‘Mindfulness’ sessions help Drug Court offenders fight addiction, stress

wildmind meditation newsPhaedra Haywood, The New Mexican: Giggles and stocking feet aren’t something normally associated with a courtroom, but that’s what you’ll find if you enter state District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer’s courtroom on a Thursday afternoon.

Offenders in the First District’s Drug Court and Treatment Court programs are now required to participate in mindfulness and body awareness exercises, Marlowe Sommer said, because studies have shown that they can help reduce recidivism, especially for people who struggle with addictions. The components were added to the court programs about six weeks ago.

Drug Court, aimed at repeat offenders with addiction issues, and Treatment Court, for those …

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Meditation or Drugs: The Downside of Cannabis

Cannabis leaf held up to the sun

New research shows that teenage cannabis use causes lasting damage. As well as the physiological damage, Buddhism suggests that drugs are  about avoiding experience rather than engaging with mindfully with it 

Some of the parents I know with teenage children who use cannabis are fairly relaxed about what’s happening. ‘It isn’t doing any harm’, one tells me. ‘Alcohol’s much worse.’ Others would really like their children to stop but are at their wits end. It’s OK, they say, but not in the house, not on weekdays, or only after you’ve done your homework.

I don’t envy them and no doubt the scientific study reported this week will fuel their worries. It finds that, true to the stoner stereotype, cannabis users have problems with memory, attention and processing information. Most worryingly, the IQs of people who start using cannabis before eighteen drop by an average eight percent, and the damage persists even if they later stop.

The cannabis users I know usually want to chill out, escape stress and access a state of mellow relaxation. Some say it’s natural: a herb, not a drug and an alternative to harried modern living. In fact, some believe, it’s rather like meditation. However, Buddhism has five main ethical precepts and the last is ‘abstaining from intoxicants’. This isn’t a rigorous prohibition, and Buddhists aren’t always strictly teetotal or drug-free. It’s a ‘principle of training’, as we say, that encourages people to avoid drink and drugs because they ‘cloud the mind’ and cause ‘heedlessness’.

The positive counterpart of the precept is the practice of mindfulness: the capacity to be fully present and attentive to whatever’s happening in our experience. In other words, Buddhism posits a choice in our mental lives between avoiding what’s happening if it’s difficult or troubling; and acknowledging or even accepting it.

People who use drugs to circumvent serious emotional difficulties are choosing avoidance, and the work of therapists is helping them to find alternatives to escaping their problems. But the Buddhist perspective is also relevant to those for whom smoking cannabis is just an enjoyable way to relax and be with friends.

This has become increasingly acceptable because it seems harmless. However, the new research suggests that, in the case of teenage cannabis use, that’s far from the truth. If the research withstands scrutiny, laissez faire attitudes will have to change. But alongside the physiological dangers are the emotional and psychological effects of drug use. The fundamental choice we all face is whether to inhabit a haze filled by dope smoke or some other form of sedative, intoxicant, entertainment or distraction; or to engage with our lives wholeheartedly, with all their frustrations and all their beauty.

This was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day slot on  29/08/2012. UK readers can listen to the audio here

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Course helps addicts to take the next step

Theo Garrun (The Star, South Africa): Gill went on a job interview last week, her first in nine years.

She was a successful saleswoman once, but hasn’t worked since then and has been in the depths of self-destruction and substance abuse in-between.

She doesn’t know whether she got the job or not, but the important thing is that she got the interview and feels that she has the mental and physical strength to attend it and give it a go.

It’s been a journey to get to this point, starting with breaking her addiction and going through rehabilitation.

“That part was crucial,” she says, “but as important …

[Article is no longer available]
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Playboy exposes Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra

Self-help guru Deepak Chopra is the subject of an interview in the March edition of Playboy.

Chopra is an Indian-American author and alternative medicine advocate. A prominent figure in the New Age movement, his books and videos have made him one of the best-known and wealthiest figures in alternative medicine. His discussions of quantum healing have been characterized as technobabble – “incoherent babbling strewn with scientific terms” which drives those who actually understand physics “crazy” and as “redefining Wrong.”

On his love of blogging, and what it’s doing on a meta-level to consciousness in our society: “First of all, I love blogging. I love the immediacy. I love the reach. I love the instant connection with so many people. It’s vast and it’s fast. But the impact remains to be seen. If it blunts our emotional intelligence or our face-to-face, eye-to-eye, body-to-body contact—and we’re certainly heading in the direction—it will be extremely detrimental. On the other hand, if you can integrate with it, it’s an amazing technology to reach a critical mass of consciousness. I personally love participating in it.”

