“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.”
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Elizabeth Lesser bravely and beautifully explores one of the most compelling questions of life: how do we emerge from suffering and challenge with real, encompassing wisdom and love. Broken Open is personal, pragmatic and enlightening."
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
"Never again will a painful experience wipe me out. This book shows how you can transform any difficult transition into a time of great strength and awakening."
“There's more food for philosophical mastication--and more sparkling good sense--in one lucid chapter of Broken Open than in a library of ordinary books on similar subjects.”
“Elizabeth Lesser has written a most extraordinary book that examines our relationship to the changing nature of life. Lesser, a brilliantly gifted writer, has created a treasure chest of personal stories that bring wisdom, insight, compassion, and common sense to the experiences familiar to so many of us as the years of our lives unfold within their immortal cycle of endings and new beginnings.”
—CAROLINE MYSS, author of Sacred Contracts and Anatomy of the Spirit
From the Hardcover edition.