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When Life Breaks You Open | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network

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OPRAH WINFREY: If you feel stuck, unhappy, or miserable, this show may help you break free. RYAN: For the longest time I thought, "I'm never going to stop feeling this way." WINFREY: She left her 14-year marriage, and life as she knew it was over. ELIZABETH LESSER: My financial security, my self-image ... WINFREY: The tragic death of their twin son shook this family to its core. CONNIE: I said, "I don't know how to do this." WINFREY: When life broke them down, what they did to break themselves open. CONNIE: That single moment helped me to take that step. WINFREY: Your life is speaking to you. How to hear the message, next. WINFREY: This is going to be our year. Today we're delving into My favorite, favorite subject, spirituality. Anybody who knows me will tell you nothing makes me happier than talking about this, because spirituality, to me, is the greatest discovery of life. It is life, to recognize that you are more than your body and more than your mind. Spirituality is not religion. You can be spiritual regardless of your religious beliefs. For me, spirituality is recognizing that I am connected to the energy of all creation, that I am a part of it, and it is always a part of me. Joining us today is my good friend, spiritual teacher Elizabeth Lesser. Hey, Lizzie. And Elizabeth is one of the founders of the Omega Institute, which is a premier growth university in our country, and people come there to find their spiritual path, to do everything from yoga, tai chi, to ... Ms. LESSER: ...arts, to meditation. If you're a doctor, learning alternative ways of helping people heal, and if want to heal your body, mind, spirit, tons of workshops and conferences. WINFREY: Yeah, at the Omega Institute, which I always wanted to come. Ms. LESSER: This is your own Omega. WINFREY: This is my own Omega. So before we get started, tell us what you think spirituality means. Ms. LESSER: Spirituality is an instinct. You know we have our instincts to eat and to sleep and work and survive and thrive that way, but we also have a spiritual instinct. It's really inside every person. That's why religions were even formed, to respond to that instinct, to know that life has meaning, to know that we are connected to everything, and to have that childlike sense of wonder that we were put here to enjoy the gift of life. WINFREY: Yeah. So it is a -- spirituality is that yearning for something more, that yearning, desire that is seeking something higher than your mind and your body. Ms. LESSER: Yes, and when you say a spiritual path, what you're talking about is -- it's already there inside us, this instinct that we are more than our mind and body. The path is just getting the obstacles out of the way so we can wake up and fully know our full aliveness, know that's who we are. WINFREY: Yeah. Okay. Elizabeth is the author of a wonderful book called "Broken Open, How Difficult Times Help Us Grow" For those of you who are interested in discovering not only your spiritual path, but allowing life to have a greater sense of meaning for you every day, "Broken Open" is the book, an intimate portrait of how Elizabeth grew on her own spiritual path. So explain the title "Broken Open." I love it, because this is a -- most times people think that spirituality is -- well, people have their own definitions of it, but a lot of people think it's a lot of "ooh" talk. You know, "ooh-ooh, whoo-ooh" talk, when it is really quite the opposite. It is the most grounding awakening path you can ever pursue in your life. Ms. LESSER: Yeah, I'm not a very "whoo-whoo" person. WINFREY: Yeah, it's not out there. Ms. LESSER: Yeah. WINFREY: It's always right here. Ms. LESSER: Mm-hmm. I came to the title "Broken Open" through an image, the image of a rose tightly wound around itself, the bud, like we all feel so much every day, tightly wound, anxious, shut down, and in order for that bud to open and blossom into the flower we love so much, it has to break its shell. It has to break open. And it's an irony of this human life. Strangely enough, it is our most difficult broken times -- loss of a job, loss of a marriage, illness, loss of a child -- those are the times when we're brought to our knees and we open. Our hearts can open during those times. And if we fight those times and fight the bud opening, we live sort of half of a life. But when we open into our brokenness, that's when we blossom. WINFREY: And so, for me, spirituality is understanding that everything that is happening in your life is happening as a spiritual moment, not just what it looks like on the surface, but beneath the surface. There is always something bigger, deeper, richer going on that helps you grow into yourself, grow into who you were meant to be, grow and be more connected to the spirit, the spiritual being that you really are who's having a human experience. That's what it is. Ms. LESSER: Yeah, and fighting life, as I' m sure we all can relate to that feeling of life is happening to us. We're in the stream of life, and instead of relaxing into it, we're swimming as hard as we can against the current. That's sort of the opposite of the spiritual instinct. The spiritual instinct is to relax into the mystery of life as it's happening.

