Elizabeth Lesser: I Want to Grow More Than I Want to Be Safe

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June 19, 2018

Elizabeth Lesser: I Want to Grow More Than I Want to Be Safe

Elizabeth Lesser June 19, 2018

More than 30 years ago, Elizabeth Lesser helped cofound Omega Institute, now one of the world’s premiere centers for the exploration of the spiritual journey. These days, Elizabeth is known as the bestselling author of The Seeker’s Guide and Broken Open, as well as a frequent collaborator with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey. In this episode, Elizabeth and Tami converse on the role of spiritual teachers, the power of prayer, and the inevitable price of wisdom. They also talk about fear and fearlessness, as well as the strength one can find in solitude. Finally, Tami and Elizabeth discuss psychotherapy as a modern sacred practice and how it might one day become a widely accepted form of spiritual seeking. (66 minutes)

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Elizabeth Lesser is a bestselling author and the co-founder of the Omega Institute, an education and retreat center focusing on health, wellness, spirituality, creativity, and social change. Omega was founded in 1977—a time when a variety of fresh ideas were just sprouting in American culture. Modern medicine was beginning to consider the value of prevention, nutrition, and the mind/body connection. Seeds from Eastern philosophies were being planted in the West, cross-fertilizing with science, psychology, and religion, and blossoming into a new, global spirituality. World music, dance, literature, and art were influencing each other in exciting ways. And social change movements like feminism, civil rights, and environmental sustainability were changing our cultural identity and social structures.

For more than 30 years, Elizabeth's immersion in these areas has informed her work and writing. A student of the Sufi master Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan since 1971, Elizabeth has also studied with spiritual teachers and religious scholars from other traditions, as well as psychological practitioners and healers. Her first book, The Seeker's Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure, chronicles the uprising of a new spirituality and provides the reader with a map through the four landscapes of the seeker's path: The Landscape of the Mind, the Landscape of the Body, the Landscape of the Heart, and the Landscape of the Soul. Her second book, the New York Times bestseller Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, is a guide for anyone going through a difficult time. Its real-life stories inspire the reader to use adversity for inner growth. Broken Open has sold almost 300,000 copies and has been translated into 20 languages.

Elizabeth speaks at events around the world on issues of spiritual growth, cultural change, and women's empowerment. She is also the cofounder of the Omega Women's Leadership Center, which grew out of the popular Women & Power conference series she created. These renowned gatherings feature women leaders, business mavericks, authors, activists, and artists from around the world. In 2011, she gave a popular TED talk at the first TED Women conference.

In 2008, she helped Oprah Winfrey produce a ten-week online seminar based on Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth. The Webinar was viewed by more than eight million people worldwide. Elizabeth is a frequent host on Oprah's "Soul Series," a weekly radio show on Sirius/XM, and a guest on Oprah's "Super Soul Sunday."

Elizabeth attended Barnard College and San Francisco State University, majoring in early childhood education. She received an honorary doctorate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California in 2011. Previous to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and birth educator.

Besides being active at Omega, she spends her time writing, gardening, cooking, and being with her husband, children, grandchildren, and friends in New York's Hudson Valley. She has been active in feminist and environmental issues for years, and considers it her responsibility and honor to be part of the ongoing evolution of life on our beautiful planet.

Listen to Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interview with Elizabeth Lesser:
I Want to Grow More Than I Want to Be Safe »

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Subscribe to Insights at the Edge to hear all of Tami’s interviews (transcripts available too!), featuring Eckhart Tolle, Caroline Myss, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, and many more.

Meet Your Host: Tami Simon

Founded Sounds True in 1985 as a multimedia publishing house with a mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom. She hosts a popular weekly podcast called Insights at the Edge, where she has interviewed many of today's leading teachers. Tami lives with her wife, Julie M. Kramer, and their two spoodles, Rasberry and Bula, in Boulder, Colorado.

Photo © Jason Elias

Also By Author

Elizabeth Lesser: I Want to Grow More Than I Want to B...

