By Rosy N. NYC

As I type this I’m still pretty blissed out from the DharmaPunx retreat this past weekend with teachers: Josh Korda, Kathy Cherry and Melissa McKay up at Won Dharma Center. Wow. That was sublime. Even though it’s been ages since I’ve taken hallucinogens, I coulda sworn I was tripping as soon as I got there because the place was one step beyond amazing and I was already giddy about spending the weekend with the teachers who have turned my life upside down in the best possible way. Two ‘new-ish’ Refuge Recovery regulars, Jay and Nik, road up with me to the DPX too. Oh and Leah (who I had never met but had been texting about RR mentorship a few days earlier) just happened to be my roommate. WTF. Holy kismet.

I’m so glad I went but it was a tough call because Refuge Recovery NYC was having our fall daylong retreat at Jewel Heart Center on the same Saturday– Talk about an embarrassment of riches! The theme of the retreat was the Five Remembrances (fitting with Halloween just a few weeks away, no?). By all accounts, it was a fan-fucking-tastic retreat with many new faces. After the daylong ended, people couldn’t get enough Refuge so a big contingent went to the Saturday Manhattan meeting together.

The Saturday night meeting was the first for NYC, which Chance started about three years and ago. Within the last year, four more have sprung up in Manhattan and Brooklyn and we’re hoping for more in New York State in general. James and I did a workshop about Refuge Recovery at the New York State Recovery Conference in Albany earlier in the month. The people were excited and we felt like rock stars. Who knew a conference in Albany could be so much fun?!

The NYCRR crew is great at having fun. Together we have holiday potlucks, summer picnics, movie outings, museum excursions, foot massages after protesting, and the trip to LA with Chance, Dan, James, Bernard, and Noam for Refcon3 was super special. We’re also there to support each with everyday life shit by making each other grapefruit kombucha, moving cars for street cleaning, bringing over Advil after dental work (so much fucking oral surgery in sobriety), schlepping progeny from Brooklyn to Manhattan when in a jam, and generally just covering for each other. Like the city where we live, we are a diverse lot. A mixed bag of people recovering from codependency, internet addiction, eating disorders, over-exercising as well as the run-of-the-mill alcoholic and/or drug addict, we do our best to be inclusive of all humans (and yes, we ask people to state their gender pronouns after they say their name at the beginning of each meeting).

We’re just getting started here, but growing quickly (even if we’re a little slower on getting all the peoples organized for intersangha stuffs). If you want to connect with us, you can find us at:
RefugeRecoveryNYC.org
facebook.com/groups/RRNYC
We’d love to see you!

An interview with the creator of the Refuge Recovery Starter Kit

Cassie Lee is the creator of the Refuge Recovery New Meeting Starter Kits. She agreed to sit down with Sangha Spotlight to discuss recovery, kits, and the appropriate weather for dinosaurs.

Tell me a little about yourself?

I’m 35, I currently live in Las Vegas but originally from Detroit. I’ve been a vegetarian for 24 years. I’m happiest on a scenic drive somewhere remote with the windows down and a mixtape on blast. I love animals- especially my 10-year-old woof named Luca. I do photo gigs for families and businesses as a side hustle. Currently, I have the pleasure living with my older brother, his wife, and their son Andrew- who is 3 years old and my best friend. Living with them has allowed me to see exactly what kind of family I would love to have of my own in the future. Read more

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.

Read more

by Bee Sloan

When I first got sober, all I knew was that I didn’t want to die this way. For the first time I understood that drinking was really going to kill me. Not that I didn’t want to die; because I did, but then a nurse told me, “You don’t want to die THAT way. It’s a really ugly way to go.” Finally this message penetrated my fogged brain and I became ready to do whatever it took to get sober. And as I did the work of early recovery, I became more and more willing to live, to learn about my true nature, and to do the work to become the person I was meant to be.

