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How to be Sick: A Buddhist-inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

How to be Sick: A Buddhist-inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Toni Bernhard

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  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications,U.S.
  • Format: Paperback | 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 15mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 14 September 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Somerville
  • ISBN 10: 0861716264
  • ISBN 13: 9780861716265
  • Sales rank: 18,639

Product description

This life-affirming, instructive, and thoroughly inspiring book is a must-read for anyone who is - or who might one day be - sick. It can also be the perfect gift of guidance, encouragement, and uplifting inspiration to family, friends, and loved ones struggling with the many terrifying or disheartening life changes that come so close on the heels of a diagnosis of a chronic condition or life-threatening illness. Authentic and graceful, "How to be Sick" reminds us of our endless inner freedom, even under high degrees of suffering and pain. The author - who became ill while a university law professor in the prime of her career - tells the reader how she got sick and, to her and her partner's bewilderment, stayed that way. Toni had been a longtime meditator, going on long meditation retreats and spending many hours rigorously practicing, but soon discovered that she simply could no longer engage in those difficult and taxing forms. She had to learn ways to make "being sick" the heart of her spiritual practice - and through truly learning how to be sick, she learned how, even with many physical and energetic limitations, to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. And whether we ourselves are ill or not, we can learn these vital arts from Bernhard's generous wisdom in "How to Be Sick."

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Author information

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.

Customer reviews

By Emma Corcoran 07 Sep 2010 5

Like the author of this book, I have CFS. I found this book to be poignant, real and sympathetic - I know it's going to be a book I'll be dipping into over and over again.

Toni doesn't claim to have any of the answers around chronic illness; she's not saying 'do this and you'll get well'. She's sharing her journey and inviting fellow travellers along the rocky road of chronic illness to join in her exploration of Buddhism and ill health.

Of course, given the choice, none of us would be travelling this road! But as Toni points out so beautifully, the winds of life can blow us all over the place. Part of the journey of life is recognising this and seeing that the wind blows everyone; we aren't isolated in our suffering and pain.

This book isn't aimed particularly at Buddhists. Toni has a teaching background, and it shows. She's able to describe Buddhism in a way that is heartfelt, clear and directly related to the day-to-day circumstances of those of us living with illness (or caring for someone with an illness).

I don't even think it's necessary to have an illness to get a lot out of this book. I think you could probably substitute a lot of life's difficulties (grief over the loss of a loved one, sadness over a divorce, an eating disorder) for the word 'chronic illness' and find a lot to relate to in this beautiful book.

By Marilyn Wilson 01 Aug 2010 5

I want to tell you about this wonderful book that Toni has written. I am lucky to be one of the few non-professional people to have had the privilege of reading How to be Sick.

First, a little background about myself. I have stage four advanced breast cancer stemming from the genetic mutation BRCA2. I nursed my Mother when she died, have been there while my sister and nieces have undergone and are still undergoing treatment and, of course, my own. I am now on a trial drug to try and stop my cancer spreading plus monthly treatments. All this means I have many days of lying on a bed being very unwell and am also facing a very uncertain future.

Toni's book came to me through a link from a friend and it has been a god send. In the past I have both bought and been given a number of books on how to deal and be with my BC. Most are along the lines of me needing to think my cancer away, to completely change my diet, to think possitively and so on - you know what I mean. There is none of that in Toni's book. It is simply the most practical and inspiring book I have read. Toni draws from not only wonderful Buddhist practices, but from movies, songs, people, wrtings, poetry, and her own experiences. She showed me how to face and be with my cancer, to feel the uncertainty, the fear, to be a woman lying on a bed so unwell, worrying...

I have been around Buddhists for around 20 years (I am not a Buddhist myself) and the way Toni explains the concepts and practices of Buddhism is the best I have heard. Wow, Toni, I get it... or should I say - I'm getting it.

I do not write this lightly, How to be Sick resonated with my very core. As I face all that is cancer, not only now but the future, I am so very very grateful to have Toni's book right there beside me. Thank you.

Review quote

"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