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Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic's Search for Health and Healing Paperback – 7 Jul 2011


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Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic's Search for Health and Healing + A Headache in the Pelvis (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
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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 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"His journey will open your mind to the possibilities of mindfulness" (Polly Vernon Sunday Telegraph)

"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)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 July 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By Meredith Wheeler on 3 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 7 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully crafted account of the author's experience of learning how to sit with and move through chronic pain .His central discovery is that sitting in meditation changes his perception of everything.He became conscious of how much of his life and waking moments had been lived in his head,rather than directly experienced through the body and the senses.
Tim Parks somehow manages to convey the nuances of internal change (stream of consciousness) without becoming a "convert".His account of his symptoms,pain and resistance seem both unembellished and truthful.The literary references and teaching methods add to the theme.
I started this book one evening then immediately returned to it in the morning,finishing it in one sitting.I would recommend this to everyone,not only those with chronic pain.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Cathy W on 26 July 2010
Format: Paperback
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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