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3 Local Warehouse Self Help- General

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow


Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. Broken Open begins with this quote from Anaïs Nin: “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Have there been times in your life when you felt the pain of your own resistance to change? What did you do? Did your longing for blossoming become stronger than your fear of change? Are you in one of those periods now? If so, what are the risks of making a change, and what are the risks of staying the same?

2. We all know people who say their cancer or divorce or bankruptcy was the greatest gift of a lifetime—that until the body or the heart or the bank was broken, they didnt know who they were, what they felt, or what they wanted. It took a Phoenix Process to teach them wake them up. We also know people who did not turn their misfortune into insight. Instead they became more bitter, more reactive, more cynical. What do you think is the difference between these two kinds of people?

3. Would you characterize yourself as a Bozo on the Bus? Why do you think we hide our vulnerabilities and self-doubts from one another? Why do we try to keep the secret of our true selves hidden, when in reality, that secret is what Rumi calls the Open Secret? And how does hiding out from one another hinder us from turning a difficult time into a Phoenix Process?

4. The author uses many poems and quotes to illuminate her ideas about using difficulty to help us grow and awaken. Discuss the following quotes. What do they mean to you, and to a specific challenge you are facing now?

No problem can be solved from the same consciousness

that created it.

—Albert Einstein

What is that knocking at the door in the night?

It is somebody wants to do us harm.

No, no, it is the three strange angels.

Admit them, admit them.

—D. H. Lawrence

And so long as you havent experienced

this: to die and so to grow,

you are only a troubled guest

on the dark earth.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

5. In Broken Open the author introduces us to people who have endured tremendous suffering and have used their difficulties to understand life better and to find joy in the ashes of a Phoenix Process. In Part II, we meet Victor Frankl in Auschwitz; Judi and Marion as they deal with illness; Ram Dass recovering from a stroke; Glen losing his beloved son; and Rabbi Yehudah Fine picking up the pieces after a near-fatal accident. How do their stories help you navigate the terrain of your own life story?

6. A translator of Dantes Inferno wrote: “The purpose of the Pilgrims journey through Hell is precisely this: to learn all there is to know about sin, as a necessary preparation for the ascent to God.” Do you think that an experience with a Shaman Lover—be it an actual lover, an addiction, or any force that brings one into the underworld—is a “necessary preparation for the ascent to God”?

7. In Part IV we meet the authors children and extended family. What lesson can “The Great Movement of the Couch” teach any parent?

8. Another character from Part IV, Eli, brought home to the author Mother Teresas edict that “the problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” Our friendships and families, our marriages and work relationships, and our communities and nations—all of them are circles begging for more spacious boundaries. What is the relationship between the way we expand the circle in our personal lives and the way we affect change in the greater world?

9. What does “practicing death” mean to you?

10. Have you been visited in your dreams by loved ones who have died?

11. Which of the tools in the Toolbox section of the book appeals to you most? How might meditation, psychotherapy, or prayer help you turn a difficult time into a Phoenix Process?

Product Details

Lesser, Elizabeth
Villard Books
Spiritual life
Motivational & Inspirational
Suffering -- Religious aspects.
General Self-Help
Self-Help : General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.94x5.32x.77 in. .57 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Spiritual
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Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Villard Books - English 9780375759918 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Bring out the tissue paper, because Elizabeth Lesser's Broken Open will help you realize that your tears will only strengthen your love for this world that, at times, can feel oh so bad.

"Staff Pick" by ,

This is the most useful book I have ever read that pertains to the subject of dealing with grief. It helps. Really.

"Review" by , "[G]entle in tone without falling into sentimentality and clear without being dogmatic or simplistic....[A]n explanation of how to recognize and respond to the losses, big and small, that occur throughout a person's life."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , In the more than twenty-five years since she co-founded Omega Institute - now the world's largest center for spiritual retreat and personal growth -Elizabeth Lesser has been an intimate witness to the ways in which people weather change and transition. In a beautifully crafted blend of moving stories, humorous insights, practical guidance, and personal memoir, she offers tools to help us make the choice we all face in times of challenge: Will we be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed? Lesser shares tales of ordinary people who have risen from the ashes of illness, divorce, loss of a job or a loved one - stronger, wiser, and more in touch with their purpose and passion. And she draws on the world's great spiritual and psychological traditions to support us as we too learn to break open and blossom into who we were meant to be.
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