Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow Summary

BookSummaryClub Blog Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow Summary

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow is a book that has touched many souls. Hard times will always be there and just as sure as death and taxes, change will also be there. However, many people do not know how to handle hard times and change. This bestseller is all about how you can rise up from the difficult times, learn and grow from them. 

With growth, of course, comes change and when you have changed your life for the better, you will triumph the hard times. This Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow summary will provide you with a glimpse of the entire book and the profound teachings in each.


Many people tackle the days in the same routine hiding behind normalcy. However, there is so much that lies beneath the surface of consciousness, deep into the soul and many are too distracted to connect with the peace and liberation that lies there. Some long to connect with it but they are too busy pushing the day to day wagon and never take time to acknowledge that desire.

To really be able to rise from difficult times and live your life to the fullest you have to acknowledge the calling of the soul. As Lesser puts it, “when you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” When you connect with your soul, you become alive. 

Many of the people who have done wondrous things like Einstein describe a force they could never really understand but knew they had to connect with. This comes from the soul.

By the end of this part, lesser will have described how you can get in touch with your soul and make that necessary connection. The chapters in this part are;

  • What Einstein knew
  • What Dante knew
  • The hands that work on us
  • Open secret
  • Bozos on the bus
  • Open-heart surgery
  • Heart warrior
  • Lightening up and falling down
  • When they revolutionize the cocktail parties
  • Sleeping giants and strange angels
  • The rapture of being alive


“We all know people who say their cancer or divorce or bankruptcy was the greatest gift of a lifetime—that until the body or the heart or the bank was broken, they didn’t know who they were, what they felt, or what they wanted. It took a Phoenix Process to teach them and wake them up. 

We also know people who did not turn their misfortune into insight. Instead, they became more bitter, more reactive, more cynical. What do you think is the difference between these two kinds of people?” 

The Phoenix process is about opening your heart up when you have misfortune. It is an individual journey and different for everyone. However, for all, the transformational journey involves surrendering in times of great turmoil. 

When you surrender the pain breaks, you open allowing you a chance to be reborn, heal and grow from it. The chapters in the Phoenix process are as follows;

  • Chimidunchik
  • Here begin the terrors, here begin the miracles
  • Fierce grace
  • Before and after
  • A broken heart is an open heart
  • September 11th
  • Crooked hearts


“I was drawn to him by a force stronger than any kind of will to turn away – as if his gravitational pull matched that of a planet.” This is how lesser describes her Shaman Lover. This chapter is dedicated to an extramarital affair that lesser had with this person she describes as her shaman lover. A Shaman is a person who practices black magic or sorcery for healing or divination. 

Being in love with a Shaman Lover, therefore, is not your usual cup of tea. It is an experience that you did not expect. It is a crisis and throws you off balance all the time. Lesser describes her own affair and what she went through and how you can learn from such an experience. Here are the chapters in this part;

  • Leaving My Father’s House
  • Marriage Math
  • The Shaman Lover
  • Initiation
  • The Crossroads
  • Goethe’s Chain Letter
  • The Joy of Being Wrong


In this part, lesser introduces us to her children and the extended family. There is a lot that you can learn from your family if you pay the attention. Spending time with family is also therapeutic in nature. When you are around the people, you love you feel safe and can open up to them. The people you love will also be frank with you and tell you as it is. 

This part has the following chapters;

  • Firstborn
  • Runaway bunny
  • The great movement of the couch
  • Gift 
  • The Vroom Vroom Gene
  • Letting them go
  • Iron John
  • Widening the circle
  • Despair and dulcimers


Lesser is a firm believer on a superior being and spirituality. In this chapter of the book, she touches on issues that many people react so emotionally to, birth and death. Lesser indicates that to get past adversities easily, it is crucial to have a higher power that you are seeking solace from. 

Connection to the higher power is one of the things that many people lack which is why lesser teaches prayer, meditation, and psychotherapy. 

In this chapter, she teaches how to practice dying. She states that “Given the nature of existence, you don’t have to wait until something big happens to practice dying. You can begin right now. 

You can carve out some alone-time in your day, close your eyes, and meditate on the fluid nature of your body, of time, and of life itself…Practicing dying means living as close to reality as we can in each moment.”” This is all about accepting change and accepting the end of life because it is sure to come. The chapters in this part are;

  • Trailing clouds of glory
  • The hundredth name
  • No birth no death
  • Visitation dreams
  • Good grief
  • Karaoke
  • Practicing death
  • The turtles and the trees
  • A meditation for practicing dying


“Life is always changing; you are always changing. You live in a river of change, and a river of change lives within you. Every day you’re given a choice: You can relax and float in the direction that the water flows, or you can swim hard against it. 

If you go with the river, the energy of a thousand mountain streams will be with you, filling your heart with courage and enthusiasm; if you resist the river, you will feel annoyed and tired as you tread water, stuck in the same place.”

Life is always changing, and unless you go with the flow of life, it will wear you out. It is important to accept getting old, losing someone and all other permanent changes that life will come with. The chapters in this last part of the book are;

  • Enjoying the passage of time
  • The workshop angel
  • When grapes turn into wine
  • Ch-Ch-Changes
  • Comfortable with uncertainty
  • For Hugo
  • Peaceful Abiding
  • The truth
  • The Spirit House

What I Like About The Book

The writer has a way with words. The book is hilarious yet very profound and inspiring. She uses experiences that have been experienced by others and herself to pass on the message of rising from the ashes. 

She touches on the issues that many people go through daily such as divorce, loss of a job, illness, and loss of a loved one. This is a book that everyone can relate to because it is what is experienced every day.

Why You Should Read The Book

You should read the book if you are facing a hard time and want to break free. If you feel like an experience you have gone through is defining you then this book will help you overcome. 

This book borrows from the spiritual and psychological world so with it you will find something that you can believe in. It will help you break free and blossom even when hard times are imminent. 

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