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One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps Paperback – June 9, 2004


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One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps + Buddhism and the Twelve Steps: A Recovery Workbook for Individuals and Groups + Mindfulness and the 12 Steps: Living Recovery in the Present Moment
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (June 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579549055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579549053
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Meditation teacher and author Griffin discovered that his Buddhist practice deepened as a result of the 12-step program that freed him from addiction. In examining the relationship of Buddhism and the steps, he learned to escape spiritual traps endemic to the culture of addiction, namely, instant gratification and nihilism. He writes that many addicts are dissuaded from attending 12-step meetings because of the Christian tenor exemplified by faith in a Higher Power. Buddhists in particular are encouraged to wordlessly contemplate Buddha Nature, yet for addicts, retreat-style meditation without sponsorship may become another alcoholic behavior: in the last days of his drinking, "walking around smashed saying, 'I'm just a drunken Buddha' " exemplified Griffin's deeply nihilisticversion of the concepts of No-Self and the Mahayana principle that everything is a manifestation of Buddha Nature. Intermediary steps that call for personal inventory and interpersonal sharing of past transgressions may seem at odds with the solitary meditation-based practice of letting thoughts dissolve into a reality of "right here, right now," but Griffin says such sharing is part of the Buddhist principle of Right Speech. One theme in this valuable book is that for some, 12-step meetings offer a cohesive sangha when Western Buddhism does not meet the need for honest group support. In the final steps, Griffin learns to let go of the "I," to resist belief in a single transcendent experience and to instead rely on the gentle vigilance exacted by regular meditation, sponsorship and meeting participation.
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Review

"In a wise, honest and personal way, Kevin Griffin has written a book that will be truly helpful to Buddhist practitioners and the Twelve Step community alike." --Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart, psychotherapist, and co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

"A Buddhist goes through the Twelve Steps to find God within. A book of compassion and grace." --Ondrea and Stephen Levine, authors of One Year to Live and Embracing the Beloved.


In a wise, honest and personal way, Kevin Griffin has written a book that will be truly helpful to Buddhist practitioners and the Twelve Step community alike. (Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart)

A Buddhist goes through the Twelve Steps to find God within. A book of compassion and grace. (-Ondrea and Stephen Levine, authors of One Year to Live)

More About the Author

Kevin Griffin is the author of "One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps" (Rodale Press 2004) and the forthcoming "A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery" (Hay House 2009). A longtime Buddhist practitioner and 12 Step participant, he is a leader in the mindful recovery movement and one of the founders of the Buddhist Recovery Network. Kevin has trained with the leading Western Vipassana teachers, among them Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Ajahn Amaro. His teacher training was as a Community Dharma Leader at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County, CA.

Kevin teaches nationally in Buddhist centers, treatment centers, professional conferences, and academic settings. He specializes in helping people in recovery connect with meditation and a progressive understanding of the 12 Steps. His events range from evening classes, to daylong workshops, and long weekend silent retreats. For information on his schedule click here.

Kevin was raised Catholic in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the youngest of five brothers. He dropped out of high school in the late sixties to pursue a career as a rock guitarist. In his twenties he lived in New England and played the club circuit until moving to LA in 1979 with an Afrobeat band called Zzebra. When the band crashed and burned, Kevin found Buddhism and began to explore the spiritual life. After getting sober in 1985, he returned to school, earning his BA from UC Berkeley and MFA in Creative Writing from UC Irvine. He began teaching meditation in 1996 while working as a technical writer. He now divides his time between writing, teaching, and family time with his wife and daughter. He still plays and writes music and is currently recording a CD of dharma-related rock songs.

Contact:
kevin@kevingriffin.com

Customer Reviews

This book is well written and easy to read.
T. Bradford
This book does a fantastic job of demonstrating the synergies of working a 12 step program and buddhist practice.
Lauri Campagna
It's other great strength is Mr. Griffin's ability to make difficult and exotic concepts accessible.
K. Gordon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

166 of 172 people found the following review helpful By K. Gordon TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 15, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I've never been through a 12-step program, I have been meditating for 8 years. During that time I've read many wonderful books about Buddhism and meditation. But this book is special in two ways.

