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One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  314 ratings  ·  47 reviews
What would the Buddha say to an alcoholic or addict? What could those in recovery offer to the Buddhist path? Kevin Griffin has immersed himself in the Buddhist and Twelve Step traditions, and in One Breath at a Time he gives some surprising and inspiring answers to these questions.
The author, a Buddhist meditation teacher and longtime Twelve Step practitioner, weaves his
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 9th 2004 by Rodale Books
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Community Reviews

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Steve Woods
May 06, 2010 Steve Woods rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone in a 12 step program or working as a counselor
Recommended to Steve by: no one
As someone who had a long experience with the AA program and who was not able to apply it in a time of crisis so that addiction again became a part of my life this little book was a life saver! After 10 years of sobriety and then a further 10 years of using, my return to the rooms was very shaky indeed. At another bottom, coming after 10 years of drinking with a head full of AA and no faith, things were looking pretty bad. The alcohol had stopped working and I was trapped with my demons, I knew ...more
Charlane Brady
A brilliant account of a man coming to terms with his disease, sobriety and practicing Buddhism - written in an easy to understand format and with just enough detail. This book is especially good regarding meditation.

The best recovery book I've ever read. It's a must have for anyone who is struggling with the Higher Power facet of the Twelve Steps. In fact, I think (and I'm sure many would disagree) that this should be "approved literature" in AA. There is a meeting in my area that uses this book rather than the Big Book and it's pretty powerful.

I loved this book too much, I think. I underlined everything. Then I went out and got the Eight Fold Path tattooed on my wrist. I could really kick my own ass for th
Jigme Datse
I did not really enjoy this anywhere near as much as I really thought I would. It is more "The 12-steps looking pretty much exactly as they are, but explaining how exactly how they are, is entirely Buddhist." In a way it helped to look a little differently at it, but it really didn't feel very much like a "Buddhist view of the 12-steps" but a "12-steppers' view of Buddhism".

Admittedly, this might be a tad better than what I have experienced in 12-step meetings from people who I know fully that t
Probably the most important book for my sobriety. While working each of the 12 steps, I would start by reading the little section in the Big Book, on that particular step, then I would read the chapter in the 12 and 12 and then I would drive it home reading the chapter, with all the lovely stories, on the chapter on that step in Kevin's book. I was finally able to work thru all the steps successfully. An amazing book for anyone in any 12 step program.
Mark Reiter
A worthwhile and personal look at the 12 Steps through the eyes of a Buddhist. There's a lot here for people looking for ways to work the eleventh step in a more meaningful way. Also, pretty good for people struggling with old ideas of a higher power. A worthy read for folks looking to deepen their spiritual program which is really the point, right? Good stuff!
Chris Gager
I'm not really on page 5 yet. I got this on loan from a recovery friend and started briefly earlier today by reading some of the intro, whose pages are Roman numeralized... WHY do writers/publishers do this? Isn't it all part of the text??? I guess I need to accept and move on. Should be excellent and interesting.

Now into the regular text. Starts with a drunk-a-log. Typical!

Step one finished along with some nice introductory stuff about Buddhism(I finally am spelling it right!) and meditation fo
1. What did you find moving, notable and/or surprising about the information or point(s) of view introduced in this book?
The author was very open about the embarrassing things he did.

2. There are many provocative ideas in this book. Name one and explain why it captured your attention.
The idea that we do have to accept a "higher power" to fully participate in AA

