eight step recovery

Turning toward experience

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

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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Help, I need my device

phone addiction

I used to begin my day with a cigarette and a cup of a coffee. Now I begin my day with a meditation and a cup of coffee. But I have to admit, increasingly I can see that my day often begins with looking at one of my devices.

How many of you begin your day with the cell phone, the iPad, or the computer?

I was asked to do some training on digital addiction with some artists and geeks, and I was alarmed after some research to realize that I too am teetering into digital addiction.

If we rely on the dictionary definition of addiction, ‘the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing or activity, or a dependency, dependence, habit or problem’, we can at least begin to entertain the idea that many of us fall into the category of digital addiction.

You might be saying: “What’s the issue, it’s not a matter of life and death?” Sadly the number of road accidents caused by using the cell phone is on the increase, and that means more lives taken due to this insidious addiction. It’s illegal in many places to text and drive, or to be talking on the phone if you’re not hands-free, and yet we still do it, despite the fact we are putting our life and others’ at risk. Another definition of addiction is continuing a habitual behaviour despite the negative consequences. And texting while driving can be a matter of life and death.

So why are many of us prey to this new addictive habit?

Digital technology is seductive. When we hear that ping on one of our gadgets it’s almost like candy for the brain. Messages can make us think we are needed and wanted, and they encourage us to stay online. The more ‘likes’ we receive on our posts, the more pumped-up our self esteem becomes.

Facebook has recently introduced emoticons — a heart, a thumbs up, a smile — all of which can be experienced as affirming. Other emoticons, like a scowl, angry face or tears, can potentially deflate our egos. We can have a false sense of thinking we know what others are thinking and feeling. However for many people Facebook provides a sense of connection, even if they are alone at home staring at a screen. When it’s our birthday we can receive hundreds of messages. Before the advent of Facebook some of us would have been lucky if we received more than three birthday cards.

Technology has been designed to appeal to our senses. Games such as Candy Crush are replicated in the supermarket, and become as addictive as cigarettes and sugar. So many urban environments are digitalized that even if we don’t own a device we can still experience a cognitive overload from all the digital images we are surrounded by.

There is also the overload of emails. Some people spend half their working day attending to their inbox, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat accounts. Many of us check our social media accounts ten or more times a day.

So what can we do?

There is a company called Unless I Hear Differently that offers a simple tip to improve communication. If you are trying to make a decision over email and people are not getting back to you, this company suggests you write the phrase, “Unless I hear differently, this is what I’m going to do…” This phrase can cut down a whole slew of emails if you are trying to make a decision. It fosters a bias for action without weeks of trying to get an agreement.

Here is a list of other things you can do to help you live more peacefully in this digital era:

  • Put your phone on airplane mode while you are working
  • Put your phone on silent
  • Close the your browser on your lap top
  • Put your email autoresponder on for a couple of hours
  • Disconnect your phone from your lap top, iPad, or computer so you do not hear the ping every time someone sends you a message

Try one of these and see what happens. Perhaps you will find out just how attached you are to your gadget.

The next time you wake up to checking your messages on a device, consider buying one of those old fashioned alarm clocks to wake you up.

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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Step eight: helping others to share the benefits we have gained

liebeWhen the Prince Siddhartha glimpsed the 4th sight, a mendicant begging for alms in the streets, he was inspired to go forth from his life in the palace. You could see this as literally going forth, or the prince going forth from the palace of his mind that had kept him in imprisoned in deluded thinking.

Until he was able to go beyond the four walls of the palace that the King his father had built for him, Siddhartha thought he was never going to age, get sick or die.

Upon seeing the first three sights; an aging person, a sick person and a dead person, he experienced a spiritual crisis and felt compelled to find the way out of all this suffering. The mendicant offered him a way out, the Prince witnessed somebody radiating stillness, simplicity and contentment. This mendicant did not seem concerned about worldly attachments or worried about the demise of his youth, health and life. Siddhartha thought this person may have the answer.

