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Mindfulness & the 12 Steps
Versions of Prayer

The prayer and commentary about the prayer are from Chapter 3 of  Mindfulness and the 12 steps

by Therese Jacobs-Stewart.

Three Refuges Prayer

Returning home

Taking refuge in Buddha in myself

May I, together with all beings

Realize my true mind

Returning home

Taking refuge in the Dharma in myself

May I, together with all beings

Practice the wisdom of mindfulness, understanding and compassion

in all my daily affairs

Returning home

Taking refuge in the Sangha in myself 

May I, together with all beings

Create harmony with others

Aware that these three gems – the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha

Are within my heart

As they are within the heart of all beings

I vow to realize them

And to help others realize them as well

An Eastern view of 'turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God' is to take refuge.  In Buddhism there is a tradition of taking refuge when you begin the spiritual transformation in earnest.  It is a decision to look to meditation training and practice as a "shelter from the rain of the problems of the pain of life." For me, an addict in recovery and the adult child of an alcoholic family, this was a decision to surrender, to give up looking outside myself for happiness and running away from the difficulties life brings.

Like Step Three in Alcoholics Anonymous, taking refuge is active.  We decide to let go of our delusions of control, and instead turn towards three specific spiritual practices.  These practices are called the 'Three Gems,' or 'Triple Treasure' in Buddhist literature.

Taking refuge in awakening (buddha). The treasure of awakening is recognizing that within us is a spiritual essence.  Buddha called this essence our 'buddha nature.'  He taught that our inner nature can be awakened, leading us to see the path of light and beauty in the world.  Alcoholics Anonymous, known as the Big Book to members of that fellowship, says it this way: 'We found the Great Reality deep down within us.'  Taking refuge in the buddha is a decision to wake up to our true self.


Taking refuge in the path of mindfulness, understanding and compassion (dharma).  The second refuge holds the treasures of mindfulness, understanding and compassion.  Teachings about these practices and the truths they are based upon, such as Buddha's Four Pure Insights into the Way Things Are, are called dharma.  We take refuge in the dharma when we decide to study Alcoholics Anonymous and other spiritual teachings, abandoning our alcoholic/addicted ways of 'self-will run riot.'


Taking refuge in community (sangha).  The Third Treasure is our relationship with others: our family, friends and the fellowship of the 12 Step community.  We need to decide to trust in people, because we need their help to fully recover from our alcoholism and addictions.  "It became clear that if we were ever to feel emotionally secure among grown-up people, we would have to put our lives on a give and take basis; we would have to develop the sense of being in partnership or brotherhood with all those around us. 

(Recite the Three Refuges Prayer 3 times in the morning during your spiritual practice and 3 times again in the evening.)

A mindful version of the Serenity Prayer as a gatha  Gathas are short verses that we can recite during daily activities to help us return to the present moment and dwell in mindfulness


God, grant me the serenity  - in breath

To accept the things I cannot change  -  out breath

Courage to change the things I can    -     in breath

And the wisdom to know the difference - out breath


        The One Day at a Time Prayer 

May I not look back, regretting the past
It is gone.
May I not look ahead, dreading the future
It is yet to come.
May I live in the present moment,

Solid and free
In my true home.

One day at a time is enough


Loving Kindness Mantra 

May I (you) be free from mental torments, safe both within and without

May I (you) be happy and peaceful

May I (you) be healthy and strong

May I (you) have ease of well-being in this life

Back to Prayer


Affirmative Prayer

Freedom From Bondage

Native American Church Prayers