Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Four Invisible Brothers

I recently read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In this memoir Gilbert writes about the year she spent putting herself back together after a messy, long-drawn-out, rancorous divorce. She took a leave from her writing desk and hit the road.

The book begins with the four months Gilbert spends in Italy where she indulges in cuisine, reawakening her senses to a full life and putting back some of the weight she'd lost during the dark days. She then spends four months in India in an Ashram with her own guru. She learns to meditate, to move inward and reawaken the inner self. Finally, she spends four months in Indonesia, in Bali where she makes friends with a medicine man and learns how to fully heal herself. This last part of her journey completes a circle. When she began the journey, she was escaping from failed love. In this last part she falls in love again.

This last section was my favorite part of the book. Here Gilbert learns the "Four Brothers Meditation." According to the Balinese, each of us at birth is joined by four invisible brothers who then protect us all our lives. They are always looking out for us, even in the womb. In the womb each brother is represented by a physical property—one by the placenta, one by the amniotic fluid, another by the umbilical cord, and the fourth by the substance that covers an unborn baby's skin. These birth materials are collected by the parents, placed in a coconut shell, and buried by the front door of the family's home. The spirits of the brothers remain with the child for life. Each represents a virtue that we need to be happy and safe: intelligence, friendship, strength, and poetry. Yes, poetry.

Each of your brothers is given a name and you must call on them when you need their help. You should speak to them and consider them family members. At night they stay awake while you sleep. Their job is to protect you from nightmares and demons. If you are now saying that you have nasty nightmares, you are undoubtedly misunderstanding the nightmares. The very thing that is frightening you is really one of the brothers fighting off what would harm you.

I am going to try to get in touch with my four invisible brothers.

Gilbert is scheduled to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show Friday, October 5.

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