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Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction Paperback – March 29, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These very different books share the premise that spirituality rather than pharmacology or will power underlies successful recovery from addiction. Both expand on the idea of spirituality beyond the doctrinal and ritualistic form to a wider range of thought. Mindful Recovery flows out of a Buddhist perspective that substitutes the authors' "ten doorways" for the more rigorous 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Based on research and professional experience, the book argues for "mindfulness," a quality of openness to life's experiences, as a lifestyle for the recovering addict. Presented here are both specific techniques and "practices" (e.g., journaling and meditation) for attaining mindfulness and composite life stories that illustrate various themes. Thomas Bien, a clinical psychologist and lecturer, and Beverly Bien, director of an agency that provides services to the disabled, have written a soothing and sensible self-help book that could be useful to open-minded individuals facing addiction issues. Based on interviews, research reviews, and visits to programs and conferences, The Soul of Recovery is rooted in the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy, though Ringwald's perspective is more expansive. The author, a reporter for Newsday and director of the Faith and Society Project at the SAGE Colleges in Albany, NY, covers the theoretical relationship between addiction and spirituality; treatment programs (e.g., Hazelden) and specific modalities for women and minorities; the science of addiction and research on effective treatament; and policy implications for recent political initiatives advocating "faith-based" social programs. The result is an impressive, straightforward synthesis of diverse and controversial issues. Both books provide viable alternatives to the "broken brain" thesis of biological psychology/psychiatry. Ringwald's presentation is more analytical, comprehensive, and research based, making it better suited to public and professional libraries. The Biens' book would make a sound addition to specialized collections on alternative approaches to addiction. Antoinette Brinkman, M.L.S., Evansville, IN
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

* ""...a soothing and sensible self-help book that could be useful to open-minded individuals facing addiction issues."" (Library Journal, July 2002)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471442615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471442615
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Bien is a practicing psychologist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a bachelor's degree from Rutgers College summa cum laude, a master's of theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of New Mexico. He teaches professional and non-professional audiences alike, topics including Mindful Living, Mindful Therapy, Life-Changing Insights of the Buddha, and others. His work is in the vanguard of the integration of psychology, mindfulness, and spirituality. Dr. Bien presents internationally. He is currently at work on his sixth book.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mindful recovery is a book that focuses on maintaining your abstinence from any addiction, once you have made the decision to quit: "...if you can build a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life, relapse will be much less of an issue." It's a flexible approach to recovery based on facing life with an attitude of acceptance, rather than running away from life through an addiction.
I love how Thomas and Beverly Bien integrated the spiritual concepts of the East with the more scientific ideas found in psychology: "While our approach is rooted in Eastern traditions of mindfulness...The West has its own approaches to mindfulness. Journaling, narrative psychology, insight-oriented psychotherapy, relationship work, and dream analysis...we present a blend of Eastern and Western wisdom." They also briefly touch upon the fallacy of black and white thinking, borrowed from cognitive styles of recovery. In ten "doorways," this book presents many little essays that elaborate on these themes through quotes, personal stories, and practical applications. By the time you finish this book, you will have a full understanding of mindfulness and how to use it to free yourself from addiction.
Mindful recovery, however, has a potential negative: the reader can easily become overwhelmed by the myriad of "Practices" the authors have developed to explore mindfulness in every capacity - work, relationships, dreams, and the like. The "Practices" seem to be endless. But the authors wisely predict this: "...having so many tools can also seem a little overwhelming - as though you had a lot of things to do and remember. It isn't so. Whenever you feel this way...remind yourself that there is really only one thing to remember and it is the simplest thing of all: to be mindful, to be aware.
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Mindful Recovery makes the breakthrough teachings of mindfulness accessible to those who struggle with addiction. It is an extremely wise and helpful book--clearly the best of its genre and written by authors who obviously know how to reach out to their audience. Mindful Recovery teaches the reader how to use meditation both on and off the cushion as the basis for a more fulfilling life--bringing calm awareness into work, relationships, and emotions. The only problem I have with the book is that its suggestions are equally helpful to those who do not struggle with addictions, yet the title and marketing do not target these broader audiences. This is a must read. As a surprisingly refreshing alternative to other approaches to addiction, I think it could easily become a classic in the field.
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Format: Paperback
I had been searching unsuccessfully for a book that dealt with computer games addiction. A friend suggested that the 12-Step program could help with all kinds of addictions, but I was just not comfortable with the whole religious aspect of that model.
This book offered just what I needed. I could just substitute the words "computer gaming" whenever alcohol or drugs were mentioned, and the information related ever-so-well. The author writes with a warm, non-threatening style which really helped me to be able to confront my demons. I highly recommend it!!!
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This book is the best I have read on dealing with recovery from alcohol
and addiction. I have read most of the classic works in this field including AA's "The Big Book," Albert Ellis's book "When AA doesn't Work for you," "Sober For Good....." and work as a volunteer group facilitator for SMART Recovery, a self help group based on Ellis's REBT and Cognitive Psychology that has an astounding success rate in a very short time span.

The book is very sensitively written, and contains much wisdom and practices on dealing with this devastating social, psychological epidemic, which is spreading rapidly due to the increasingly stressful aspects of modern life. I particularly liked what the author says about the importance of living in the movement and the 9 doors of recovery.

There is a westernized, non-religious, Buddhist ideological foundation based on compassion, mindfulness, and living an authentic life in the "NOW." However, unlike the largely Christian based AA (which is the proverbial 1200 pound gorilla in this field, and has helped millions of people), this isn't "in your face" religious like the majority o 12 step initiatives: you can take or leave the "Buddhist Element" and get a lot out of this book. Also, unlike AA/NA, this doesn't take an "all or nothing approach." and doesn't deem the person experiencing these problems "powerless" or having a lifetime disease.

Nevertheless, AA is very effective in dealing with people at all stages
of the addiction recovery cycle, while this work is really more appropriate for people in a post abstinence phase and in preventing relapse- although it does give "some" credence to the highly controversial moderation maintenance approach for people with less severe cases of this affliction.
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By DD on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is definitely a book worth reading, whether you are dealing with your own addiction (of any kind) or if someone you know is. It is written from a "spiritual" perspective, though not spiritual in the sense of any one particular religious or philosophical tradition. For example, the author looks for inspiration from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.

Thomas Bien writes in a gentle, understanding and encouraging tone. This is one of those books that can be picked up and read a few pages at a time, from any point. It is worth your time and money.
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