Vimalasara – Wildmind https://www.wildmind.org Learn Meditation Online Thu, 19 Jul 2018 22:41:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://static.wildmind.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-favicon-32x32.jpg Vimalasara – Wildmind https://www.wildmind.org 32 32 Abstinence or harm reduction ? https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/abstinence-or-harm-reduction https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/abstinence-or-harm-reduction#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 00:28:42 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40247

What I’m Thinking
Everyone’s recovery is unique. Once upon a time, there was the strong binary opinion of all or nothing. Abstinence or you are doomed. The argument was harm reduction versus Abstinence. While this view is helpful for many, it was a major hindrance for others. If some people couldn’t keep their abstinence for more than a month without slipping, it became an excuse filled with facilitative thoughts like: “What the heck, I may as well keep on using.” Or some people were told there was no hope for them, they were doomed. Abstinence is a concept that needs to be explored with each individual in recovery. The teachings of the dharma make it …

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What I’m Thinking
Everyone’s recovery is unique. Once upon a time, there was the strong binary opinion of all or nothing. Abstinence or you are doomed. The argument was harm reduction versus Abstinence. While this view is helpful for many, it was a major hindrance for others. If some people couldn’t keep their abstinence for more than a month without slipping, it became an excuse filled with facilitative thoughts like: “What the heck, I may as well keep on using.” Or some people were told there was no hope for them, they were doomed. Abstinence is a concept that needs to be explored with each individual in recovery. The teachings of the dharma make it clear that we are all in training, and we need to start exactly where we are. In the raft parable, the Buddha says the raft is useful for crossing over but not for holding onto. In the same way, abstinence and harm reduction are useful behaviours to help us cross over into recovery, but not if we hold tight to these views. Nobody is doomed in the teachings of the dharma. What works for one person, may not work for another. When you see what the dharma is pointing to – it’s a non-dual reality.

Negative Jargon in the Addiction field Clean, Dirty, Addict, Abuser, Junkie
One of the basic meditations to help calm the mind and the central nervous system is the practice of loving-kindness, traditionally known as the Metta Bhavana. In this practice, we are learning to love ourselves and all other sentient beings. There is so much negative jargon in the field of addiction which is demeaning. This kind of language labels a person by their illness, rather than their potential. This narrative also implies permanency of addictive behaviours and no room for change. The Buddhist teachings can be summed up in two words. “Everything Changes.” We can all change because things are always changing. And we all have seeds of potential within us. These seeds need to be watered with loving kindness.

What I’m Reading
Recovery Groups by Linda Farris Kurtz. A book looking at the history of recovery groups for addiction and emotional trauma. And although it doesn’t refer to the history of Buddhist recovery groups, there is a lot the Buddhist Recovery world can learn from this book.

Something I’m doing I’m off to Spain to ordain someone into the Triratna Lineage. And will be presenting at the 5th International Mindfulness summit in Zaragoza. As well as delivering mindfulness and compassion workshops for addiction in Valencia. And co-leading a retreat with Kevin Griffin in July, and leading another in September. Join me on retreat.

Back by popular demand, January 1, 2019: The online Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery Retreat

New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Thoughts without a sTinker https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/thoughts-without-a-stinker https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/thoughts-without-a-stinker#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:05:23 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=37658

What I’m Thinking
Thinking can get us into trouble. Thoughts without a sTinker is the way of the liberated. When the thought arises, I want a drink, or a line of coke, a cream cake, some porn, another video game, we don’t have to identify with it, we let it arise without a sTinker. When there is nobody to identify with the thought, there is no thinker, no acting out of the thought. This is the awakened path to recovery.

Inspiring Jargon
Do Not Suppress Addictive Thoughts Is the title of an article by Lance Dodes M.D where he explores the Heart of Addiction. This is such wise advice. If we don’t suppress the thought, …

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What I’m Thinking
Thinking can get us into trouble. Thoughts without a sTinker is the way of the liberated. When the thought arises, I want a drink, or a line of coke, a cream cake, some porn, another video game, we don’t have to identify with it, we let it arise without a sTinker. When there is nobody to identify with the thought, there is no thinker, no acting out of the thought. This is the awakened path to recovery.