3. Did reading this book increase your interest in the subject matter? Decrease? Explain.
I'm more interested--I was intrigued by the idea
Feb 15, 2010 Meen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: potential 12-Steppers who don't like the theism therein
Recommended to Meen by: Amazon
It's been happening for a while, but I just can't get into the 12 Steps anymore. I just can't get into "programs." I thought it was because they are so Judeao-Christo-centric and so maybe a Buddhist perspective would be helpful. But Mel Ash's The Zen of Recovery was much better at removing the God than this book. That may be b/c Ash is Zen and Griffin is Vipassana. Either way, it seems that "spirituality" in any kind of supernatural or touchy-feely, non-empirical sense is just not my thing anymo ...more
Sachiko Eguchi
This was more of a personal essay rather than self-helps that have many ideas that you can apply to your everyday life. Though I appreciated his taking us readers through his own journey to how he found buddhism and how much of an impact it made to himself, I expected more spiritually uplifting book that really teaches me things. This was alright. A nice try though.
We now consider any kind of addiction a disease. I can’t help thinking, with what we know about neuropsychology, medications, psychotherapy, neuroscience, psychology, addiction and the general workings of the brain when it comes to addiction, if all of a sudden the medical profession faced a disease called addiction, if the whole AA 12 step tradition would be endorsed. I mean we don’t tell people who have illnesses that the only means of recovery is to do a 12 step program and pray to a higher p ...more
Chandra Slavonic
I am in my third reading of this book. I use it to deepen my understanding of the 12 Steps and to inspire me in my meditation practices and in my 12 Step program. It gives me much to contemplate and enriches my life with this inspiration. I do not remember when I first read this book, so I am not putting a date read here.
Patrick O'Neil
Kevin Griffin was an alcoholic musician whose life was going nowhere. He couldn’t seem to keep it together – his relationships, bands and apartments all would dissolve away – and he was at a loss as to why. He was drinking himself into a stupor every night in an effort to not be present in his life, a life he felt he wasn’t in control of. Unfulfilled, unenlightened, unhappy, he sought help for his alcoholism in Alcoholics Anonymous and along the way found Buddhism. Griffin’s story isn’t that uni ...more
Sean Gardner
This is a really great book for anyone that wants to see how the 12 Steps and Buddhism can work together. Kevin speaks with honesty and simplicity and really helps the reader understand how we can use both traditions when dealing with addiction. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is try to break addictive patterns in their lives, not just for alcoholics and drug addicts, the 12 steps can be used for any form of addiction and Buddhism is a path that can help anyone achieve more peace and ...more
Dharmamitra Stefani
May 15, 2012 Dharmamitra Stefani rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Long-term Sobriety, especially --> "Eastern" Modalities, Philosophies and Religions.
Recommended to Dharmamitra by: Muddy Water Zen Center
Buddhism and Recovery are what I Do with my Life, ergo, I really appreciated this book. I could related tremendously to his personal story; which bares an Uncanny resemblance to my Own Path of Buddhism and 12-Step Recovery from Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, to Breaking the first Thtee Fetters, and Entering-The-Stream.... Keep you posted on my own memoirs about Buddhism and Recovery, Titled: "There Are No Rules: 4 Noble-Truths, The Buddha's Noble 8-Fold Path and The 12-Steps of Recovery from Al ...more
This is the type of book to which I'd rather not give a rating. I enjoyed this, learned something new, appreciated the Buddhist perspective on the steps. Glad to have read this.
Excellent integration of Buddhism w/12-Step. Useful for any kind of addiction, compulsion, or anxiety. Helped dissolve my aversion to concepts such as "higher power" and "creator."
Carrie Ann
Mar 12, 2008 Carrie Ann is currently reading it
I originally purchased this book for a family member in recover but soon purchased a copy of myself. The advicem, techniques, and wisdom in this book are timeless, whether you're struggling with any type of problem in your life or just want to deepend your own spirituality and/or Buddhist practice. It's a great book to use to really get to know yourself - not just your good qualities, but anything and everything in between.
As a relatively new 12-stepper and a long-time meditator, this book really brought it all together for me and affirmed that I am on the right path. I appreciate the Author's sharing of his own personal struggles with recovery and authenticity as it makes him more human and accessible.

I would highly recommend it to anyone who struggles with the concept of "Higher Power" or "God" in recovery.
Junky's  Wife
I like this perspective on the steps. I wish, however, that there were some questions to answer. I always enjoy a good workbook for the steps. So, Kevin Griffin, I'm putting you on 'bout a workbook to accompany this book? If you need a writer who's familiar with Buddhism and the steps, I might know someone with very reasonable rates who'd be willing to help you out...
Kevin Griffin makes a valiant effort to translate the twelve steps of AA into Buddhist principles for the benefits of Buddhist addicts . I had difficulty with the book, perhaps because I am not well grounded in Buddhism . Be that as it may, AA is a spiritual program , and I found Griffin's goal to remove the concept of a Higher Power from the 12 steps puzzling.
Yet another book to reread. I didn't know this book was about drug & alcohol addiction when I bought it - I thought it was about Buddhism, but it applies to all of us because we all have addictions in one way or another. This book is so well written. I doubt the author knew what a great writer he was when he set out to write this book. Excellent read.
Tony Whittum
This is a significant work in my opinion for anyone interested in Buddhism and how it directly relates to and can be used inconjunction to the Twelve Steps.
The author writes in a clear and concise and conversational style.
This book has had a significant impact on my life.
I plan on reading and working with this book repeatedly! (Twelve imes? :)
I'd give this a 4.5. I really enjoyed this book as it gives valuable information about the 12 steps as a Buddhist. Unlike other accounts I've heard, the author was a Buddhist before getting into recovery. Buddhism strongly empahsizes letting go, a concept deeply ingrained in the 12 steps and one most addicts and alcoholics could stand to learn more about.
I have already read this book twice, and am now reading it again for a study group on Buddhism and the Twelve Steps. Highly recommended for those interested in this topic. I will write a more thorough review after this reading.
Phyllis Gardner
Buddhism and the principles behind the Twelve Steps blend well. I think the author could have done a better job showing the harmony. Nothing wrong with the book - just not what I was looking for.
Pake Hall
This bok didn't blow me away. But if you have addiction issues and are interested in the Dharma and/or just meditation - I still really recommend this one. It's honest and helpful.
Steve Malley
Kevin Griffin has been through the ringer and come out the other side. See how pursuit of a positive approach worked for Kevin on his alcohol problem.
Amazing. Enlightening. The melding of Buddhas teachings and mantras with 12 step vernacular in a seamless storytelling manner. I read it over and over.
if you are interested in buddhism and the 12 steps I think it is a good read. Kinda about the author's journey through addiction and spirituality.
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Kevin Griffin is the author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps, the breakthrough book that established him as a leader in the mindful recovery movement. Since its publication, Kevin has toured extensively, giving workshops and lectures at places as diverse as Harlem, the Colorado Rockies, and Hawaii. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he teaches “Dharma and Recovery” at Spiri ...more
More about Kevin Griffin...
A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery Buddhism and the Twelve Steps: A Recovery Workbook for Individuals and Groups Recovery One Breath at a Time: Mindfulness Practices for Overcoming Addiction One Breath, Twelve Steps: A Buddhist Path to Recovery from Addiction Recovering Joy: A Mindful Life After Addiction

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