Books: Elizabeth Lesser’s “Broken Open”, by Ella Isakov
Elizabeth Lesser is the co-founder of the Omega Institute in New York, an institute that hosts workshops with spiritual leaders and yogis to help people on the spiritual path. In her book “Broken Open”, Elizabeth uses her own life story and those of others to show that through challenging times, “awakening” and positive life changes can occur.
Elizabeth refers to the challenging times as the “Phoenix Process”, the transformational journey. It stems from the myth of a bird the Egyptians called the Phoenix. Understanding that the new can only be acquired by the death of the old, every 500 years the Phoenix would renew his journey for his true self by burning himself to death. The Phoenix then rose from the ashes blending who he was and who he has become.
The process shows us that our old ways will always be a part of us and our journey. When we are confronted with challenges, we are reborn out of the darkness to a life of truth and inner happiness. It demonstrates that life-altering events are what wake us up to a clearer picture of the patterns that have not been serving us. Then it reflects the immense amount of courage needed when you are in the depths of despair (in the flames). We must acknowledge what must burn (illusions, fear, sense of separation, blame etc.). Then a more authentic self arises from the ashes, with greater inner knowing.
As I go through my own “Phoenix Journey” after a life-altering crisis, it is books like “Broken Open” that keep me going by allowing me to see that I am not alone, that change is possible, and that wisdom can come when one is in the depths of despair. Through the wisdom in the book and through my own discoveries on my journey, I realized that it was the fear in my life that had to die. Fear of others, fear of losing people, fear that there isn’t enough for me, and fear of my own power and what I am capable of doing. It was these shadows that were holding me back from all that I was capable of being.
Reading stories from “Broken Open” about people who rose from the ashes and made dramatic changes for themselves and the world around them, I was inspired to take action, knowing that I had the power to make a difference within me. I joined the Off the Mat, Into the World challenge to raise $20,000 for Haiti and go there next year to aid in humanitarian work. As I started to rise from the ashes, taking action made me face my fears and reach out for a greater good, to look beyond myself, but at the same time slowly let the shield of all my fears fade away. As I continue to take action, I am in awe of what I accomplish and the compassion and aid I get from others. In the past, I did not believe in either, nor did I have the will to try. Taking action has not only allowed me to rise from despair, it has also allowed me to scrape away the fears that were holding me back so that I could see all that was waiting to be seen in myself. A bright light was waiting to shine!
Ella Isakov is a yoga instructor, having completed teacher training at Downward Dog with Ron Reid and Diane Bruni, and another one with Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty. She went on to complete training through Yoga4Kids and Restorative Yoga with Judith Lasater, and is a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She is also a humanitarian. Her passion and purpose in life has always been to teach and inspire others along their path. She believes we are always students along whatever road we choose, and continues to develop her practice (spiritual, physical, and mental) and grows as a teacher by attending workshops and retreats throughout the year. It is an honour to be part of someone’s journey, and Ella’s goal is to provide a warm, safe and attentive environment, giving special attention to individual needs and educating students so they can grow in their understanding of the nature of the poses within their body and discover their own inner wisdom from within. Ella is so thankful for all the special gifts the path of yoga and meditation has brought her life and feels blessed to guide others along their journey.