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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A flexible, integrated approach to overcoming addiction...
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...
Published on February 8, 2004

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more I read, the less I liked it
This book had me at hello, and I really wanted to love it. My fascination began with the extraordinary Foreward written by the now deceased Alan Marlatt, PhD. Marlatt kicked things off with a great monk story/joke and he also talks about studies that show the power of meditation to undo addiction and pre-empt relapse. This was enough to get me excited about what was to...
Published on February 8, 2012 by BigHeart


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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A flexible, integrated approach to overcoming addiction..., February 8, 2004
This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (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."
I also strongly agree with their paradigm of change. It's a process of six stages, borrowed from James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, who co-authored Changing for Good. And it's empowering, because their notion allows for relapse with a mentality of acceptance and learning: "...most people do go through these stages several times before establishing permanent change. For this reason, it is equally important to be able to view a slip...as a temporary setback rather than ultimate failure."
At the heart of this book are the practices of meditation and journaling. Regardless of how many Practices mentioned throughout the book, these two are definitely the twin pillars that support mindfulness. They are simple, flexible, and easy to implement in your life.
I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to stay on course with the simplicity of mindfulness, and let your intuition guide you as to how to implement it into your life.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must read!, April 2, 2002
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This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good alternative to AA and to non-chemical addictions, August 21, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non totalitarian, very wise, aproach to addiction and related issues, June 14, 2008
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This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
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. Bien, also, gives an excellent portrayal of Diclemete's Stages of Change model for addiction and recovery, and, as I stated originally, is perhaps the most insightful contemporary book (AA started in the 1930's)for a mass audience in this domain. Also, Ellis, before his passing last year, was rumored to be working on a book linking cognitive (in his case rebt) thought and mindfulness, a noble and, perhaps, necessary global synthesis. Finally, I know my statements could draw some ire from AA diehards, where I think that their general inability to tolerate criticism, like some world religions, is one of their greatest weaknesses.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Your Time, November 9, 2006
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This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more I read, the less I liked it, February 8, 2012
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BigHeart (Gilford, NH United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
This book had me at hello, and I really wanted to love it. My fascination began with the extraordinary Foreward written by the now deceased Alan Marlatt, PhD. Marlatt kicked things off with a great monk story/joke and he also talks about studies that show the power of meditation to undo addiction and pre-empt relapse. This was enough to get me excited about what was to come. Unfortunately, the rest of the book was not quite so clear or engaging, and the love that captured my imagination slowly and progressively faded with each chapter.

You get the strong sense that the Biens know what they're talking about, but a strategic, consistent and overriding thought system is not explained. Instead we get a mish-mosh of Buddhism, Christianity, pop psychology, and a lot of other ideas all thrown out on the same buffet table. The Biens rely on the short-cut phrase "mindfulness is" to link discordant ideas together rather than doing the work of actually explaining how and why they fit. It's like Jeff Foxworthy saying "you might be a redneck if..." This book was published in 2002 when the concept of mindfulness was still relatively fresh and new. Now, in 2012, a lot of it sounds tired.

Mindful Recovery is organized into 10 doorways or themes, and each doorway has a corresponding set of practices. I like the format, but there are way too many practices, and some of them are not easily acted on because the idea is too loosely sketched. Sometimes it's not obvious how the recommended exercise directly contributes to healing an addiction, either. Other times the Biens shine with concrete direction. For example, in the practice on "Skillful Speech" they suggest you summarize, ask for more information, agree with part of what the other person is saying, and use humor. All things considered, Mindful Recovery is a mixed bag. The best approach might be to use it like a cookbook where you pick the recipes that most appeal to you. The Biens relate to the reader as big-hearted, well-intended authors who actually walk their own talk and practice meditation/mindfulness. I personally value and respect living role models.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clinicians and those in recovery, November 3, 2006
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This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
An excellent book with a good line into spirituality for those with an aversion to organized religion. Those working in the recovery often have a block thown up when trying to get a client to release his/her preconceived ideas about manipulating the environment. This book provides an excellent approach toward the concept of spirituality as a separate entity from religious beliefs without impinging on them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a recovery book, September 11, 2005
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This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
This book uses Buddhist philosophy integrated with Western science to help readers discover and define meaning and purpose in life. It's not only a book about overcoming addiction, but can help anyone to find a more fulfilling way of life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life, November 17, 2011
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This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
I had a really hard time finding a higher power in order to meld with the recovery process, I've never been religious at all. When I was in rehab, I was pretty much becoming hopeless, thinking I was screwed since I had absolutely NO sense of spirituality. After several meetings with my therapist, she handed me this book. My first thought was "what the hell is mindfulness?" As soon as I started reading, I knew I had found an answer. This book is amazingly helpful for anyone in recovery, and I would venture that many who are not addicts would benefit from its descriptions of mindfulness. I ended up giving my copy to someone struggling, but i'm thrilled to see it available for Kindle, downloading it now!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindful Recovery, April 1, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction (Paperback)
Use this book to help you heal from addiction in a natural, mindful way. Getting over an addiction is never an easy road, but the advice in this book makes the process of healing more comfortable. The personal stories of recovery are inspirational and uplifted me emotionally.
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Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction
Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction by Thomas Bien (Paperback - March 29, 2002)
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