Raphael Cushnir is a leading voice in the world of emotional connection and present moment awareness. He has shared his unique approach to personal and professional development with millions of readers in O, The Oprah Magazine, Beliefnet, and Spirituality and Health. He is the author of three previous books -- (Unconditional Bliss: Finding Happiness in the Face of Hardship (Quest, 2000), Setting Your Heart on Fire (Broadway, 2003), and How Now: 100 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment (Chronicle, 2005). He lectures worldwide and is a faculty member of the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. In addition, he coaches individuals and teams at Fortune 100 companies, governments, religious organizations, and leading non-profits.

Raphael Cushnir's new book is The One Thing Holding You Back: Unleashing The Power of Emotional Connection (January, 2009, Harper Collins).

Cushnir grew up in Northridge, a San Fernando Valley suburb. He entered college at the age of sixteen, attending the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, followed by Reed College and UCLA, where he graduated at the age of nineteen. After working his way through school as a teacher and a storyteller, Cushnir redirected his energies as an activist for the environment and human rights. He devised innovative media campaigns that included such celebrities as Madonna, Pearl Jam, Demi Moore, and Michael J. Fox.

His passion for filmmaking led to a decade-long stint in Hollywood. He wrote, directed, and produced a Showtime movie, Sexual Healing, starring Helen Hunt, Anthony Edwards, and Jason Alexander. The film was nominated for two Cable Ace awards and won Grand Prize at the Houston Film Festival. Designed by Cushnir as a not-for-profit venture, it raised over $30,000 for the Minority AIDS Project.

Cushnir has also written scripts for the Geffen Company, Warner Brothers, and Columbia Pictures. In addition, his articles have appeared in Mother Jones and LA Weekly, and his children's book, The Secret Spinner, was published in 1985. With the advent of multimedia, Cushnir co-designed the $5 million techno-spiritual odyssey, Obsidian, which Gamezilla magazine called "the very best game in any genre."

In 1996, both his career and his marriage fell apart. "It was a classic dark night of the soul," he remembers. "Many people experience something similar in their own lives. The particulars are always different but the essential experience is the same – a deep, depressing, gut-wrenching pain. In my case, everything I thought I knew about life went completely out the window."

Then, luckily, one of Cushnir's mentors convinced him to embrace the pain instead of turn away from it. He suggested that, in fact, this was a perfect opportunity to "wake up."

Cushnir took his mentor's advice and ran with it. Over a decade later he's waking up still, one moment at a time. Helping others do the same has become his new life mission.