WINFREY: And the spiritual instinct allows you to move through life no matter what is going on in your life when you're on the spiritual path. It means no matter what happens to you -- and difficulties will come, WINFREY: And the spiritual instinct allows you to move through life no matter what is going on in your life when you're on the spiritual path. It means no matter what happens to you -- and difficulties will come, and challenges will come, because that's all a part of the human experience -- but the spiritual connection allows you to know, no matter what, you're going to be all right. Ms. LESSER: Yeah. WINFREY: We'll be right back. WINFREY: When we come back, some of my favorite spiritual thinkers, next. ECKHART TOLLE: Life is always and only here and now. So to be spiritual, essentially, is to live in that state of openness to what is. And with that openness, a far greater power comes into your life. So to be spiritual is to be in touch, connected with that dimension of depth in yourself. Become aware of the aliveness of this moment, the aliveness that is all around you no matter where you are, whether you're out in nature surrounded by trees, whether you're out in a city, or whether you're sitting in your room. And to become aware of that, you need to become a little bit more alert than you usually are. So a dimension opens up that is deeper and vaster than thinking, which is essentially the spiritual state, this inner alert stillness. Out of that comes creativity. Out of that comes joy, which is a deep sense of aliveness. Out of that comes also love. Increasingly, you become rooted in the aliveness and the fullness of the present moment. That's to lead a spiritual life. WINFREY: That was Eckhart Tolle, the author of our last Book Club selection, "A New Earth," one of my favorite books, spiritual books, really, on earth. So thank you, Eckhart, for sharing that with us. Throughout this show we'll be hearing from some of my favorite spiritual thinkers. I had the idea -- I wanted to do this show so that we all could have spiritual awakenings in the new year. I think it's the most important foundation of anybody's life. Let's take all the pain, all the disappointment whatever that is that you've been carrying around with you, and crack it open so you can start living your best life, and it really is just a breath away. It's a decision that you make. Teacher and author Elizabeth Lesser is here. Elizabeth is the author of a wonderful book called "Broken Open: How Difficult Times Help Us Grow." So when Elizabeth began writing "Broken Open," she hadn't planned to share her own deeply personal journey but in the end, that's exactly what she did. Take a look. Ms. LESSER: I was one of those little kids who started thinking the deep thoughts from a ridiculously young age. Probably three, four years old, would lie in bed and think with my heart beating, "Where does this all go when I die?" And "What is the meaning of my life? Do I have a particular purpose?" I married young and I had two children by the time I was 26. From the outside, someone looking at me probably would've thought, "Boy, she really has it all together for a young woman. Two children, a husband who shares her ideals." When I got married, I thought it was going to be forever. You make a promise and you keep it. But I began to feel that something in me was dying. I began to feel pretty much exhausted and sick most of the time, and I didn't want to listen to that. And I also was angry and not being very patient as a mother. My whole life, my purpose had always been to be good, almost to be perfect. I was so afraid to do something that wasn't good, and in my mind and in my family and in the culture, that was to divorce and to be a single mom. I would wake up every day and feel, "I feel like I'm dying. I feel like if I don't make a move, if I don't make a change, if I don't answer this call within me to blossom, and I remain tight in a bud, I was going to shrivel and fall off the vine and never know what life really can be." WINFREY: So after 14 years of marriage, Elizabeth made the decision to leave her husband. At 32, she became a single mother with two young sons. I love what you wrote on page 105, I think, of "Broken Open." You say that -- 105, 105 -- you say, "Nothing has awakened my heart as much as the pain of a broken family. Nothing has given me as much strength as the time I spent alone in the ruined aftermath of a marriage." And how was that -- and a lot of people are going through that right now -- how is that a spiritual path? I think that when you have the most devastating things happen to you, that those are your holiest moments. That's where you get to see who you really are. Ms. LESSER: Yeah, because we spend so much of our life trying to be what we think we're supposed to be. What society wants us to be, what our parents think we should be, our husband, our image. Just our image of what a good person, a spiritual person might look like. So ... WINFREY: Mm-hmm. A good person that you described. Ms. LESSER: That's right. WINFREY: And listen, isn't that the way so many women of our generation were raised? We were all just raised to be good.