On partying with George Harrison in the past: “George was a sweet person. And yes, we did some stuff together, like bhang. You know what bhang is? It’s ganja. It’s similar to cannabis. We drank it together in India. He was a lovely man. We listened to music together. We would discuss everything from creativity to spirituality to the divine. He had his own visions of other realms of existence and was more of a literalist than I was, but he was a lot of fun to be with.”

On his thoughts on cannabis and other recreational drugs: “Drugs are not part of my life, but I have tried them all. I’ve done LSD. At 17 it led me to my first spiritual awakening. I’ve done mushrooms—everything. But all at a young age. I certainly don’t regret it. It gave me a glimpse into a different reality. I recognized that I can actually navigate these realms in my consciousness. I’d go so far as to say that drugs were a source of great joy to me, great nourishment and the source of all my writing. So much of what I’ve written comes from my being able to go into other states of consciousness.”

On the challenges his native India now faces as a growing world economy: “Overcoming hubris is a big one. India is getting a false sense of pride because it made a nuclear bomb—because the middle class is expanding dramatically. Globally, yes, it’s an economic superpower, but Indians are totally ignoring the fact that 30% of their children go to bed hungry — starving. They are ignoring the fact that 300 million people still live in abysmal poverty and there’s still a lot of communal tension and violence. India has huge problems.”

On his enormous success and how he does not save nor invest any of his money: “I’ve hit the jackpot as far as selling books is concerned. That’s where my income comes from. But I put it back into the business, and what’s left I put into my foundation—I don’t invest and I don’t save. I carry maybe $200 and a credit card in my pocket. If you ask me to read a bank statement, I can’t. I believe that when I die there won’t be anything for anyone. In the meanwhile, until I’m dead, my wife is totally taken care of from my royalties. My children are self-sufficient, so I don’t need to give them any money. I keep about $30,000 in my account and the rest goes to keeping the operation running.”

On if he believes that science has proven some of his theories correct: “In many instances, yes—The EEGs of people in meditative states repeatedly show increases in alpha waves [indicating wakeful relaxation], which proves we have the power to change our bodies with our minds. More recently it’s been proved that prolonged periods of meditation, like you see with monks in monasteries, can change the brain permanently. The fight-or-flight centers in the brain that normally light up to trigger alarm and anxiety are quieted—.That doesn’t mean they’re duller to the world. It means they’re more quietly alert in a way that’s permanently hardwired in their consciousness—If we teach patients in hospitals how to relax, to breathe properly, to meditate, to do some passive movements or even bedside yoga—we can get rid of what most drugs are prescribed for, which is insomnia, nausea, constipation, anxiety and pain. That’s 80% of what’s prescribed in a hospital, and it’s unnecessary.”

On his many skeptics in the scientific and academic communities: “The skeptics are all angry people. They’re mostly high school teachers with old science behind them. And now they have a few champions such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Leonard Mlodinow is co-author with Stephen Hawking of a recent book that refutes the existence of God. They all love to call me the woo-woo master, or Dr. Woo, and I admit, they did anger me. But I decided to reach out to them and engage with these issues. I wrote to Leonard and said, ‘It seems like you know your mathematics, but conceptually you and I have a lot of disagreements. You definitely don’t understand consciousness. So why don’t we get together and hang out, and you teach me physics and I’ll teach you consciousness?’ We’re [now] doing a book together. It’s about the things that physics and spirituality can agree on and what physics and spirituality cannot agree on. It’s called War of the Worlds. It’s a big book. We’ve got a multimillion-dollar contract for it. It’s going to be huge.”

On if he thinks the Catholic Church will survive its many sex scandals: “It’s the hypocrisy I worry about. If it were just saying sexuality or homosexuality is fine, there would be no problems. But condemning certain types of sexuality as sinful while its own clergy is hiding pedophiles, that’s the height of hypocrisy.”

On his thoughts about organized religions: “All religions are hypocritical—Organized religion is all corrupt. It’s just a cult with a large following. Get a large enough following and you can call yourself a religion, and then it becomes all about control and power mongering, corruption and money. We don’t need mediators to experience God.”

On the happiest person he knows: “The Dalai Lama is the real deal. He loves everything. He’s authentically who he is. He never gets upset. He’s not even mad at the Chinese. If you ask him he says, ‘No. What they do is very upsetting, but I’m not mad at them.’—I remember we were with him in London and he ordered bacon and eggs for breakfast and everybody went crazy because they don’t realize that Tibetans are not vegetarians. He looked around because he knew he was being a bit provocative, but we all just started to laugh.”

