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“If we can stay awake when our lives are changing, secrets will be revealed to us—secrets about ourselves, about the nature of life, and about the eternal source of happiness and peace that is always available, always renewable, already within us.” —ELIZABETH LESSER
During times of transition, amid everyday stress, and even when we face seemingly insurmountable adversity, life offers us a choice: to turn away from change or to embrace it; to shut down or to be broken open and transformed. In the more than twenty-five years since she cofounded the Omega Institute—now the world’s largest personal-growth and spiritual retreat center—Elizabeth Lesser has been an intimate witness to the ways in which human beings deal with change, loss, and difficulty. She herself has struggled to submit to what she calls the “Phoenix Process”— allowing herself to be broken open in order to rise like the mythical bird from the ashes of past mistakes and suffering.
In this beautifully written, often funny, and always inspiring book, Lesser has gathered together true stories about ordinary people who by design or disaster decided to step boldly into a fuller life. Here are profoundly moving narratives of fears overcome and risks taken; of hard times and difficult passages; of betrayal, divorce, sickness, and death; and of the day-to-day challenges of raising children, earning a living, and growing older. By sharing her own most human traits, Lesser helps us feel less lonely in our own struggles, and more optimistic about the possibility of transformation. Broken Open also introduces us to some of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers—both ancient and living—and imparts the wisdom of various traditions, from Buddhist meditation to Sufi dance, and from Christian prayer to contemporary psychotherapy. Eminently practical, Lesser provides tools to support us in our quest for a clearer sense of purpose and a new passion for life.
Broken Open is not only a testament to the inner richness and potential of every life but also a deeply trustworthy guide to the dynamics of healing and growth—how we resist and how we surrender, how we stay stuck and how we grow, and how we can turn misfortune into insight, and grief into joy. It helps us to discover within ourselves a fearless heart, a clear mind, and a shining soul.
Reviews for Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser, is a collection of stories and observations about coming through what Lesser calls a Phoenix Process - rebirth after going down in flames, as it were. This is not the type of book I normally read. However, I am in the process of going through my own personal life-changing event, and when I saw this book in the grocery store I impulsively decided to buy it. Lesser tells many stories about change and transition - divorce, death, illness - and shows that through life's crises we can choose to grow. She draws on many different traditions and teachings, from Christianity and Buddhism, psychology and poetry. This is most definitely NOT a how-to book. Lesser offers no specific guidance or answers. What she wants her reader to do is to open themselves up to the process of change, defeat and grief so that they can emerge with insights into their own soul. Although this is not the type of book I typically read, I did take away a few important personal insights. The most important insight for me right now is that I need to stop resisting the river of change. I am a great resister, and find that I will fight far beyond what is necessary - or good. I need to learn to go with the flow and to let the currents take me into unexpected waters.read more
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