These are the books that helped me most, my first year. There are many more, which I hope to share with you in future newsletters:

  1. “Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction” Noah Levine
  2. “Against the Stream” Noah Levine
  3. “The Heart of the Revolution” Noah Levine
  4. “Buddhism and the Twelve Steps Workbook” Kevin Griffin
  5. “One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps” Kevin Griffin
  6. “The Twelve-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction” Darren Littlejohn
  7. “Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction” Damien Keown
  8. “The Recovery Book: Answers to All Your Questions About Addiction and Alcoholism” A.J. Mooney

And finally, strangely enough, “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, an inspirational story of a woman’s stroke and recovery, written from her own point of view as a neuroscientist. I learned a lot about how the brain heals from this book. It was recommended to me by my nurse at Hazelden.

I’m from Los Angeles originally but I moved around a lot growing up. I hit the streets at 13 and spent most of my teens and 20’s living nomadically. Now I live in New Orleans and spend my time working for social change, being involved in the recovery community, and doing photo & film projects. Also, I go to a lot of punk shows.

Finding Refuge was a circuitous route. I kicked dope for the last time while in jail in Portland Oregon a little over 13 years ago. When they let me out I found a good 6-month inpatient treatment center in Oklahoma of all places. While there, they let me do a work-study program. After treatment, I moved back home to Los Angeles to restart my life. I threw myself into service work and that felt good for a while, but then I started to get burnt out. It took me some time because I’m stubborn and a slow learner, but eventually I discovered there are better ways to stay clean than working 100 hours a week. So I decided to work on myself. During this time I engaged in a lot of study and self-help type stuff. Eventually, I found myself doing a 12 step program in earnest, not just going to meetings and going through the motions. I found a sponsor who came from a pretty great lineage, with more of a Buddhist lens on the steps than a Judeo-Christian one. But I still struggled with the “prayer & meditation” part. Not being particularly religious myself, and not subscribing to a god or deity type of higher power, I found a lot of the language of the big book quite challenging. Especially the capital “H” “Him” parts. Then one day, about 3 years ago, while I was in L.A. visiting family, a dear friend recommended I check out some of the “meditation meetings” they have at the ATS center. I hoped to learn about incorporating meditation into my recovery. So I went to my first Refuge Recovery meeting. That night they did the equanimity meditation, which really resonated with me. After that, I guess you could say I was “hooked.”

Voices of the Sangha: Beau

I’m still involved in, and fond of, the 12 step program, but Refuge Recovery is my main focus these days. A fellow Sangha member and I brought Refuge Recovery to New Orleans, starting Louisiana’s first meeting in the summer of 2015 and it’s been a tremendously rewarding experience ever since. The 4 truths and 8 fold path has helped to shine so much light in my life and has given me a huge amount of agency over my own addiction/suffering, as it has for countless others.

In regard to which part of the book resonates most deeply, I can really get down with Chapter 2: The Cause Of Addiction Is Repetitive Craving. I see a lot of effort out in the world to pathologize certain aspects of the human experience, and while I can see the usefulness in that at times, I find it limited and often very isolating when it comes to recovery. The “disease model” is not the only way to contextualize and understand all the ways we suffer from addiction. I like that the second noble truth reminds us how we all crave pleasure and seek to avoid pain, that our survival instincts & nervous systems demand it. It’s not a disease, it’s just being human. Reading about this is always very de-stigmatizing for me. I feel like my struggles are universal and relatable, it’s not just drunks & junkies like me who suffer from this.

