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HOW TO BE SICK: A Buddhist Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers ~By Toni Bernhard


My acupuncturist recommended this book to me and I am so pleased that I bought a copy and read it from cover to cover. It was a wonderful companion to reading Your Medical Mind and it brought be some peace, hope and a change of attitude.

Ms. Bernhard was headed out on an adventure with her husband.  She left her job as a law professor in California and boarded an airplane to explore and enjoy a short visit in Paris.  She arrived in Paris with a viral infection, which has left her ill and fatigued for the last nearly 12 years.  She tried to go back to work part time for 2.5 years of her illness and this only aggravated her condition.  She had to retire early, she had to change her own lifestyle, and she became almost totally dependent on her husband for her caregiving.

“ This is a major contribution and an immensely wise book”  Larry Dossey MD.

As a practicing Buddhist before the onset of her illness, she was disheartened that she could not longer attend retreats and trainings and had to let her husband take over her practice group which met in their home.  Buddhism is a lifestyle choice – not a religion – so one needs to practice and continually keep growing and learning.  It is this practice and learning that gave her life new meaning and assisted her in writing this book to help others.

She has tried everything from traditional medications, to infectious disease specialists, and every alternative and historic medical opportunity available to her.  Bernhard keeps researching and discovering new things to try and is willing to take on insurance agencies in order to get herself healed.

Her chapter on the huge box of non-healing supplements that she has tried and other offerings is quite amazing and that so many folks have been there and done that is not surprising.  It is actually a relief to know that one is not alone in the pursuit of recovery.

Bernhard was finally labeled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which she calls a garbage or trash can diagnosis. No one knows how to heal it and it manifests differently in each person.  She is left with not being able to take her granddaughter to events, or travel, or often to sit down for holiday dinners with her family. She never knows what she will be able to accomplish each day.

So she decided to make her illness her Buddhist Practice and has been able to find with her attitude change and tools for making those changes some truly joyous times in her life.   She can use the Internet to make new friends, because we all know that people are busy and do not have time for those who are ill; they do not want to catch something either.   Bernhard has changed feelings of isolation into a study of solitude, which is lovely to read and embrace what she has learned; incorporating these discoveries into one’s own life and experiences.

Her chapter and words about caregivers is a work of art.  This disease changed both her life and her husband’s life dramatically and deeply.

“Sometimes the worst thing that happened to you, the thing you think you cannot survive…it’s the thing that makes you better than you used to be.”

This is a quote from dialogue in a novel I just read, but it jumped out at me after reading HOW TO BE SICK.   For this is a book about how to change crisis into opportunity and how a person can make their life be their best life ever no matter the circumstances.

The book is grounded in Buddhism and is a remarkable story about one woman’s experience with chronic illness.  It is well worth the read and I am sure that everyone knows someone who could benefit from experiencing this book.

Trusting what you get, do you have a recommendation for us of words that helped you heal and be the best that you can be?  Looking forward to your comments.

I purchased this book myself and no one or publisher paid me to review this book.  If you purchase anything from Amazon (not kindle) from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Would love to have you subscribe by RSS or email!

If you enjoyed what you read here you might also enjoy my other sites  Wise Ears and Biking Architect

Toni Bernhard’s Blog

Related Reading:
Your Medical Mind
Trust What You Get
Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses

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14 Responses to “HOW TO BE SICK: A Buddhist Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers ~By Toni Bernhard”

  1. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I’d heard about her since I’ve been blogging .. perhaps in article in a newspaper here .. they are an amazing couple and she continues on with her discoveries – despite being what we would term ‘chronically ill’ … I would imagine her book is exceedingly interesting .. thanks for reminding me about it – all the best and may you continue on with your healing process – Hilary
    Hilary recently posted..Cleopatra or Perla – ?My Profile

  2. patricia Says:

    Hi Hilary,
    It is a good book and I enjoyed reading it and her blog – she is also on Facebook but I am having trouble getting connected there?

