by Hannah Joan, Syracuse, NY

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.

An interview with a Detroit mover and shaker

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.

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By Molly Rice, Oakland

Refuge Recovery East Bay started around 2014 with one meeting at 924 Gilman St: a punk rock venue and collective in Berkeley, CA when a group of folks got a pre-print copy of the book, meeting formats and meditations. It really was a case of concurrent evolution that happened about a year later. The Tuesday group popped up, the Loka Yoga meeting started, and the Thursday group at CDRP. We eventually all met each other, and that’s when we all became the Brady Bunch…

We now have 10 meetings in Oakland and Berkeley including 2 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday. There are more than 44 in the Bay Area. We established a men’s meeting and a women’s group on Saturdays, an LGBTQAA group on Friday evenings and a kid-friendly and dog friendly meeting on Sunday afternoons. We started an Intersangha group for the Oakland meetings (and Gilman, hence East Bay) to help stabilize the infrastructure: particularly around running meetings in hospitals and institutions, and ordering books, pamphlets and literature, and creating new relationships with local institutions for additional spaces.

We have grown quickly and continue to do so. What has really worked for us so far is that we are a close sangha: we hang out together. We meet up for coffee before meetings, we go get sushi after meetings, we replace meetings with potlucks when we lose spaces, we roll to ATS together. We are working on using our Intersangha to regularly order literature and pamphlets, and creating mentors within our community to support our growth. It’s really helpful that we have a meeting every single day, but even when we didn’t we rolled to ATS and AA meditation meetings together. We announce where we are going to be at every meeting. And we are hella easy to spot in a crowd.

If you want to know when and where and how hard we’re going to sit, please check out:

Check us out at: http://refugerecoveryoakland.org/

Refuge Recovery East Bay Facebook Group

CLICK HERE

Hello Refuge Recovery friends. These first series of guided meditations were recorded by Dave Smith and are offered here for you. There will be guided meditations, Dharma talks pertaining to refuge recovery, interviews and stories. Stay tuned….more to come!

There are tons of FACEBOOK PAGES: To link up to the main page:
CLICK HERE