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Mar 02, 2015

Step five – transforming our speech, actions and livelihood

Anyone who has worked a set of steps either in the 12 step tradition or the 8 step model, will know how long it can take to complete a set of steps. There are places where people get stuck, or just drop out.

Eight Step Recovery

This fith step transforming our speech, actions and livelihood, is one of those steps that can feel overwhelming. ‘What! I have to transform my livelihood? How will I earn my living?’

The reality is if we want change in our lives we do have to begin a moral inventory and reflect on our behaviours. We put speech first, because most people can relate to the fact that … Read more »

Feb 02, 2015

Mentorship and meetings

Sleeping BuddhaIt has been one year since the first edition was launched, and Eight Step Recovery meetings have begun to spring up. I’ve just spent the last month in India talking about 12 step programs, and how the only requirement to attend them is the desire not to indulge in the substance or behaviour of that meeting. However for many Buddhists in India, the word God, has some negative connotations. And so it was a delight to introduce people to another meeting format that may help with their recovery.

Some of you who read my blog regularly will remember I posted a meeting format a few months ago, well now that … Read more »

Jan 05, 2015

Just another day

морозное утро на озереJust another day, a new moment. How liberating is that? This new moment can shape the next moment. This new moment can change our lives. We don’t have to wait for a new year to arrive to make changes. Although it is an opportunity to remind us to reflect on our lives, let go of regrets and live wisely in the moment.

So in the spirit of this old year coming to completion and the new year coming into fruition. Here is a new year message from the London Buddhist Centre. I couldn’t say it any better.

I have much gratitude for London Buddhist Centre, every time I am there, … Read more »

Dec 01, 2014

Step four: Being willing to step onto the path of recovery and discover freedom

My Way or The Highway or the direct path to the four noble truths, the noble 8 fold pathIn this 8 step recovery program – we speak about being willing. We use this word because if one wants recovery, they have to be willing to step onto the path. Too many of us bargain with our recovery. We want it, but we don’t want to do the work it takes to get the recovery. It’s my way or the high way. There is only one path in the Buddhist tradition to recovery, and that is the direct path of the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path. Of course this path comes in many different formulations and lists.

Last month, I heard the The Dalai Lama say: … Read more »

Nov 03, 2014

Step three: Embracing impermanence to show us that our suffering can end

sand in handsAs I reflect on this step, I can’t but help say a prayer for my dear friend, who hung herself last month, because as she wrote in her note, ‘life was too painful’. Sadly my friend is not unique in thinking this, many people have these thoughts, and some of these people eventually take their lives.

Is there anything we can do to help someone who expresses such pain?

Whatever we do it has to be unconditional. That said, the Buddhist teachings can be so optimistic, so liberating if we are ready for the teachings to appear in our lives. Living with the truth of impermanence can help us to … Read more »

Sep 01, 2014

Step two – seeing how we can create extra suffering in our lives

Stick with the first dartThe Buddha was asked, what is the difference between how an ordinary person and a wise person responds to pain? He replied with the analogy of the two darts. All of us experience pain – whether that is physical pain like catching your finger in the door or mental pain such as when someone rejects you. This is the first dart, which we could call primary suffering.

An ordinary person then gets caught up in trying to push away or avoid the pain; in blaming themselves or others, or feeling self-pity. This has the effect of making matters worse: the second dart, which we can call secondary suffering. A wise … Read more »

Aug 04, 2014

Accepting that this human life will bring suffering

Standing Buddha statue, ThailandStep one – Accepting that this human life will bring suffering – is pointing us in the direction of truth. Ask yourself what are you avoiding? What are you hiding from? Most human beings are avoiding suffering. Most human beings are hiding from suffering underneath a veneer of coping mechanisms.

This step acknowledges the different types of suffering we can experience. Most commonly the suffering of ageing, sickness and death. We can not avoid any of these truths, we can not hide from these truths either. So we may as well face them gracefully.

How we may ask? We do this with kindly acceptance. Acceptance is in the present moment. … Read more »

Jul 09, 2014

What did the Buddha know about addiction?

Mindfully Strive OnWe know that before Shakyamuni became a Buddha (waking up to the truth of reality) that he tried extreme self-discipline that included abstaining from all forms of indulgence, which was called the practice of asceticism. His self-mortification included eating just one grain of rice a day, and sometimes walking around with one arm in the air for weeks. In his search for an end to suffering, Gautama became like an addict to asceticism. Like today’s addicts, he had learned how to master pain, or so he thought. He grew as thin as a skeleton, and did not budge from his addiction. Still he did not find an end to suffering. … Read more »

Jun 02, 2014

Eight step recovery meetings

An open heart is all you need to bring to a meetingWe have received several requests on a meeting format for Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction. Already we have heard of groups setting up in the UK and Canada which are working the steps with a wide range of addictions. We hope groups will continue to spring up all over the globe. When the book goes into second edition we will include a meeting format as we can see that this was an aspect that we didn’t consider to include.

To be able to write a book and explain our Eight Steps, we need to put them in an order. The order has a certain … Read more »

May 12, 2014

Tricycle magazine explores ‘dharma drunks’

Noah Levine – Author of Refuge Recovery – A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction

Last month I asked the question, why another book on recovery? In the summer issue of Tricycle, Joan Duncan Oliver, a contributing editor and the editor of Commit to Sit, an anthology of Tricycle articles, also gives her view on this topic too. Tricycle has kindly let me quote the first few paragraphs while also including a link to the rest of the article.

‘Buddhist practitioners are skewing younger. Add to that growing concern about drug abuse in America, and it’s hardly surprising that the Buddhist recovery field is expanding. Back in 1993, Mel … Read more »