    I am having a very difficult day today – humbling to say the least – in the healing process and one of the difficulties I am having is I do not have a caregiver. I am the caregiver

    I think everyone needs to line up a caregiver for themselves which meets their style and needs….so I am now going to work on that.

    Thanks for your good words

  3. Sara Says:


    Another great review. Toni Bernhard needs to meet Lori of Jane be Nimble. They have similar approaches. Lori’s most recent post even reminded me of the wonderful quote you shared.

    I will look for this book. I think it might a really good gift for my friend, Lori.

    I hope you feel better. While we can’t actually be THERE for you as a caregiver; you are always in our thoughts. Feel better, Patricia!
    Sara recently posted..The DovesMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    I thought of the Lori connection too and she has just started writing her blog again – Maybe she will come on over and take a look?

    Thank you Sara for your good thoughts. This book was truly a good read for me – I already work on changing my attitude but then tonight is Arts Walk and I just know I can not attend and see everyone downtown and the Blues come back

    I also wonder if I will be able to attend Thanksgiving with my family or just have to stay home? I always bless the joy for those events.

    ZIP is a great caregiver and motivator! That is why I got him for good company :)

  4. Beth Says:

    Sounds like a very inspiring book. The author is an amazing woman. It is great how she reminds us to learn from any circumstance that we encounter in our life. Thank you for the suggestion. I will definitely get a copy.
    Beth recently posted..how to get a girl to like youMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    It is an amazing book and I am rather late to the book myself.
    Lots of folks found her from her NPR interviews.

    I think you will appreciate having a copy on your reader or on your shelf – it is a gem

    You are welcome and thank you for your comment and dropping by

  5. Jannie Funster Says:

    This is my first time hearing ofher. She sounds very inspirational.

    When I’m in the grips of a headache no words can help me much. So I try to be in the moment and put all my attention in my every breath, in and out. That helps me through the pain.

    I send healing and loving thoughts to you today, my dear Patricia.

    patricia Reply:

    An amazing woman, and I know about those headache breaths..

    I have been working that all morning….

    I think this is a good book for many folks to discover and find help from.

    Thanks for coming by – your words are appreciated

  6. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “Sometimes the worst thing that happened to you, the thing you think you cannot survive…it’s the thing that makes you better than you used to be.”

    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Untethered!My Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Hallelujah Laurie!

  7. Melody | Deliberate Receiving Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    Another amazing book review. I’ve added this one to the list of books to buy next time I order from Amazon, as well. That list is getting REALLY long, thanks in part, to you. :)

    I so agree that sometimes, the events in our lives that seem to be the worst end up being the biggest catalysts for positive change.

    If you’re feeling worse today, perhaps it’s time to stop researching illness, and just go back to feeling generally good again, with your Miracle Balls… just a suggestion?

    Huge hugs to you,

    Melody | Deliberate Receiving recently posted..Making Magic with the Law of Attraction – The Cloud Bridge TechniqueMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    I felt like I was stuck when reading this book and thought a great deal about how my father died at my age with this illness…

    The minute I finished reading the book, I wrote the review and celebrated her wonderful thoughts about how to live in joy when ill – chronically ill..

    Then I went for a walk and watched a comedy movie, because I truly had to change my focus…

    Thank you for your kind words and yes it is quite a wonderful book…but it did change my focus

  8. J.D. Meier Says:

    > the thing that makes you better than you used to be
    I’m a believer that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think my Mom taught me that early on, and it’s always turned out to be true for me.
    J.D. Meier recently posted..Make Plenty of Miss-TakesMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    As a person who was born with a cancerous growth growing on my body – I am constantly healing and I feel very strong….This book does help me “deal” with my frustration – as this time around I am not healing as I would hope to…If I stay frustrated, it only makes me stuck and I am determined to take this new “virus” on…and succeed.
    It does so interfere with what I “want” to be doing