This mendicant was sharing the benefits he had gained. And we too can do the same. Just as this mendicant will never know that it was he who inspired the prince to go forth and attain Buddhahood, we too can inspire people by the way we live our lives.

Helping others to share the benefits we have gained does not mean we have to write a book, or set a meeting up or blaze the trail. This is a difficult task, even Shakyamuni when he gained enlightenment hesitated to share the benefits he had gained, as he thought nobody would understand him. Nobody would believe how simple it was to find a way out of suffering. Thankfully he did share the benefits.

All of us are teaching. We teach by the way we live our lives. We teach by the way we integrate our talk with our walk. When we help others we help ourselves. And when we help our selves we help others. This month I am helping others by teaching an Tricycle Magazine Online Retreat. I hope some of you will join me. I continue to help others so I can help myself. Helping others brings my recovery right to the for front of my daily practice. I thank you all for this gift.

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

flowers in vaseLet’s practice gratitude this month. Every morning when you wake up, and or when you go to bed at night, think of at least three things you can have gratitude for. I will practise along with you. This practice belongs to the group of meditations called the four sublime abodes, or the four immeasurables, or the brahma viharas: Metta – loving kindness, Karuna – compassion, Mudita – sympathetic joy, and Upekkha – equanimity. They are a group of meditations that work at cultivating the internal conditions to help liberate ourselves and let go of our addictive habits. They cultivate positive attitudes and positive mental states.

The third of these meditations is called Mudita – sympathetic joy. We gladden our heart by calling to mind things we feel gratitude and joy towards ourselves, towards a friend, a neutral person and an enemy. In fact in this practise we can see clearly how our friend can become the enemy, because sometimes we resent our friend’s success, our friend’s good fortune. This is where we have to turn the resentment around and bring about gratitude and joy for our friends.

Beginning with ourselves is most important in all four of the meditations. And with mudita we can reflect on some of the ten endowments that have made our birth precious.

  1. Born as a human being
  2. Living in a country where the buddhist teachings are available
  3. Having at least one faculty that we can either hear the dharma orally, or hear via sign language – or read the dharma in books and read via braille
  4. Not committed heavy negative karma like murder
  5. Confidence in the three jewels
  6. Born in a country where the Buddha has appeared
  7. Born in a country where the Buddha has taught
  8. Born in a country where the dharma has flourished
  9. Living in a place where there are other followers of the dharma have gained enlightenment
  10. Where there is support from the kindness of others and a teacher

We can also have gratitude if we have not been born into unfavourable states: Like war on our doorstep, or born in a country where the dharma has never been taught, or born into a country where buddhism may cost us our life. We can rejoice in the fact that we have not been born into the animal realm.

Although be aware if you are craving so much that you can only be satiated by food, drugs, sex, money, power or by your choice of distraction, you will be languishing in the realm of the Hungry Ghost and functioning merely as an animal. Similarly if you are clinging to negative mental states, clinging to biases, judgements and views, unable to cultivate Mudita you must take caution.

Mudita flourishes when we can have faith in the three jewels: faith in the Buddha as the teacher of the path; faith in the Dharma which is the path; faith in the Sangha that guides us and helps us to stay on the path. We must also want to be liberated, be free of craving, and have faith in the fact that our actions have consequences.

What can you have gratitude for right now?

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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Going forth: a look at step six again

Buddha Statue

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

quote by Vimalasara 2016

Going forth is an aspect of step 6, placing positive values at the centre of our lives. Siddhartha the prince went forth from a life of indulgence because he could see clearly how it was hindering his growth. He could not find the answer to the end of suffering if he stayed in a hedonist world that was at the centre of his Mandala. When he left the palace that had imprisoned his mind, he placed renunciation at the centre of his life.

