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05/23/2013 09:55 am ET

Elizabeth Lesser, 'Broken Open' Author And Omega Institute Co-Founder, Talks Spirituality With Oprah (VIDEO)

Elizabeth Lesser is the co-founder of Omega Institute and the author of "Broken Open," a book that explores how difficult times can help us grow not just in our humanity, but in our spirituality. She may not be the first person to suggest that overcoming hardship allows us to grow spiritually, but the way Elizabeth defines spirituality -- as a grounded path rather than some far-out concept -- helps draw a clear connection between our experiences and our spirit.

When experiencing difficult times, for example, Elizabeth says that allowing yourself to be "broken open" and lean into the struggle is spiritually transformative. In the video, Elizabeth uses the image of a tightly closed rosebud to explain how this works.

"The rose [is] tightly wound around itself... Like we all feel so much every day -- tightly wound, anxious, shut down," Elizabeth says. "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."

For people, the catalyst for breaking open is often experiencing some type of loss or hardship. "It's an irony of this human life, strangely enough, [that] 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're open," Elizabeth says. "Our hearts can open during those times."

Yet when in the midst of any tragedy, human instinct may be to shut down or find some sort of escape from the difficulties that lay ahead. This is the opposite of what you should do, Elizabeth advises. "If we fight those times and we fight the bud opening, we live sort of half of a life," she explains. "But when we open into our brokenness, that's when we blossom."

In the video, Oprah also explains what spirituality means to her, describing the difference between the human instinct and the spiritual instinct, and shares the comfort she finds on a spiritual path.

Elizabeth Lesser appears on a new episode of "Super Soul Sunday" -- along with Rev. Ed Bacon and Mark Nepo -- for a special series exploring today's global topics, from gay marriage to gun violence. Tune in Sunday, May 26, at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

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