Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Prayer and meditation

I have been giving quite a bit of thought to taking classes on Buddhism at the nearby Dharma Center.  The classes won't start until September so I will continue to turn this over in my mind.  I'm not sure what I am looking for but somehow there seems to be a connection between Buddhist teachings and principles of the 12 steps.  

Improving my conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation is something that I am interested in doing.  I do a lot of meditating on the boat, but find that when I am back on land and get caught up in my daily routine, I have a more difficult time.  Clearly meditation is an important part of recovery and my spiritual growth.  It puts my mind at ease, takes away a lot of my fear, and enhances my entire well being. 

I am intrigued that several bloggers have shared how well Buddhism aligns with recovery.  And I happened across the following that I thought was interesting.  These are the 12 Steps of Liberation:
  1. The truth of suffering. We experienced the truth of our addictions – our lives were unmanageable suffering.
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering. We admit that we craved for and grasped onto addictions as our refuge.
  3. The truth of the end of suffering. We came to see that complete cessation of craving and clinging at addictions is necessary.
  4. The truth of the path. We made a decision to follow the way of liberation and to take refuge in our wakefulness, our truth, and our fellowship.
  5. Right view. We made a searching and fearless review of our life. We are willing to acknowledge and proclaim our truth to ourselves, another human being and the community.
  6. Right thought. We are mindful that we create the causes for suffering and liberation. Our goodness is indestructible.
  7. Right speech. We purify, confess and ask for forgiveness straightforwardly and without judgment. We are willing to forgive others.
  8. Right action. We make a list of all persons we harm and are willing and able to actively make amends to them all, unless to do so would be harmful.
  9. Right livelihood. We simplify our lives, realizing we are all interconnected. We select a vocation that supports our recovery.
  10. Right effort. We realize that continuing to follow this path, no matter what, is joyful effort.
  11. Right mindfulness. Through prayer, meditation and action we will follow the path of kindness, being mindful moment by moment.
  12. Right concentration. Open to the spirit of awakening as a result of these steps, we will carry this message to all people suffering with addictions.  An excerpt from Darren Littlejohn’s “The Twelve Step Buddhist"
I am curious whether you have some experience with how your understanding and practicing of Buddhist teachings has helped with your recovery.  I am interested in learning as much as I can prior to signing up for these classes in September.  


  1. Syd this is very interesting -- I worked in therapy with someone who had studied the Theravada tradition for decades and through her I read Stephen Batchelor's Buddism without Beliefs, a more secular understanding of Buddism as a right-thinking methodology without believing in reincarnation etc.

  2. Actually, I am exploring Mormonism to become a better being. I have a fairly good understanding of Buddhism. To me, in essence all religions speak of the same. If one chooses to follow them with utmost sincerity you can reach the most cleansed stage.

  3. No Buddhist lessons from me, just good wishes for you.

  4. Hi, by coincidence ( :) )a Buddhist friend sent me this recently.

    Scroll to page 4. My friend knows the author and has heard her story.

    I am Christian and I meditate in the Christian tradition using a mantra or breathing focus. Christianity has an ancient and living traditon of meditation (contemplative prayer) and healing. Unfortunately it is not well known.

    If anyone is interested here is a Christian Meditation site for 11th steppers.

  5. Wow, thank you for that reading. I haven't done any Buddism work but I want to. Now you have me interested in seeing what I can find in Houston. I love to pray and meditate and is what has helped me in my recovery like I never thought it would.

  6. It's funny but just last night it came to me that the very idea of being powerless is a very Buddhist concept. I have no idea why the thought struck me.

  7. The Buddha found the teachings while meditating, showing us that God dwelling within us will show us all the answers. How can you go wrong with that?

  8. I took a meditation 'class' at a Buddhist center the last time I worked on step 11 and it was very rewarding. I think there are a lot of different Buddhist traditions and approaches to meditation, but the one I was introduced to was the basic 'sitting still, breathing, clearing you mind and being present' kind. What really benefited me, I think, was that by committing to the class and going regularly I got in the habit of meditating and was able to keep that up after the class was over.

  9. Oh, there is definitely a connection. My husband is resistant to Al-Anon but has been taking these classes for a month or so and we're finding all kinds of commonalities. Enjoy mulling it!

  10. i have actually read several books by budistd...kind of along the same lines of thought, to further explore my relationship with God..i have ound some of the meditative practices and explorations of peace to be very meaningful...

