This will be the first (and probably) the only time I review a book on this blog.
That book is: Teach Us To Sit Still by Tim Parks.
Not only is this book written with great power and emotion (I came close to tears at some points; it also echoes most of the work we are doing in Reverse Therapy.
Tim Parks is an award-winning English novelist who lives in Verona. But this book is not a novel. It is a personal story with the subtitle: ‘A sceptic’s search for health and healing’.
Tim Parks suffered excruciating pain in the pelvis, as well as a urinary disorder, for twenty years, for a problem which none of his doctors were able to diagnose accurately, or to provide a cure. Sometimes his problem was called Prostatitis; at other times Pelvic Floor Pain Syndrome. Whatever it was, Tim Parks spent years in pain and embarrassment, slowly getting more and more frustrated and demoralised by the failure of medical science to solve the problem. At one point he was offered drastic surgery for removal of the prostate gland: an option he wisely refused since, as it turned out, this would have achieved absolutely nothing except mutilation and the loss of his sex drive.
Tim Parks is funny, sad, highly intelligent, and ruthlessly honest. He describes himself as something of a Headmind-dominated person: ‘a worrisome, dissatisfied individual’: intellectual, sceptical and a control-freak, living most of his life spinning around words in his head.
After years of pain and useless advice (two doctors advised him to masturbate twice a day in order to relieve congestion in the prostate gland) Tim Parks turned to alternative medicine. He consulted an Ayurvedic practitioner in Delhi who shocked him:
‘This is a problem you will never get over, Mr Parks, until you confront the profound contradictions in your character.’
This is the clue which leads him to seek a non-medical solution. Interestingly, he describes how he resisted what he saw as a ‘psychosomatic’ explanation for his pain before coming to realise that the term ‘psychosomatic’ is nonsensical; the mind is not separate from the body and people can suffer from real, painful, symptoms (as in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, M.E, and Fibromyalgia) simply because the connection between the conscious mind and Bodymind has broken down. Or, to use my terminology, because Bodymind is at war with Headmind.
Incidentally, it is high time that we replaced the term ‘psychosomatic’ with the phrase ‘HPA Disorder’ (or something similar), as I have written before in other articles and in some of my books.
The solution Tim Parks discovered came from reading A Headache in your Pelvis, by David Wise and Rodney Anderson, in which he learnt how to use Paradoxical Relaxation. In this technique he learned not to resist the pain but to exercise Awareness on it. Simply, to let the pain be, without trying to interfere with it. Doing this twice a day he discovered that the pain simply disappeared. As Bodymind noticed that he was paying attention the pain switched off. Within months he was ‘cured’.
I have written about Awareness elsewhere on this blog and in Reverse Therapy we have long noticed the effect of exercising awareness, not resisting them, just letting them be, and simply ‘listening to them’. It is surprising, in this respect, how many of my clients have told me that just doing this can banish fatigue, pain, tension, and many other symptoms besides.