No matter what, you got to be good, you got to be nice. Oh, my god. Don't do anything. Ms. LESSER: Yeah. Good, not great. WINFREY: Yeah. Just good. Ms. LESSER: Just good. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. LESSER: So through that experience of getting divorced and becoming a single mother, I lost everything -- my financial security, No matter what, you got to be good, you got to be nice. Oh, my god. Don't do anything. Ms. LESSER: Yeah. Good, not great. WINFREY: Yeah. Just good. Ms. LESSER: Just good. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. LESSER: So through that experience of getting divorced and becoming a single mother, I lost everything -- my financial security, my self-image, my support, my home. I was really a single mom and everything changed for me. And in the depth of that loss, I found out who I really was. I began to trust who I was. I began to find a genuine me that could withstand anything. WINFREY: So how do you do that? Ms. LESSER: Well, you can either break down and stay broken down and shut down, or you can break open. And it's a decision you make. It's a commitment. I am going through a very hard time. I'm not going to waste this precious experience, this opportunity to become the best me. WINFREY: I always ask the experience, the crisis, the whatever's in the moment, "What are you here to teach me?" What did your divorce teach you? Ms. LESSER: The first thing that it taught me was that I couldn't blame anyone for what had gone wrong in the marriage. I had spent a lot of time blaming my ex-husband. But I had to take the responsibility myself. I had to say, what does this have to teach me about me? Not about him and not about how unfair life is. It wasn't about that. It was what did I do to make this happen? And if I could really sit in the pain of that -- the pain is really looking at yourself and what you did to create the mess you're in. And if you can look at it head-on, fearlessly and say "Teach me, teach me about myself so I can grow." WINFREY: We'll be right back. MARIANNE WILLIAMSON: The practice of spirituality is when you get very still and very humble. There are forces inside you, forces of fear and limitation and chaos, and they live inside us, saying "You can't do that." Spirituality is where you lay claim to a ground of being within yourself, where you say, "I want to be that, I really do. I want to be that person that I'm capable of being." We think that we're not happy, because of what we're not getting, but really we're not happy because of what we're not giving. The most important thing is that we learn how to forgive each other, and that we learn how to love each other, how to live in the spirit of blessing and not blame. What matters is when you're standing in front of a person, is your heart open or is your heart closed? Are you thinking a judgmental thought, or are you trying to see the best in them? Are you showing the mercy towards other people that you would wish that they'd show towards you? The spiritual path doesn't mean always an easier path, but it means a choice, a choice that we're making to try our best to be as loving as we can be. WINFREY: Thank you, Marianne. In her book "Broken Open," Elizabeth Lesser shares true stories about ordinary people who by choice or by force were broken open into a fuller life. I want you to meet Glen and Connie. GLEN: We got married in April, and then two years later on New Year's Eve, our twins were born. CONNIE: Eric and Ryan. GLEN: It was five years. CONNIE: Five years before Kate came along. She always called them "my guys." I really thought I had the life scripted right out. I thought these boys will ride their bikes down this little street, and Katie will go to the nursery school here. And then they'll grow up, and then they'll be married, and Eric will be Ryan's best man. GLEN: I envisioned that my sons would be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, which is the Boy Scout motto. And they turned out to be that way. Eric had this dream about traveling and about Australia. In his junior year there was an exchange program available through his college, and he was accepted in the program. He was absolutely enamored with Australia. He said, "Dad, I'm running out of money, and I want to go to New Zealand." And I said, "It sounds like a great idea. I'll bankroll you." So he headed there. CONNIE: We were due to pick him up on December 17. We thought it was very cool that our twin boys were going to turn 21 on the millennium. So we had anticipated quite a big birthday party. GLEN: I remember that day, and I wish I didn't. I got a call from somebody in the State Department that let us know that there had been an accident, and that Eric had died. The police report said that he was driving his rented motorcycle. CONNIE: And he was one half-hour from the airport, where he was to board the plane to come home. And I remember the agony on my husband's face that he had to tell me, and to tell our daughter. GLEN: Nothing's the same. Everything has changed forever, and the way you see things has changed forever, and the way you feel about things has changed. CONNIE: I do remember saying to Glen, "I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to do this grief thing." And he looked at me and he said, "Well, honey, I don't know how to do it either." WINFREY: So you say you didn't know how to grieve.

