Generosity. Some folks associate that word with the season we’re in. In Refuge, generosity is an everyday occurrence. The generosity of starting and supporting meetings. The generosity of serving as mentors. The generosity of giving your phone number to someone who just walked in the door.
The generosity of your donations. The generosity of our incredible volunteer, DIY spirit, which gets this newsletter published, manages our social media presence, and serves on local sanghas and our Board of Directors. All of these things happen and all because of you. Last month, I announced our new Instagram team, lead by Dan Oliverio, which has a couple of new members- Brent Borresson and Scott McNemar. These folks are giving a major jump to our presence on Insta; please send them some metta when you have a moment. This month, I’m pleased to announce that Hillary Hildebrand will be overseeing our entire social media portfolio, working closely with Dan and Co. as well as other Refugees active in our social media world. Hillary is genius for this work and I look forward to seeing how she raises our game. Please extend your gratitude and generosity to her as she takes on this new responsibility. And please accept my gratitude for everything you do every day to give our chosen friends and family a refuge. Hope to see you soon on the Sangha World Tour.
We started in May 2017. The story of how we started began in September 2016 when I woke up in my car; not an unusual thing to happen to me seeing as I had an alcohol problem, but because I also had an eating disorder I was often drinking instead of eating.
That morning I woke up and said, “This is it.”
I wasn’t sure how to get better but I started practicing yoga every day and reading “Dharma Punx”. So much of Noah’s life was like mine, except I was raised in an abusive Baptist church household. The start of healing seemed to really happen when I connected my breath to my yoga poses. This turned into practicing my breath and feeling my body tone in meditation. I didn’t know what I was doing but I knew I felt better and started to accept and sit with the fact that I was an alcoholic and needed to get control of my eating disorder or I would die.
September 2016 was the last time I drank. I went to an outpatient clinic for six months. The whole time I felt a call to share the experience I felt from staying aware of my breath and body tone. I could tell when I would get a craving or when I wanted to run away from what I was feeling, before the thought came to my mind.
I soon ordered “Refuge Recovery”, and was so overwhelmed with the need to share this crazy secret that had changed my life. I searched for places to start a meeting, stayed patient and continued growing in my practice. One day I got a message from a woman named Ashley, who was working at Prevention Network. She wanted to ask me about this Buddhist Path to Recovery I was living. We met, she loved it, and offered me space for free to start a meeting!
May 2017 was our first meeting. I never had expectations. I thought, “Even if it is just me sitting alone, I will do that.” However, this didn’t happen. That first meeting had six people in it and today we are now at 15 people every Sunday morning. I do not pride myself that these beautiful people are finding their true selves. I am just loving them along the way.
The practice of mindfulness and non-attachment has transformed my life and I love seeing the light in others faces when they experience this freedom too. I was a punk drunk, anorexic, angry, suicidal, fighter most of my life. I truly am thankful for the whole community around the world involved in Refuge Recovery. Syracuse has a very bad heroin scene and it’s not getting better, so I am blessed to be able to offer something else. I couldn’t go to church for AA because I shut down when I went inside one, ptsd and anxiety blocked any sort of positivity that aa could have brought me.
So, we meet every Sunday morning at 10am, at 906 Spencer St, Syracuse, NY. I am also planning on starting a second meeting very soon. It’s truly amazing how all of this happened and it’s humbling to be able to share after years of anger.
Tell me a little about yourself? (age, location, occupation, hobbies, etc..)
As I start to answer I recognize a familiar story, about how my story doesn’t fit, how I don’t fit, how as an old timer in recovery I’m barely relevant to the younger people who are finding refuge in Refuge Recovery. The good news is that because of Refuge and a meditation practice I move from the virtual reality that lives in my head to a real reality that lives somewhere in the heart/mind/gut of my life.