Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow” as Want to Read:
Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  3,514 Ratings  ·  351 Reviews
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 t ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 14th 2005 by Villard (first published May 4th 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Broken Open, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Erin I'm nearly finished- 80% done. It's so good. What do you think?

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 21, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE WHO CAN READ!
Recommended to Adam by: GOD/THE UNIVERSE
Oh my God!!! This book changed my life!!! Hell it MAY have saved it. I was homeless in New York and going through a really rough time in my life and this book was constantly by my side as my companion, my friend, my pillow (sometimes), my hope, my inspiration and maybe even my savior. I cannot say enough about it. Maybe it was just me and my extrordinary circumstances that made this book such an amazing thing for me but i definitely think it was more than that. I am not the same person i was bef ...more
Mar 20, 2015 Thomas rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An alright self-help book about how we can use difficult times to grow. Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute known for spiritual retreat and personal growth, shares her own story of loss as well as the journeys of those she has encountered through her work. She mixes theory with memoir with metaphor to address difficult experiences and the potential pockets of revitalization these types of trials can bring.

I wanted a little more definition from this book. While Lesser took a nuanc
Mar 13, 2009 Ruhegeist rated it really liked it
I borrowed this from a friend who tends to be what I consider over the top wacky spiritual. Watching her move through life, easily make friends and enjoy what I so often take for granted is amazing and makes me a little jealous all the while resisting and occasionally mocking.

