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NY Post: Eat, Pray, Hype, and the Disenfranchised Enlightenment Junkies

in YD News, Yoga On Film, Yoga Pop

The long awaited, heavily marketed, remarkably tchotchked Eat, Pray, Love movie is out tomorrow. Hallelujah! Will we love it? hate it? want to make out with James Franco and marry Javier Bardem? Maybe! Will it have us wishing to drop everything and jaunt off to the east for a year full of soul-searching and spaghetti eating? Not if we have to pay for it! There’s been so much hype over this movie lately, and the marketing team made darn sure of that, what with all the EPL stuff to sniff, sip and style on top of the over 400 items being sold through HSN. That’s a lotta potatoes! With the nearly $6 billion yoga business and some of its leading yogapreneurs getting the chide factor from the press lately, why on earth would they skip out on a major Hollywood film with a yoga twist and a multi-million dollar budget destined to cash in tremendously on merchandise, franchise fees and box office sales? It’s the perfect storm!

While many people have been truly touched by the memoir, and are surely thrilled to “live” it on the big screen, there are others not so starry-eyed and enchanted. Meet Marta Szabo who, as the NYPost’s Sara Stewart reports, a couple decades ago underwent a very Liz Gilbert-esque journey to find herself, traveling to India and landing, like Liz, at Siddha Yoga’s Gurudev Ashram. Unfortunately, along with meditation she found a “derailed” life and encounters with “enlightenment junkies” who went to great lengths, and credit card balances seeking happiness. Yes, instead of enlightenment, and a handsome Felipe, many sojourners found little more than debt!

Just yesterday we posted about the high cost of a luxury weekend retreat with Jen Aniston’s yoga guru, and followed with the question: Then again, can you really put a price tag on spiritual evolution? While we were being a tad cheeky, some of you out there replied, yes you can!

But do we have a new generation of retreat fiends?

“It’s almost like it’s become a sport that is dependent on paying the most money to go to the best ashram, to write the most amazing experience,” says Texas journalist Joshunda Sanders, who coined the term “priv-lit” (for “privileged literature”) in a recent article for Bitch magazine about Gilbert’s book.

And it’s never been a better time to compete in the Enlightenment Olympics. To coincide with the release of the film, numerous travel agencies are offering “Eat Pray Love”-themed tours to Italy, India and Indonesia (the three countries Gilbert visits in the book). Even Lonely Planet, the handbook for cheapskate travelers, offers suggestions on its Web site for re-creating Gilbert’s trip at Roman gelaterias, Indian meditation courses and Indonesian surf beaches.

Are we a culture of the Self-seeking obsessed? Love it or hate it, there is an underlying theme in EPL that reinforces the inner journey. But the movie version, and surrounding hoopla, seems to only be perpetuating the cycle of instant gratification and big money. Julia Roberts isn’t one of to the top 10 highest paid actresses, but $20 million ain’t bad!

“It does go against the yogic principle of looking inside rather than outside of ourselves for happiness,” says 28-year-old Jennilyn Carson, creator of the blog YogaDork, who’s been chronicling “EPL” mania over the past year. “[But] people want to be happy, and if something can be purchased to facilitate that happiness, they’ll do it.”

And on that note…we’re gonna go find us something tasty to make us happy, because damn it if that freakin’ Eat, Pray Love gelato cart isn’t to be found in NYC.

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7 comments… add one

  • I’ve read EPL twice and bought the audio book to listen to on a long road trip (Gilbert’s voice is Kirtan-worthy and harmonious) and am also a fan of her TED talk on creativity. I’m an artist, yoga teacher, and believer in self-expansion through any truth that resonates with the individual. I feel Gilbert was priv-lit-ged enough to be able to execute her self-expansion through self-EXPRESSION- writing a book, telling her story. The by-product of her art was fame and fortunes, and most definitely hype. But like Stephanie Syman said- Americans will make a profitable business out of anything that works.

    I and many of my close girlfriends have found a lot of inspiration through EPL and Gilbert as an artist. Tomorrow night I am even conducting a “Goddess Night” for the premiere. Sex and the City style except instead of getting dolled up, going for cosmos then seeing the film, we’re dressing in “Goddess Garb”. I’ll be making Yogini Martinis and giving card readings, then the 10 of us will be hitting the show. So I’m hoping tomorrow night that instead of a whole audience full of women celebrating a woman’s first designer purse as a christmas gift, we’ll be celebrating the amazing feeling of holding a handstand because- “We have hands; we can stand on them if we want to. That’s our privilege. That’s the joy of a mortal body. And that’s why God needs us. Because God loves to feel things through our hands.” ~EG

  • I won’t be going to the premiere because I did not buy my shirt with cute yoga sayings and my mala beads from HSN. I would feel underdressed.

  • this India is going to be part of my $20,000 Eat Pray Love India Tour….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-sQ0uY-qU8

  • “I Loved indian movies from age 5. Finally at the age of 35 i funally went to india ( had a dream from early childhood)… To say I was deeply disappointed is to say NOTHIN I was in SHOCK! It is such a pity that indian movies have NOTHING to do at all with real life… I wish India was a little close to the image you see in movies…”

  • Yogini#

    Thank you, and I am very grateful, for your picking up on what I wrote about Jennifer Aniston. Well, more importantly, I wrote about the folly of being sold into wanting (or even being able to get) Jennifer’s ass in the ‘Eat Pray Love Fantasy of Thin’ on another website. Even if I have been mistaken as hailing from La La Land for the longest time lol … When even the New York Post is NOT impressed [that paper is so populist, but it gets a tad worshipful of society swells, if you know what I mean], the backlash is real and growing!

  • I was very happy to find myself mentioned on YogaDork, a blog I have visited several times! Let me just clarify — unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, I was actually on staff with Siddha Yoga for 12 years and was in the Indian ashram as one of Gurumayi’s secretaries for a year and a half. I wrote a memoir a few years ago about my years with Siddha Yoga. It is not a journalistic expose, but it’s also not at all sugar-coated. If you’re interested in hearing what it’s really like behind the scenes, then you might like this. It’s called The Guru Looked Good.

  • I read the book, but doubt I will see the movie. The story is just not that original and has been told many times before. What sells to most people is the snappy title- Eat Pray Love- that’s just perfect for today. But, beyond that, yawn. I doubt the movie will actually sell that many tickets anyway. But it is what it is. Good for her.

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