Friday, May 12, 2006

'One Breath' to recovery

Connect Buddhist meditation and Twelve Steps

Express Staff Writer

Kevin Griffin

Kevin Griffin has been practicing Buddhist Vipassana for the last 26 years.

Since 1985, he's also been actively following the Twelve-Step program for alcoholics and drug addicts.

His book, "One Breath at a Time," examines the connection between the two.

He'll discuss his book and his practices and host a workshop during the Ninth Annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival later this month.

Released in 2004, "One Breath" makes the "steps more accessible to people who don't have a Judeo-Christian perspective, and especially for those with a Buddhist background. I address that pretty directly," Griffin said.

"If you take the attitude (that you have no control over your life) straight, it becomes magical thinking that doesn't ultimately work. It's subtle and a tricky thing to understand. That's why it took a book."

The book's 12 chapters take the reader "through each step and really explores how the two traditions can interact and support each other. I think, for a lot of westerners, it creates a more spiritual toolbox than one or the other does separately.

"I practiced for four or five years before I got sober. It didn't really work before. Addiction is the most extreme form of attachment. It's antithetical to the letting go process. The combination is what I would call psychological maturity and living ethically. It's complicated for us."

Griffin lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where he's been teaching meditation since 1996.

He currently leads the Berkeley Wednesday Night meditation group, which has over 75 regular members, and teaches weekly meditation classes for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. He also teaches a course at St. Mary's College called "What is Buddhism?" and leads daylong meditation workshops at Spirit Rock in Marin County.

He also travels nationally to teach Vipassana.

Vipassana is a type of meditation that revolves around introspection and insight to purify the non-lasting aspect of life, suffering and selfishness. Griffin said Vipassana helps develop moment to moment awareness, or mindfulness.

Griffin's workshop covers the basics of the connection between Buddhism and the Twelve-Step program and includes a guided meditation and explanation of the fundamentals of mindfulness. Participants learn how to work with 12 Step concepts like "Powerlessness" and "Higher Power" from a Buddhist perspective.

For more information, visit


Kevin Griffin, Wellness Festival Featured Speaker

· Saturday May 27, 9 a.m. Featured speaker lecture in the Continental Room.

· Sunday, May 28, 8 a.m. presentation on guided meditation in the Sawtooth Room.

· Monday, May 29, 1:30 p.m., four-hour workshop on 12 Steps and meditation in the Limelight Room.

· All events are in Sun Valley.

Badges are required for these events and can be purchased at Chapter One books in Ketchum.

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