On his advice for finding happiness, and avoiding conformity: “The highest form of intelligence you can have is to observe yourself. Let it go at that. You don’t need to judge, you don’t need to analyze, you don’t even need to change. This is the key to life: the ability to reflect, the ability to know yourself, the ability to pause for a second before reacting automatically. If you can truly know yourself, you will begin the journey of transformation—As human beings we have unlimited potential and imagination. The worst thing you can do is be a conformist and buy into conformity. It’s the worst possible thing. It’s better to be outrageous—better to hang out with the sages, the people open to possibilities, even the psychotics. You never know where you’ll find the geniuses of our society.”

Original article no longer available.

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Monkey mind, ganja, inflammation, and commuting

News reporting on meditation is always going to be a mixed bag, with practical and serious articles interspersed with pieces in a more flippant mood. The latter style is perfectly exemplified by an extraordinarily silly column by Denise Malloy of Montana’s Bozeman Chronicle. In “Monkeying Around with Meditation” Malloy tells us that five minutes of meditation (done by following instructions from a book) was enough to make her skeptical about the proven health benefits of meditation, as well as its potential to bring about inner peace. To be fair, the writer’s tone tends more toward self-mockery than to mockery of meditation itself. But her article made me want to send her a meditation CD.

And then there are the stories that are serious but cover subject that are “out there.” David Silverberg of Toronto’s Globe and Mail writes about “Ganja Yoga.” This is new to me, but apparently some people believe that a toke of marijuana before a yoga session will help you stretch, open up to new philosophical perspectives, and even, according to one class participant, “Marijuana quells those voices in your mind.”

Representing the “serious article on a serious topic,” Live Science reports on a study showing that women who had practiced yoga regularly for at least two years had lower levels of inflammation in their bodies than did women who only recently took up the activity. And all without the aid of inhaled substances. The mechanisms that reduce inflammation may include deep breathing (which reduces stress), greater awareness of one’s feelings, and also the fact of exercising, which has been shown to reduce inflammation.

Finally, Brian Glaser of Baristanet (a news publication we’d hitherto been unaware of) has a nice piece on using the morning commute as an opportunity to meditation. Meditation teacher Susan Morton is quoted as saying,

“When your train or bus get stuck, the first thing that arises is that the mind makes judgments and you have frustrations. You can take the opportunity to observe how stressed out you become through the stories your mind tells you about what’s happening.”

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Meditation may improve drinking and substance abuse behaviors in active military personnel

Meditation may help improve drinking and substance abuse behaviors in active duty service personnel undergoing treatment in a residential program, according to results from a small study reported at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2010 Annual Meeting.

“Using mindfulness-based, breath-centered meditation may be a helpful treatment modality for service members who wish to recover from substance dependence or abuse,” said lead investigator Amy Canuso, DO, from the Department of Psychiatry at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California, during her presentation.

“I would tell clinicians that this is an option that should be explored,” Dr. Canuso told Medscape Psychiatry. “I would consider including it in therapeutic programs at facilities and into therapeutic practice. Substance abuse treatment should really be a team effort with a multidisciplined approach.”

“We all want to encourage healthy living techniques, and this might just be an important piece to the puzzle,” she added.

Meditation gaining recognition

Traditional mental health therapies are often incorporated in substance use treatments aimed at both the military and the civilian sector, Dr. Canuso reported. However, she added, there is also growing interest right now in alternative-type treatments and 1 modality of treatment that is gaining recognition is meditation.

“As a fourth-year resident, I’m starting to realize that there are some things that medications can do and some things they can’t, which is also true of cognitive behavior and other techniques,” added Dr. Canuso. “For me, personally, meditation is something I practice and I was interested to see if it could work, especially in this setting.”

For this study, the investigators reviewed the records of 20 active duty service personnel (19 men, 1 woman) enrolled in a 30-day substance abuse rehabilitation program at the Naval Medical Center. These patients also underwent a once-weekly 90-minute group class for 4 consecutive weeks. The class focused on teaching specific meditation techniques to practice between meetings.

Service members with any diagnosis of psychosis were excluded from the study.

In addition to keeping practice logs and journals, the participants anonymously filled out the Stages of Change Readiness and Treatment Eagerness Scale (SOCRATES) survey both at the beginning and at the end of treatment.

