Present with Suffering: Being with the Things that Hurt

Author(s) : Nigel Wellings, Author(s) : Elizabeth Wilde McCormick

Present with Suffering: Being with the Things that Hurt

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What is the place of discontent and unhappiness in human experience and how best can we be with it?

There is something about everything that makes it not quite satisfactory. Even things we really love are spoilt by not being quite enough or by going on too long. People entering psychotherapy want to feel better – more authoritative, less anxious or depressed, more whole – and although it can help, an enormous amount of difficult and painful emotions continue to arise. Even after years and years of therapy many of us feel that there is no ‘happy ever after’. Present with Suffering shows that by becoming present, accepting and kind, we may enfold what hurts us in a more spacious and meaningful way with chapters addressing loss, bereavement, emptiness and impermanence.

CONTENTS

Chapter 1. Introduction, by Nigel Wellings and Elizabeth Wilde McCormick

Chapter 2. Suffering in loss and bereavement, by Elizabeth Wilde McCormick

- Attachment and impermanence

- Living in a human body

- The heart

- Mind the gap

Chapter 3. Emptiness, by Nigel Wellings

- A meditation on the pain of emptiness

- A meditation on the delight of emptiness

- Working with emptiness

Reviews and Endorsements

“At a time when we face so much personal, collective and planetary loss and suffering, this book comes as a timely and welcome support, a reminder of how by staying present with our grief and pain we might find ways through to healing … Present with Suffering is truly a gift for our troubled times.” - Linda Hartley, author of Somatic Psychology: Body, Mind and Meaning.

“An absorbing exploration reconciling the human experience of suffering with the spiritual insights of meditative practice. Seen through the lenses of Buddhism and psychotherapy, the authors explain that within the bleakness of loss arises the possibility that pain and grief can be transformed into something new, more bearable and ultimately liberating.” - Dr Sarah Eagger, MB,BS, FRCPsych, Chair of the Janki foundation for Spirituality in Healthcare and former Consultant Psychiatrist at Imperial College London.

“A thought-provoking meditation for everyone of being in the world, living in impermanence, emptiness and wholeness, and in harmony, with the help of Buddhist teachings. An invite for each of us to look at the essentials of what it means to be human. Present with Suffering teaches us to sit back in ‘our observing awareness,’ suggests how to ‘fill the gap of emptiness,’ and most of all, asks us to keep in mind the ‘not necessarily so’.” - Marie-Anne Bernardy-Arbuz, clinical psychologist and CAT psychotherapist, Paris.

“Wellings and Wilde McCormick provide contrasting yet complementary voices on this important topic. The seeming natural impulse can be to turn away from suffering, that it’s all too much. Within these pages we are invited to not just turn towards and be with suffering in all its guises, but also to lean on ancient Buddhist practices in so doing. These practices allow for an intimate communion with the body-felt sense of pain beyond story, and ultimately, the dissolution of this pain in the basic goodness at the core.” - Dr Andy Harkin, medical doctor and psychotherapist.

“This important book offers a heartfelt exploration into human suffering. By drawing on their personal experience of living and working with suffering, the authors offer a critical orientation of wisdom and hope for those navigating through the painful turbulences of loss, grief and trauma.” - Margaret Landale, MSc, psychotherapist, supervisor and speaker.

“The question the authors pose is: How can we be with the things that hurt? Their answer is: through awareness, acceptance, kindness and compassion – the components of wisdom. By exploring bereavement through embodiment and narrative (McCormick), and offering an explanation of emptiness that is unusually faithful to both Buddhist and therapeutic understandings (Wellings), together they have produced a short book resonant with awareness, kindness, compassion and wisdom.” - Gay Watson, Ph.D., author of A Philosophy of Emptiness and Attention Beyond Mindfulness.

About the Author(s)

Nigel Wellings is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author who works within a broadly contemplative perspective. He has been engaged with the relationship between psychotherapy and Buddhism for the last forty years. He lives in Devon and is a teacher on the Bath and Bristol Mindfulness Courses and the Sharpham Barn Retreats. His previous books include Nothing To Lose: Psychotherapy, Buddhism and Living Life (with Elizabeth Wilde McCormick), Why Can’t I Meditate? How To Get Your Mindfulness Practice On Track, and more recently a Buddhist handbook, Dzogchen, Who’s Who & What’s What in the Great Perfection,.

More titles by Nigel Wellings

Elizabeth Wilde McCormick has been in practice as a psychotherapist for over thirty years. She is also a teacher, trainer and writer. She is a founder member of The Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy at Guy's Hospital, London, and the author of a number of best-selling self-help books.

More titles by Elizabeth Wilde McCormick

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