Course Hero. "Eat, Pray, Love Study Guide." Course Hero. 20 Sep. 2017. Web. 15 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 15, 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 15, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Eat-Pray-Love/.
Course Hero, "Eat, Pray, Love Study Guide," September 20, 2017, accessed June 15, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Eat-Pray-Love/.
To help readers understand her experience while meditating as described in the last chapter, Gilbert gives another one of her lessons. This one is on the yogic topic of kundalini shakti, the stages leading to the state of having a "direct, transcendent experience with God," a state that is described in startlingly similar ways in all the major religions in the world.
Kundalini shakti cannot be described as well as it can be shown. The traditional depiction of it is "a snakelike power that ascends the spine." It climbs through seven chakras (parts of the soul) and makes a hole through the head through which God can enter. Kundalini shakti is a powerful experience, and people need to be guided through it by a guru, who helps to release the initial energy. This happened for Gilbert when she met her guru in person. During meditation she had a powerful vision of Swamiji (her guru's guru) ordering her to hold back waves that were coming toward shore. She tries all sorts of things, none of which is effective, and his response is to laugh hysterically at her, asking, "How exactly were you planning on stopping that?"
After her intense meditation experience at the ashram, Gilbert has dreams two nights in a row about a snake entering her room. She awakens in a panic, and her mind goes to her failed relationships. She once again begins doubting her decision to break things off with David. She somehow gets back to sleep, only to have another bad dream, this one of a dog chasing her and threatening to kill her. She goes into the bathroom to cry on the floor so she doesn't bother her roommate, mirroring her experience several years ago that began Eat, Pray, Love. The only thing that calms her is writing "I love you. I will never leave you." in her notebook over and over.
Following these dreams, Gilbert is back to ground zero with her meditation. She becomes despondent and tries to avoid everyone at the ashram. But Richard won't allow it. He pushes her to tell him what is going on, and then he gives her more advice. He tells her she is grieving, but this is the safest possible place to be doing that. He tells her it won't go on forever and when she comes out of it, she'll be able to love more deeply. When she claims this is different because David was her soul mate, he explains that you can't stay with your soul mate forever because that person's job is to show you how you need to change. Richard identifies David's role to "shake you up, drive you out of that marriage ... tear apart your ego ... show you your obstacles ... break your heart open." David even introduced Gilbert to her spiritual master, but his work is done, the relationship is over, and she must drop it in order to keep growing.
Richard further identifies Gilbert as a control freak who has come unraveled because things did not go exactly as she planned them. Gilbert responds defensively, with anger, but she knows he is right.
Chapters 46 and 47 are among the most heavy-handed chapters in terms of seriousness and the emphasis on yoga. Gilbert helps readers move past that by linking her ashram dreams and her response to them back to something readers already know about—her first experience on the bathroom floor, crying as she realizes she no longer wants to be married. It normalizes her yoga experiences in a relatable way.
Richard's cool assessment of Gilbert's ongoing obsession with David helps her. He points out that she is not as in love with David as she is in love with her own perfection and control. It is her desire not to fail that keeps driving her back to considerations of reuniting with David, not any overwhelming love she has for him. To put it simply, Richard is busting her and she knows it, saying, "All right, Richard, that's enough ... I don't want you walking around inside my head anymore."