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Darren Littlejohn
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Darren Littlejohn, Certified Yoga Teacher, is author of The 12-Step Buddhist,V is a recovering addict and a practitioner of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as a former mental health specialist. He earned a BA in Psych in 1991 and worked in chemical dependency and acute psychiatric care facilities during college. Darren took two years of graduate school in Research Methods for Psychology. He has been a Buddhist practitioner since the mid '80s. A spiritual crisis led to a relapse in 1994 with 10 years of sobriety.

After regaining sobriety in 1997, Darren worked on recovery with a new zeal, incorporating many years of psychotherapy, 12-Step work, Zen and Tibetan Buddhist practices. While relapse with long-term sobriety is common, returning for a sustained duration is extremely rare. Darren’s program, which became the basis for the book the 12-Step Buddhist, is an integrated approach that is hard won over a span of more than twenty years. Darren, a jazz guitarist and dog lover, now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his life partner of more than 15 years, Tysa Fennern and their four dogs. He’s been involved with many community projects, including the fight against smoking, creating dog parks, community television and a spiritually driven jazz program.

For retreats, workshops, how-to articles, podcasts, and resources see

And follow Darren on Twitter: @12stepbuddhist.

Entries by Darren Littlejohn

How to Bring Light to the Darkness

(0) Comments | Posted March 22, 2016 | 7:04 AM

I've been practicing meditation for over 30 years. I've had instruction from many masters and have logged thousands of hours of training and practice. But I still find it quite difficult at times. I'll share some meditation practices that I use when things are challenging for me.

To meditate...

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How Not to Be Spiritual

(1) Comments | Posted March 7, 2016 | 2:25 PM

I'm in Thailand, enjoying my bungalo/retreat hut at dawn as I meditate on the blue sky and sea at Railay Bay. It's quite lovely here, not that San Diego isn't. But I feel like it's easier to consider myself on retreat in an exotic location to reconnect with my spirituality....

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How to Stay Sober With Buddhism and the Law of Attraction

(1) Comments | Posted January 27, 2016 | 7:04 PM

The Law of Attraction

In 2008 I sold my first book to Beyond Words publishing. They'd just been bought by Simon and Schuster after phenomenal overnight success with the now infamous, "The Secret." I'd looked at "The Secret" when it came out and thought it was really hokey. This wasn't...

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How to Find Liberation From Suffering

(1) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 4:00 PM

When actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died, I didn't write about it. It was just too depressing. Another long term sober addict who'd relapsed and hit the ultimate bottom was, for me, not news. This was just about someone famous and got a lot more attention. Besides, I wasn't super familiar...

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Jesus and Buddha Walk Into an AA Meeting

(38) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 12:59 PM

The similarities between Buddhist thought and 12-Step philosophy are fascinating to me, and the focus of my life's work. But I grew up with Protestant ideas floating around in my head. When I got into 12-Step recovery in the mid 1980s, I spent a number of years studying the teachings...

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What's Wrong With Right?

(4) Comments | Posted October 1, 2012 | 1:07 PM

Given President Obama's recent speech on religious freedom, I offer the following thoughts from the perspectives of Buddhism, yoga and recovery. We won't get into all of these in this short blog, but let's consider some of them. In summary, the president's views have been expressed in a recent article...

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Buddha in the Bedroom: Why Meditators Are Better Lovers

(22) Comments | Posted July 25, 2012 | 1:03 PM

I'm Buddhist and have great sex.  I've also been in recovery for nearly 15 years.  Buddhism is a sexy topic these days.  But do real Buddhists have sex?  Aren't Buddhists supposed to be beyond things like desire? 
Many people still see Buddhists only as robe-wearing monastics who...

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Mass Murder: A Buddhist Yogi's Response

(5) Comments | Posted July 24, 2012 | 7:27 AM

More than 50 people injured. Twelve dead. We woke up to the news from Aurora, Colo. Many friends here in Portland went to see Batman that night. They raved all about it on Facebook. But we know very well the question on their minds today. The thought permeates deep into...

