Refuge Recovery: Is a mindfulness-based addiction recovery community that practices and utilizes Buddhist philosophy as the foundation of the recovery process. Drawing inspiration from the core teachings of the Four Noble Truths, emphasis is placed on both knowledge and empathy as a means for overcoming addiction and its causes. Those struggling with any form of addiction greatly benefit when they are able to understand the suffering that addiction has created while developing compassion for the pain they have experienced. We hope to serve you, and meet you on the path.
Refuge Recovery is a nonprofit organization. It is our mission to build an extensive and comprehensive network of Refuge Recovery groups, meetings, and communities that practice, educate, and provide Buddhist teachings and meditations for anyone seeking recovery from addiction. Our current goal is to raise the funds needed to produce specialized literature and resources for the greater community and to support the infrastructure of the nonprofit.
The Refuge Recovery nonprofit organization operates 100% independently from the professional addiction treatment center, Refuge Recovery Centers.
Refuge Recovery is a practice, a process, a set of tools, a treatment, and a path to healing addiction and the suffering caused by addiction. The main inspiration and guiding philosophy for the Refuge Recovery program are the teachings of Siddhartha (Sid) Gautama, a man who lived in India twenty-five hundred years ago. Sid was a radical psychologist and a spiritual revolutionary. through his own efforts and practices, he came to understand why human beings experience and cause so much suffering. He referred to the root cause of suffering as “uncontrollable thirst or repetitive craving.” This “thirst” tends to arise in relation to pleasure, but it may also arise as a craving for unpleasant experiences to go away, or as an addiction to people, places, things, or experiences. This is the same thirst of the alcoholic, the same craving as the addict, and the same attachment as the codependent.
Eventually, Sid came to understand and experience a way of living that ended all forms of suffering. He did this through a practice and process that includes meditation, wise actions, and compassion. After freeing himself from the suffering caused by craving, he spent the rest of his life teaching others how to live a life of well-being and freedom, a life free from suffering. Sid became known as the Buddha, and his teachings became known as Buddhism. the Refuge Recovery program has adapted the core teachings of the Buddha as a treatment of addiction.
Buddhism recognizes a nontheistic approach to spiritual practice. The Refuge Recovery program of recovery does not ask anyone to believe anything, only to trust the process and do the hard work of recovery.
This book contains a systematic approach to treating and recovering from all forms of addictions. Using the traditional formulation, the program of recovery consists of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. When sincerely practiced, the program will ensure a full recovery from addiction, and a lifelong sense of well-being and happiness.
Of course, like every path, you can only get to your destination by moving forward, one foot in front of the other. The path is gradual and comprehensive, a map of the inner terrain that must be traversed in the process of recovery. The path includes daily meditation practices, written investigations of the causes and conditions of your addictions, and how to find or create the community you will need in order to heal and awaken. We have also included stories of people who have successfully recovered with the help of Buddhist practices.
Although I am credited with writing the book, the large community at Refuge Recovery is the inspirational and creative force behind it. this community has helped shape, inform, and enhance the program with their direct experience of practicing these principles. This book, then, should be viewed as a collaborative effort, a book written for the plural rather than the singular — the “we” instead of the “I,” since it speaks for Buddhists and addicts everywhere.
Lastly, we are aware that more will be revealed. It is our hope that we have offered here a substantial and useful foundation to the Buddhist recovery movement. We have every intention to learn and grow and revise as we go. this is just the first edition. Enjoy!
What is Refuge Recovery?
Refuge Recovery is an oriented path to freedom from addiction. This is an approach to recovery that understands; “All individuals have the power and potential to free themselves from the suffering that is caused by addiction”. We feel confident in the power of the Dharma, if applied, to relieve suffering of all kinds, including the suffering of addiction. This is a process that cultivates a path of awakening, the path of recovering from the addictions and delusions that have created so much suffering in our lives and in this world.
Refuge Recovery is a systematic approach to training our hearts and minds to see clearly and respond to our lives with understanding and non-harming. You are entering a way of life that may be familiar to some and foreign to others. In the beginning some of it may seem confusing or counter-instinctual, and some of it is. But you will find that with time, familiarity and experience, it will all make perfect sense and will gradually become a more and more natural way of being.
Process: The Four Truths of Refuge Recovery
1. Addiction creates suffering
2. The cause of addiction is repetitive craving.
3. Recovery is possible.
4. The path to recovery is available.
Practices: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
1. Mindfulness of body/breath
2. Mindfulness of feelings
3. Mindfulness of mind states
4. Mindfulness of mind objects (truth)
Practices: Heart Practice Meditations:
1. Kindness: Towards all experience
2. Compassion/forgiveness: Towards the suffering we experience, and have caused.
3. Appreciation: Towards pleasure
4. Equanimity: Understanding the reality of ongoing change
We are asked to embrace the reality of cause and effect (karma). All of our actions have consequences. We know that, but we rarely consider this reality when we engage with life. We often simply ignore or pretend that we can get away with all types of habits and actions that we know cause harm to ourselves and to others. When we enter this recovery process we need to be aware of this reality, and start to take responsibility for our experience. Meditation practice allows us to look at the internal habits and thoughts of our own mind. Developing mindfulness is the most effective way to see this process. We can begin to get a sense of our relationship to pleasant and unpleasant experience, how this affects our habits of craving and in turn leads to grasping, clinging and attachment: This process is the basis of addiction.
