How to Be Sick (Second Edition): A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers (Paperback)

How to Be Sick (Second Edition): A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers By Toni Bernhard Cover Image
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A brand-new edition of the best-selling classic with added and updated practices.

In 2001, Toni Bernhard got sick and, to her and her partner’s bewilderment, stayed that way. As they faced the confusion, frustration, and despair of a life with sudden limitations—a life that was vastly different from the one they’d thought they’d have together—Toni had to learn how to be sick. In spite of her many physical and energetic restrictions (and sometimes, because of them), Toni learned how to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. This book reminds us that our own inner freedom is limitless, regardless of our external circumstances.

Updated with new insights and practices hard-won from Toni’s own ongoing life experience, this is a must-read for anyone who is—or who might one day be—sick or in pain.

About the Author

Toni Bernhard fell ill on a trip to Paris in 2001 with what doctors initially diagnosed as an acute viral infection. She has not recovered.
In 1982, she’d received a J.D. from the School of Law at the University of California, Davis, and immediately joined the faculty where she stayed until chronic illness forced her to retire. During her twenty-two years on the faculty, she served for six years as dean of students.
In 1992, she began to study and practice Buddhism. Before becoming ill, she attended many meditation retreats and led a meditation group in Davis with her husband.
She lives in Davis with her husband, Tony, and their hound dog, Rusty.
Toni can be found online at

Praise For…

"Beautiful, heartfelt, and immensely courageous. Truly worth reading."
— Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness

"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

“An invitation to gently set aside the fear and the fight in order to truly live.”
— Psychology Today

"An inspiring work."
— Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace

“This is a book for all of us.”
— Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job

“An immensely wise book. Health psychology has been poisoned by the view that the best way to approach illness is through a muscular, militant resistance. Toni Bernhard reveals how letting go, surrendering, and putting the ego aside yield insights and fulfillment even in the presence of illness. A major contribution.”
— Larry Dossey, MD, author of The Power of Premonitions and Healing Words

“Everyone should read this book—anyone who is sick, anyone who loves someone who is sick, and anyone who has ever experienced things being other than they’d hoped they would be. Toni Bernhard open- heartedly shares the deep pain and equally deep joy of her experience in a way that allows us to validate the pain of our own circumstances, and still find joy and contentment within any context.

She offers simple, deeply wise practices that reduce the suffering associated with grasping for things to be other than they are by allowing us to accept and enjoy things exactly as they are, including our own desire for something else. Her willingness to step fully into her life after it’s been dramatically narrowed by illness, and to share this process with us, inspires us each to live our own lives more fully, accepting the challenges that arise, and finding the joys inherent in each moment. Toni’s writing feels like a good friend, helping us cultivate compassion for ourselves and those around us, as we make our way through whatever life presents to us. Her honesty in sharing her struggles and setbacks helps us be kinder to ourselves as we experience our own. I plan to buy a copy for everyone I love.”
— Elizabeth Roemer, PHD, co- author of The Mindful Way through Anxiety

“A profound, compassionate, and intimate guide for living wisely.”
— Gil Fronsdal, author of The Dhammapada: A New Translation of a Buddhist Classic

“When we lose our physical health, it can seem like we’ve lost our life. Toni Bernhard, with unflinching realness and deep insight, shows us how the fires of loss can clear the way for a new and profound capacity for appreciation, love, and understanding. This book can bring you more fully alive by healing your spirit.”
— Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance

“Told with relentless honesty and clarity.”
— Stephen Batchelor, author of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

“An encouraging book that treats sickness as something to welcome because, when you are sick, that is the obstacle that has to be your gate. This book is full of compassion about how to sit sweetly with your difficulties—which means not making yourself wrong for having difficulties.”
— John Tarrant, author of Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life

“Toni Bernhard offers a lifeline to those whose lives have been devastated by illness, and shows us all how to transform suffering into peace and even joy.”
— Lynn Royster, Director of the Chronic Illness Initiative at DePaul University

“A roadmap to finding grace and balance amid affliction.”
— Christina Feldman, author of Woman Awake

“Practical, wise, and full of heart.”
— James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy

“This warm and engaging book can help with even the most difficult situation.”
— Thomas Bien, PhD, author of Mindful Therapy

“How to Be Sick is a good friend to keep close by so that illness doesn’t become the enemy.”
— Ed & Deb Shapiro, authors of Be the Change

“Don’t pass up this book—and don’t be misled by the title. This book isn’t about being sick as much as it as about living right now. This practical yet exceedingly graceful book is a love story—about life, the endurance of the human spirit, and the power of a sustaining relationship.”
— Alida Brill, author of Dancing at the River’s Edge

“Living a life of peace and contentment is not difficult when life is cooperating—but what happens when the reality of our lives is suddenly turned upside down and shaken by hardship or affliction? This book is 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 called How to Be Sick but it’s really about how to live.”
— Jim Palmer, author of Divine Nobodies

“An intimate, gripping, profound, and eminently useful book about being joyfully and wisely alive no matter what happens to you.”
— Rick Hanson, PHD, author of Buddha’s Brain

“Who would have thought that there is a ‘how to’ for being sick? But now there is! Deeply moving and impressive. I highly recommend her book as a must- read for anyone who is ill or caring for someone ill. Her gifts will transform you.”
— Lewis Richmond, author of Healing Lazarus

“A warm and compassionate guide for navigating illness on a personal and practical level, a level physicians rarely see or discuss with their patients. The greatest compliment I could give this book is that I will be recommending it to all of my chronically ill patients as a guide for remaining happy even in the absence of good health.”
— Dr. Alex Lickerman, former director of primary care at the University of Chicago

“A unique and creative adaptation of spiritual practice to the challenges of chronic illness. How to Be Sick is a wise, compassionate book that will help all of us live well.”
— Dorothy Wall, author of Encounters with the Invisible

“Each of us finds our way to live with the challenges and uncertainty of illness. Toni Bernhard found a path that led to balance, wisdom, and love. She caringly points us to the possibility of finding happiness even in the midst of difficult conditions. That is a true gift.”
— Frank Ostaseski, Founder of the Metta Institute

“An eloquent and compelling account. This book is a major achievement.”
— Spirituality and Practice

“Very compelling—great teaching interwoven into the heartful human drama of family, illness, and day-to-day life.”
— Shaila Catherine, author of Focussed and Fearless

“A must-read with a solid dose of hope.”
— Lori Hartwell, author of Chronically Happy

“Readers need not be Buddhist or meditators to benefit from Toni’s wisdom.”
— Cheri Register, author of The Chronic Illness Experience

“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!

Product Details
ISBN: 9781614294788
ISBN-10: 161429478X
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Publication Date: September 25th, 2018
Pages: 256
Language: English