We too have to go forth from our lives. And our lives are created in our minds. So you could say we need to go forth from our minds. We must stop believing what is arising in the mind. We must stop identifying with what is in the mind. We must stop placing our stinking thinking at the centre of our Mandala. When we leave the prison of our minds, we to begin to place renunciation at the centre of our lives.

RECOVERY 2.0

If we can’t do this, we continue to be the deluded person who when they experience pain in the body – unpleasant, pleasant, neutral, they groans, grieve and grasp. The deluded person constructs mental feeling out of physical sensations, creating two kinds of feeling bodily and mental. Thinking that both are fact.

If we become a liberated person, we will experience pain in the body, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. There will be no construction in the mind of mental feelings. No grabbing, grieving, grasping. Just one kind of feeling that is bodily. Only equanimity arising in the mind that is not graspable.

AFRICAN AMERICAN WISDOM

Placing renunciation at the centre of our lives does not have to be daunting. We are all renunciates, one day we will have to renounce everything at the point of death. So we can begin to renounce now, or hang onto the bitter end, creating a life full of misery.

We can renounce by just reflecting on the three jewels, the Buddha, the dharma the sangha. Ehipassiko, ‘go see for your self’ and see what happens to your addiction.

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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Accidents, slips and relapse

I had an accident early December. My doctor prescribed me some medicine for a tongue fungal, that caused a numbing sensation at the back and the side of the tongue, making speaking quite difficult.

When I took the first spoon of medicine, I exclaimed to my partner: “oh no it has sugar in it”. She said: “Just know it’s medicine, and it’s going to make you better.”

Vimalasara Launches Buddhist Health and Wellness

Vimalasara Launches Buddhist Health and Wellness

Healing and Insight Wisdom

I told my sponsor too, he said something similar too. And although it made sense, I wondered how on earth was I going to cope with putting four spoons of sweetened syrup in my system and survive?

Well I did, and began to delude myself, after the 5th day of thinking, oh I can eat sugar after all, I’ve not binged or reached for any other sugar at all. Ignoring the fact that my teaspoon of medicine seemed to get bigger and bigger, until I began swigging it from the bottle. Yes swigging it. Sugar is my alcohol, and if I consume enough of it my head ends up down the toilet. I have a physical allergy to the poison and when in my system I can’t stop.

I wanted to come off it, but I wanted to be able to move my tongue and speak without lisping too. But I deluded myself. I had googled the medicine on day two and saw there was a capsule form too, but had the mediating thought: ‘I will be a pain in the butt, if I go and complain to my doctor.’

Now if I was an alcoholic, and I came home with medicine loaded with alcohol, I would not take it. I choose not to have alcohol in my system, and I know for sure I would have been marching back to the doctors waving the bottle saying give me something else.

What I’ve learned from this is: I need to take my sugar addiction and allergy of the body seriously. Because nobody else is going too. Nobody see’s the mad woman, who came of the medicine after 10 days, and on the 12th day was eating one bar of chocolate, four cookies, four toffee’s. Not much you may think, but it’s enough to have me back on the vicious cycle of addiction.

This time of year for many people around the world is a time of accidents, slips and relapse. But it can also be a time of abstinence, sobriety of mind and recovery.

  • If you slip and or relapse get back on track immediately.
  • Take a breath. Just one breath and Pause.
  • It may be you get down on your knees literally and pray to your God of Understanding
  • Recite – Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Reflect on the misery of what it would mean to be back on the cycle of addiction
  • Accept the experience of your slip and or accident, by staying with the feelings arising in the moment.
  • Be aware of self pity, blame and distractions, as they may well just induce another slip and or relapse
  • Be aware of isolating, lack of sleep, hygiene. Ask for Help
  • Go to a meeting
  • Remember your thoughts are not facts
  • Know that everything is impermanent
  • Reality is perfumed with compassion
  • 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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    Step seven: Making every effort to stay on the path of recovery

    photo-1427830401569-89572cf6d5c6x600

    Once you think you’ve got recovery, you’ve lost your recovery. Because what is recovery? It is a path that can take us to liberation and freedom. Recovery is always changing. What it looked like when you first had one week of abstinence, is very different to what it will look like after one year or after 30 years.