Voices of the Sangha: Beau

If attending a Refuge Recovery meeting in NOLA you can expect to find a community that is open and accessible to all who seek refuge, in other words, you can expect some southern sangha hospitality. Besides using the sangha to practice and cultivate skillfulness with the 8 fold path in my own life, I want to help the New Orleans Refuge Recovery community continue to grow and be available, accessible, and workable to anyone in the area who wants it. To that aim, I do pretty much anything I can. I work on supporting and encouraging all my fellows in RR to sit regularly, study the book, and get through the inventories. Sometimes I facilitate meetings, sometimes I host inventory groups, and often I work with folks one-on-one. Often, the most helpful thing I can personally do for the Sangha is to take a big step back. I really appreciate that our little community values group decision making and keeping things non-hierarchical, it’s not always easy but sometimes the manner in which we do things is more important than the things we do.

by Hillary Wilde
Greetings from Eugene! I am the social media chair for our Refuge Eugene intersangha, which means I create daily media intended to inform members (and potential members!) of all RR events, meeting updates, and board meetings.
Here are some tools I use to keep members up-to-date and engaged:
Facebook, love it or loathe it, can be a very effective and free way to help the community to stay informed. Pages (versus groups) allow members to see the posts even without a facebook account. You can use the page naming formula, “Refuge Recovery xxx” so that it’s easily located by anyone searching in google or Facebook. Try to put a “pinned post” at the top of the page with a current meeting listing for easy-to-find information. You can use your Page to post graphics (more on that in a minute), or to create events such as a, “Refuge Recovery Bowling Night!”
Instagram is used by many members who don’t use Facebook, and since it’s visual media, a graphic or “flyer” is essential. When you post a graphic to Instagram, You can use the hashtag, #refugerecovery and add the meeting’s geolocation to the post for the ease of mapping directions. Most churches, temples, parks, and meeting houses have a geo-tag that is searchable in Instagram. You might also choose to hashtag the post with your city name, and #recovery. There are a lot of RR groups who use Instagram, follow them by searching for #refugerecovery and enjoy the greater connection!
To create a daily graphic for Refuge Recovery Eugene, I use the app called Canva. Flickr and Google both have options for searching for Creative Commons images that are free for “fair use.” This will keep your creative life drama free! Well, mostly.
After you’ve found a suitable image, you can select it from the canva app- from there you can add text. I like to use Refuge Recovery on each image, and the day, time, and location of each meeting. There’s a lot of room to manipulate the graphics with this app as you get familiar with it.
Another option you may want to explore is a website- Wix is a really easy to use website builder and editor. You can link your social media and maintain a current meeting list for those who don’t use any social media at all. Consider putting a google calendar on the website to inform members of daily meetings, monthly individual group business meetings, and intersangha events and board meetings. They also offer a free newsletter application and mailing list, to keep members connected to current local and national events.
You may want to ask around in your sangha for a service position commitment for these tasks. A three to six month commitment to maintain the social media presence is a big responsibility but it’s also fun! I get to interact with international members I may not have otherwise encountered!
Don’t forget the most important step- make sure to submit your new meetings to the website to be listed on the international map; www.refugerecovery.org/meetings!
Hope to connect, soon!

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

The Refuge Recovery Board of Directors was formed in Fall, 2017.  Our Board brings a diversity of experience, skills and perspectives which mirror the diversity of our global sangha. The Board is entrusted with managing the legal and fiscal health of the Refuge Recovery non-profit organization, supporting the development of a comprehensive network of Refuge Recovery meetings and communities, leading an ethics and reconciliation process in collaboration with participants from Refuge’s member-elected Regional Representatives, offering training and education for our sangha members as well as the general public, and doing fundraising to support collaborative projects. In conjunction with the Regional Representatives, the Board sponsors an annual conference.

Brent Borreson- Knoxville, Tennessee
Daniel Fishburn- Asheville, North Carolina
Benjamin Flint- Brooklyn, New York
Krista Gilbert- San Diego, California
Bay Hagebeek- Nijmegen, Netherlands
Hillary Wilde- Eugene, Oregon
Erin Jensen- Calgary, Alberta
Christopher Kavanaugh- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Dave Larsen- Broomfield, Colorado
Rosy Ngo- Brooklyn, New York
Joseph Souhrada- Seattle, Washington
Jean E. Tuller, Portland, Oregon
John Tydlaska- Portland, Oregon
Edward Welsh- Portland, Oregon
Donald Westervelt- Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Much gratitude and appreciation to our Board for this generous act of service.

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