Thankfully this book was believable and down to earth which allowed my over logical mentality to connect to the writing. Lesser writes beautifully about her experiences (not quite as well when making generalities). The quo
Oct 31, 2008 Nedra rated it it was amazing
EVERYONE who has gone through a personal crisis whether it be death, depression, divorce or just a simple personal evolution should read this book. And, everyone else should read it too. Elizabeth Lesser speaks to psychological and spiritual awakening in an understandable, lighthearted voice.
Jan 15, 2013 Jordan rated it liked it
I realize that this book is out of character with the sorts of things that I normally read. I was led to this book by both a coworker's recommendation and by my personal struggles of this past year. Last March, an old friend of mine committed suicide. A month later, my first real boyfriend broke up with me. Together, these two events have dictated how I feel in my daily experience: when I'm with friends, or on a date with someone new, or even just spending time alone with my thoughts, my mind wi ...more
Julie Weaver
Jan 09, 2009 Julie Weaver rated it it was amazing
If you're wanting to learn how to cope with life's trials, this book is an excellent tool to teach you how to do just that. Its not so much a self-help book, but more of an instruction manual on how to look at trials in a different perspective, and to graciously welcome life's opportunities to grow and learn instead of resisting them and feeling beaten up by the process. A book you'll want to refer to often! Highly recommended!
Sep 08, 2015 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic, spiritual
One of my favorite books of all time. My dearest, Jennifer Cox, recommended this book at a particularly tough time in my life. The first time I read it, I cried pretty much the entire read. Lesser's writing is like a warm bath on a chilly day. I look forward to passing this book on to people in the future. It helped me move forward and overcome, I mean this truly. It was a gift to read it again from an emotionally improved place. Great stuff.
Sep 20, 2011 Homa rated it it was ok
Full of hope and excited to begin reading this book, as the title seemed promising, especially when one feels so broken at the tragic loss of a family member. The book had me realize that I am human, and accepted myself with all my flaws, because what I consider flaws are not bad, it's just being human, and being human is good. I have negative thoughts, ugly, bad, mean, etc. But I'm not a bad person. Author goes on to explain that "we are all bozos on the bus. There is no cool crowd bus where pe ...more
Feb 18, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
I am currently reading this book. Although I am generally NOT into self help books, this book goes beyond that to explore the way we view the world and in times of turmoil, how we manage through. I really like the wisdom and shared stories of Elizabeth Lesser
Carolyn Dorstek
Jun 24, 2009 Carolyn Dorstek rated it it was amazing
One of the most important books in my adult life. This book has been my friend since I started reading it in mid-May. I continue to re-read parts of it when I need encouragement facing the upheaval that my life has become. It has helped me to jump into the fray without fear. Like playing hide and seek as a child, this book knows the secrets we think we have kept really well. It offers simple, honest reflections about life's situations, and allows the reader to make the most of the bleakest situa ...more
Jul 10, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. I've had it on my to read list for a long time. I heard positive reviews of her book and her work. I enjoyed listening to Elizabeth Lesser on Oprah and Friends radio shoe and her interview on Super Soul Sunday. I normally don't buy books. This is one that I will be purchasing to re-reading, dog earring pages and high lighting passages. I can't say enough wonderful things about this book~life changing. A must have, text book of sorts as you live life. Buy it, check it out, ...more
Kevin Orth
Oct 30, 2014 Kevin Orth rated it it was amazing
I feel I've accomplised a lot in this life. At the same time I acknowledge I've experienced an immense amout of emotional distress and excrusiating anxiety. Through all this I know my life is richer because I chhose to stay in the game and engaged. This book totally reinforces this perspective and provides tools, insights, direction, and inspiration to stay with it see the richness in life, persevering, and continuing to see glimpses of beauty in life's trials, lessons, and wins.
Mar 30, 2008 Jodi rated it it was amazing
I read self help books on a frequent basis, and this is definitely one of my favorites. It's hard to describe exactly why I liked it so much. I only know that I found myself unable to put it down once I started.
Jan 12, 2009 Amal is currently reading it
To make a long story short....A patient got me to read this book......!
Aug 15, 2014 Cheryl rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. I had reason to, it is similar to my own personal philosophy, which includes a little bit of everything. If I was forced to label myself I would call myself a Zen, Hasidic, Jesus admiring landscape worshiping mystical earth ecstatic. The scope of this author’s spiritual forays and experiments is staggering, I think she has tried everything but voodoo, and with some fairly powerful people/celebrities. I know someone who has attended some retreats at her institute and w ...more
Jun 19, 2013 Kay rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angie Klink
Dec 19, 2012 Angie Klink rated it liked it
I actually read this book twice and learned new things the second time. I loved the first half, then the second half lost me. But the first pages really helped me with my own life events of being "broken open." I highly recommend it to anyone who has a major life difficulty, shift, or revelation. One of my favorite lines: "Your lesson in this lifetime is to find and trust your own precious voice." Another: "Things may get worse before they get better, but they'll only get better if you let them ...more
Feb 22, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it
Some insightful thoughts and guidance on how to accept the things that happen to us, good and bad and how to deal with changes and transitions. The author does go into some detail of her own life, maybe a little too much...but guess it is good to know how she and some of her other friends she highlights within the book, dealt with life's challenges to inspire the reader.

Instead of fighting change, believe that it is the way it is meant to be and use your energy not to fight the current but to op
Apr 21, 2009 Michelle rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I picked this up because one of my respected Goodreads friends rated it a 5 star and I always love a good spiritual growth type book. It's about letting yourself be "broken open" during difficult times to allow for growth. I am certainly not going through a difficult time but I still appreciated the author's insight. I completely believe that souls are put on earth to learn lessons and I loved that angle of it. The vignettes were great, although I couldn't quite buy into the fact that ...more
Jan 11, 2014 Audra rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
The sections of this book that I loved were generally other people's words and experiences. I felt that Elizabeth Lesser's philosophy was too New Age, make excuses for people's bad actions -- including her own -- by attributing them to some cosmic experience.

