I am fascinated by what it takes to stay awake in difficult times. I marvel at what we all do in times of transition — how we resist, and how we surrender; how we stay stuck; and how we grow. Since my first major broken-open experience — my divorce — I have been an observer and a confidante of others as they engage with the forces of their own suffering. I have made note of how fiasco and failure visit each one of us, as if they were written into the job description of being human. I have seen people crumble in times of trouble, lose their spirit, and never fully recover. I have seen others protect themselves fiercely from any kind of change, until they are living a half life, safe yet stunted.

But I have also seen another way to deal with a fearful change or a painful loss. I call this other way the Phoenix Process — named for the mythical phoenix bird who remains awake through the fires of change, rises from the ashes of death, and is reborn into his most vibrant and enlightened self.

Elizabeth Lesser in Broken Open