Start a Having Had
12 Step Meditation Meeting
How to Practice
 Insight Meditation
Having Had Group
Meeting Format
Mindfulness Talks &
Practices Steps 1 - 12
Intro to 
Meeting Format
The Kinship of a
Common Suffering

 The Having Had Groups 

AA 12 Step Meditation Meetings

"Cultivating Mindfulness in Recovery"

TNH Sitting Meditation
An Unsuspected
Inner Resource
Opening to
Silent Meditation
How It Works
A.A. Preamble
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Introduction to the Having Had Meeting Format

The format of this meeting was inspired primarily by Chapter Six of the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), Into Action, pages 84-88.  This is the section that follows immediately after what are referred to by most members of Alcoholics Anonymous as the Promises.  The first sentence in the paragraph following the Promises states, “This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests that we continue to take personal inventory and continue to make right any new mistakes as we go along.  We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past.”  It goes on to say, “We have entered the world of the Spirit.  Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness.  This is not an overnight matter.  It should continue for our lifetime.” 


To perform this function of growing in understanding and effectiveness, we have been given Steps 10, 11 and 12.  To grow we must on a daily basis continue to take personal inventory.  The Big Book states specifically, “Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear.  When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.”


There are many in AA who have used the fellowship and the 12 Steps to recover from their alcoholism and/or addiction and yet they do not believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of God.  Some of them don’t believe in God at all.  Still more have come to AA and being confronted with the ubiquity of the God thing decided that AA was not for them.  Even more in need of help have never even considered AA because they’ve been told that AA is all about the God thing.


This meeting format is especially designed for these types of alcoholics and/or addicts.  The recovering alcoholics who developed this particular meeting format asked themselves some very simple, straight forward questions – "What if you did not believe in God, period?  Does that mean that Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Step Solution are not for you? Is the 12 Step unstated deal that you can come into AA not believing in God, but eventually you must accept God as your higher power or you aren’t going to be able to stay sober?  Is that the only solution that works?"  The recovering alcoholics that created this meeting format don’t believe that is the only thing that works, not by a long shot. 


This meeting format is about three things:


1. maintaining our spiritual condition,

2. growing in our understanding of the 12 Step process and

3. becoming more effective at carrying this message to other alcoholics, especially the ones who "have a problem with the god thing."  


Unfortunately, there isn’t much information about meditation in the Big Book, the Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions or any other Conference Approved literature.  The Big Book does tell us however, further on in Chapter Six, speaking of prayer and meditation -


“There are many helpful books also.  Suggestions about these may be obtained from one’s priest, minister or rabbi. 

Be quick to see where religious people are right.  Make use of what they offer.”


Buddhism has at least two of the three b’s social scientists use to determine whether or not something is a religion: belief, behavior, and belonging. There certainly are Buddhist' behaviors such as bowing with the palms of the hands placed together in greeting and living one's life by a set of ethical precepts.  They also belong in a certain sense once they formally take vows and become a member of a Sangha. Buddhism, however, does not have a dogmatic set of beliefs  that a practitioner must accept as absolute truth, rather: 


"Buddhism is a tradition that offers anyone who chooses this path, regardless of religious persuasion, a way of exploring the true role and purpose of their lives as human beings. Put simply the goal of Buddhism is to awaken to the true nature of reality. This is not just an intellectual process; rather, it is one that engages the whole person and typically involves the awakening of the heart just as much as the mind.  Although many volumes of literature have accumulated over the centuries based on the teachings of the Buddha, Buddhism is essentially a non-dogmatic religion. The Buddha himself wrote down not a word, and the first validated texts were recorded some four hundred years after his death. Although a number of different interpretations of his teachings have evolved over the centuries, there are certain principles to which all Buddhists subscribe.  However, none of them prescribe a specific set of beliefs; rather, they stress the fundamental importance of direct spiritual experience.”

David Crossweller, Buddhist Wisdom, Daily Reflections 


Bottom line, books by Buddhist monks about mindfulness and meditation should certainly be considered among the "many helpful books."  And Buddhist monks and practitioners should be considered along with one’s priest, minister or rabbi when we consider making use of "what they have to offer."  Many consider Buddhism a religion with its own deities, theologies and rituals; however, there is a school of secular Buddhism perhaps most authoritatively championed by Stephen Batchelor in his 2015 book after buddhism: rethinking the dharma for a secular age. Whenever possible we have utilized these secular buddhist materials as articulated by the Secular Buddhist Association when making references to Buddhist traditions and practices.

During the twentieth century, starting particularly in the early 1960's, these Ancient Eastern Wisdom Teachings have been flourishing in America.  Perhaps the most prolific of these teachings is mindfulness meditation or, as it is best known here, mindfulness.  Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Therapists have adopted mindfulness modalities for relieving both emotional and physical problems. Programs such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, an eight-week evidence-based program, are secular, intensive mindfulness trainings that help people relieve stress, anxiety, depression and pain. 


Over the last twenty years or so these same modalities have found their way to the practice of addiction medicine, where they are used in patient impulse control and, through the nonjudgmental analysis of feelings and emotions, the amelioration of self-defeating behaviors. With recent advances in neuroscience and techniques for monitoring brain activity, studies have been able to verify the positive, organic effects of mindfulness. This evidence has led to the incorporation of mindfulness practices into a variety of addiction medicine therapies, including Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MbCT).

Step One

What Is Secular Buddhism