- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Villard; Reprint edition (June 14, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375759913
- ISBN-13: 978-0375759918
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 388 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow Paperback – June 14, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Cofounder of the upstate New York Omega Institute and author of The Seekers Guide, Lesser uses her own life story, and those of others, to explore what she calls the "Phoenix Process," or positive life change that can emerge from very difficult life events. In short, episodic chapters, Lesser cites stories of those who have gone through a divorce (as she has), lost a child or suffered a terminal illness. She brings in thinkers such as Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron, the late philosopher Joseph Campbell and her longtime friend and colleague Ram Dass to illustrate how meditation and belief in a spirit that works through people can help break through fear and hopelessness. Lessers own Phoenix Process began when, having previously been "betrayed" by her husband, she embarked on an adulterous affair (with a "shaman lover") that lasted a year and, in her terms, broke her open and allowed her to change. Lesser doesnt describe her life events in enough detail for them to stand on their own as memoir; rather, she puts them in the service of an explicitly Nietzschean argument: that one needs to embrace ones own "evil" in order to grow. Lessers resolve comes through in her clear, even, declarative prose, and her use of jargon is sparing and directed. But with conventional morality off the table and frequently overgeneralized musings sprinkled in ("Women still nurture and sustain me, but it is men who call me to grow, to examine my presumptions, to widen the boundaries of my heart"), the book can feel less the delineation of a process than a careful set of self-justifications. That sense is mitigated, however, by the anecdotes of other Phoenix veterans, via Omega and other parts of Lessers life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A most extraordinary book...Lesser is a brilliantly gifted writer."
—Caroline Myss, author of Sacred Contracts and Anatomy of the Spirit
"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
"Rich in food for philosophical mastication, and sparkling in their stylistic clarity, the true-life stories in Broken Open are both entertaining and enlightening."
—Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Still Life with Woodpecker, and Villa Incognito
"Insightful reflections...Reminiscent of Rachel Naomi Remen's books (e.g. Kitchen Table Wisdom), the book is gentle in tone without falling into sentimentality an clear without being dogmatic or simplistic."
"Never again will a painful experience break me down. Instead, I'll use Elizabeth's book to help me bread open into greater strength, acceptance, and awakening."
—Jane Fonda, actress, activist, and author of My Life So Far
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Top customer reviews
I went looking for a book on managing grief after having suffered some personal losses as an adult. When you're young it's easy to just brush grief aside, drink, eat and keep moving, but today it is not, so I decided to find out what other people did to deal with loss and I found this great book about staying open and present during difficult times in order to learn and grow, and become stronger. It helped me deal with loss and so much more! I'm really glad I read it. I've recommended it to 4 people and they've all loved it too.
Page ten in the book jumped out at me when I read Lessors' description of her young adult life. There it was in black and white - I, too, had given away my voice and power during my early years. It is no wonder I was haunted by an inner voice crying out - "Who Am I?"
I now understand why I felt a greater strength and confidence as I "rose out of the ashes" - master's degree in the '70's, instructor at two different universities in two different states, plus owner, presenter of seminars and workshop training for businesses and healthcare facilties. And yet, old childhood concepts of God would resurface and clamor to be heard while at the same time my soul was clamoring for freedom!
Today, my spiritual path has grown wider and wider. Elizabeth Lessors' experiences plus the other true-life stories in her book are reasons I will continue to reread her book for insight when future trials occur in my spiritual journey. Out of all the ashes this I do know now - I am a child of the Universe who is loved!
I liked the quotes in the book and reading about the "phoenix effect", but I did think it was a little maybe "new-age-y" for me and very similar to the idea that Eat Pray Love was. I wouldn't read it again, it was a little hard to follow - also going into some difficult to understand language. But, I am glad I did give it a try and read it once.
He's History, You're Not: Surviving Divorce After 40
The author relies on three basic principles to help facilitate this process: meditation (mindfulness), therapy, and prayer.
I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to transform their life.