I mean, I think no parent does know how, because, I mean, you stated before that there is no hierarchy for pain, but that losing a child is not something a parent is prepared to do. I mean, I think no parent does know how, because, I mean, you stated before that there is no hierarchy for pain, but that losing a child is not something a parent is prepared to do. It just goes against the laws of nature. Yes. CONNIE: And so, with that fear of uncharted waters, I looked at my husband and I said, "I don't know how to do this," thinking he would have the answer. And he said to me, "Well, I don't know how to do it either. But one thing I do know is we must do it well, for Ryan, our son, and for Katie, our daughter, because we are the only models that they have. And so, Connie, if you stay in your pj's all the time, and I don't go back to work, this will be what they think people do when they grieve." So he looked at me and he said, "There are two places we can go --" as you alluded to, Elizabeth -- "despair or hope. And that doesn't look very welcoming down there, so I'm going to the place of hope." And I said, "I'm going with you." GLEN: But it's not something that you do like that. It's something that you do one moment at a time. Eckhart Tolle, you're right, one moment at a time. It's a process. It's a journey. You need to be gentle with yourself as you do it. You need to use all the tools that are available -- your doctor, your religious leader, your friends... WINFREY: Because were you -- are you religious? GLEN: We were. We went to church. We gave our children our religious upbringing. But now we understand the difference between that and being spiritual, and that's the path we're following now. WINFREY: Which you can certainly, as are many people in church and are spiritual, but you were one of those people who was just kind of going to church, because it was the thing to do. GLEN: Oh, we were seekers, and that was the path that we were using to seek. And we didn't know about the other paths or the other people, until we started to meet them on our journey. We found out that whole sections of the public library and bookstores were about grief and loss and so there's a lot to read, there's a lot to learn. One day at a time. WINFREY: Well, most people search for closure after losing a loved one, but Elizabeth says "closure" is one of her least favorite words. Why? Ms. LESSER: Because if you don't take the time, as you said, to grieve, and to let yourself really feel what happens, you just put a scar over it, and it doesn't go away. In fact, it festers, and it becomes something else. Perhaps it turns into bitterness, or anger, or blame. And you never get over it. So letting yourself descend into grief, as you two did, and letting it do what it will with you for as long as it takes, is a much more intelligent response to loss than cleaning up real fast, going back to work. You get your three days of grief days and then you go back to work. That's not a very wise way to handle it. GLEN: And you never get over it. Those are words that I speak up against. It's always there. You always live with it, and you use it as who you are to become more of a person. Ms. LESSER: And you wear it as a badge of how well you loved. Grief is an expression that you loved well. WINFREY: When we come back, we're going to talk to Connie and Glen about how being broken open led them to a higher spiritual path. We'll be back. RABBI IRWIN KULA: The key to being a spiritual person is first of all to understand that you have to practice being a spiritual person. You have to practice becoming alert, becoming more conscious, becoming aware, and you have to practice becoming kinder, more compassionate, more caring. And I have a very easy rule. You have to develop your head, your heart, and your hands. For example, for your head, just every week, if we try to learn something new about ourselves or something new about other people, or something new about an opinion we most deeply disagree with, then we're becoming more conscious and aware and alert. With our heart, to simply at the end of every day, locate ten things that you're grateful for. And with the hands is to every day do something, some act of kindness, some act of generosity -- and here's the key -- to someone more vulnerable than you. And it's like anything else. The more we practice, the better we become at it. If you shoot 1,000 free throws, you'll become a better free-throw shooter. If you practice on the piano, you know, every single day, you'll become a better pianist. And if you actually practice being alert and aware, experiencing the awe and the wonder in the world, you'll have these great moments of discovery. Those are the moments of "A-ha. Wow, I really do understand life a little bit better." WINFREY: Thank you, Rabbi Kula. Love that. Using your hands. Be of service. We just met Glen and Connie whose son Eric was killed in a motorcycle accident nine years ago. He was 20 years old. At what point after losing your son could you start really feeling a sense of what the rabbi was talking about, feeling a sense of appreciation or gratitude again? CONNIE: I believe I have the exact moment that I knew that I could move on. Six weeks after we lost Eric -- I hadn't gotten dressed. I couldn't get dressed. I couldn't eat.

