maybe even share some worldly insights. Ashrams are a good place to meet such folks, but if we are open to it, we can find them anywhere, even on a grocery line or by reaching out to an old friend from the past.

7. Love Locally: Handsome men talking a foreign language so beautifully are not a rare breed only found abroad. Last week I met a handsome Brit from the next borough at a bhangra class. The best thing about keeping it within driving distance is there is no worry about visas or love fraud (or one would hope).

8. Escape Mentally: Get your friends together and catch Julia Roberts starring in “Eat Pray Love” after a delicious Italian meal. You will be glad you could learn from all her experiences without ever leaving the comforts of your air-conditioned movie theater.

9. Think Global, Not National: We all feel bad about the Gulf oil spill. Even worse, we can’t do much about it at this point. But let Gilbert be your inspiration. If she could gather her friends to raise money for a needy Bali family, we could do our part, too. Throw a fundraiser for a charity and invite everyone you know. Doing good for others can make you feel better and will even get you some good karma.

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