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One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps
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One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  508 Ratings  ·  54 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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Steve Woods
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.

Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who are in "the program" and struggle with the idea of (G)od.
This book went a long way to helping me realize that I don't have to believe in a white-haired western old man in order to be a part of the fellowship of a twelve-step program for recovery from drugs & alcohol.

I was especially impressed with the author's faithfulness to both traditions. He doesn't feel compelled to modernize the steps and illustrates with sincere ease how Buddhism (a non-theistic spiritual tradition) and AA work together for him. I really enjoyed it and found it helpful.
Feb 05, 2010 added it
I did not know how Buddha fitted into my 12-Step Program until I read this book. Now I am not so hung up on trying to figure out the verbage of my Higher Power and what that really meant to me. This book spoke to me like no other I have recently read. Thank you Kevin Griffin
Jigme Datse
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 07, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mark Reiter
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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!
Donghyun Lee
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beyond steps...

The book have changed my life, giving amazing strength to keep my soberiety. In the perspective of Buddihism, the author shows how steps can be integrated into the mindfulness.
Chris Gager
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recovery
One of the biggest surprises of middle age is that rereading is quite enjoyable. There are times when I consume a book, like I finish off the juice to get it out of the fridge, not because I'm thirsty or crazing sweet juice, but to just get rid of it. Is that spiritual materialism? I read this book before I cross the invisible line into addiction. Well, maybe. I think that I read so much about recovery and recovery memoirs was that I was asking myself if I was addicted. The first thing they tell ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
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
Patrick O'Neil
Oct 02, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Moti Rieber
I've read a number of books on this subject and this is by far the best. His knowledge of both recovery and Buddhism is thorough, and the writing comes across like a patient teacher (or sponsor) sharing his experience, strength and hope. He tackles many difficult 12 step topics, such as "the will of God" and the Lord's Prayer, and interprets them through a non-theistic lens - but always finding a way to access them, rather than declaring them a lost cause and looking for an alternative. If you'r ...more
Dharmamitra Jeff Stefani
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Long-term Sobriety, especially --> "Eastern" Modalities, Philosophies and Religions.
Recommended to Dharmamitra Jeff 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 A ...more
Sean Gardner
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Carrie Ann
Mar 12, 2008 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.
Barbara Mayer
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Understand ing addiction from a different perspective

Addiction is not easy to understand. Whether you are the addict or you are I living with one or know someone who is struggling. I liked this book because it gave a different perspective with a non Christian view. I can not wrap my head around the typical western attitude but this view I can relate to. Insightful and soul stirring.
Tony Whittum
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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? :)
Junky's  Wife
Nov 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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...
Dec 13, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Chandra Slavonic
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sachiko Eguchi
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
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.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Though I didn't finish this book, I rated it 4 stars because what I did read was very insightful and useful to me as the spouse of someone who is an atheist and in the program. Would definitely recommend this to other nonbelievers for a different take on the 12 steps.
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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...
“Buddhadasa says there are two other components to God besides “nature” and the laws of nature: the responsibilities of humans in relation to the laws, and the fruits of fulfilling those responsibilities. This means that if we make certain choices, we will get certain results. If we align ourselves skillfully with the Law of Karma, we will have pleasant results—the fruits. In the Steps, this is what is meant by “the care of God.” This is not a God who takes care of us just because he’s a nice guy. It’s far more impersonal than that. Instead, we fulfill our karmic responsibilities, and we receive the karmic results. Every” 0 likes
“these words fit best my sense of a Higher Power: a vast, subtle energy pervading all things—a Great Spirit.” 0 likes
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