And a dear friend on my street left a pair of mittens in my mailbox. It was January in Maine, 13 below zero, and she said, "I haven't seen you taking your walks. Let's walk." And a dear friend on my street left a pair of mittens in my mailbox. It was January in Maine, 13 below zero, and she said, "I haven't seen you taking your walks. Let's walk." We walked and I dropped one of my mittens and I went to pick it up. And as I came up, I was very lightheaded, understandably -- no sleep, loss of appetite -- and so I looked up. And in January in Maine, there's no meteorologist that can explain why you would see a rainbow in the sky. It was just a snippet. It was green and yellow and pink. And I'd grabbed my friend and I said, "I'm hallucinating. Right?" And she said, "No, I see it. Perhaps it's God. Perhaps it's Eric. Perhaps it's hope. But let's take it." WINFREY: Mm-hmm. CONNIE: And in 45 seconds it was gone. I went home the next day and when there's something that happens that you cannot explain, you know there's something out there to help you, a lifeline. And so the next day I called the woman who had given me her name. And she was our director of hospice. And I said, "I think I want to get dressed and meet you." And that single moment, a gift in nature, a gift of comfort, helped me to take that step out of what I thought would be a never-ending pain. WINFREY: Ryan is Eric's twin brother and he joins us now. So you, too, were broken open. Your parents are going through their grief and trying to hold it together for you and your sister, and then you, who had grown up with this twin ... RYAN: Yeah. WINFREY: ...the twin relationship that we all hear is so special. How were you dealing with this, Ryan? RYAN: Well, it was devastating to get the news, to come home, and the way I compare it is that there's a picture on the wall and this picture is what you think your life is and where you think your life is going. And you take that picture and you pull it off the wall and you smash it into a thousand pieces all over the floor. And for a while, you just sit there and look at the pieces, and there's no way to put those pieces back together and put that picture back up on the wall. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. RYAN: And for a long time, I was stuck just looking at those pieces. It was eating at me like a cancer. It was something that my brain -- I have a scientific mind, I'm an engineer -- but my brain couldn't solve this problem. I couldn't get it out of me. And for the longest time, it was, you know, something that just I thought, "I'm never going to stop feeling this way. I'm really going to feel this way forever." And there were times, you know, it was like, you wake up every day and you're like, "I don't want to feel like this any longer." WINFREY: Mm-hmm. RYAN: And it was somewhat of a spiritual experience for myself to finally get some release, and it took things like getting back, plugging back in. I found plugging back into some hard work where I was working with my uncle's lobster bait business in Maine. Plugging into this -- this outlet, you know, where I was out in the beautiful Maine coast. I was working very hard every day. GLEN: And didn't he smell. [LAUGHTER] CONNIE: He shoveled dead fish. WINFREY: Yeah. Who would think shoveling dead fish could be a spiritual journey? [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: But for him, that's what it was, shoveling dead fish every day. RYAN: And it really, you know, brought me to the point where I'd -- you know, things in life happen, and I think everyone goes ... WINFREY: But didn't you have a moment shoveling the dead fish, like, after a while, you started to think, "these are beautiful dead fish?" RYAN: I said if I can be happy here in dead fish, then I can be happy doing anything, and I can move forward with my life. And my dad likes to joke, you know, with my uncle, that he thanks him, because I went back to school after this to finish my degree. And I said, you know, I used that as a stepping stone to say, "I can get through this. I can be happy doing this. I'm going to move forward and try and put that picture back up on the wall. And it's not the same picture, but I'm going to make a new picture." WINFREY: Yeah. That is the lesson, I think, for everybody, is what you were saying, too, Glen, is that it doesn't -- you never get over it. It's not the same picture. The picture has changed. But you can create a new picture. GLEN: It's different for every person. Everyone has their own experience. And this is our story. We're very proud to be here and honor our son and to try to do something good, try to provide some hope, which is what we all so need. WINFREY: We'll be right back. WINFREY: So here's something interesting that Glen wrote in a letter to Elizabeth. He says, "In hindsight, my life before was about quantity and velocity -- bigger jobs, larger houses, more things quicker, sooner, now." And what changed afterwards? GLEN: I'm a male Baby Boomer, and we all understand. We watched our fathers grow up and we modeled them, and so you achieve and you work hard and you accumulate and you provide. And all of a sudden, despite all your best efforts, something like what happened to us happened. We lost Eric, so was I a failure? And it stopped me dead in my tracks.

