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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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"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)
About the Author
Born in Manchester, Tim Parks grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. In 1981 he moved to Italy where he has lived ever since. He is the author of novels, non-fiction and essays, including Europa, Cleaver, A Season with Verona and Teach Us to Sit Still. He has won the Somerset Maugham, Betty Trask and Llewellyn Rhys awards, and been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He lectures on literary translation in Milan, writes for publications such as the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, and his many translations from the Italian include works by Moravia, Calvino, Calasso, Tabucchi and Machiavelli.
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The book was recommend to me at the close of a mindfulness retreat and I am pleased it was . So much on mindfulness is either heavy Buddhist or "chicken soup " , this was enjoyable leisure but dharma non the less. Essentially a well worded lampooning of " the self " . Well done Tim, anyone into mindfulness will enjoy it , laugh out loud and gain at least a bit of insight while doing so. Shame to have to let it go as finished , will read again sometime ;-)
To explain: in what I call a car-mechanic health intervention the patient asks the threrapist to take charge and fix the problem - if I have a painful tooth this would be an appropriate mental model. In a development intervention the patient must participate in what needs to be changed. Nobody else can improve your posture for you, though others can help you do it yourself. If you choose the wrong mental model you won't get the results you want. Example: a colleague has a painful lower back, it has been a problem for years, and he is having it treated with massage. I have tried to persuade him that this is not likely to fix the problem in the long term and that it would be worth working with a Pilates intructor or (better) a Feldenkrais practitioner. So far he wants to hold on the the view that somebody should fix it for him: pure car-mechanic.
The author begins dealing with his pain by going to doctors and although several offer him operations they are not able to explain what has gone wrong in a very convincing way. In retrospect his skepticism is shown to be wise because he is able to resolve the problem by meditating. To get to that point he has had to let go of car mechanic thinking and recognise that he is his body: it's not just a machine for carrying his head around. This is not a smooth journey: he gets stuck a lot.
Tim Parks is very verbal and I think this book will appeal to other people who tend to live in their heads.
I will recommend this book to many people for some time to come.
\it was great.
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