Inspiring Jargon
Do Not Suppress Addictive Thoughts Is the title of an article by Lance Dodes M.D where he explores the Heart of Addiction. This is such wise advice. If we don’t suppress the thought, how do we work with those facilitative thoughts that tell us: “I deserve a drink, I’ve had a hard day, Nobody will know if I just have one?” Thoughts will arise out of the heart-mind, it’s what the heart-mind does. These thoughts can be treated in the same way as a television, or a radio playing in the background. If we are working at home and someone has the tv or the radio on what do we do? We continue working, we might stop for a moment because we hear something interesting but we get back to our task. This is the same with thoughts, we can be busy doing something when a thought pops up. We can just treat our thoughts like the tv or radio in the background, turn your thoughts down by not identifying with them, and they will quieten.

What I’m watching
Socio Cultural Trauma by Dr Kenneth Harding. In this TED talk, he examines the impact of trauma specific to the People of Color communities in North America. And although it focusses on People of Color, this brilliant talks highlights how trauma specific to a race of people, can fragment and dislocate communities. And dislocation and fragmentation often leads to addiction, violence, and ill mental health.

What I’m Obsessing about
Relapse. I’ve witnessed many people relapse, and sometimes the thought of relapse scares me. A reminder for me to let that thought arise and cease. I’m beginning to see that the word relapse isn’t helpful. When we relapse, what we’ve actually done is picked up our choice of distraction in the moment. If we could admit we have picked up rather than calling it a relapse, it may give us the pause to put whatever we picked up, down in the next breath. Simple as that. One breath at a time. One day at a time can be too long for some people in recovery. And long enough for them to slide into a relapse. If we could just say one breath at a time, and remember with every breath we can do something different, this may put the breaks on using. My Teacher the venerable Sangharakshita says: “Every decision is a good decision, you can always make a new decision.”

What I’m Listening to
Chevala Vargas is one of Mexico’s famous singer. Born in Costa Rico in 1919, she was raised by her uncle due to an acrimonious divorce of her parents. Aged 14 she fled to Mexico for refuge and began singing on the streets. Known for dressing like a man in pants and a poncho and singing renditions of Mexican rancheras, she ended up having affairs with celebrities like Frida Kahlo, Ava Gardener and many other famous women. However, her career took a 15-year pause, where she became a gutter alcoholic in the hills of Cuernavaca. Her story a tragic one, her music melodramatic, however she finally abandons alcohol which was one of the loves of her life for over 50 years. In her 70s becomes an international star, performing at Carnegie Hall aged 83. In 2012 Mexico gave Chevala a state funeral.

Something I’m doing I will be in Mexico this month, exploring Compassionate Inquiry, Mindfulness Approaches to addiction and reflecting on the Buddha’s Parinavana. Nirvana after death, a freedom from Samsara (psychological negative mental states) karma, rebirth and the dissolution of the body, feeling tone in the body, perceptions/thoughts, mental activity and formation and consciousness. Breath by breath, is the opportunity for spiritual death and rebirth. Anything can change in just one breath. We do not have to wait until we die to let go.

[vc_separator type=”” size=”” icon=”star”] New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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New Year Ramblings https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/new-year-ramblings https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/new-year-ramblings#respond Sun, 31 Dec 2017 18:58:09 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=37553 What I’m up to
On January 1st I launch the online Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery course for 28 days. Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery course during the month of January 2018. For people in recovery and people working in the field of recovery

Join me – and free your mind from addictive behaviours and substances. It takes 21 days to change a habit, and a lifetime to maintain the change. You lose the past and gain a new freedom. All addictive behaviours begin in the body. Sensations in the body drive our habits. And the breath can put a break on our habits. By breathing fully into the body and out with awareness. Sounds simple but not …

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Everything changes including our thoughts
What I’m up to
On January 1st I launch the online Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery course for 28 days. Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery course during the month of January 2018. For people in recovery and people working in the field of recovery

Join me – and free your mind from addictive behaviours and substances. It takes 21 days to change a habit, and a lifetime to maintain the change. You lose the past and gain a new freedom. All addictive behaviours begin in the body. Sensations in the body drive our habits. And the breath can put a break on our habits. By breathing fully into the body and out with awareness. Sounds simple but not easy. And Guess what. You have me to coach you daily for 28 days.

What I’m Thinking
I need to pay attention to my personal recovery. It’s so easy to be out there in the world writing books, giving talks, coaching people and changing lives. And it’s so easy for me to neglect myself and not be walking my talk. The Buddha was inspired by a mendicant begging for alms. He thought that this beggar may have the answer, and why? This beggar was not clothed as a Saddhu, a Deva, or an Asura. He was not on top of a mountain giving great sermons. He was simply radiating stillness, simplicity and contentment. This is what I’m thinking about by right now. Can I simply live recovery breath by breath, and let the teachings that flow from me just be icing on the cake.

