The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery

On October 14, 2014 Polly’s new book The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery  (Rodale Books) will go on sale.  Read below for more about the book, as well as an short audio excerpt read by Polly, and links to pre-order today.

The Present Heart Rodale book Art

 After a chance encounter with a handsome, idealistic stranger on a plane in 1969, Polly Young-Eisendrath rediscovered Ed Epstein a decade later when she least expected it. After untangling themselves from their existing relationships, they married in 1985 and spent the next 25 years together. They were soul mates, but in 2001, Ed (at the vital age of 53) began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Over the next 10 years, as her husband gradually reversed his mental maturity, Young-Eisendrath was faced with the question, what is love?

The Present Heart is an insightful journey of living in the present moment. In a deeply moving yet unsentimental voice, Young-Eisendrath draws on her lifelong practices of Buddhism and psychoanalysis and her own unique view of love, as well as a circle of profound thinkers including author Abigail Thomas, psychoanalyst Nancy McWilliams, and Buddhist teacher Shinzen Young.

A thoughtful meditation on the human experience, The Present Heart shows how our most intimate relationships, often the source of our greatest pain, can prove to be our path to spiritual enlightenment. The book offers a new perspective on how to maintain engaged, reciprocal relationships—with a partner, parent, child, or friend—under any and all circumstances.

Listen to Polly read two short excerpts from the book.


 Pre-order your copy of The Present Heart today!


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Praise for The Present Heart


“Polly Young-Eisendrath’s wise, exquisite, heart-opening book will renew your faith in the power of love as a transformative gift and a path of personal awakening. Informed by decades of analytical practice and spiritual inquiry, this intimate story of one woman’s journey through love and loss—and what lies between—deserves a place on your bookshelf next to Elegy for IrisA Three Dog Life, and About Alice. Read this book!”

Mark Matousek, author of Sex Death Enlightenment and When You’re Falling, Dive

“This is a book for anyone who has encountered catastrophic change in a relationship. It is a story of love broken open—the unvarnished account of how a well-known psychoanalyst uses her Buddhist path and community of friends to make room in love for every other emotion—and to thrive again.  THE PRESENT HEART left me thinking of May Sarton’s observation: “I am lavish with riches made from loss.”

Deborah Anna Luepnitz, Ph.D., author of Schopenhauer’s Porcupines

“Polly Young Eisendrath’s brilliant new book skillfully blends Buddhist sensibility with depth psychology to illumine the human heart’s deepest longing for love. Besides shining the bright light of these two wisdom traditions on love in all of its mystery, she also makes her own personal path toward love and its loss transparent. Her well-honed craft, self-awareness through love and loss, and profound understanding of human nature make this book useful to all of us engaged in seeking meaning and relationship.”

Grace Schireson, Ph.D., Zen Abbess, Central Valley Zen, author of Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters

Polly’s Talks

In her TedX Middlebury talk Getting Free of Self-Importance is the Key to Happiness, Polly highlights several uniquely human emotions—shame, guilt, envy, and jealousy—that pose as obstacles to this happiness and offers solutions to overcome these emotions. Delivered at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2013, she offers insights into the true meaning of happiness.

Polly has often spoken about parenting, following her book The Self Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance (2009, Little,Brown and Company). Speaking with Katie Couric, Lori Gottlieb and Madeline Levine at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2012, she talks about parents as friends, the cultural influence on parenting, and why we treat our children as little miracles.

To see more of her talks, visit the media page.


Upcoming event: The Art & Science of Mindfulness and Compassion: FACES Seattle Conference

October 11 , 2014

Seattle Renaissance Hotel

515 Madison St. Seattle WA, 98104

Polly will be delivering two lectures, The Gifts of Suffering: Finding Insight, Compassion and Renewal and True Love Ways: The Importance of Maintaing a Mindful Gap in Couple Relationship. For more information, visit Polly’s events page.