  11. I like Kevin Griffins book One Breath At A Time to explain his view of the compatibility of Buddhism and the 12 steps. Through meditation and mindfulness I am better able to watch my mind go through it's craziness and then not act on all my old patterns. Learning I have choices of what actions I take in any given moment is freeing.
    Without the program I wouldn't have the where with all to sit in a room with a large group of people...ugh
    One day at a time...sometimes one second

  12. Along with the daily recovery-based meditation book that I read each morning, I also read a story from the book, The Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello. The book is a compilation of short stories from many sources both religious and nonreligious -Buddhist, Christian, Zen, Hasidic, Russian, Chinese, Hindu, Sufi. I just commented to my sponsor this week that while lovely to read, the stories that tell of how spiritual and serene monks and others that live in isolation from the world are, these stories are somewhat discouraging to me. If I lived alone without any ties or responsibilities to anyone and could spend 24/7 in prayer and meditation with God, I would be a little more serene, too - like you said you are on your boat. It is when we get back to the 'real world' that we have problems. I totally understand that. Regardless, it is a book I recommend. Good luck with your search.

  13. I have studied many religions, and it is my belief that the more we study and explore things that interest us the more our mind absorbs and the more we grow as human beings. The one thing I do not want to have is a closed mind. Good for you to venture out to something you have not done yet.

  14. I practice Centering Prayer as a meditation...but have also done some reading w/r/t Buddhism and spent a weekend with Thich Naht Hahn in October (living Buddha, Living Christ is a wonderful book)...I think most spiritual teachings work very well with the 12 steps. That's the beauty of our program..we are not allied with any sect, denomination, etc. What's inside of you and what resonates with you is what's important.

  15. My deceased friend Douglas studied meditation techniques with a Buddhist and it was very helpful to him wih his AA journey.
    When we traveled to Italy for a month he would often (during the day) take a few minutes to himself and he seemed to gain strength and peacefulness in that short time.
    It was especially therapeutic to him during his bout with cancer and his final days.

  16. I don't have much experience with Buddism myself, though I have a sponsee who is a Buddist. She even went to India and stayed at an Ashram there. We haven't talked about it much more than that. Would you like me to ask her to contact you? I'm sure she'd be glad to. If so, you can e-mail me at

    As far as meditation goes, I found Elizabeth Gilbert's India section in "Eat, Pray, Love" to be very instructive. It helped me, though I am sure there are probably more authoritative texts.

    I hope you blog about your experiences.

  17. When I talk to my husband about alanon, he can usually relate through the principals of budhism. He studied this in college and still meditates daily. There are a lot of similarities. I think you will learn a lot and really like it.

  18. I have a good friend who goes to the Meditation in Recovery group at the San Francisco Zen Center...

    Also have another friend in recovery who sits zazen in New Jersey. And another friend in recovery who is a Buddhist monk at Green Gulch. ... Buddhism is harmonious with the 12 steps.

    My way of approaching prayer and meditation is Quaker. Which is harmonious with Buddhism (and the 12 steps)...

    My general inclination is, if it resonates with my heart, I check it out.

  19. I did study buddhism for a while. I found that the discipline helped me to center and meditate (very like the jesuit centering prayer traditions) but the principle of Karma left no room for grace and mercy which was clearly present in my life daily. It left no room for miracles, the truth of which I experience daily. It teaches discipline which I cannot achieve myself. I just couldn't be that self-disciplined and couldn't not participate in the world with it's people, couldn't stop desiring to be in contact with the world.

    It left me wanting more, where as the concepts I hold so dearly now, the ones I have grasped more fully as a result of the program of recovery found in the Big Book, well it brings joy and peace in connection with others flawed and fallible and all. It seemed (for me) that the buddhist traditions taught more of a peace in seperation from others and from worldly things, though I may have that completely wrong. I began my study of that long ago and I find that as in all things I don't know much.

    It just didn't bring me joy, but it did teach me some really great ideas and concepts. I understand there are those who do find a lot of peace and understanding there, and the concepts, the general concepts are quite good and fair.

    Good stuff to learn, some of the disciplines helped me considerably, I ultimately took another path.

  20. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and the road to Him is narrow. Watch out for religions that teach that all streams empty into the same river. Doesn't anyone have a problem with (Buddha) a man who would claim to hear from god that he should leave his wife and days old son to follow the path of enlightenment?


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