Significant improvements

Results showed significant improvements between the pretreatment and posttreatment SOCRATES scores in recognition (from 17.1 to 32.3), ambivalence (from 8.4 to 12.7), and “taking steps towards change in drinking behaviors” (from 16.6 to 36.9), reported the investigators.

The same 3 areas also showed significant improvements according to Student t test results (P < .001 for all). In addition, the patients reported better sleep, relaxation, and improved frustration tolerance.

Study limitations cited included the small sample size and that no comparison with a “treatment as usual” group was conducted.

“This was a very small study, but the results have encouraged me to continue the research and see if the results we found were in any way exclusive to the use of meditation,” said Dr. Canuso. “The more information we have and the more evidence based it is, the more likely it will become a viable treatment option.”

[via MedScape Today]
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Meditation for overcoming trauma

Award winning mental health blogger Seaneen Molloy sets out on a quest to meet people who have a different take on working with emotional distress. This month, Seaneen meets Valerie Mason-John, a writer and anger management coach who advocates ‘mindfulness’ practice for mental wellbeing.

With my feet firmly in the 21st century, I see Buddhism as something belonging to the past – irrelevant to the modern world, except perhaps to the most laid-back of hippies. As for meditation, I can’t even imagine assuming the lotus position, and humming, “Ommm…” without wanting to guffaw!

Mindfulness is said to encourage a calm awareness of, and connection to, the body and the world around us. Its practice has been used to help people suffering from depression, personality disorders, anxiety and eating disorders. I want to know if the techniques can help me, so I visit the London Buddhist Centre and meet experienced meditation teacher Valerie Mason-John.

She’s nothing like I imagined a Buddhist to be – casually dressed and with an authoritative, yet easy manner. But Valerie’s life wasn’t always so calm. She spent her childhood between an abusive home life and social care. It was a traumatic time and by her twenties she was living in the “fast lane”, clubbing and taking recreational drugs.

I ask Valerie how she made the transformation to ordained Buddhist. She says “I used to laugh at people who went on retreats and meditated. But in my late twenties, I knew I needed a change.”

Valerie recalls, “Transcendental meditation was a profound experience and after a month, I thought the world had changed. But I was changing and becoming more compassionate”.

I reflect that a lot of people with mental health problems often take anger out on themselves. But, I ask Valerie, does it always need to be destructive?

“Anger is an energy, but when we hold on to it it becomes this toxic luggage we carry”, she says, adding “mindfulness of anger allows us to be creative and constructive with it instead. When we become angry we lose mindfulness and the body sends us warnings. We need to be aware of our bodies to read these signs and realise the need to pause. Mindfulness gives us an opportunity to do something different.”

Seeing how peaceful and calm Valerie is, I can’t help but feel a bit jealous. This morning, I ate my breakfast while being beeped at by buses on the Holloway Road. Stress, for me, is a kicker into illness, but even Valerie’s story doesn’t make me want to go on a retreat to learn how to deal with it.

I want to see for myself how effective meditation is, so I ask Valerie to guide me through an exercise in body awareness. She stresses the importance of the sitting position. “You don’t have to sit in the lotus position”, she reassures me. Given that I’m short and relatively unbendy, I content myself with straddling a few cushions.

I’m self-conscious and have trouble sitting properly – I’m too tense. “Think of your body as an elastic band”, she advises. “You don’t want to be too taut, or too loose – you need that energy, and tension”.

I finally manage to get comfortable, and close my eyes. Under her hypnotically gentle instruction, I silently count one, then two, then three, breathing in and out, all the way to ten and back again. This is called mindfulness of the breath and I find it difficult not to respond to her voice. Occasionally she reminds me to, “explore quietness” – this isn’t something I’m used to doing.
I sit for a few minutes in silence, breathing in and out. Finally, Valerie tells me that if I’m ready, I can open my eyes. I do so, and it takes a moment for me to adjust to the room, even with its ambient, unthreatening lighting. I feel as though I’ve been asleep.

On my way out, I pass through the peaceful garden of the Buddhist Centre. I find myself back on the busy main road, feeling, if not transformed, then a little bit lighter. Part of me wants to rush home, to get back to work, but another part of me thinks, “What’s the hurry?”.

So I stop at a cafe, smile at the waitress and drink a cup of tea outside in the drizzle, leaving my laptop languishing in my bag. I feel like, oh dear, a bit of a hippy! The things that normally bother me, the roar of cars and the rain, don’t seem quite so important. I look at some of the leaflets I picked up and realise that I don’t need to be a Buddhist to meditate. It may not be a cure, but I did feel happier, if only for an hour.

