'How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide' for Depression

September 17, 2014 Jennifer Tazzi

I recently finished reading How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill And Their Caregivers. The book was written by Toni Bernhard, a once very active attorney and law professor, who in the midst of a full life, was randomly struck down by a mysterious, debilitating illness that keeps her primarily contained to her home. For any of us dealing with the uncertainties of depression as well as the uncertainties of life in general, Bernhard’s insights are a welcome respite.

Buddhist Teaching and Physical and Mental Suffering

Bernhard does an excellent job of outlining and explaining Buddhist teachings on realities such as suffering and impermanence and how they relate to the difficulties we face in life, whether through physical or mental pain. She then offers a series of exercises or practices that address these realities of life that can cause us so much anxiety and suffering.

Practices to Address Suffering Involving Thoughts and Moods

For those suffering from depression, help can be found in the exercises in the book "How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill And Their Caregivers"

A practice that I found helpful for low mood is what Bernhard refers to as the “Weather Practice.” The practice addresses the conflict and suffering that arises due to life being impermanent and uncertain and our desire for the opposite: security and certainty. In the exercise, Bernhard encourages us to try to treat thoughts and moods as wind blowing in and out of our minds, since we can’t control them anyway and since they will eventually blow through. This is, of course, a challenge when a low mood is more chronic and doesn’t seem to be moving through, but I still found Bernhard’s suggestion to try to hold the thoughts and moods “more lightly” to be helpful overall.

Bernhard backs up the exercises with vignettes from her own life and struggles with chronic illness and the result is encouraging and even inspiring. I see myself returning to the exercises and the discussion in this book again and again as I weather the storms of depression and life in general.

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APA Reference
Tazzi, J. (2014, September 17). 'How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide' for Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Jennifer Tazzi

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