Recovery Dharma: Into Action

Recovery Dharma is among the spectrum of different recovery options Aurora Recovery Centre recognizes, and people choose to access these options depending on their temperament, personality, preferences and needs in the moment. When it comes to mutual support groups, there are many roads to recovery.

Red Road to Wellbriety, Refuge Recovery and Dharma Recovery.

Different options can also be complementary to one another. Aurora has provided 12-Step options, as well as alternatives such as Red Road to Wellbriety, Refuge Recovery and Dharma Recovery.

A number of alumni have responded to us about the newsletter articles in the August and September issues, “Recovery and Dharma: Steps To Peacefulness.”  In particular, they have shared some personal experiences about involvement with the Recovery Dharma fellowship and book.

These fellowships are based on traditional Buddhist teachings, introducing people to the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Refuge Recovery was founded by author and teacher Noah Levine. He published the book Refuge Recovery in 2014, and a fellowship of the same name was founded. The fellowship split in 2019, and Recovery Dharma was formed. Recovery Dharma is the fellowship that is the most accessible to our Canadian Alumni, and we have heard feedback that the meetings have been very helpful in sustaining and maintaining recovery.

Winnipeg has an active Recovery Dharma fellowship.

In recent weeks, Aurora staff and alumni have attended in-person meetings at the Pan-Am boxing gym and have been nurtured by the program and the fellowship. As of September 2020, the meetings have gone fully online due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Here is the link to gain access to Recovery Dharma Winnipeg

Alumni Member Myles A. reflects positively on his experience in the fellowship.

“I was introduced to the program at Aurora when an alumnus from Calgary facilitated some meetings there. I was attracted to it right away. I was fairly new at Aurora, and I wasn’t big on the 12 Step programs, so it helped me get past some things like Step Two and Three at the start,” he says.

“I used dharma to keep moving forward in recovery, and now that I have learned more about the 12 steps and the Big Book, I do a lot of it, but it was nice to have the second option there.”

“I got the book and read through it right away. It is such an easy read. It explains how to just be a good person, in general. It’s nothing miraculous, it explains how we should act, anyways. The eightfold path is about being a better person, and drinking becomes unnecessary.”

After his time at Aurora, it was a seamless transition into the fellowship for Myles.

“When I completed treatment, I went to Winnipeg meetings right off the hop. Starting with once a week, I then attended three or four a week. I really enjoyed them. Starting with a meditation, then a reading, then discussion.”

Myles can see how the program manifests in his life daily.

“I think the first step of applying it is recognition. Recalling information from the book, I catch myself and tell myself to use Wise Speech or Mindfulness. Wise Intention is a big one. I catch myself thinking that all the time, then I choose how I am going to respond. I do take a pause.”

He has come to see how his teachings fit in with many of the deeper questions many in early recovery go through.

“I separate spirituality from religion big time. I was not searching to be a part of any religion, but I think everyone can use spirituality in their lives, just in terms of being a better person. I like the Buddhism aspect because Buddha is not a God, he was someone who wanted people to be well, and end suffering.”

Myles isn’t alone in his appreciation for the path he has begun to walk.

Alumni Robyn W. is another who has begun to practice this program.

“I find it a very insightful way to better yourself and heal during the recovery process. It is easily applied to my life and follows similar guidelines to those presented at Aurora and those outlined in the Big Book of AA. It is a gentle path to growth and development. It also shows us how to deal with trauma and reflect on our actions/experiences so we become better people. “

“It does not ask you to believe in anything, just to simply follow a path of wellness and work hard on yourself in order to overcome addiction and gain a life-long sense of well-being in order to live in happiness.”

Robyn has become a big proponent of the program as presented in the book.

“I like this approach because it teaches me that we are able to reflect and acknowledge our pain, suffering and hurt. After this, we can apply the values of the teachings to our everyday lives in order to become the best versions of ourselves we can be.”

More focus on present moment realities

Other alumni have reported that they appreciate the fact that they aren’t required to identify as “alcoholic” or “addict” at the meetings, and that meetings are open to anyone who has issues that have developed obsessive, compulsive, and problematic qualities. Counting days or years is not practiced; there is more focus on present moment realities. It is an atmosphere of acceptance and non-judgement.

“Patience, nonattachment, mindfulness, loving-kindness and gratitude fulfill me and positively benefit myself and our Aurora community,” says Robyn. “I hope to take these tools with me and apply them on my lifelong journey of holistic sobriety.”