It broke me open, and I had to sit and think for a long time about what was important in life and what was I going to do with the rest of my precious years. And I didn't want to shovel dead fish, so... It broke me open, and I had to sit and think for a long time about what was important in life and what was I going to do with the rest of my precious years. And I didn't want to shovel dead fish, so... [LAUGHTER] GLEN: So that's the journey that we've been on since. WINFREY: What did you do, then? GLEN: I quit my job of 25 years. I was the director in a paper company, and they had me planned and prepared for big things. I quit and I stayed home with my family for a year, and we all worked to get off our faces, and then I went out and found a little job that I had a real passion for and did that for a while. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. So you took less money to do what you loved. GLEN: Yeah. Yes. WINFREY: Yeah? GLEN: Quite a bit. WINFREY: See, I know everybody's watching this thinking, "Well, easy for you, especially in these, you know, difficult economic times." So many people are losing their jobs and don't want to lose their jobs, so you had the luxury of being able to downsize. GLEN: Well, we really did downsize. Last year we sold our home and disposed of most of our material things, and we are ... WINFREY: Oh, you went all the way. GLEN: We are unencumbered at this point. We're traveling in a little minivan, and we travel around the country and we visit friends and family, and when we find a place we like we hunker down for a while. So we're living life now. WINFREY: Okay. So your decision was to do exactly that, to live life now, because your son's death showed you that you don't know how long you have anyway. GLEN: Well, it's been nine years, so in that period of time there were things that we needed to do. Katie, our daughter, was in college, and Ryan was finishing up, and my folks and her folks. But this window of opportunity opened and we saw it and we said let's do it. CONNIE: Because we are not blessed with grandchildren yet. Neither of our children are married. WINFREY: Yet. [LAUGHTER] CONNIE: And we felt, you know, it's not like we left immediately. There was much to do, and one of the most important things for us was to give back. We were so showered with love and support that Glen and I often equated it to like a fire hose. It knocked us over, the love and support from our community. So I decided to go and be a trained hospice volunteer, because I'd seen it year after year and ... WINFREY: See, we all think hospice means you're dying at the last ... CONNIE: Oh ... WINFREY: But you called hospice. Yeah. CONNIE: Exactly what I thought, Oprah. I thought, "I can't wade into that. That's too frightening for me." But what I'm here to tell you is hospice is about the living. Hospice is helping the people left behind. When there is great loss, there is a wake of loneliness and isolation, and hospice volunteers will wade into your pain and say, "I know." And what I would say came from that is I didn't even know it, but when you help, you heal. And the gifts that came back to me in giving what I thought was so little were part of my healing. So then it just evolved. We're here to serve. WINFREY: Yeah. CONNIE: When you can sell your house and walk away from all these little knickknacks and things you collected, you realize, "I'm now attached to nothing. I'm tethered to nothing. I can just go." And that was the most freeing feeling in the world, but that didn't happen right off. It's been nine years. We took the time we needed to grieve, and then we took a leap of faith. WINFREY: And, you know what, I think you just sort of summed up what I think, really, everybody can relate to, what the spiritual path is, is using yourself in service. That's what it truly is, isn't it? Ms. LESSER: Yes, especially when it comes from a genuine place within and not "I should, a good person does it." But when you've experienced your own dark night and you've been helped by others, you have a genuine desire to give back. And when service comes from that really open, vulnerable heart, there's nothing like it. WINFREY: Thank you. Thank you, Connie, Glen, Ryan. We'll be right back. It's true. REV. ED BACON: Spirituality has to be practiced. Lawyers practice the law, doctors practice medicine. Spiritual practitioners must practice spirituality where we stop, take a breath, become still inside. That's the act of meditation and contemplation. It is the same in all of the religions. The best advice I have for someone seeking a spiritual path is to do one of three things, and that is to be in nature, to connect with the arts, and to connect with ritual. It is in moments of serenity, stillness, that we experience something much larger, transcendent, cosmic than we are. WINFREY: That's what we're all looking for. Reverend Ed Bacon calls himself the chief spiritual officer of his church in Pasadena. Thanks, Reverend Ed. For anybody who wants to find their spiritual path, Elizabeth says there are, again, three things you can do right now to start your journey. What's first? Ms. LESSER: Well, you hear about meditation, like