About Valerie Mason-John
Valerie (also known as Queenie) won Mind Book of the Year award for her debut novel, The Banana Kid (previously entitled Borrowed Bodies). Besides being an ordained member of the Western Buddhist Order, she’s published a self-help book, Detox Your Heart which consists of meditation guides interspersed with her own personal stories.

Visit Valerie Mason-John’s personal blog explores issues around meditation, anger and identity.

[via BBC “Ouch!”]
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Getting High: On Drugs, Medication Or Meditation?

Huffington Post: We all seek that rush or high, the feel-good factor that turns us on and makes us feel that we can succeed and even conquer the world. Getting high is one of the great pleasures of life and that is why so many people find different ways to do it, whether through alcohol, the use of recreational drugs, such as marijuana, or prescription drugs, such as pain killers, all of which aim at altering our consciousness enough that our present reality becomes workable and even enjoyable.

In 2007 66% of high school seniors regularly drank alcohol, 31% smoked dope, while 10% used other opiates. Among adults, according to data from the 2006 National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 112 million Americans (45% of the population) reported illicit drug use at least once, 15% reported use of a drug within the past year, and 8% reported use of a drug within the past month. Vicadin is one of the most widely prescribed painkillers and it is used and abused by teenagers and adults alike.

This adds up to a lot of people and, as we all know, reported statistics are often very short of the mark. Most of us have “inhaled” at least once. Although pot is a party drug and in some cases considered sacred weed, there are also many known side effects, such as addiction (Ed remembers his friend Judy saying, “I’m not addicted; I’ve just been smoking grass for 20 years.”), mental disturbance, and erratic behavior. Vicadin is now likely to be banned, along with Percocet, because it is detrimental to the liver, while alcohol is damaging not only to the liver but also to relationships.

In his twenties in NYC, Ed was a part of the generation that took drugs freely and often. It was a time of Be Ins and Love Ins, when Ed hung out with Tim Leary and Ram Dass who promoted LSD, with poet Allen Ginsberg, and the author of One Flew Over The Cookoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey. Then he met Swami Satchidananda, who said that if the LSD pill can make you a saint then you should be able to take a pill to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a scientist, because being a saint is much more difficult than those! Satchidananda then introduced Ed to yoga and meditation.

“I was blown away with meditation as it didn’t have the side effects of dope — no laziness, munchies, or coming down. I realized this was a great alternative as I was getting just as high, but without the negatives. My mind was clear, alert and and focused.” Ed then went to India to train and his teacher there, Swami Satyananda, said how taking LSD was like shooting a bullet to Nirvana but not knowing how you got there, while meditation was like learning the route in detail.

The word meditation and the word medication have the same prefix derived from the Latin word medicus, meaning to care or to cure, indicating that meditation is the most appropriate medicine or antidote for stress; a quiet calmness is the most efficient remedy for a busy and overworked mind.

Our new book BE THE CHANGE – How Meditation Can Transform You and the World helps us to understand how we can become free without drugs — a natural high without the hangover!

Five Reasons Why Meditation is the Best Natural High

1. Rather than adding toxins into our system, meditation is a way to clean out.

2. Meditation purifies our nervous system and mind in such a way that we see our present reality with greater clarity. Creativity is enhanced and solutions to difficulties arise so we can be with whatever is happening, rather than trying to hide from it.

3. The madness of the mind is likened to a drunken monkey bitten by a scorpion. With meditation, this begins to calm down and we can make friends and peace with our mind, so we can be free of the craziness.

4. Meditation opens our heart to love, joy and compassion, and there certainly isn’t anything as high as the power of love!

5. Meditation gets us high on life. It enables us to enjoy life to it’s fullest, to enjoy breathing, walking, a sunset, and the simple beauty of being alive!

What high moments have you experienced? Do let us know, as we would love to hear from you! You can receive notice of our blogs every Thursday by checking Become a Fan at the top.


Ed and Deb Shapiro’s new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Byron Katie, Michael Beckwith, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Ellen Burstyn, Ed Begley, Dean Ornish, Russell Bishop, Gangaji and others, will be published November 3rd 2009 by Sterling Ethos.

