NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • This inspiring guide to healing and growth illuminates the richness and potential of every life, even in the face of loss and adversity—now updated with additional toolbox materials and a new preface by the author
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.
Cofounder of the upstate New York Omega Institute and author of The Seeker's 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. Lesser's 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 doesn't 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 one's own"evil" in order to grow. Lesser's 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 Lesser's life.
Fantastic, insightful and helpful
This book is a must read for anyone who has experienced hardship or loss. Elizabeth offers such wonderful perspective on how to move through these tough times, embrassing and valuing instead of avoiding them. Get it, read it, experience it.
This book spent a ridiculous amount of time talking about psychic readers and fairytales. If you’re going thru hard times and want serious self-help don’t purchase this book. The part that I almost throw up was when she mentioned Albert Einstein going to a psychic reader and that one of his most famous quote came out of the mouth of this person instead of him. I was going to ask for my money back, but Im stuck with it.