Inspiring Quote
“Consider the eight-part program laid down in Buddhism: Right view, right aim, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right-mindedness and right contemplation. The Buddhist philosophy, as exemplified by these eight points, could be literally adopted by AA as a substitute for or addition to the Twelve Steps. Generosity, universal love and welfare of others rather than considerations of self-care basic to Buddhism”.
This was written by the co-founder of AA Dr Bob in a pamphlet called Spiritual Milestones. This is a priceless gem because many people often question how does Buddhist Recovery fit in with their 12 step Recovery? Or wonder if Buddhist Recovery will contradict their 12 step program?

What I’m Watching
The Dhamma Brothers
Unfortunately, this is a documentary you have to pay for. And it’s worth every cent. This documentary follows the lives of several men in a maximum security prison in the USA, with one of them on death row. Donaldson correction centre in Massachusetts was the first prison in the West to introduce ten-day Vipassana retreats as taught by SN Goenka. Two of Goenka’s assistant teachers moved into prison for ten days and slept in a prison cell for the duration of the course. The impact on the men is moving to the extent it changes some of their lives forever. Ten hours a day of focussing on the bodily sensations and 10 days of noble silence, transformed a whole prison culture. The course was such a success that the people who taught it couldn’t wait to go back to prison and teach it again.

What I’m Obsessing about
I have a year of travel, retreats, public speaking, and professional training. I’ve been thinking about how to take good care of myself. Because for anyone who is in recovery from addictive behaviours and substances this can be a time of picking up and relapsing. So it’s a time for me to work my recovery program.

What I noticed
When we help others we help ourselves. And when we help ourselves we help others. On Christmas day I travelled by ferry to the city and opened up the doors of my Buddhist centre for our weekly session Recovery Mondays. Five people turned up, and we meditated on forgiveness and spoke about the family members we needed to make peace with, in our thoughts. I noticed that I still have some resentment towards my mother. I’m angry because she wants to re-write my story and tell me what she thinks she did, rather than what she did. Laughable, so what if she wants to re-write my story. I can rewrite mine too. It was a delightful evening getting in touch with this awareness and sharing the evening with others. I see more clearly that making peace with my mother does not mean I have to be in physical contact with her, it means I have to cultivate positivity every time she comes to mind and wish her unconditional loving-kindness.

Something I’m doing
I’ve asked someone to mentor me through my own 8 Step Recovery Program. I figure that if I expect others to be mentored through the program I could at least see what it’s like to be mentored. More about this next month.
[vc_separator type=”” size=”” icon=”star”] New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Gratitude https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/gratitude-2 https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/gratitude-2#comments Mon, 04 Dec 2017 13:00:23 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=37488
What I’m up to

Last month I was appointed as the new President of the international organization Buddhist Recovery Network BRN. Sounds grand, but I have the task of bringing this organization out of dormancy and popularizing Buddhist Recovery in all its guises to the rest of the world. I have also been invited to be part of the Menla Retreat Centre (Upstate New York) Faculty as the lead teacher in Buddhist Recovery and Mindfulness Secular Recovery. Kevin Griffin and I will be launching their first Buddhist Recovery Retreat in July 2018.

What I’m Thinking
Another year with more fatalities and casualties from opioids. And as the month of December looms for many, the …

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An International Organization promoting Buddhist Recovery


What I’m up to

Last month I was appointed as the new President of the international organization Buddhist Recovery Network BRN. Sounds grand, but I have the task of bringing this organization out of dormancy and popularizing Buddhist Recovery in all its guises to the rest of the world. I have also been invited to be part of the Menla Retreat Centre (Upstate New York) Faculty as the lead teacher in Buddhist Recovery and Mindfulness Secular Recovery. Kevin Griffin and I will be launching their first Buddhist Recovery Retreat in July 2018.

What I’m Thinking
Another year with more fatalities and casualties from opioids. And as the month of December looms for many, the increase of overdoses, suicides and self-harm will escalate in some parts of the world. While I write this, I make my decision to open the doors of my Buddhist centre on Christmas day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day to be of service.


Inspiring Jargon

It works if you work it. If you don’t it won’t
Many people who have been in the rooms of 12 steps will be familiar with this jargon. It’s a reminder to me that if I want recovery If I want abstinence and sobriety of mind, I have to work a program. I have to be active in my recovery. While self-pity, blame and distractions may seem energetic and the best way to deal with our hurt and frustrations. These habitual behaviours will keep us in the hell realm of our addictions.