More than 30 years ago, Elizabeth Lesser helped cofound Omega Institute, now one of the world’s premiere centers for the exploration of the spiritual journey. These days, Elizabeth is known as the bestselling author of The Seeker’s Guide and Broken Open, as well as a frequent collaborator with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey. In this episode, Elizabeth and Tami converse on the role of spiritual teachers, the power of prayer, and the inevitable price of wisdom. They also talk about fear and fearlessness, as well as the strength one can find in solitude. Finally, Tami and Elizabeth discuss psychotherapy as a modern sacred practice and how it might one day become a widely accepted form of spiritual seeking. (66 minutes)

Elizabeth Lesser: I Want to Grow More Than I Want to B...

More than 30 years ago, Elizabeth Lesser helped cofound Omega Institute, now one of the world’s premiere centers for the exploration of the spiritual journey. These days, Elizabeth is known as the bestselling author of The Seeker’s Guide and Broken Open, as well as a frequent collaborator with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey. In this episode, Elizabeth and Tami converse on the role of spiritual teachers, the power of prayer, and the inevitable price of wisdom. They also talk about fear and fearlessness, as well as the strength one can find in solitude. Finally, Tami and Elizabeth discuss psychotherapy as a modern sacred practice and how it might one day become a widely accepted form of spiritual seeking. (66 minutes)

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The Greatest Wealth Is Found When We Gather Together

When people ask for my personal secret to living a life that is authentically happy and liberating, the first thing that comes to mind are my friends. I’ve known for a long time that I am a wealthy and blessed person. The wealth that I’m referring to has nothing to do with my bank account balance. The wealth that I’m talking about are the meaningful connections that have sustained me over the years. What I lacked in familial bonds, the divine provided in long-term platonic relationships.

One of the clearest indicators of someone who is flourishing is their ability to build and keep meaningful connections and quality relationships. When designing a life that supports your becoming the most fully expressed version of yourself, the people who are closest to you can either support or hinder your progress. This is why I’m adamant about being intentional about my connections.

My “Presidential Cabinet,” which is basically what I call my trusted circle of friends, is filled with some amazing folks. I’m forever grateful for my community of friends that became family, strangers that became mentors, and colleagues that became accountability partners.

In the chapter “What About Your Friends?” from my book, Evolving While Black, I share with you that people who have strong relationships feel the support of family, friends, and others in their community. When you know you have a village of folks you can count on, it improves your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression.

An agreement I made with myself in my early thirties was to commit to choosing connection and community over isolation. This decision is the gift that keeps on giving. The investment you make in choosing your connections is the greatest pathway to wholeness, prosperity, and longevity.

What you should consider as you’re continuing to build out your own Presidential Cabinet

Your connections should include people who:

  • Energize you and help you to create a life of ease
  • Encourage you to make your mental and emotional well-being a priority 
  • Consider you for opportunities when you’re not in the room
  • Show mutual support and respect 

Now that you know what to consider, use these prompts to create a plan

  • Who’s in your Presidential Cabinet, and how do they support you? 
  • Who do you need to add, and how will they support your journey? 
  • If you change nothing, what will your life look like three months from now? How does this make you feel?

My hope for you is that you attract meaningful connections that bring you joy and make your heart smile, laughs that make your cheeks hurt, and love that covers you like a warm blanket. You deserve to feel loved, supported, and cared for.

Until we meet again.

Currently evolving,

Chianti


Evolving While Black
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Sounds True


Evolving While Black
Sounds True

Chianti Lomax is a sought-after international speaker, certified mindset coach, and leadership trainer who thrives at the intersection of mindfulness, technology, and transformative coaching. As a registered yoga instructor, certified personal and executive coach, certified workplace mindfulness facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner, Chianti teaches doable habit changes to help increase our well-being and elevate the overall human experience. For more, visit chiantilomax.com.

Author photo © Ambreia Williams

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