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How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers Paperback – September 14, 2010
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"Full of hopefulness and promise…this book is a perfect blend of inspiration and encouragement. Toni's engaging teaching style shares traditional Buddhist wisdom in a format that is accessible to all readers." (The Huffington Post)
"Toni Bernhard's book, How To Be Sick--A Buddhist's Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers, is an invitation to gently set aside the fear and the fight in order to truly live. It is based on principles of Buddhism, which she carefully applies to her own chronic and at times debilitating illness. She offers a different perspective on illness and wellness, suggesting the two need not be mutually exclusive." (Psychology Today)
"A immensely wise book. Health psychology has been poisoned by the view that the best way to approach illness is through a muscular, militant resistance. This books shows otherwise. Bernhard reveals how letting go, surrendering, and putting the ego aside yield insights and fulfillment even in the presence of illness. This is a major contribution." (Larry Dossey, MD, author of Healing Words)
"How does one face a chronic illness? In 2001 law professor Bernhard became sick from a virus that no doctor has been able to treat. Faced with ongoing disabling symptoms, forced to give up her profession, and unable to take part in most of the activities she loves, Bernhard has dug into the roots of the Buddhism she once studied intensively, looking for resources to cope with such devastating loss. She clearly explains how such Buddhist principles as the four noble truths, impermanence, no-self, and dependent origination help her cope with limited energy and frequent enforced solitude. No longer able to meditate formally, Bernhard describes a set of easy mental practices, drawn from her own daily experiences as well as vipassana (insight meditation), Zen koans, Tibetan Buddhist compassion exercises, and the "inquiry" technique of author Byron Katie, a practice for working with thoughts. Bernhard's applications of Buddhism are sound and her insights gentle and honest; others may take heart from her determination to use the Buddha's timeless wisdom to ease the mental suffering brought about by unrelieved physical illness."-- (Publishers Weekly)
"You don't have to be sick to benefit from the advice in this book. This is a book on how to live fully." (Joy Selak, author of You Don't LOOK Sick!)
"An inspiring work" (Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace)
"Beautiful, heartfelt, and immensely courageous. Truly worth reading." (Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness)
"An inspiring and instructive guide for coping with a chronic condition or life-threatening illness but it is much more than that. Each chapter is about unpacking the highest truth in the lowest places of our lives. The book is entitled How To Be Sick but I found that it's really about how to live." (Jim Palmer, Author of Divine Nobodies, and Wide Open Spaces)
"This book could easily be called "How to Be Well." Toni Bernhard's hard-won wisdom dealing with chronic illness teaches us how to be kind to ourselves, to counter negative thoughts about our life and our health, and to live fully in the present--neither regretting the past nor fearing the future. Who among us couldn't use these life-affirming skills? Bravo!" (Susan Milstrey Wells, author of A Delicate Balance: Living Successfully with Chronic Illness)
"If you want to better understand how to deal with a chronic illness, or you are the caregiver for someone who is chronically ill, read How to be Sick." (The Caregiver's Voice)
About the Author
Toni Bernhard is the author of the award-winning How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers and How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow. Until forced to retire due to illness, Toni was a law professor at the University of California-Davis, serving six years as the dean of students. She has been a practicing Buddhist for over 20 years. Her blog, "Turning Straw Into Gold" is hosted on the website of Psychology Today. She can be found online at www.tonibernhard.com.
Sylvia Boorstein is the author of many well-known books, including It's Easier Than You Think, Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist, and Don't Just Do Something, Sit There. She lives in Geyserville, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a tall order. And one that many chronically ill people (and their caregivers) may feel too overwhelmed even to contemplate. Yet, Bernhard found that certain ways of being helped her through the dark tunnel. In effect, dealing with chronic illness became her spiritual practice, and she has valuable insights to offer others in the same condition.
But she had suffered so much, and I was of course trying to suppress this awful feeling, just on the edge of my consciousness ... When I got to the chapter on jealousy. And I knew I had found the book that would walk me through the darkest parts of this, the parts I didn't even know how to name.
I know of nothing else like this book. Not to be found in my Catholic background, which glorifies suffering while also reducing it to a series of "crosses to bear." Not in the more progressive spiritualists I now read, who have a nagging tendency to blame the sick for our suffering. Because, the suggestion goes, we would heal ourselves if our spirits were a bit stronger. If only life were so tidy. So tidy as in the minds of people who are ... chronically healthy.
But, no one could have written this book from a place of perfect (physical) health. While I wish I could take away Toni Bernhard's disease, the way she has transformed it into this beautiful gift gives me hope.
A sick person
is a sick person.
And yet, and yet ...
While the title of this book has the word "Buddhist," it's really for all people regardless of spiritual preference. It's also a book for not only the healthy-life-deprived person, but also for their caregivers. Because chronic illnesses devastates the entire family, changes intimate relationships, and places a huge direct burden on the immediate caregiver, this is a book for all of us.
The author even creatively wrote an "emergency guide" at the back of the book that lists the myriad challenges faced by the family and then matches them to the relevant pages in the book. So, she has made her book, both a story and reference guide for her readers.
I'll be honest with you, this is both a difficult book to read, as well as a heart-opening book. There's no way you can read it without being changed. The way the author has written this book, her personal struggle deeply touched me. And I'm not sure that if I was in her place, I could have found the emotional and physical strength to look in the mirror and honestly share with others what I saw.