What I’m Watching
Seeing The Disgust in Food
A short documentary by Bhikkhu Samahita. He reminds us that over 3 million people die of obesity every year, and obesity causes death from heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. He points out that while food may look attractive to the eye and nose and taste senses. As soon as we place the food in our mouth, and chew it, the food becomes something disgusting to look at, and if we regurgitated it, we would most probably recoil with disgust. 32 minutes of food enlightenment, and we will realize how much we are a slave to food.

What I’m Obsessing about
My weight. After putting a pair of jeans on and noticing a roll of flesh hanging over the waistband, I went into horrified anxiety. Then paused, and took a breath, because once upon a time it would have set me off on a binge/purge cycle, or a hunger strike for a week. Instead, I set about doing crunches, pulled a muscle. I am now choosing to mindfully watch what I eat, knowing that while this may not get the results I want in a week, but the results will change with time, and cause less proliferation of thought and obsession of my body.

What I noticed
Gratitude. I attended an AA gathering this month, and my partner was one of the speakers on gratitude. As I listened to several speakers explore this theme, I noticed that gratitude is something that I can easily ignore. There are so many things I can have gratitude for, from the moment I wake up in a country where war is not on my doorstep, to the moment I place my head on a pillow in a house with a roof over my head, and enough money to pay my bills. I noticed too that once upon a time, I resented having to be grateful, often because people would tell me I should be grateful, and because I was so unhappy and resentful with my life. Now that I don’t complain about my life anymore nobody tells me I should be grateful, and gratitude has been a by-product of cultivating loving-kindness.

Something I’m doing
I will be delivering an online Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery course during the month of January 2018. For people in recovery and people working in the field of recovery. For more information please email mark@wildmind.org

[vc_separator type=”” size=”” icon=”star”] New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Buddhist Recovery Summit https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/buddhist-recovery-summit https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/buddhist-recovery-summit#comments Mon, 06 Nov 2017 23:12:32 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=37440 Over a hundred people gathered at the Buddhist Recovery Summit in Lacey, Washington to share their knowledge and passion for the worldwide movements integrating Buddhism and Recovery, on October 20th to 22nd 2017. Dharma teachers, health care professionals, psychotherapists, counselors and people in recovery discussed the future of Buddhist Recovery.

Together we explored a range of recovery styles and practices, including Refuge Recovery, the Eight Step Recovery, Sit and Share, Heart of Recovery, Noble Steps, and Mindful Recovery.

There was a keynote panel including Noah Levine and Kevin Griffin from the USA, myself Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John from Canada, and Vince Cullen from Ireland, which discussed “What is Buddhist Recovery?” The summit also explored the intersection …

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Vimalasara and Noah Levine having a high five moment.

Over a hundred people gathered at the Buddhist Recovery Summit in Lacey, Washington to share their knowledge and passion for the worldwide movements integrating Buddhism and Recovery, on October 20th to 22nd 2017. Dharma teachers, health care professionals, psychotherapists, counselors and people in recovery discussed the future of Buddhist Recovery.

Together we explored a range of recovery styles and practices, including Refuge Recovery, the Eight Step Recovery, Sit and Share, Heart of Recovery, Noble Steps, and Mindful Recovery.

There was a keynote panel including Noah Levine and Kevin Griffin from the USA, myself Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John from Canada, and Vince Cullen from Ireland, which discussed “What is Buddhist Recovery?” The summit also explored the intersection of Buddhist recovery and the 12 step recovery model. The summit focused on ways to offer Buddhist recovery in all of its forms to people suffering from addiction regardless of their religion or spiritual traditions.

George Johns, President of the Buddhist Recovery Network (BRN) says: “Over the past 10 years we have seen a plethora of new Buddhist recovery programs contribute to the recovery world. Using mindfulness to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and pain has captured the world’s attention. It is inevitable that Buddhist Recovery would contribute to and deepen this movement. At the core of the Buddhist teachings is mindfulness and the way out of suffering. Buddhist recovery offers a host of teachings and practices to live a life free from the misery of addictions, and BRN is committed to nurturing and disseminating these ideas to help the still suffering addict.”

BRN initiatives include maintaining and expanding their website ( buddhistrecovery.org ) as a global resource for Buddhist recovery, offering facilitator and peer-led training and materials for Buddhist recovery meetings, nurturing regional BRN affiliates, and orchestrating annual Buddhist recovery summits and retreats.
The Summit was initiated, planned and co-sponsored by the Northwest Dharma Association, a non-sectarian umbrella for Buddhist organizations and individuals in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia.

It’s hoped that Buddhist Recovery will soon become recognized as a reliable contribution to the Addiction world.

