Recovering Joy: A Mindful Life After Addiction
By Kevin Griffin
Published June 1, 2015
Kevin Griffin’s Recovering Joy: A Mindful Life After Addiction provides a path to what challenges many in recovery, ‘I’ve stopped drinking alcohol or using drugs, now what?’
With this book, Griffin shares his personal account of learning to find joy after addiction, weaving in succinct and sufficient connections between 12 steps and Buddhism and Buddhist’s practices, drawing upon historical and modern teachings and interpretations throughout.
Like his earlier One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the 12 Steps, he clearly and seamlessly illustrates principles and practices of 12 step recovery, Buddhism, and meditation and mindfulness, in his own recovery and in his teaching. I read One Breath at a Time when I was just a few weeks sober and searching for a way to find relevancy and practicality in the 12 steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. It became a guide that my sponsor and I could use for me to ‘work’ the steps. I do not think that I would have gotten sober without One Breath at a Time. I could not see myself in the 12 steps.
Now, Recovering Joy has found me at a place in my life, where though sober for several years, I still find myself sometimes struggling with anxiety and depression, relationships, grief, resentment, etc. The meditations and reflections throughout are useful (I’ve done most of them rather than just read them). I found especially provocative the emphasis on seeking happiness. This arises from his claim that all of us are ultimately pursuing happiness. However, he is not using pleasure and happiness interchangeably. He relates them, but illustrates just how challenging pursuing happiness can be without intention and practice.
I have favorite chapters. One of these, “It’s an Inside Job”, illustrates how meditation and mindfulness can be done as part of every step, rather than only in step 11 . This is something that I’ve felt for several of the past years, that meditation and mindfulness are foundational for me in recovery. “It’s an Inside Job” describes, illustrates and elaborates several different forms of meditation, providing guidance for each of these. I especially appreciated the equanimity explanation and meditation as a tool to find balance rather than being swept away by my own emotions/experiences and / or the emotions/experiences of others.
And I have chapters that though useful, were more challenging to read. Chapter 9, “What’s the Plan”, might be better approached as an appendix if you will, because of the number and density of reflections throughout. I would recommend returning to this chapter after having read chapters 1-8, and doing as many reflections of your choosing as possible a few times.
Some reviewers on other sites have been ‘put off’ by the reflections. I myself am one that until recently read more about meditation than actually meditating. You get the picture I’m sure. You certainly can gain insight and practical approaches to living life mindfully after addiction by reading without doing the reflections, but I gained much by incorporating the reflections (or most of them).
Four Coffee Cups
5 Coffee Cups – I love this book and highly recommend it.
4 Coffee Cups – It’s a fabulous book and I can recommend it with confidence.
3 Coffee Cups – This is a good if not a great book. It may have had fewer coffee cups in one or two of the measuring criteria, but it’s still a good book and worth reading.
2 Coffee Cups – I wanted to like this, but it had too many problems. It’s an okay book, but there are others in this genre that are much better.
1 Coffee Cup – I really didn’t care for this one and I would not recommend it.