I just read an amazingly inspiring book called “BROKEN OPEN…How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow” by Elizabeth Lesser. Elizabeth is the co-founder of Omega Institute, which is one of the worlds largest centers for spiritual retreats and personal growth. I can honestly say that things I read in this book have stayed in my head and I try to live each day with remembrance of what I learned in this book. It was a really great read….one that I will revisit many times over.
If you have had any kind of difficulty in your life with health, grief, relationships, major change etc. and you have an ounce of spirituality in your soul then this is a book I think you would find uplifting. I sure did. Even if you have the perfect life and nothing has you down it is still a beautiful book to read. It may increase your compassion for other people around you.
This is the first book I have read on my journey to finding the blessings in living with Multiple Sclerosis that actually “broke me open” so to speak. It stirred my emotions regarding what I am going through to learn to accept the things I cannot change.
This book includes many personal stories of people that the author has met along the way who have struggled with various things and how they learned to deal with their demons. There is one story that really resonated with me. This particular chapter was about a young mother and her husband who enjoyed a bountiful and beautiful life. They had one child and decided to have a second one. The second child was deprived of oxygen at birth and suffered brain damage and life-threatening epilepsy. They had to learn to cope and accept the things they couldn’t change. Then the young mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease she was familiar with as her Mom had it too.
The author of this book, Elizabeth Lesser, knew this couple because their children were the same age.
I learned some amazing lessons from this young woman, Judi who tells her story in a chapter of this book.
1. Say yes to life despite the obstacles of your illness.
2. See the miracle of who each of us become by not shrinking back from the challenges.
3. That things could always be worse. There are other life stories that make your trials trivial in comparison. Our trials teach us lessons that make the rest of our lives more precious. I’m sure you have heard of someone who has suffered from a terrible illness that has said that their illness woke them up to “life”. This is so true.
4. “This, too, shall pass”. Things change into amazement if you only let them.
5. Dwelling on “why me” only increases suffering.
6. BIG LESSON FOR ME – “My only hope was to give up the life that had been, in order to make room for the life that is.” Judi calls this her “choiceless choice”. Judi said that by making that choice over and over again – to accept what is, and to release what was – has become her major focus.
7. Denial – a common reaction to disease or disaster. We try to continue our lives as usual. Trying to keep up with all the things we use to be able to do without a thought. But with MS we can’t do it all anymore. Finally coming to terms with the fact that you have to ask for help is a huge hurdle to overcome. This admission is important to you and your loved ones. Admitting weaknesses is liberating.
8. Anger – rears it’s ugly head after denial fades. We want to go back to the way things were. We try to blame but there is nobody to blame. You get stuck in a place of pain and unhappiness until you relinguish the guilt and the need to blame.
9. Through self-investigation Judi’s illness became her teacher. She was able to hold her disease in truth and heightened awareness and with this came an outpouring of self-love and the love of God. After yelling and crying and praying for clarity and courage, there came a sense of relief in surrendering to the fatigue.
10. Gratitude – Living in a place of gratefulness for all the beauty in our lives instead of living in the “woe is me” is an absolute must.
11. Attitude – What your attitude is, so is your consciousness.
These lessons I share with you from this book come from just one chapter. There are many amazing stories to arouse your soul. This book will help you appreciate what you are, who you are and what life has brought to you. Whether it be sickness or health, wealth or poverty, good or bad.
Enjoy your journey, live in gratitude, respect others as we all have our own stories.
I hope you pick up this book and get as much pleasure out of it as I did.
Thank you Elizabeth Lesser, for your beautiful writing.