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“The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction,” by Darren Littlejohn

The 12-Step Buddhist, by Darren Littlejohn

Title: The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction
Author: Darren Littlejohn
Publisher: Beyond Words Publishing (March 2009)

Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-Step Program offers a path of escape from the cycle of dependency, but it’s a path that’s heavily reliant on belief in a deity. Can Buddhism provide an alternative approach to addiction? Buddhist and incarcerated drug-offender Rich Cormier investigates “12-Step Buddhism” as outlined in a new book by Darren Littlejohn.

Traditional 12-Step programs involve a God-based spiritual approach. The “12-Step Buddhist” emphasizes that it is important to develop a strong spiritual foundation for any attempt at recovery to be successful, and points out that addicts who are resistant to the customary system because they don’t believe in God are forced to adapt or make do in order to find support.

Darren Littlejohn offers an alternative spiritual path that works in conjunction with the 12-Step process: a path that is aimed not only at Buddhists but at anyone interested in a non-theistic approach to recovery. His experiences with addiction, recovery, and Buddhism provide those seeking to overcome addictions with a number of tools that can be used to enhance existing recovery strategies. The book, however, can be of benefit to a wider audience. We’re all addicted to something: “Because of the numerous forms of addiction in our culture, very few of us are left unaffected by the disease,” Littlejohn explains.

Because the development of spiritual principles and virtues is essential in recovery, we sometimes have to employ different strategies in order to reenergize our disease and focus. When our tools get dull and need to be sharpened our replaced, it is imperative that we gain a fresh perspective.

Littlejohn asserts:

“Anyone who’s been in 12-Step programs for years knows that recovery can get stale. As an unconscious alternative to digging deep, we easily switch to less obvious addictions. We do fine with our compatriots in 12-Step meetings, yet remain crippled with unresolved family, financial, relationship, psychiatric, and spiritual issues.”

 The addict within us is doing what’s necessary to survive…  

The 12-Step Buddhist takes each of AA’s Steps, relating and comparing it to Buddhist teachings. The author does a particularly good job of making these connections clear. For instance, AA’s Step One states, “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and our lives had become unmanageable.” By comparison, in Buddhism developing the principle of acceptance is vital. Similarly, the popular expression of “being in denial” refers to our inability to accept our situation, while in Buddhism delusion — an inability to face reality — is seen as our root problem. As Littlejohn puts it, “The addict within us is doing what’s necessary to survive, and we suffer from delusions about the reality of our situation.”

An ability to “live life on life’s terms,” as AA puts it, seems elusive to those of us who become dependent on any substance. In order to help us overcome denial and develop acceptance, Littlejohn guides us through a meditation which allows us to recall our predicament of being trapped in a cycle of dependency without becoming overwhelmed by despondency, fear, and anger. Through reflection and meditation we can come to realize that our beliefs are delusions, and ultimately this allows us to change our views and behavior.

In addition to meditative techniques, a reflection method called Aspects of Self encourages us to speak to the addict within. This allows us to more fully understand ourselves, considering from all angles the obstacles we face, and helping us to see our situation more objectively, without the distortions imposed by emotional reactions. I found this tool to be rewarding.

 This book is designed to be used as a supplement to existing 12-Step programs…  

Littlejohn’s Integration Exercises combine 12-Step and Buddhist strategies, bridging the gap between the two systems perfectly.

This book is designed to be used as a supplement to existing 12-Step programs. The similarities with Buddhist practices and 12-Step work help in the transition. It is important to note that Littlejohn recommends that traditional resources be employed: qualified teachers, therapists, sponsors, etc. This manual is not designed to be a replacement for existing recovery programs.

Those familiar with Buddhism and 12-Step recovery models will immediately discern the value of undertaking a comparison and synthesis of the two models. At times the reader may find the abundance of Buddhist teachings somewhat complex. Even with ten years of experience with Buddhism, I found some of the material confusing, with references to teachings from Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, the Theravada, and also western models such as behavioral psychology. Unfortunately much of the “heavier” material comes first, and this could be off-putting for some readers. I would recommend that for many people reading Part Two before Part One would be a beneficial approach, giving people the “meat” of the 12-Step Buddhist model of practice before introducing the theoretical underpinnings.

Buddhism is a rich resource with a multitude of wisdom and plentiful tools for self-examination. The 12-Step Program is a powerful and time-tested approach to issues of addiction. Littlejohn’s 12-Step Buddhist demonstrates that the two models together form a very compatible alliance.

Richard Cormier is an inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Addiction ultimately led to his incarceration and since then AA and Buddhism have had a positive impact on his life. He has been practicing Buddhism for ten years, gaining an understanding of spiritual values and their significance to recovery.

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