No one can recover for you. We take refuge in the fact that we have the power to do so. No one can recover for you. You have to do the work yourself. Addiction is not your fault. Addicts have just developed a strategy for living that no longer works. We have become caught up in a habitual cycle that leaves us in a state of suffering and confusion.
The Eight-Fold Path to Recovery: This is an abstinence based path and philosophy. We believe that the recovery process begins when abstinence begins. The Eight factors of the path are to be developed, experienced and sustained. This is not a linear path, it does not have to be taken in order, rather all of the factors will need to be developed and applied simultaneously. This is a guide to having a life that is free from addiction. The eight-fold path of recovery will have to be maintained throughout ones lifetime.
1. Understanding: We understand that recovery begins when we renounce and abstain from all substances or addictive behaviors regardless of specific substances we have become addicted to. Forgiveness, non-harming actions, service and generosity are a necessary part of the recovery process. We can’t do it alone; community support and wise guidance are an integral part of the path to recovery. We begin to open to and acknowledge the reality of our situation and come to terms with the reality that life is an ongoing process of change, on-going difficulties and we begin to see this process as something that is not happening to “us”; we move from being in a state of reacting to developing an awareness that can respond to the ups and downs of our lives. We begin to take responsibility for the relationship that we have to our own life experience.
2. Intention: We begin to move towards a lifestyle that is rooted in non-harming by establishing clear intentions and work to change our relationship towards the minds unwholesome tendencies and habits. We intend to meet all pain with compassion and all pleasure with non-attached appreciation. The practices of non-harming both internally and externally become a foundational part of daily life.
3. Communication/Community: We take refuge in the community as a place to practice wise and skillful communication and to support others on their path. We practice being honest, wise and careful with our communications, asking for help from the community, allowing others to guide us through the process. Practicing openness, honesty and humility about the difficulties and successes we experience.
4. Action: We abstain from all substances and behaviors that could lead to suffering. We practice forgiveness toward all people we have harmed or been harmed by, including ourselves, through both meditative training and direct amends. Compassion, non-attached appreciation, generosity, kindness, honesty, integrity and service are our guiding principles.
5. Livelihood/Service: We begin to look at our relationship to money. We try to be of service to others when ever possible, being generous with our time, energy, attention and resources to help create positive change. We try to secure a source of income/livelihood that causes no harm.
6. Effort: We commit to the daily disciplined practices of meditation, yoga, exercise, wise actions, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, compassion, appreciation and moment-to-moment mindfulness of feelings, emotions, thoughts and sensations. To develop these skills requires time and patience. It is important to begin to understand how to apply the appropriate action or meditation practice in any given situation or circumstance. We will need to develop the willingness and discipline that is required to stay with it, and to keep going when we make mistakes.
7. Mindfulness/Meditations: We develop wisdom and understanding through practicing formal mindfulness meditation. This leads to seeing clearly and healing the root causes and conditions that lead to the suffering of addiction. We practice present-time awareness in all aspects of our life. We move towards taking refuge in the present moment; to engage whole-heartedly in our lives as it unfolds in the here an now. We begin to develop a daily sitting practice of mindfulness and heart practices. We make a commitment to sitting at home and with others.
8. Concentration/Meditations: We develop the capacity to focus the mind on a single object, such as the breath or a phrase, training the mind through the practices of loving-kindness, compassion and forgiveness to focus on the positive qualities we seek to uncover and we utilize concentration at times of temptation or craving in order to abstain from acting unwisely.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF REFUGE RECOVERY
1. The group’s health and well-being is of utmost importance. Personal recovery depends on connection with a healthy, safe, confidential and stable community.
2. Each group’s core intention is to welcome and support those who are seeking recovery.
3. Groups are to be peer-led. For our groups to be healthy and successful, there must be a rotating leadership and democratic decision-making process. Group leaders do not act in the capacity of recognized Buddhist teachers but are trusted volunteers who serve the group for a designated period of time.
4. Refuge Recovery is an abstinence-based program. Trusted volunteers are expected to maintain abstinence from all recreational drugs, alcohol and process addictions.
5. Each group operates independently, except in matters affecting other groups or Refuge Recovery as a whole. Just as individuals endeavor to live in accordance with the Eightfold Path, so should each group adhere to these Guiding Principles to maintain group integrity.
6. There are no fees for Refuge Recovery membership. Each group is responsible for its own finances, relying on the generosity of its members.
7. Ethical conduct can and should be practiced on a group level. As a group, we refrain from violence, dishonesty, sexual misconduct and intoxication.
8. Our core principles are mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness and generosity. We commit to being open and accessible to all who seek refuge.