Something I’m doing
I will be delivering an online Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery course during the month of January 2018. For people in recovery and people working in the field of recovery. For more information please email mark@wildmind.org

[vc_separator type=”” size=”” icon=”star”] New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Recovery capital https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/recovery-capital https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/recovery-capital#respond Tue, 03 Oct 2017 18:19:17 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=37244

What I’m Thinking
The world needs recovery right now. These past few months we’ve had mudslides in Sierra Leone, Hurricanes in the U.S.A, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Earth Quakes in Mexico, Terrorist Attacks in Europe, and Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un squaring up against each other, and the most recent gun killings in Las Vegas. There is a lot of fear in society, and when there is FEAR we can either Face Everything And Recover by dealing with it or Fear Everything And Run. Reality can be traumatic, painful and hard. We can be at risk of addictions when we turn away from reality and fear feeling the excruciating discomfort of life. Addiction, Alcoholism and …

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What I’m Thinking
The world needs recovery right now. These past few months we’ve had mudslides in Sierra Leone, Hurricanes in the U.S.A, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Earth Quakes in Mexico, Terrorist Attacks in Europe, and Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un squaring up against each other, and the most recent gun killings in Las Vegas. There is a lot of fear in society, and when there is FEAR we can either Face Everything And Recover by dealing with it or Fear Everything And Run. Reality can be traumatic, painful and hard. We can be at risk of addictions when we turn away from reality and fear feeling the excruciating discomfort of life. Addiction, Alcoholism and compulsive behaviors often escalate during the aftermath of a crisis, because people want to try and quickly forget the pain. And why would we want to dwell on the pain? In times of major disasters, catastrophes, terrorism, we need to tap into our ‘Recovery Capital’ resources that will help us during challenging times.


Inspiring Jargon

Recovery capital is the contemporary jargon that refers to the internal and external resources necessary for an individual to achieve and maintain recovery from substance misuse as well as make behavioral changes. Coined by (Granfield & Cloud, 1999. People are beginning to realize that recovery can be jeopardized by an individual’s social networks, lack of community support, cultural and racial barriers and taboos. Mindfulness and the language of the heart is what the Buddhist teachings offer. The breath and the heart are internal resources we can tap into 24/7. When we get in touch with breathing and loving kindness our external resources begin to flourish

What I’m reading
In The Realm of the Hungry Ghost – Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate.
Gabor Mate takes us into the dark grimy places of addiction with some of his clients he has worked with. And then he juxtaposes his own addiction to Classical Music, with the addictions of his clients. And the startling truth is, you wake up to the fact that this too – could be a matter of life and death. He left his eleven-year-old child stranded in a comic shop for one hour while going off elsewhere to buy music. He was lucky to find his son bemused and still waiting for him an hour later. He left a woman in the hospital while in labor, and ran over a bridge to buy music. He missed the delivery and made excuses to his disappointed patient and colleagues. He spent $8000 in two weeks, and while he never took his life over the debt he was running up, others may have in this situation.

What I’m Obsessing about
Raw Cashew nuts. As my friend Gabor says Cashew nuts are really tough to eschew. Much easier just to chew.

What I’m Listening to
Listening to Prince EA’s Jim Carrey “Crazy” Behavior Explained!!! Prince EA asks has Jim Carrey Lost His Mind? Or Has he uncovered a truth about the nature of reality? This is my favorite populist creative piece of art on the concept of anatta, non-self. A Buddhist teaching that can help every suffering addict, begin to maintain their abstinence and sobriety of mind.
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What I noticed
While sitting doing my daily meditation to help maintain my abstinence and sobriety of mind, I was confronted with the noise of power tools. After 35 minutes of oscillating between peacefulness and slight frustration. I began to laugh. My thoughts had become louder than any lawn mower I’ve ever heard. It was a subtle reminder that the power tools was not the issue, it was the agitated mind. When I’m triggered, it’s helpful to realize it’s not the trigger that is the issue, it is the stir crazy narratives that arise, in trying to avoid the discomfort of the seeing the trigger, or in my case this morning, trying to avoid the discomfort of the sound I did not want to hear.

Something I’m doing
I will be delivering an online Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery course during the month of January 2018. For people in recovery and people working in the field of recovery. For more information please email mark@wildmind.org

[vc_separator type=”” size=”” icon=”star”] New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Everyone is suffering https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/everyone-is-suffering https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/everyone-is-suffering#comments Mon, 06 Feb 2017 12:00:39 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=36835 During times of direct uncertainty caused by a change of political power everyone is impacted. And no matter what side we are on, everyone experiences suffering of some kind. Suffering is the first noble truth and no one can escape that. Buddhist Teachers are often asked how do we practise during turbulent times, when civil liberties and freedoms are being taken away?