    ‘Once an addict always an addict’, is often a saying we hear. There is good sense in this phrase, because it reminds us not to delude ourselves, and think: ‘right i’ve not picked up my choice of distraction for six months I’m okay now’.

    Let’s not delude ourselves because we can think the same after 20 years of recovery too. This saying does have its pitfalls because we can hold onto an old identity that does not serve us anymore.

    In Eight Step Recovery: ‘We ask if you really want recovery are you prepared to go to any lengths to let go of your self view?’

    This is the first of the mental bonds that bind us to human suffering. Thinking we are a fixed self, and that we are our body, feelings, perceptions, mental formation and sensory consciousness. The Buddha taught that all these five skandhas are empty of self. He taught that nothing among them is ‘I, or mine or me’.

    If we want recovery we do have to let go of the identities that created the addicted self. We stay on the path of recovery when we realize that the only thing we own are our actions.

    There is also a Buddhist teaching that says ‘guard the sense doors’. What this means is that we don’t deliberately put ourselves in vulnerable places. For example if you are a sex addict you don’t go to a sex show. If you’re an alcoholic you don’t put yourself in situations where alcohol is being rammed in your face. If you’re a coke addict you don’t stay in a room where people are white lining. We guard the sense doors by not putting ourselves in situations where we will be easily triggered.

    There are enough triggers out there in the world that we will have to practise loving kindness and mindfulness to keep us sober and abstinent.

    The good news is, it is possible to have disinterest in our distraction or substance or behaviour of choice. But we still need to be vigilant by preventing, and eradicating unhelpful states of mind.

    In the rooms of 12 steps we are told to HALT. If you are aware of a subtle craving, ask if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

    We need to maintain helpful states of mind by cultivating and maintaining our abstinence and sobriety of mind. Making every effort to stay on the path of recovery is a lifetime practise, and one well worth living. The more effort we make, the easier it becomes, but there is not time of the path of recovery, if we want to liberate our self from suffering.

    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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    Lapse or relapse?

    Businessman falling‘Often the fear of a relapse can be the trigger for us to slip and slide. Just as lapses must be recognized as an opportunity to work our program of recovery diligently, the relapse must also be seen as a GIFT: A Great Indicator For Throwing Stuff out. They are the emergency alarm bell telling us we are on fire, and need to stop and pause to put the fire out. Dreading the relapse will just put us onto the vicious cycle of addiction.’ —Eight Step Recovery: Using The Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction.

    Relapse is part of the continuum for recovery. Few people manage to get total abstinence of their recovering journey from day one. And those who do, most probably were practising some form of harm reduction before they came out and publicly said: ‘No more. I’ve had enough. I’m not picking up ever again.’

    Many of us do harm reduction, and/or relapse, under the scornful eyes that can judge us. Such overt or covert judgement can trigger nihilistic and facilitative thoughts inside of us like; ‘I’m a loser, I can never get clean, I may as well continue’, and we can begin to inhabit toxic feelings of shame. The scornful eyes, or the judging comments from others may never change but our relationship to relapse and our inner world of toxic stinking thinking can.

    First we must begin to identify between a lapse and a relapse. For example, we have a row with someone, we feel nauseated, and we turn away from the overwhelming feeling without being aware of the thoughts in our head that we have identified with, like, ‘F***, I want a drink’. This identification is often unconscious and sometimes conscious, and the ending result of both is picking up our fix and using. This can be a lapse and turn into a relapse.

    A lapse can end at that first sip, first puff, picking up the needle, turning on the computer. It could be by accident you pick up your stimulant of choice, unaware it had alcohol or sugar in it. Unaware that when you woke up your computer there were triggering images glaring back at you. Or it may be that you slip after a difficult situation, you pick up, become aware of what you have done, and you have a choice, do you put it down or do you continue? When you put it down it’s a lapse. When you continue it is a relapse.

