Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic's Search for Health and Healing

Overview

Teach Us to Sit Still is the visceral, thought-provoking, and inexplicably entertaining story of how Tim Parks found himself in serious pain, how doctors failed to help, and the quest he took to find his own way out.

 

Overwhelmed by a crippling condition which nobody could explain or relieve, Parks follows a fruitless

journey through the conventional medical system only...

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Teach Us to Sit Still

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Overview

Teach Us to Sit Still is the visceral, thought-provoking, and inexplicably entertaining story of how Tim Parks found himself in serious pain, how doctors failed to help, and the quest he took to find his own way out.

 

Overwhelmed by a crippling condition which nobody could explain or relieve, Parks follows a fruitless

journey through the conventional medical system only to find relief in the most unexpected place: a

breathing exercise that eventually leads him to take up meditation. This was the very last place Parks

anticipated finding answers; he was about as far from New Age as you can get.

 

As everything that he once held true is called into question, Parks confronts the relationship between

his mind and body, the hectic modern world that seems to demand all our focus, and his chosen life as

an intellectual and writer. He is drawn to consider the effects of illness on the work of other writers, the role of religion in shaping our sense of self, and the influence of sports and art on our attitudes toward health and well-being. Most of us will fall ill at some point; few will describe that journey with the same verve, insight, and radiant intelligence as Tim Parks. Captivating and inspiring, Teach Us to Sit Still is an intensely personal—and brutally honest—story for our times.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
One of the least exalted physical conditions imaginable prompts a profound journey of self-discovery in this astringent medical memoir. In middle age, novelist Parks (Destiny) came down with excruciating chronic pelvic cramps and urinary difficulties that forced him to relieve himself six times a night. Instead of the prostate surgery his doctors recommended, he embarked on a self-help regimen of breathing exercises and Buddhist meditation, which, despite his contempt for all religious dogmas—especially the New Age variety—mysteriously eased his ailments. Even more startling was the psychological effect, as he started to question his ambition and busyness, his writing vocation, and the whole language-driven divide between mind and body. Like a latter-day Montaigne, Parks writes in an expansive, essayistic style that uses the pangs and humiliations of physical reality as a starting point for excursions into philosophy and literary criticism; his prose is mordantly funny, self-conscious but never self-pitying, worldly but introspective, attuned to the needs of a soul that he considers thoroughly material and mortal. The result is an absorbing, at times inspiring, narrative of spiritual growth. Photos. (June)
From the Publisher
“A small triumph of narrative artistry, luxuriantly written and full of bone-dry humor.”   The Spectator

 

 “A searingly honest, viscerally vivid, darkly comic self-examination of the connections between writing, personality and health.”  David Lodge

 

“A mystery story written with extraordinary nerve and eloquence...The result is harrowing, mordant, and unforgettable.”  David Shields

Robert Pinsky
[Parks'] personal account, never preachy, engages some serious matters about contemporary life, notably what it’s like to be a patient, as nearly all of us, sooner or later, are or will be.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609611583
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.66 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

TIM PARKS is the author of novels, nonfiction, and essays. He has won the Somerset Maugham, Betty Trask, and Llewellyn Rhys awards and been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His works include Destiny, Europa, Dreams of Rivers and Seas, Italian Neighbors, An Italian Education, and A Season with Verona.

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