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Mindfulness and the 12 Steps: Living Recovery in the Present Moment Paperback – April 23, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Part meditation guide, part self-help book, Jacobs-Stewart's effort delves into the ways in which spirituality and mindfulness can coincide with effective recoveries. "In our addictions, we were never here in the moment. We wanted to be gone. Now we are learning to wake up to the joy of being alive." The author, a psychologist and founder of the Mind Roads Meditation Center, takes readers through her own recovery and attempts to guide them through theirs. She shares her personal history: she comes from four generations of "Irish alcoholics... way back to the 'old country.'" She talks of her pain, loneliness, drug addiction, and the decision to get professional help in her mid-20s, which proved a major step. Jacobs-Stewart (Paths are Made by Walking) also shares her encounters with Buddhism, providing details of meetings with monks, and includes instructions on how to maximize mindfulness daily, suggesting exercises that can help to clear minds and calm nerves, but her aim is often better than her execution. Though her own stories give the discussion personality and heft, her advice to readers bogs down with jargon, making her volume at times difficult to get through.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--Kevin Griffin, author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps and A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery
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Many have complained that 12 step recovery programs are shame driven and while stating emphatically that they have no opinion on outside issues, find plenty of patronizing if not down-right disparaging things to say about non-Judeo-Christian-believers and scientists who contemplate the universe and the atom. I have long been disappointed with the idea which recurs throughout the 12 steps and the 12 traditions, that spirituality is contingent on believing in this personal relationship with a God of our understanding, which even Catholics will see as a Protestant idea, and that if you fail to get that you will suffer and die. It actually says it in Tradition 1, just to set the tone right from the get go. Some of us have had to make do with inanimate manifestations of the power of nature, or the fellowship, as a temporary higher power, faking it till we make it. Then I discovered Buddhism which not only states it has no opinions on outside metaphysical speculations one way or the other, but also replaces notions of shame and confession with the bigger sky of opportunity based on behavior modification, and an unending contemplation of loving-kindness and compassion not just to others, but to our own "character defects."
Therefore, I think the 12 steps is an unsurpassed tool for recovery, and openly accept all the different beliefs people adopt and that give them solace from the painful delusions which are the handmaidens of addiction, with the slight modification that spirituality is not the exclusive domain of those who believe in a singular God, but also includes those whose behavior of acceptance and compassion transcends all finite systems.
I am very happy for this book to be here and hope that one day we can use it as a group in my own community.
This author does a wonderful job of translating the steps into understandable and relatable language. She uses storytelling to help do this, sharing from her own life. She then, clearly and simply explains Buddhist concepts that apply to each step. She draws from many Buddhist concepts. She also speaks on how her time as a Buddhist in a Christian retreat center helped her. At the end of each chapter is a meditation or type of activity that one can use in their recovery.
Even if you are not an "addict" per de, you would likely get a lot out of this book. Most of us have some sort of unhealthy habit or mental pattern we'd like to work through. This book can help.