Home' Nova National : February 2011 Contents Towards the end of last year I took on
a copywriting job that stretched me to
the limit and triggered massive anxiety
causing me to lose sleep, weight and peace
of mind. When weighing up whether or
not to accept the assignment, I overrode
the sinking feeling in my guts. The intuitive
me knew better than the rational me, but
As well as regular
R&R, Charlotte Francis
resolves to make time
for more S&S -- silence
and solitude -- to soothe
away life's pressures
Sometimes it's only when the
going gets tough and we get over-
wrought that we remember to be
kind to ourselves. It can take an
accident, trauma, physical pain, relation-
ship bust up or some kind of anxiety-
inducing event to shake us out of our
I needed the work, told myself it would
be fun doing something different and that
I was not signing up for life.
The assignment was to research and
write captions varying in length from
10 to 100 words, but the brief was scant
and unclear and I was working to two
masters, the Melbourne client and their
overseas client. I quoted for three weeks'
work, but the schedule stretched across
seven weeks locking me into certain days
and with my contact rarely available in
business hours (they seem to work 24/7
even sending emails at 3am), the job bled
into my (normally sacred) weekends and
I was so eaten up by anxiety that my
all consuming aim was to get the job
finished so I could relax and move on.
That, of course, is like saying, once I am
rich, have met the perfect man, have the
perfect house, whitened teeth, perfect
body -- you name it -- I will be happy.
However, my tale does have a happy
resolution in the way that many steep
10 © NOVA FEBRUARY 2011
learning curves do.
Apart from being blessed with
empathetic friends and family (my niece
made me a special card, a bit like a Get
Well card, with some magic healing lollies
enclosed), I found great solace in a book
by English-born, Italian-based author
Tim Parks, Teach us to Sit Still: A Sceptic's
Search for Health and Healing. It's a
wonderfully refreshing piece of writing;
honest, humorous, accessible, yet literary
and devoid of any hyperbole, claims of
miracle cures or New Age speak.
The son of an evangelical Anglican
preacher brought up on sermons,
doctrine, dogma and a fear of anything
alternative, Tim Parks, like many writers
and intellectuals, lives (or used to) in
his mind and experiences everything
through words. Parks' parents instilled in
their children a sense of purposefulness
and viewed the body as a useful vessel --
"a necessary hassle on the way to success
and paradise," -- and as something quite
separate from the mind.
But, when in his forties, Parks'
body starts to clamour for attention by
manifesting pain in his pelvis, prostate
and bladder areas, he (unwittingly) sets
out on what becomes a journey back to
As he searches for health and healing,
he learns to be more compassionate and
self accepting and to let go of the rigidity
in his mind and body. Gradually, he begins
to see his pains not as "an intrusion into
a busy schedule", but an opportunity
to look into "the positive and inviting
mystery of the body".
He must first exhaust all avenues
offered by Western medicine and so
considers surgery, a procedure known as
'TURP' -- Trans Urethral Resection of the
Prostate -- and undergoes all the requisite
tests; blood and urine analyses as well as
a trip to an urologist in Harley Street,
London. Apart from mild calcification of
the prostate and the possible failure of
the urinary sphincter to relax and dilate
fully, there is no evidence of any physical
While attending a conference in Delhi,
Parks visits an Ayurvedic doctor who
diagnoses blocked Vata and says that the
pains and imbalance are due to a tussle in
the mind. Parks is reluctant to explore his
birth chart and Ayurvedic treatment, but
he does concede that the body and mind
are not separate entities.
Returning to Italy, he writes amusingly
'I'm aware that I haven't relaxed, been present, breathed
properly or ceased worrying for weeks.'
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