The Tibetan Art of Living, by Christopher Hansard

In From the Cold

Book Review by Morgan Stavoestrand

The Tibetan Art of Living, by Christopher Hansard, provides an unusual and welcome opportunity for the reader to depart on a journey inward to the root of suffering and illness, and at the same time, the root of health.  It is an invaluable resource for anyone wishing to delve into those aspects of health most neglected in the West- the mental, emotional, and spiritual. 

Hansard is a Tibetan Bön physician who first began his training at the age of four and is now its preeminent Western voice.  His book acts at once as an autobiographical glimpse into the powerful lessons learned at the knee of a master, a clear and concise introduction to the ancient Bön philosophy and a practical meditation guide for specific psychological and physical ailments.

As a writer, Hansard demonstrates his adeptness at making a complicated philosophical worldview understandable.  For instance, instead of seeing ourselves as primarily flesh and blood, this worldview asserts that humans are really “consciousness that has sought a way to express itself…by taking on a physical form.”  This inevitably puts into question the Western obsession with all things physical.  So, what have we been missing? Hansard the teacher answers with a positive and compassionate voice, coaxing us gently inward to the infinite source of our potential to heal ourselves and regain a state of peace and harmony.

The first tenet of Bön teaching that resounded with this reviewer is the statement that the only thing we own is our breath.  One night, after practicing one of several breathing meditations, I dreamt that my husband and in-laws were heatedly criticizing me. It was the middle of winter and snow lay thick outside.  Instead of shouting in anger my dream self chose to stop, breathe deeply, and then put on a parka and take a long walk!  If this meditation had a positive effect in the dream state, then what kind of effect could it have in waking life?  I intend to find out. 

Are you ready for your own spiritual journey toward health and healing?  If so, then this book is a warm point of departure.

Review Published: August 2009

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