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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 (63 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 + Headache in the Pelvis: A New Understanding & Treatment for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes (Popular Medicine Health) + Heal Pelvic Pain: The Proven Stretching, Strengthening, and Nutrition Program for Relieving Pain, Incontinence,& I.B.S, and Other Symptoms Without Surgery
Price For All Three: 36.32

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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 (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,962 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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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 153 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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for men with health problems 3 Oct 2010
I bought this for my brother-in-law who was in the hospital with kidney stones. He loved it. He knew Tim Parks' other work (about football), so he was cautiously willing to open this book.
I bought it for my husband, who has had digestive problems since the dawn of time.
He's actually reading it with enthusiasm. (We have a family tradition of never reading the book that one spouse buys for another.)
This is a great book for men who have chronic health problems of any kind--but especially delicate problems involving their waterworks.
The woman friend who recommended it to me said she couldn't put it down (the book, that is).
I too found it engaging--a page turner on par with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Really.
I'd never come across a male writer reporting so candidly, humorously and touchingly about
his health problems.

Illness can often open a door to spiritual growth, even for the most determined materialist.
Jung said it is through our wounds that the light comes into our life.
Joseph Campbell wrote: Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
Tim Parks describes how that light entered his life, how he found his treasure.
An inspiring read.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars East Meets West Meets Tim Parks 29 July 2010
Tim Parks is a superb novelist ("Europa," "Judge Savage") who has also had a lively career as a travel writer ("Italian Neighbors"), translator, essayist ("Adultery and other Diversions"), chronicler of a struggling Italian football team ("A Season with Verona"), and now as the narrator of the story of his own, ailing, mid-life body -- or is it his mid-life mind? Or is there any separation between mind and body at all? I think Parks, being of Western mind and skeptical outlook, would say there is, but nonetheless it is an encounter with an Ayurvedic doctor in India, for whom mind and body are definitively one, which inspires him to figure out why he's in so much pain, specifically prostate pain, without resorting to a surgery which may in any case be unnecessary.

Going far beyond its medical beginnings, "Teach Us to Sit Still" is an account not just of overcoming pain but of one driven, ambitious man finding a balance between his workaholic way of life and a more "Eastern" sense of detachment along with a liberating acceptance of mortality. Anyone who knows Parks' work will expect it to be well-written, and it is. It is also witty, moving, and filled with a memorably oddball cast of characters, not excluding the author himself. Unlike most books, it not only lays out a particular problem, but comes up with a fairly convincing solution not just to that problem but to a lot of problems in general.

Here's a quote to give prospective readers a sense of Parks' humor, style, and also, a minor advertisement for himself.
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42 of 46 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sat still for hours reading this
I bought this after reading an article in the newspaper by Tim Parks. It coincided with a growing interest in Vipassana. Read more
Published 15 hours ago by The Secret DoS
4.0 out of 5 stars Thinking about bodily woe
A story of recognition of the limits of Western medical science and how the writer overcame issues through an alternative approach despite his scepticism.
Published 1 day ago by Mr Dodo
5.0 out of 5 stars A new dawn
Quite simply, a life-changing read. So glad I bought it!
Published 11 days ago by Reginald Blundell
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I'm still plowing my way through this detailed but interisting book. Up till now it keeps me guessing.
Published 28 days ago by Mr M R Hordley
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful insightful read
I stumbled across this book looking for some written answer to my own pelvic pain. I was amazed to read Tim's account as if I could write so beautifully it would have been mine. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Linda jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Tim Parks journey to meditation
It was an interesting read. For me it had too much detail about his medical conditions, which turns out to be irrelevant. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R. Field
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 5 months 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 7 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 7 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 7 months ago by C. F. Hankinson
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