Recently, I read novelist Tim Parks' memoir, Teach Us To Sit Still. A candid
account of how one British ex-pat living in Italy tackled the
annoyance, embarrassment, and suffering that comes from many an older
man's inevitability: an enlarged prostate gland.
Mr. Parks goes through a predictable gamut of medical tests and gets
trusted advice from a doctor friend: Have the apple cored and say
good-bye to your problems. All for naught.
A sidetrip to a literary conference in India, however,
also takes him to
an Ayurvedic doctor and a clue about the psychic origins of his
suffering. The doctor looked him in the eye and said his problem was a
contradiction in his character. That blocked his vata. He would always suffer until
he fixed that.
When Parks returned to Italy, some intense Googling led to a website
hawking a book and personal consultations to deal with "The Headache in
the Pelvis." Parks had little to lose. He ordered the book and
began a personal program of the "paradoxical relaxation" exercises
from the book. (He passed on the personal consultations in
California.) Surprisingly, he began to glimpse relief.
The balance of Teach Us To Sit
Still follows the rest of Parks' healing odyssey. A long course
of Shiatsu massage. Then onto Buddhist meditation in the Vipassana
A larger conclusion I draw from this unflinching memoir is
stress-induced symptoms can mislead even doctors.
So, we must also consider a metaphoric search inside our bodies for
blocked vata, if a war
within is raging.
As a personal example, earlier this year, I had symptoms of TMJ: jaw
soreness, achiness in my right ear, back molars that flared with
sensitivity. I dreaded going to my dentist and confessing this. The
more I thought of that, the
more the TMJ seemed to act up.
A few years ago, this same dentist numbed me up, then left to work
at his other two patient chairs. Ninety minutes later, he was ready to
start. The anesthetic had worn off. I removed the paper bib--surely his
equivalent of handcuffs--and said I would get a "second opinion."
Alas, I didn't make a clean break then.
A month ago, however, I changed my insurance coverage, which
irrevocably means a new dentist. I've noticed the TMJ symptoms are
Am I healed?
I think so. I look forward to a new dentist.
So, a form of spiritual TMJ must exist. Something like stress-induced symptoms that roll through our jaws and elsewhere or--as in the case of Mr. Parks--our nether regions for a headache in the pelvis!
Teach Us To Sit Still by
Tim Parks, 2011, Rodale Press, 322 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60961-158-3.
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
7:25:13 Le Havre by Kaurismaki
7:20:13 This Ain't California
6:27:13 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, a book review
5.29.13 My Linux (Mis)Adventures
5.25.13 Southern Cross the Dog, a book review
5.5.13 Russian Tumbleweed
4:16:13 "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster
3.25.13 Moore's Law
3:13:13 Grocery Shopping
2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight
1:27:13 Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, a book review
12:9:12 White Bread, a book review
12:4:12 Update on Old-School Shaving
11:12:12 Ten Great Buys at Dollar Tree
11:6:12 My New Russian Camera
10:29:12 Leaf Day
10:2:12 The Russian Navy in New York?
9:21:12 The Righteous Mind, a book review
9:14:12 Revolution, 1989, a book review
8:23:12 Train Whistles in the Night
8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs
7:22:12 Old-School Shaving
7:16:12 Злектроника МК-52, computer de minimus
7:4:12 Ivan's Childhood by Tarkovsky
6:21:12 The Unabomber, a modern Thoreau?
6:12:12 Do the gods exist?
6:7:12 My "Retail Therapy"
5:28:12 On Taxes, We Should Go Green
5:17:12 Portland's Trash
5:6:12 The Toaster Project, a book review
4:24:12 No Seconds
4:12:12 Portland's Runaway Utility Bill
4:8:12 The Repossession, a book review
3:30:12 How I Got Published in Mississippi Review
3:9:12 The End of Money, a book review
2:18:12 Beauty Plus Pity, a book review
2:5:12 Kirk's Castile Soap
1:29:12 Confessions of a Fallen Standard-Bearer, a book review
1:22:12 Thirst, a book review
1:17:12 My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012
1:11:12 String Beans
12:22:11 Spiritual TMJ
12:16:11 1Q84, a book review
12:11:11 How Portland Became Portlandia
12:1:11 The Fixie
11:20:11 Camus' Insight
11:13:11 Old & Worthy
11:7:11 Life Is Tragic
10:31:11 A Matter of Death and Life, a book review
10:25:11 Dead Letter, Email Fatigue
10:18:11 Reinventing Collapse, a book review
10:11:11 Rereading Pirsig
10:1:11 The Sisters Brothers, a book review
9:26:11 The Great Stagnation, a book review
9:16:11 Coffee, The Affordable Luxury
9:12:11 The Genius of Value
9:5:11 Death and the Penguin, a book review