As Buddhists we have to remember that while some of us may think our civil liberties and freedoms are being taken away, there are other people who think they are gaining freedoms and civil liberties. That some of these people were perhaps angry when the government of their choice was not in power.…

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During times of direct uncertainty caused by a change of political power everyone is impacted. And no matter what side we are on, everyone experiences suffering of some kind. Suffering is the first noble truth and no one can escape that. Buddhist Teachers are often asked how do we practise during turbulent times, when civil liberties and freedoms are being taken away?

As Buddhists we have to remember that while some of us may think our civil liberties and freedoms are being taken away, there are other people who think they are gaining freedoms and civil liberties. That some of these people were perhaps angry when the government of their choice was not in power.

While we may have strong views about what is happening in the world, it does not make our view right, and many people may think our view is wrong and their view right. In the dharma we talk about having no view.

As Buddhists we are interested in how we react to uncertain times, because we know that the rate of addiction, self harm and suicide can spike during a change of the status quo. Humans seem to have an inbuilt tendency to turn away from discomfort, and things we don’t like happening, with blame, denial, self pity and distraction.

All of these coping mechanism just fuels more agitation and discontent in our heart/minds. I have no definitive answer of how to practise, but I do know that using uncertainty as an excuse to pick up our substance of distraction or choice will not make things better in the long term. While it may provide a temporary escape from the ills of the world, at some point we have to face our reality, no matter how painful we perceive it to be.

Uncertain times, is an opportunity for us to cultivate self compassion. When we truly touch compassion in ourselves, we will touch the compassion of everybody else in the world. And when we step of our cushions into the world, whatever protest or march we choose to go on, we will be motivated from a place of loving kindness and compassion.

Be aware of facilitative thoughts like: “I deserve a drink right now with all that is happening in the world today”, or “I may as well pick up my drug of choice, at least that’s something nobody can take away from me,” or “If they’re not going to let me back home into my country I may as well go on a bender,” or “nobody understands what it’s like to have a relative or friend killed in a terrorist attack, at least I can console myself with my choice of drug.”

As Buddhist cultivating self loving kindness and compassion is fundamental because it helps to purify the mind/heart, and free us from unwholesome thoughts about the people who are in political power and making decisions. The Dhamapada (verses of the dhamma) emphatically states: “hatred does not still hatred”.

It’s during times like this we must remember step six: Placing Positive Values at the centre of our lives. A year ago on this blog, this stanza came to me while reflecting on the 6th step of the 8 step recovery program.

Watch your thoughts; they become stories
Watch your stories; they become excuses
Watch your excuses; they become relapses
Watch your relapses; they become dis-eases
Watch your dis-eases they become vicious cycles
Watch your vicious cycles they become your wheel of life

[vc_separator type=”” size=”” icon=”star”] New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Happy New Breath https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/happy-new-breath https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/happy-new-breath#respond Sun, 01 Jan 2017 11:00:38 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=36764 woman in water

Every breath can be the beginning of a new year. One breath at a time can seem a long time for people in recovery. Many people are afraid to connect to the subtle sensations in the nostrils and on the upper lip, that we label as the breath. Connecting to the subtle sensations of breathing means we have to slow down and become aware of our body, thoughts and feelings.

Those of us with addictions are often trying to flee the body, feelings and thoughts. Instead of coming back to the body, we are trying to have out-of-body experiences, get high, have altered states, and not be in touch with everyday reality.

The Buddha taught …

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woman in water

Every breath can be the beginning of a new year. One breath at a time can seem a long time for people in recovery. Many people are afraid to connect to the subtle sensations in the nostrils and on the upper lip, that we label as the breath. Connecting to the subtle sensations of breathing means we have to slow down and become aware of our body, thoughts and feelings.

Those of us with addictions are often trying to flee the body, feelings and thoughts. Instead of coming back to the body, we are trying to have out-of-body experiences, get high, have altered states, and not be in touch with everyday reality.

The Buddha taught the four foundations of mindfulness. The contemplation of the body, feelings, thoughts and mind objects (like hindrances, six senses, the five skandhas and the seven factors of enlightenment).

This is what the Buddha taught. He taught the practise of anapanasati to help us contemplate these four foundations. He taught us how to breathe again. This is the essence, the pulse of this practice. Inhaling and exhaling, aware of the length, and sensation of each breathing moment. Allowing breathing to soothe the body, to soothe mental formation, to liberate the heart, and relinquish all habits.

