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Extended Audio Sample Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow Audiobook, by Elizabeth Lesser Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.3 out of 54.3 out of 54.3 out of 54.3 out of 54.3 out of 5 4.30 (10 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Lesser Narrator: Susan Denaker Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2008 ISBN: 9780739384749
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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.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • “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

  • 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. Jane Fonda
  • 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. Tom Robbins
  • “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, New York Times bestselling author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience

  • “Insightful reflections…the book is gentle in tone without falling into sentimentality and clear without being dogmatic or simplistic.”

    Library Journal

  • “A most extraordinary book…Lesser is a brilliantly gifted writer.”

    Caroline Myss, author of Sacred Contracts and Anatomy of the Spirit

  • “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

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natasha | 5/17/2011

    " This book found me when I most needed it and what a journey it has inspired! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 5/2/2011

    " I though this book was amazing. It was so uplifting, and so beautifully written. The stories were short, but oh so sweet. This book really spoke into my life at a time where much inpiration was needed. It refreshed my soul. Definitely a keeper. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielle | 2/12/2011

    " Lisa, thank you for this wonderful gift! One of those special books that I will return to for wisdom at various times in my life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 2/1/2011

    " I have gone back to this book several times to reference. If there was any book I would recommend to friends going through challenging times this book would be "IT". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly | 1/4/2011

    " Great book for all who are open minded and a bit of a free spirit...although you will appreciate it more with a couple of toes on the ground. ;O) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristi | 12/13/2010

    " Currently loving this book! Several quotes and passages have resonated with me. Will see at the end... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mojdehp | 12/3/2010

    " I had to read this for a class. Pretty repetitive and self-indulgent. Could barely finish this book and only did so because I had to! Little bits and pieces of it are ok. But it could have been about ten pages long and had the same effect, if not a better one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Diane | 12/2/2010

    " The author tries to cover too much ground with her thesis that personal pain can open us up to new experiences and a whole new way of looking at the world. I'm never comfortable with the death of child being grouped in with divorce and job loss. There is loss and there is LOSS. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauri | 11/27/2010

    " Great book. Good writer. I like her free spirit and transparency. I could relate to every page. Good for midlifers going through change. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ash | 11/21/2010

    " it's really cool book! it made me understand life more yet i was only 15 :) "

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About the Author

Elizabeth Lesser is the cofounder of Omega Institute, the largest adult education center focusing on health, wellness, spirituality, social change, and creativity in the US. She is the author of The Seeker’s Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure and Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow. For more than thirty years she has studied and worked with leading figures in the field of healing—healing self and healing society. Lesser attended Barnard College and San Francisco State University. The mother of three grown sons, she lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband.

About the Narrator

Susan Denaker is an actress and Earphones Award–winning narrator. Her extensive theater credits include numerous plays in the West End of London, national tours, many English rep companies, including a season with Alan Ayckbourn’s company in Scarborough. In the US, she has appeared in Our Town and Sweet Bird of Youth at the La Jolla Playhouse and Breaking Legs at the Westport Playhouse.