I don't for a second believe that God decided people needed to die on an airplane. That was the decision of man. I don't believe God would hurt young children by encouraging an affair as the only way to find your true self. That's people. P
Nov 27, 2014 Marlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, kindle
Good. I skipped the chapters on childbirth and parenthood. I wish she had used a phrase other than "Shaman Lover" but accepted it as her thing. Essentially the point of the book is to talk about learning to allow yourself the freedom to follow your path. It's easy to get caught up in the paths of others - and necessary, sometimes - but ultimately, staying on someone else's path too long is too high a price to pay. She clearly makes the case that being joined with a partner in life does not mean ...more
Mary Ann
Mar 18, 2013 Mary Ann rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books, I've ever read. Lesser does a great job of exemplifying that EVERYONE goes through very difficult times no matter how we all appear on the surface. She believes these difficulties are meant as a wake up call to look inside ourselves and do the work to align our life choices with our inner spirit or souls. We can either choose to go back to sleep or do the work which will bring us to happier, more fulfilling lives. If you are going through a difficult period it prov ...more
Aug 10, 2009 Chelsea rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars for this book. I liked how Elizabeth Lesser focused on how to just be in the moment. Not to dwell on past hurts,faults,failures, or bad things that happened to you in childhood. We grow as humans from good and bad things that cross our paths through life. That is what makes each one of us unique and special. It is easy to drum up past hurts in your life and not be able to let go. To move onto the next thing that may enter your life. As The Beatles say "Let It Be." Wise words!
May 26, 2011 Gloria rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-spirit
This author reminds me a bit of Anne Lamott. Lesser tells her own story of a life that at times seems rather traditional, but at times was really different (commune, midwife, etc). Throughout she includes others' stories as well. The writing is rather spiritual in nature without adhering to any one belief system. She is a good and introspective writer. This is not a self-help book, but rather a reflection of many stages of a woman's life and how you can grow from life's setbacks. Worth recommend ...more
Kim Porter
Dec 09, 2014 Kim Porter rated it it was amazing
This book has changed the way I view life. I agree with the author on how sometimes it takes a huge tragedy in our lives to bring us closer to the person were supposed to become. I've had my share of heart ache and there's always something to be learned from each one. You have to walk through the darkness to see the light.
Maria Ortiz-cintron
Dec 29, 2011 Maria Ortiz-cintron rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. Reading it was therapeutic for me. This is a book everyone can relate to on some level, because it addresses life changing/negative/difficult experiences and helps us to see them for the teachable moments those painful experiences can provide. It was enlightening without being preachy. I love the way Elizabeth Lesser writes.
Mar 28, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
This was OK . . . at times indulgent and over-written. But a good reminder of lots of the teachings of greats like Pema Chodron, Titch Nhat Hanh, etc. Definitely a good read for anyone going through a life crisis - diagnosis with major illness, death, divorce - or even to re-orient during or after a mini-crisis.
Mar 30, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lesser does a great job of presenting practical applications for what might be seen (by some) as "new-agey" tools. The audiobook presents a paradox in that Susan Denaker does an outstanding job of narration, but I found myself skipping a couple of sections wholesale that I'd likely have at least skimmed in print, due to the nature of the material. Book is definitely recommended.
Ali Edwards
Jan 25, 2014 Ali Edwards rated it really liked it
This is one I've been reading slowly for the last year or so. I tend to pick it up when I'm feeling most closed off and down. Each time I pick it back up there's something there for me to learn from or a piece of wisdom to help me in my own moving forward.
Tara Hall
Apr 23, 2010 Tara Hall rated it really liked it
this is an essential book for anyone dealing with the pain of loss in a small or profound way. it is reassuring, heartbreaking, poignant, and never preachy. i will probably read it again when i am feeling particularly lost or at a big crossroads in life...i highly recommend it!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Very enlightening discovery :-) 3 30 Mar 31, 2009 05:16AM  
  • Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals
  • Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred
  • 8 Habits of Love: Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind
  • Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power
  • Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul
  • Shadow Dance
  • Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and Love
  • Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance
  • The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife
  • Radical Self-Acceptance: A Buddhist Guide to Freeing Yourself from Shame
  • Red Hot and Holy: A Heretic's Love Story
  • Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change
  • Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart
  • I Need Your Love - Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead
  • Crossing to Avalon: A Woman's Midlife Quest for the Sacred Feminine
  • The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: An Uncommon Guide to Healing, Insight, and Love
  • Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul's Potential
  • Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit, & Joy in the Root of the Female Body

Share This Book

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” 83 likes
“What will matter is the good we did, not the good we expected others to do.” 35 likes
More quotes…