Course Hero. "Eat, Pray, Love Study Guide." Course Hero. 20 Sep. 2017. Web. 19 June 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Eat-Pray-Love/>.
Course Hero. (2017, September 20). Eat, Pray, Love Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 19, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Eat-Pray-Love/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "Eat, Pray, Love Study Guide." September 20, 2017. Accessed June 19, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Eat-Pray-Love/.
Course Hero, "Eat, Pray, Love Study Guide," September 20, 2017, accessed June 19, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Eat-Pray-Love/.
As Gilbert tries to slowly chew her delicious vegetarian dinner, a man takes one of the empty chairs at her table. He has just arrived at the ashram, but he looks very comfortable and confident. Big and white-haired, with a white beard and giant hands, he drawls as he sits down, "Man, they got mosquitoes 'round this place big enough to rape a chicken." He is Richard from Texas.
Richard has had an interesting life, working all kinds of jobs and recovering from alcoholism and other addictions. Gilbert comes to adore him and rely on him for humor, security, and advice. He gives her the nickname "Groceries" because she can eat so much. Richard has been practicing yoga for about ten years. In the beginning he prayed constantly for an open heart, but, ironically, he had to get open heart surgery. Since then he has asked God to be gentle in answering his prayers. When Gilbert asks his advice about her meditation problem, he tells her that it's her ego, not her mind, getting in the way. He suggests she give her ego a gift rather than trying to take something away from it. That gift, he says, should be "pure divine love."
Gilbert decides to try Richard's suggested approach. As she begins to meditate, she tells her mind not to be frightened that she is trying to get rid of her ego, but to rest. She says, "I love you." She also tries a simpler, two-syllable mantra, Ham-sa ("I am That."). She relaxes during this meditation, even falling asleep. When she awakens, she feels a "soft blue electrical energy" surging through her body. She hears a "thrumming sound in [her] ears." She feels afraid and says "I'm not ready yet!" The moment passes and she sees, panting, that she has been meditating for an hour.
From the moment Gilbert meets Richard, it's clear he will have a huge impact on her life. They are comfortable together from the beginning. He gives her a nickname that night, and she sees at first glance that he is a strong, confident man with an earthiness she can trust.
Readers might not understand why Gilbert makes such a big deal out of her trouble with meditation, but they should pay attention to what she said in Chapter 41 about its central role in the practice of yoga: "Meditation is both the anchor and the wings of Yoga. Meditation is the way." So when she keeps failing at meditation, she feels that she is failing at all of yoga, that she is a failure at the ashram. Since she's already made it clear that she cannot stand to be less than perfect at anything, this must all be very humiliating to her. Her experience changes in Chapter 45.