Reverend Ed was talking about, and sometimes it sounds overwhelming. "How do I do that?" So what I want to suggest for 2009 is, in January, carve out one minute, just one minute. When you wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth, you take your shower, and then sit back on your bed one minute and go into the stillness that all of these spiritual teachers have been talking about. And do that for the whole month of January. And then, in February, increase it to two minutes. And then by the time you get up to December you're going to be having a practice. You're going to have a spiritual practice, 12 minutes a day, where you're in stillness ritual. And you're listening to that voice within and you're getting fantastic guidance on how to make decisions. WINFREY: And let me just say, if you don't have a minute a day, if you can't give yourself a minute, if you're not worth a minute, then you're not on the path. Then you're just not on the path. It's just a minute, and I would suggest just breathing, because when you try to meditate, then you're like, "Okay, now all these thoughts are coming into my head. Okay, now what's going to happen?" Ms. LESSER: You feel more anxious when you're done. WINFREY: You feel more anxious about it. Just breathe, just follow your breath for one minute for the month of January. And then add a minute every month so that by the end of December you have 12 minutes, and your life will change. Next, look for the message in every problem, that you say, yeah. Ms. LESSER: Yeah, problems come our way. You can't stop them from coming. It's written into the job description of being human, having problems. WINFREY: Yes. Ms. LESSER: So when they come, instead of fighting them, which we all do -- it's a very unintelligent way to deal with problems -- instead of fighting them, ask them, "What is embedded in you for me to learn?" WINFREY: "What are you here to teach me?" Ms. LESSER: "What are you here to teach me? What's your message?" The world is full, rich with messages if we approach problems as a friend. WINFREY: We'll be back with Elizabeth's third step. Be right back. WINFREY: Elizabeth says find like-minded friends who are sharing your spiritual path, because sharing your spiritual path with others helps. Ms. LESSER: It does. WINFREY: The Bible says, "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name ..." Ms. LESSER: "I am there." WINFREY: Yes. Ms. LESSER: "I am there." And that's what the religions do so well. They gather people together on a sacred journey. But if you're not inclined to join a church or a synagogue, start a spiritual book club with your friends. Just find one friend, like Connie did, to take a walk with, to bring you out of yourself into a grander vision of what your life can be. WINFREY: Yeah. And I would say it's paying attention to life, because your life is speaking to you all the time. There is nothing happening out of order with you. Because each of us, we are powerful energy forces with powerful energy fields drawing into our lives on a daily basis what we need to grow ourselves up and out and closer to spirit. And so, pay attention to your life. It's speaking to you. Ms. LESSER: Our soul is there. You don't have to go anywhere. You don't have to get anywhere. It's already there. It's there for us to tune into, like the radio dial. Tune out the static. If you get clear and still, your soul has so much already alive to teach you. That's why being still every now and then during your day will help you tap into your biggest self, you best self, you best life. WINFREY: We'll be right back. REV. MICHAEL BECKWITH: First of all, everyone is spiritual, whether they know it or not. When I consider what it means to be spiritual, I consider the fact that individuals are waking up to a dimension of their being or their soul. It is the most real part of us. When one begins to really feel into the spiritual dimension of their being, they bump into love, they bump into compassion, they bump into beauty, they bump into real peace and real joy. And that begins to be where they live their life from -- real, authentic beings that have a tremendous amount of meaning in their life. Begin to notice what you have in your life that you are grateful for and when you look at life through the lens of gratitude, you don't see as many obstacles or hindrances. You see potential, you see possibilities. Then you become an open vehicle for more inspiration, more wisdom, more guidance, coming from the spiritual part of your being. WINFREY: For me, spirituality is the essence of everything. It really is knowing that, as I said earlier on today's show, no matter what happens, you are grounded in something bigger and greater than you can ever even imagine. Because we are all spiritual beings here on earth having a human experience. And what I'm hoping is that today's show will open up even great possibilities for you on your spiritual path this year. Thank you again, Elizabeth Lesser. Again, the book is "Broken Open." You can download it onto your Kindle, for all of you who got Kindles for Christmas. Love mine. Bye. [APPLAUSE]

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