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UnDude

Jeremy Bixler can be found playing live with UnDude March 22, 2019 at Twilight Café, Portland, OR Facebook/undude2000 and Soundcloud/undude2000

 

 

 

 

I’m sitting in a randomly hip Portland coffee shop trying to not continue procrastinating writing this article, sipping on coconut milk matcha latte, and the lyrics of the song playing overhead sing : “I love music… funky funky music…. It’s the universal language… spoken by every woman, man and child…”

And it’s undeniably true.  Music is magical; a wormhole that can transport us through time and space, reminding us of times forgotten, making us dance like a happy baby, or even move us to tears, somehow communicating with our hearts. Music affects us physically and mentally as well, firing off neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and that’s just from listening. When we play an instrument or sing, especially in a group, oxytocin can make us actually feel high, with no drugs or alcohol. “Free-lapse!” Oxytocin is often called the natural love drug, or the “connection hormone”. We get it from hugs, petting animals, and group meditation too!

I’ve played music all my life—starting first with saxophone in school orchestra, jazz and marching bands, which later evolved into the electric guitar, which had me forming bands off-and-on (depending how strong my depression and/or addiction was at the time) and writing songs. When I was deep in my addiction I continued to play and write, sometimes even suicidal songs; in isolation and sad drunkenness, I found comfort in those songs.  It made me feel less alone.  Maybe the oxytocin kept me from going over the edge and helped me survive. One of the last songs I wrote before getting sober was called “Sick of Being Sick.”

More than 15 years of self-sabotage and three DUIs on my resume, in late 2015 I was finally ready to admit I had to stop for good. I flew from my parent’s house in LA to a treatment center in Battle Creek, Michigan, and luckily for me they had an acoustic guitar I could use.  I wrote soothing instrumental songs in a new tuning I figured out, and performed one of them, “Good Morning,” as my final speech in front of my peers. It was a CBT-based program, but I chose the aforementioned treatment center because it had a holistic “track” where monks from the local Soto-Zen Temple Monastery, Sokukoji, actually came in and taught those willing to meditate, answer questions, and attend services, including all-day sesshins.  I was finally able to marry my love of music with spirituality—something I definitely wasn’t able to do on my own, getting loaded. It took me drying up, and a compassionate community.

After graduating from the treatment program, I moved into Sokukoji’s converted VA Hall monastery for a couple of weeks, writing songs on my teacher Sokuzan’s ancient guitar, lulling myself to sleep before waking at 5am for a two and a half hour sit every morning. I still have a recording on my phone of “Emptiness” that was written while we were studying Dzogchen.

Rock to Recovery

Wes Geer, founder of Rock To Recovery; Jeremy Bixler, NW Program Administrator; Constance Scharff, PhD, Board of Directors

 

From there I moved to Portland, OR, and found Refuge Recovery, where I also found musician friends and started a grunge band, UnDude (a nod to The Big Lebowski). With the aid of Refuge Recovery, I started exploring career options, in line with right livelihood, taking the eightfold path to heart. Fuck being a barista! My friend and mentor Gary Sanders (who started one of the very first RR meetings in LA) now lived in Portland also. And through him, met someone connected to Rock To Recovery, a company that brings a specialized music therapy into treatment centers. The Program Administrators of this company are genuine rock stars! Had record deals! Toured the world! And, importantly, had found sobriety, spreading the joy of music to those healing from years of self-abuse, just like I was only 3 short years ago. After intense training with the bona fide rock stars that comprise Rock to Recovery down in LA, and my experience playing “mindful grunge” around PDX for a couple years, I’ve now joined the Rock to Recovery family, leading sessions as the flagship NW Program Administrator. The foundation I unknowingly laid way back in elementary school with music allowed me to survive my addiction, propelling me through treatment, stumbling onto the path—and buoyed by the collective strength of my Refuge Recovery sangha—has allowed me to connect to clients with a presence I’d never have been capable of alone.

Although all sessions are unique, the basic flow is similar. We do check-ins at the beginning of groups to establish a feel and theme, often gratitude-based in nature, and I share about my recovery process, always tying music and mindfulness together. We write a brand new song every time, as a group, and divvy up roles and instruments forming a band that’s never existed. Concept to completion takes 90 minutes, during which time we finalize the song and record it to be uploaded online for all perpetuity! It’s an amazing phenomenon being in the moment all together, speaking that universal language, and is truly transformative how anyone just days from being dope-sick can be singing, smiling, laughing, and most importantly, singing their new song! I’m privileged to be a part of that interconnected process.

Refuge in rocking, and rocking in Refuge…. Recovery is possible! 

For more information on Rock to Recovery please visit: www.RockToRecovery.org or email directly: jbixler@rocktorecovery.org

From the Executive Director

Hi Sangha- Hope you’re enjoying the beginnings of Spring wherever this Newsletter may find you. Refuge HQ has been busy and there’s no end in sight.

