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Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic's Search for Health and Healing [Paperback]

Tim Parks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

7 July 2011

Bedevilled by a crippling condition which nobody could explain or relieve, he confronts hard truths about the relationship between the mind and the body, the hectic modern world and his life as a writer.

Teach Us To Sit Still is the visceral, thought-provoking and improbably entertaining story of Tim Parks' quest to overcome ill health.

Frequently Bought Together

Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic's Search for Health and Healing + The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves + Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
Price For All Three: 21.38

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099548887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099548881
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Teach us to Sit Still made me laugh; it made me cry; and it made me seriously think about taking up Vispassana meditation" (Will Self The Times)

"A searingly honest, viscerally vivid, darkly comic self-examination of the connections between writing personality and health. Once I started reading it, I didn't want to stop" (David Lodge Guardian)

"This is a crazy, wince-inducing, uplifting book... Parks has done a service to the many people who would never look at a cheesy self-help book or try anything with a whiff of spirituality about it" (Financial Times)

"A movingly honest book that is about a great deal more than breathing and meditation" (Susan Hill The Lady)

"Funny, painful and quietly profound book" (Doug Johnstone Scotsman)

Book Description

An inspiring and entertaining true story of a sceptic's journey into the world of meditation and alternative health.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
146 of 152 people found the following review helpful
Noted novelist and translator Tim Parks has departed from his usual themes to write this autobiographical account of his journey from a life dominated by acute pain to one where a reasonable equilibrium between body and soul enables him to live in relative comfort and healthy productivity.

Teach Us To Sit Still will be of great interest to anyone with a chronic medical condition which the doctors seem unable to cure, but also to anyone who is concerned about work/life balance and the long-term effects of ignoring the body's needs. I can't say I'm in any either of those categories but I still found it a fascinating read. But the book is not only about pain and a quest for healing, for Tim, being the writer and scholar that he is, digresses frequently into philosophical and literary themes which break up the stark accounts of medical processes.

Tim Parks developed a set of problems in the region of prostate, groin and pelvis which had a devastating effect on his life. The first part of the book describes the medical explorations which he had to undergo in order to seek a diagnosis. Any man reading the book is going to squirm with discomfort as Parks' recounts the procedures carried out on him, some of which make root canal work sound like a head massage.

I can only admire Tim for his candour in sharing with his readers the daily humiliations caused by his complaint. Nobody wants to hear a doctor say, "It has to hurt I'm afraid", and there is pain in such quantities I found I had to skip quickly through some paragraphs.

The tests he undergoes all show that there is nothing wrong with him. His relief at finding out that he does not after all have prostate cancer is tempered by having to go home to live with the condition, perhaps for ever.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book 26 July 2010
By Cathy W
This is a gem of a book. As the wife of someone who has spent many years suffering intermittently from prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain, and for whom it has had a particularly devastating impact over the past 6 months, I found it enormously reassuring - as well as enjoyable - to read Tim's story. CPP is not a life-threatening or even serious condition. But it can have a surprisingly corrosive effect, not just on the life of the person suffering from it but on all those close. And it's not always easy for those close bystanders (let alone more distant observers) to understand the pain and misery it causes or be continually patient and sympathetic when their own lives are put on hold as a result.

Tim Parks' symptoms, medical experiences and personal dilemmas have been unnervingly similar to those of my husband. As a woman, it is hard to appreciate quite what the pain must be like and why it is so utterly demoralising. Tim's descriptions have helped me better understand what my husband is going through; and his frankness about the mental anguish of trying to come to terms with a condition that seems astonishingly common yet so poorly understood (and too embarrassing for most people to discuss without sniggering) is hugely refreshing. Then to read his fascinating account of how he managed to come to terms with it all gives hope indeed. It should be required reading for anyone affected by CPP, their wives and partners.

But this is not just a book for those blighted by CPP. As other reviewers have made clear, there is much more to it than just the unpacking of a particular health problem. It is a fascinating exploration of personality, a journey through the limitations of modern medicine, an unravelling of the impact of troubles in life and a lesson in how to come to terms with oneself. All told with humour and intelligent asides into the worlds of language, literature and art. There can be few people who would not enjoy and learn something from it.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The body bares (and bears) its soul 6 Oct 2010
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a difficult book to categorise. It has a much much wider market than those who suffer from 'problems with the waterworks', BPH, irritable bladder etc. It is a fascinating and deeply reflective account of the meaning of illness and wellness. Parks, an acknowledged atheist and sceptic about all things remotely New Age or alternative in the health field, developed an increasingly disruptive and painful urogenital condition. Exhaustive tests yielded little information, other than to show an absence of anything 'sinister'. Conventional pharmacological management proving largely ineffective for him, the standard option was for surgery. Something which he had 'a gut instinct' was wrong for him. Parks' exhaustive research on his condition and the surgical procedure via the internet showed the procedure offered could not be guaranteed to be successful, or indeed problem free.

Author Parks began to look at other options, specifically to consider not just 'the condition' but himself as experiencing the condition. Discovering a book which discussed his condition as a muscular/neurological reaction to hyperpresent tension - an attribute of his own nature - almost against his intellect he began to explore embodiment, grappling with his own inability to be present in the here and now of his body, rather than the constant backwards and forwards cerebral activity of the mind. His desire to understand his own story and narrative, what his body was saying, led him, initially sceptically and unwillingly, to a gifted Shiatsu practitioner, and, later to a deeper experience of meditation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bril
It's not the sort of book you can read all the way through, I'm dipping in and out of it
Published 24 days ago by sandra
4.0 out of 5 stars a journey towards peace
Beautifully and truthfully written this book charts a journey of discovery, not away from, but at a tangent to the self towards peace and healing. Inspirational.
Published 2 months ago by Caryl
5.0 out of 5 stars a worth read for anyone dealing with daily pains
My osteopath recommended I read this book as a long term sufferer of back pain.
It is an easy read and I related to the author albeit I am female. Read more
Published 2 months ago by miss Caroline m Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyable
I like the tortuous way Parks creeps up to his real subject. As it creeps up on us. It is real he is saying. Whether it really is or a gratifying seduction who can tell. Read more
Published 3 months ago by C. F. Hankinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I haven't enjoyed a book so much in a long time. I was attracted to it because of an interest in meditation and its effects, but the book takes in so much more than the basic... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr Grumpy
5.0 out of 5 stars Teach us to sit still
I was pleased because everything completely satisfactory - the item was delivered promptly to my Kindle and I could start reading straightaway
Published 8 months ago by Ms. S. J. Rolph
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Tim Parks has written a wonderful book about illness, pain, and recovery. Even if you don't have his particular malady, his route to health is very instructive and valuable. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Anna Roche
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration
I was calmer just from reading this book. Tim Parks manages to cover this whole area with a total absence of 'guru' like attitude. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Blue Blue Tooth
2.0 out of 5 stars boring
Couldn't get in to this book at all, it bored me. I've had it for ages and still haven't read it all.
Published 10 months ago by sue williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The book was an excellent present for a close relative with a condition that has been frustratingly elusive to treat. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Dom Whitehurst
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