First, by writing with honesty, courage and humor about his own difficult path in life - Mr. Griffin creates a connection with the reader that goes way beyond the 'conceptual' focus of many books on the subject. Yet at the same time, it never devolves into a confessional. It's still a book that teaches, not rants. It's full of excellent practical advice, insight, and some very useful exercises. But it teaches from an unusually personal and vulnerable place.

It's other great strength is Mr. Griffin's ability to make difficult and exotic concepts accessible. Although I've read a lot, attended retreats, etc., there are some ideas - for example 'no-self' - that always have been too foreign and 'other-worldly' for me to really connect to emotionally. At best I'd get a vague intellectual understanding of what was being discussed. But this book made many of these ideas simple and clear. Quite a few times, while reading it, I found myself going 'oh THAT'S what they've all been talking about.'

Unlike many of our best and most revered Buddhist teachers, Mr. Griffin hasn't spent years living in Asia. He's slogged through life in Western society, and has had to find his peace and insights while simultaneously dealing with the same day-to-day problems of career, love, marriage, parenthood, etc. as the rest of us. To me that relieves his work of a subtle disconnect I sometimes feel with other Buddhist writers and teachers. There's no sense of: 'yes, they can be calm and happy - they spent 5 years in a rainforest.
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89 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
The first question to come to my mind with this title was what is the relationship between Buddhism and the twelve step program? Author Kevin Griffin answers this question succinctly when he points out that the Buddha said the cause of suffering is desire and the twelve steps program tries to heal people from the most extreme of desires - addiction.
This book is about Mr. Griffin's personal path to addiction recovery and how integrating Buddhism and the twelve steps allowed him to become at peace with himself. He explains Buddhist meditation and the Buddhist eight-fold path as it parallels the twelve step path. While the twelve step program allows for a lot of flexibility in terms of the "Higher Power" you reach out to, many groups have a Christian focus. Kevin Griffin provides an alternative for those who are uncomfortable with a Christian focus but want to overcome alcoholism and co-dependency. "One Breath at a Time" is a deeply personal story of one man's journey and he invites you to travel his path from realization that he had a problem to freedom and shares how you can take the same path.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Babh on December 3, 2004
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One can be sure there are more "definitive" guides to Buddhism and the 12 Steps out there, but what I found most useful in this straightforward, and deceptively simple book, were the accounts of the author's own experience - written in the first person - the application of his understanding of the principles of Buddhism and the 12 steps, in his own life. The voice is that of one who has been there, and actually applied the spiritual principles of the two traditions to real problems in a real life. Unlike many texts that purport to lay out spiritual teachings for the general reader, there was no hint of condescension here - the writer bases his authority on the lessons he has personally learned through failure. For those struggling along their own paths, this is book is a mighty gift.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By T. Bradford on September 29, 2006
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This book is well written and easy to read. I relapsed with 13+ years in a 12 step program and having a difficult time getting reconnected. As someone with Buddhist leanings who never quite bridged the gap between the steps and Buddhism I found this book to be of great help. If you are even remotely interested in working the 12 steps from a Buddhist perspective I highly recommend this book.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Greg Klinkel on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a well written integration of the principles of Buddhism with the 12 Steps of AA. I learned a lot about both topics from reading it... and a fair amount about myself as well.

There are many who find the 12 Steps' notion of "a Higher Power" to be a huge obstacle when trying to adopt that successful program as a means of battling their addictions. This book can help you achieve a personal defintion of "a Higher Power" that is independent of the notion of a "supreme being," yet is believable, humbling, and empowering at the same time.

I recommend this book for anyone who struggles with alcoholism--or knows someone with that struggle--and especially those who struggle with the notion of creating a personal meaning for the "Higher Power" that is so pervasive in the 12 Steps.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By P. Leavitt on September 17, 2005
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Parallels between Buddhist traditions and the Twelve-steps are drawn by an author who practices both paths to enlightenment. For those who struggle with the concept of a Higher Power it becomes clear the the struggle is counterproductive. We learn that it is simply a surrender to the peace and joy of a spiritual connection. This book deftly addresses the similar feelings and behaviors that surface in people who have all kinds of dysfunctional behaviors. Kevin Griffin focuses on deepening our spiritual life in recovery.
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