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Breathe Your Way Into Right Living: De-charge Emotions and Recharge Energy

(9) Comments | Posted May 28, 2010 | 8:21 AM

This meditation can be learned by most people to reduce stress and literally take the wind out of strong emotional states. Please practice with caution and common sense. With some experience this practice can be applied in many situations. While I don't recommend meditation while driving, I've found that taking...

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Plug in and De-Charge: How to Avoid the Addict's Disconnection Syndrome

(20) Comments | Posted May 20, 2010 | 8:56 AM

The theme of the month for HuffPost's Living section is Unplug and Recharge. When my editor asked me to write the piece, I assumed that this topic was directed at normies (non-addicts). It may come as no surprise to you if you're an addict or have them in your life,...

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The 12-Step Buddhist: The Dalai Lama Is My Higher Power

(31) Comments | Posted March 12, 2010 | 9:56 AM

In Step two of the 12 Steps of recovery, we're asked to Come to Believe that a Power Greater than Ourselves Could Restore Us to Sanity. What 12-Steppers tell you in the beginning is that you can choose your own concept of what that Higher Power is, as long as...

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Year Of The Iron Tiger: Sex Addiction, Celebrity And 12-Step Buddhist Recovery

(44) Comments | Posted February 26, 2010 | 9:24 AM

I was asked in a recent AP interview (New York Times Saturday, Feb 20, 2010) what I would say to Tiger Woods, what the Buddha would say, and if I felt that he was sincere in his conviction to both recovery and Buddhism. On TV's EXTRA, I was asked to...

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Want Cheese With That Whine? -- Transform Negative Self-talk

(5) Comments | Posted February 16, 2010 | 8:08 AM

I work with a lot of addicts. In the 25 years since I began my own recovery process one point has become increasingly clear, albeit unpleasant: addicts have low self-esteem. We also have a tendency to flip from one extreme to another. We're either too big for our britches or...

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The 12-Step Buddhist: Why Do We Have Drinking Dreams?

(33) Comments | Posted February 3, 2010 | 8:09 AM

I'm clean and sober for more than 12 years. But I still have what we call "drunk dreams." Here's a recent one. Although I'm not a follower of hip hop, I dreamed that I was hanging out with the famous rapper Snoop Dogg. I waited all day for him to...

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Comfort Rather Than Be Comforted: A 12-Step Buddhist Perspective

(7) Comments | Posted January 26, 2010 | 12:37 PM

Disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.

Words to live by? I used to love this philosophy. Maybe in some sense I still do. But the view and application have changed considerably since I first heard it on a Bob E. speaker tape some 25 years go. Back then, as...

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Be-ism Or Theism: How To Have A Higher Power As A Buddhist In Recovery

(24) Comments | Posted January 20, 2010 | 8:44 AM

To God or not to God. That is the question. At least if you're trying to work a 12-Step program anyways. At the crux of any decision, from the most trivial to the most serious, is the intention to "turn it over" to a Higher Power or stay in self-will....

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Cutting Through the Narcissistic Ego: Step One is Awareness

(7) Comments | Posted August 19, 2009 | 12:10 PM

I'd like to talk to some of the dimensions of normal narcissism used in the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, namely Superiority and Entitlement, as they relate to addiction, one at a time. That's right, I said talk to, not about. You'll recall from the first article that narcissism can be considered...

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The 12 Steps: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Cause For Recovery

(23) Comments | Posted August 12, 2009 | 9:44 AM

Thank you to all of the readers out there, especially those who contributed to the lively discussion about the efficacy of the 12 Steps. I'll continue in the next post on some suggested methods for dealing with narcissism and other forms of self-centeredness. But first, I'd like to address a...

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The 12 Steps: An Antidote For Celebrities And Other Narcissistic Addicts

(168) Comments | Posted July 31, 2009 | 3:09 PM

I'm a big fan of Dr. Drew. As I mention in my book, The 12-Step Buddhist, it was his description of the carbon copy pothead turned meth addict on the popular radio show Loveline, with Adam Carolla that helped convince me that I was in big trouble. I badly...

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