A whole lifetime passes in each breathing moment. What we do in each moment impacts the next. With every inhale there is an exhale until the last breathing moment.

The past connects to the present, and the present connects to the future. Just like the inhale and exhale. By having awareness of every breathing moment we can impact this flow of reality.

How many of us are aware of breathing? Have you ever tried to be attached to breathing? Attachment only arises when we have the difficulty of breathing. When we don’t inhale enough oxygen it causes us to choke, have asthma attacks, or struggling for another inhale and exhale.

When we experience excitement or upset, our bodies can contract, we interrupt the flow of breathing. Rarely do we experience the full capacity of inhaling and exhaling. We need to be aware that lack of oxygen to the brain and heart befuddles our mental states and at worse brain damage. On an emotional level when our brain and hearts do not receive enough oxygen, we strangle our hearts and mind, and cause damage to our whole body. Anger, hatred, ill will, and even obsessive love is the cause of emotional brain and or heart damage.

The Buddha teaches us to become aware of breathing, because this is the antidote to the poisons of the heart like, greed, hatred and delusion. The Buddha rediscovered the way through breathing.

You could ask yourself, “When did I stop breathing?”

Take some minutes to reflect on this question, perhaps repeating it to yourself several times. I stopped breathing the day my biological mother left me somewhere and never came back. As a 6 week old baby, I most probably learned to scream, kick, and cry, blocking the flow of air, hoping this would soothe my pain.

So let’s relearn breathing.

Inhaling, I know I am breathing in. Exhaling I know I am breathing out. Give it a go, ten minutes and see what happens.

Happy New Breath.

[vc_separator type=”” size=”” icon=”star”] New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Turning toward experience https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/turning-toward-experience https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/turning-toward-experience#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 14:33:15 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=36594 15056766 - chair in the  room with wooden floor

Apologies for not blogging these past three months, I’ve been at the home of my teacher, Sangharakshita, living in community and taking part in study and retreats for ordained members of the Triratna Buddhist Community.

I’ve been doing a lot of turning towards my direct experience. It has been a challenging practice. When I turn towards my experience, it’s all in the body: just pleasant, unpleasant, neutral (vagueness) or a mixture of all three feeling tone in the body.

Sometimes I like it and I want more, I cling to it, and begin to crave. Sometimes I dislike it and I push it way, and move into aversion. And sometimes, I just move into a …

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15056766 - chair in the  room with wooden floor

Apologies for not blogging these past three months, I’ve been at the home of my teacher, Sangharakshita, living in community and taking part in study and retreats for ordained members of the Triratna Buddhist Community.

I’ve been doing a lot of turning towards my direct experience. It has been a challenging practice. When I turn towards my experience, it’s all in the body: just pleasant, unpleasant, neutral (vagueness) or a mixture of all three feeling tone in the body.

Sometimes I like it and I want more, I cling to it, and begin to crave. Sometimes I dislike it and I push it way, and move into aversion. And sometimes, I just move into a vagueness, a boredom because I want an extreme sensation to arise. And then it becomes pleasant or unpleasant, and I habitually begin to oscillate between clinging and pushing away.

I realize how easy it is for me to become a slave of likes and dislikes, of clinging and pushing away.

When I push away I harden with my stories, reactions, judgments or anesthetize with my choice of addiction. When I push away I think I am pushing the people, the incident, the situation that I don’t like away. And when I turn towards my experience I soften, let go of all the stories, and I begin to see clearly that all I am really pushing away, or trying to block out, is the direct experience of pleasure and pain, or vagueness. That is the trigger, nothing more. No person or thing to blame. No buttons pushed.

It can be so hard to sit with my discomfort, and so I move away automatically by blaming someone, or distracting myself with an addiction or fall into self pity. It’s sometimes seems easier to sit with pleasant sensations, and then I cling to it, and become frustrated when it changes to unpleasant, and then I push it away. Nobody is pushing my buttons, I push my own buttons.

All this is a salient reminder that during the Christmas and New year holidays that if we experience aversion to someone overdoing it with alcohol, drugs, or food, or an aversion to all the consumerism, that our aversion is a strong reaction to not wanting to experience what is going on in the body.

If I feel a strong craving for foods that I don’t normally eat, or to alcohol that I don’t drink, it’s a reminder that I am turning away from the discomfort that has arisen in the body when one of the six senses clashes with the smell and sights of these stimuli.

