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Broken open : how difficult times can help us grow
Elizabeth Lesser
Adult Nonfiction BL65.S85 L46 2004

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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. (On sale May 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

Cofounder of the Omega Institute, a retreat and workshop center dedicated to spirituality and health, Lesser (New American Spirituality) combines stories from her own life with those of retreat participants and friends. The focus is on what she terms the phoenix process. This involves learning from losses and difficulties and letting go of old habits and modes of thought. Reminiscent of Rachel Naomi Remen's books (e.g., Kitchen Table Wisdom), the book is gentle in tone without falling into sentimentality and clear without being dogmatic or simplistic. Lesser gives the book more depth by wisely choosing varied examples of loss-divorce, death, career changes, and illnesses-and varied responses. In the end, this is not just another tract on handling grief but an explanation of how to recognize and respond to the losses, big and small, that occur throughout a person's life. Appendixes provide insightful reflections and guides to meditation, psychotherapy, and prayer. Appropriate for public libraries and collections related to spirituality and health.-Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll., NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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