In Jamestown, people came together from upstate New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania for an introductory workshop on Refuge. Big shout out to all who worked on making that event happen, including yoga by Hannah and meditations led by Sean, Sterling and Steven. The purpose of these events is to connect with our sangha and also get sangha members more connected with each other. At the end of the day in Jamestown, participants (many of whom hadn’t met each other until that day and drove several hours to attend) were planning their next day-long. It’s these moments that are reminders that sangha is generous, kind and united to assist all in recovery. RefCon5 planning is in great shape and this is a reminder that we are keeping the early bird pricing until May 15th so please get to https://refugerecovery.org/refcon5 soon and sign up. The conference site gives us break-out rooms so there’ll be a number of topics for you to choose from, including sangha development, growing your practice and process addictions. Kansas City will be hosting Saturday night’s Refuge meeting. The Chicago crew is working hard to make this an exciting event in a beautiful part of their city so don’t pass this up!!!

Thanks for all you do to make our community a refuge.

From the Executive Director

Hi Sangha- this month we’re exploring the Precepts and what it looks like to take them to the streets. We are not monastics so understanding and living the Precepts as householders in recovery can be (at least for me and maybe for you) an ongoing process of discovery and returning again and again to the practice. Just like Tyler, I have “started and fucked up a thousand times.”  We are an abstinence-based program; what does that mean to each of us? How do you establish your bottom lines?  We’re also looking at recovery and yoga; many thanks to Sarit, one of the founders of Refuge Recovery, for sharing some of her story and insights with us.

Dan is continuing to take our website to the next level, organizing resources and enhancing our guided meditation offerings.  We get about a thousand downloads a day (wow!) and it’s exciting to have new voices coming forward to lead meditations. Many thanks to the folks who are sending us their meditations for posting and please keep ‘em coming.

We have 597 meetings today and our non-profit organization continues to be focused on being of service to sangha. Our infrastructure of regional and inter-sangha groups continues to form. We have now had two regional conferences- Southeast and, just a few weeks ago, New England- both were inspiring and demonstrated how connectivity builds and deepens recovery. Got a suggestion? Please feel free to send any and all ideas to refuge recovery. Much appreciation to all of you.

Executive Director

Hi Sangha- hope this Newsletter finds all of you well and, for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoying the summer. I’m pleased to report that our annual conference, referred to as RefCon, went beautifully this year.

Major props to our Planning Committee, which was composed of Regional Representatives from around the US and Canada, and local arrangements, managed beautifully by the Los Angeles team. They all did an incredible job, both in the planning stages and supporting the conference participants throughout the weekend. RefCon4 was a celebration of sangha, with speakers who helped start Refuge Recovery all those years ago as well as folks who are newer to our community. A whole lot of spirited folks in one place lifting the building off the ground. This was our first year live-streaming and I want to acknowledge one of our crew in Canberra, Australia for suggesting we give it a try. We’re posting a link to each session on the Refuge Recovery website so you can check them out if you were unable to attend or catch the live streams.

Our first Annual Report was summarized at RefCon and that is now posted on the website as well as our 2017 tax return.  The Refuge Board of Directors is well aware that sorting through the various entities tagged as Refuge Recovery can be confusing. Just to be clear,

Thanks so much for everything you do to make our turbulent world a refuge. I look forward to seeing you soon on the Sangha World Tour; next stop is Dover, NH for the first-ever Region IX Conference!

Jean Tuller
Executive Director

Hello Sangha!

Our Newsletter this month is devoted to intentions. What are your intentions for the coming year? How will you make them happen? 2017 was a year of geo-political-social challenges (hmmm… maybe “nightmare” is a better description!), for sure, and so

how do we as a global sangha continue to carve out safe space? How do we hold a lantern for those seeking refuge? Recovery is always dynamic; the support we provide one another strengthens each of us and our sangha as a whole.

Speaking of strengthening, in June 2017, we had 260 listed meetings. We are now at 447 on our new and improved meeting listings web page. This is incredible growth and demonstrates how all of you have made Refuge Recovery a place to come home to. Also, we are on track to build our regional infrastructure, with the plan being that most of our regional representatives will be identified by January 31, 2018. I’m pleased to announce the following representatives:

Region II: (AB, MB, SK, WY, MT): Erin Gail
Region III: (UT, CO, NM, NV, AZ): Ray Rosales
Region V: (SD, ND, MN, MO, KS, NB, WV): Jim Joedicke
Region VII: (LA, AL FL, NC, SC, MS, TS, KY, GA): Taunia Kellerby, George Beecher, Beau Patrick Coulon
Region VIII: (ON, QC, NB, NS, PE, NL): Louise Goodman
Region IX: (ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI): John Burns and Joel Osterman
Region XI: (International): Jerry Sulonen
Region XII: (Online Meetings): Kris Roehling;
and Women’s Recovery and Refuge Online: Erin Dunn

Beginning in February, the Representatives will start designing and building the functions and structure of the regions as well as provide assistance in planning for our annual Conference, scheduled for June 8-10, 2018, in Los Angeles.

Please thank these folks for their service above and beyond the call!
And deep bows to all of you as we travel together into the coming year.

Hope to sit with you soon-
Jean

Executive Director

Hello Sangha!

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.

Hope to sit with you soon,
Jean

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!

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