It can be excruciatingly painful to stay with what is arising in the body, which is why we turn away with our reactions of blame, distraction and self pity. The Buddha taught there are worldly responses to feeling tone and unworldly responses to feeling tone.

Lust, anger, delusion, contraction, and distraction are our worldly habitual responses to feeling tone arising in the body. They inevitably lead to suffering. If we want freedom we have to learn to turn towards whatever is arising with a great expansive and relaxed mind, that is unworldly, unsurpassable, concentrated, and liberated. This will free us from the chains of our six senses that drag us down into a deluded pit.

More next month – be well

New Revised Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma published by Wisdom Books Spring 2017

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Turning towards the sting of suffering https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/turning-towards-the-sting https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/recovery-monday/turning-towards-the-sting#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 14:26:38 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=36034 Tattoo design https://www.tattooshunter.com/tattoo/arrow/Suffering is the beginning of the path.

What is suffering? It’s traditionally described as an ill fitting wheel on a chariot. I tend to think of a buckled wheel on my bicycle. It’s a bumpy unsatisfactory journey from A to B. However suffering can be an invitation for us to do the work.

The Buddha has done the work for us. All we need to do is practise. When the Prince became distressed at the sight of aging, sickness and death, he stepped onto the path. He was inspired by a mendicant who was radiating peace and begging for alms. With great energy, faith, meditation, concentration and wisdom, he found an end to suffering and …

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Tattoo design https://www.tattooshunter.com/tattoo/arrow/Suffering is the beginning of the path.

What is suffering? It’s traditionally described as an ill fitting wheel on a chariot. I tend to think of a buckled wheel on my bicycle. It’s a bumpy unsatisfactory journey from A to B. However suffering can be an invitation for us to do the work.

The Buddha has done the work for us. All we need to do is practise. When the Prince became distressed at the sight of aging, sickness and death, he stepped onto the path. He was inspired by a mendicant who was radiating peace and begging for alms. With great energy, faith, meditation, concentration and wisdom, he found an end to suffering and laid out the map of the four noble truths and the eightfold path.

While these teachings may seem too much to take on, we can begin doing the work by turning towards the unpleasant. When we turn towards the unpleasant, it takes the longevity out of suffering.

However, many of us find it difficult to face the sting of unpleasantness. Somebody gives us feedback, and there is the sting of sensations arising in the body, if we face the unpleasantness that arises in the body, the stinger will dissolve with time.

When a bee stings us, the best thing we can do is turn towards the sting and pull the stinger out. We must do the same when we have been stung by an external or internal action. We must embrace the entire experience of the human condition.

If we turn away from the sensations in the body, the stinger will calcify and our suffering will multiply.

Turning away from the sting of unpleasantness is limited, because when we do, we are resisting our pain. Shinzen Young says Pain x Resistance = suffering. Our resistance is manifested in our choice of distractions.

In the short term, the bottle of booze, the line of coke, the shot of heroin, even the blast of rage, may seem to take the sting out of the unpleasant. And it does for a while, as we become numb, but once the effects have worn off our suffering has multiplied.

When we turn away from our experience of sensations it put us on the wheel of becoming, the wheel of cyclic existence, the wheel of life. This wheel is a traditional Buddhist teaching on birth, death and our existence in Samsara. Samsara being the total confusion and creation of our inner and external worlds.

At the hub of this wheel is the pig that represents ignorance (delusion). In India it was seen the pig slept in the dirtiest places and ate what ever was fed to it.

Some of us with addictions have slept in some the dirtiest or most dangerous places and have eaten what ever has been fed to us. And that includes dirty drugs, or drinking methylated spirits.

The pig chases the snake. The snake represents aversions/hatred. It’s said that snakes will strike or be aroused at the slightest of touch. Many of us are like this too, we can blow up at the slightest thing and live our life on edge. The snake chases the cock.

The cock represents attachment/greed. The cock is symbolic of those birds that are often attached to their partners. Those of us with addictions are attached to our choice of distraction.

The cock chases the pig, the pig chases the snake and the snake chases the cock, as if they were on a vicious cycle of suffering. They move around and around the hub chasing each others tails.

Every time we turn to our choice of distraction we become one of these creatures running around and around chasing our tails.

Liberation from the Wheel of Life does not mean escape, the Buddha implied. It means clear perception of oneself, of the entire range of the human experience.

Prince Siddhartha vowed to find an end of suffering. He did not vow to gain enlightenment. We must stop chasing enlightenment, those blissful highs, and turn towards our own suffering if we are to gain liberation.

Join me online in July – A course working with our feelings, thoughts, awareness and addictions.

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com.

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