    Sometimes a lapse can be as long as a day, and then you get back on track and lapse again. However, if this pattern is occurring more than a week, then you really do have to admit you are in a relapse. A lapse is most definitely not an excuse to say well: ‘I can have one drink and call that a lapse’. The intention of having the drink, the motivation of having the drink would be acted out of a mind conning itself and would most probably end up in relapse.

    Recognizing a genuine lapse is important. There is a gap after a lapse where thoughts and emotions emerge. In this gap we can make a new decision. We do this with the breath. When powerful thoughts like: ‘What the heck, I’m gonna use anyway’ arise, we must become absorbed in our breathing rather than absorbed in our thoughts. If we go for refuge to these thoughts — give them a prominent place in the heart and mind — we will inevitably spiral into relapse.

    If we do lapse we have to be prepared that our thoughts can become overwhelming and we will lose sobriety of mind. This is where we have to work our recovery, because for the next few days our mind will be full of all sorts of thoughts of using, and we have to turn toward them kindly and know that all the mind is doing is producing thoughts we have no control over, and trust they will quieten down.

    If we resist these thoughts the mind will go into mindless obsessing and before we know it we will be sliding helter-skelter into a relapse. And so recovering from a lapse is perhaps one of the most challenging things we have to do if we want to strengthen our abstinence and sobriety.

    We have to stop listening to both the external and internal judgments made by others and ourselves. We have to choose our recovery over the relapse. This is even harder. Many of us relapse because in that moment of being triggered we want the our stimulant or distraction of choice, more than we want our recovery. A relapse can also be premeditated, planned and often triggered by a lapse.

    Awareness of body, feelings and thought can help deter a relapse and lapse. When we can pause and connect to the body, feelings, and thoughts, everything slows down, and we can catch the catastrophic drama unravelling in the mind. We relapse because we disappear into the thoughts which are so overwhelming that the inevitability of falling of the wagon is lurking in the next moment. If we can learn to disappear into the breath, thoughts will become impermanent, and will not exist or grip us in the same way.

    If we train the heart-mind to be more mindful we may begin to see that if we always do what we’ve always done, we will always get what we have always got. We will see the insanity of our relapses which are habitual behaviours that keep on producing the same results.


    Please email us at eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com for a free copy of the booklet on how to run meetings, and for the free collection of 21 meditations for recovery.

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    Step Six: Placing positive values at the centre of our lives

    Spiral staircaseWhen I reflect deeply on this step, I can see how unreliable my addictions are. In the end they bring great suffering. Once upon a time, my addictive habitual behaviours were at the centre of my life. I was so unhappy. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I began to place more reliable refuges at the centre of my life.

    In the 12 step tradition people turn their lives over to a God of their understanding, they do this because it is a reliable refuge. Placing a God of your understanding at the centre of your life is far more reliable than our addictions.

    In Buddhism we call this Going for Refuge, or taking Refuge in the Three Jewels. We take refuge in the Buddha, not the human being, but the aspiration of what the Buddha attained at the centre of our lives. We place the Dharma, the truth, the teachings at the centre. And we place the Sangha, the enlightened spiritual community that has gone before us.

    So we turn our lives over to freedom and liberation from Samsara, from the hell of our minds.

    We can begin by turning our lives over to the breath. Often we turn our lives over to our thoughts, because we think we are our thoughts. We think our thoughts are facts. Often we lean into our suffering with thought and become so overwhelmed that we end up in the vicious cycle of addiction.

    If we leaned into our suffering with breath, disappeared into the breath rather than disappearing into the thoughts, when we are at risk, it may keep us abstinent and sober.

    So reflect on what is at the centre of your life.
    What are you turning your life over to?
    What is your God of understanding? Is it reliable?
    What are you going to refuge too when things get hard in life?

    For a free sample of the 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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