ELIZABETH LESSER is a bestselling author and the cofounder of Omega Institute, the renowned conference and retreat center located in Rhinebeck, New York. Elizabeth’s first book, The Seeker’s Guide, chronicles her years at Omega and distills lessons learned into a potent guide for growth and healing. Her New York Times bestselling book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow (Random House), has sold more than 300,000 copies and has been translated into 20 languages. Her latest book, Marrow: A Love Story (Harper Collins/September 2016), is a memoir about Elizabeth and her younger sister, Maggie, and the process they went through when Elizabeth was the donor for Maggie’s bone marrow transplant.
Elizabeth cofounded Omega Institute in 1977—a time when a variety of fresh ideas were sprouting in American culture. Since then, the institute has been at the forefront of holistic education, offering workshops and trainings in: integrative medicine, prevention, nutrition, and the mind/body connection; meditation and yoga; cross-cultural arts and creativity; ecumenical spirituality; and social change movements like women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability. Elizabeth is also the cofounder of Omega’s Women’s Leadership Center, which grew out of the popular Women & Power conference series featuring women leaders, activists, authors and artists from around the world. Each year more than 30,000 people participate in Omega’s programs on its campus in Rhinebeck, New York and at urban and travel sites, and more than a million people visit its website for online learning.
A student of the Sufi master, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan for many years, Elizabeth has also studied with spiritual teachers, healers, psychologists, and philosophers from other traditions. 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 8 million people worldwide. She was a frequent host on Oprah’s Soul Series, a weekly radio show on Sirius/XM, and a guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. In 2011, she gave a popular TED talk called “Take The Other to Lunch,” a call for civility and understanding as we negotiate our differences as human beings.
Elizabeth attended Barnard College, where she studied literature, and San Francisco State University, where she received a teaching degree. In 2011 she received an honorary doctorate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, California. Early in her career she was a midwife and birth educator. Today, besides writing and her work at Omega Institute, she lends her time to social and environmental causes, and is an avid walker, cook, gardener, friend, mother, grandmother, and homebody. She and her husband live in New York’s Hudson River Valley.
Marrow: A Love Story:
A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant. Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically.
Hoping to give Maggie the best chance possible for a successful transplant, the sisters dig deep into the marrow of their relationship to clear a path to unconditional acceptance. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors, but take on what Lesser calls a “soul marrow transplant,” examining their family history, having difficult conversations, examining old assumptions, and offering forgiveness until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process—before, during, and after the transplant—encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects their lives.
But life does not follow the storylines we plan for it. Maggie’s body is ultimately too weak to fight the relentless illness. As she and Lesser prepare for the inevitable, they grow ever closer as their shared blood cells become a symbol of the enduring bond they share. Told with suspense and humor, Marrow is joyous and heartbreaking, incandescent and profound. The story reveals how even our most difficult experiences can offer unexpected spiritual growth. Reflecting on the multifaceted nature of love—love of other, love of self, love of the world—Marrow is an unflinching and beautiful memoir about getting to the very center of ourselves.
In this episode we spoke to Misses Elizabeth Lesser regarding the human condition and her role in co-founding and creating the Omega Institute. We talk about meditation, mindfulness and much much more.
You will love this this conversation.
Editorial Reviews on Marrow: A Love Story
“Lesser has reached into the center of her soul to write a book rich with love—love that is just as equally weighted by realism and as it is lightened by mysticism. It is real love: powerful and transformative. Marrow is truly a beautiful book, and an important one.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic)
“Marrow is wise and raw, vulnerable and funny. Elizabeth’s profoundly honest journey to learn what it is to be flawed, to grow, to change, to love and to let go moved me deeply…..to my marrow.” (Sally Field, Academy Award-winning actress)
“Marrow is an unforgettable memoir about two sisters, but it’s really about all of us. It’s about the courage it takes to own our stories, look truth in the eye, and write our own bold endings. No one truth-tells with more soul and tenacity. Lesser’s courage is contagious.” (Brené Brown, Ph.D. Author of the New York Times #1 Bestseller, Rising Strong)
“I thought with Marrow, Elizabeth Lesser had written a book about dying. But in fact (and miraculously) this is a book that teaches us how to live.” (Jane Fonda, actress, activist, and author of My Life So Far)
“Every human goes through love and loss. Not everyone finds out what matters most. This book is also your story and mine. Read it and you may get to know yourself a little better.” (Deepak Chopra, MD, New York Times best-selling author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and Super Genes)