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Navachitta writes from Triratna’s Auckland Buddhist Centre with news of their recent and very successful ‘Buddhist Recovery Network’ Retreat held at Sudarshanaloka Retreat Centre. She says - “This was our second retreat held at Sudarshanaloka, the “Land of Beautiful Vision”, where Dhardo Rimpoche’s stupa reminds us over and over again of our purpose. This time we had 17 people including the team. Dharmamudra added a solid presence to the retreat also.
The Buddhist Recovery Network was developed by Paul Santilain, an ex-Sydney mitra and Kevin Griffin, American author of “A Burning Desire” and “One Breath at a Time”. The organization was international in intent and although they have had a couple of conferences, it seems now the work is happening more locally. Noah Levine, son of Stephen Levine, and author of “Dharma Punx” was also a leading contributor to the Network. Over in the antipodes, Shuddha has been beavering away nobly for years in Sydney running Eleventh Step retreats and weekly recovery meetings.
To begin with I kept much of the Buddhist reference out of meetings but as the little fellowship grows, the thirst for the Dharma grows too. In this recent retreat, I donned my kesa and we did Buddhist ritual and chanting which worked famously. The idea is that recovery people can come on our Auckland Buddhist Retreats and classes now and feel perfectly comfortable there. I find the people who come to our meetings inspiring. They have touched the abyss in the depths of their suffering so their propensity to recognize and respond to the truth of things tends to be immediate and profound. Trungpa Rimpoche referred to addiction as “the honey on a razorblade.”
There is much talk about attracting under 35’s movement wide: we do not have a problem with this in our Buddhist Recovery Network Auckland meetings. We are also attracting Maori and Pacific Islanders (at last!) who respond to our appreciation of Papatuanuku (the earth goddess).
There are also those who respond to the fact that we are demonstrating a more overtly altruistic thrust in our Going For Refuge. You are welcome to visit and join our Buddhist Recovery Network Auckland Facebook page. www.buddhistrecoverynetwork.org is the international webpage.
At the beginning of each meditation a dedication is stated and this is designed to create an ethical foundation to our practice. Each session finishes with “Transference of Merits and Self Surrender” followed by the Serenity prayer/karakia - but without the reference to God”.
Back in Auckland, Navachitta and Punyasri have been running weekly Recovery groups since July last year and recently have needed to add an extra day session for those who cannot make it in the evenings. These two are proving popular and growing fast. They alternate day workshops with residential retreats at Sudarshanaloka, teaching body awareness through meditative movement, mindfulness and metta meditations as well as Just Sitting and chanting - and have a lot of fun!
Navachitta has been working in the Addiction field for eleven years, and encourages those in recovery to continue their AA/NA work in conjunction with Buddhist Recovery. There are also many in recovery who prefer a harm reduction approach so the main stipulation for meetings, is ‘no use on the day’. Punyasri has been trained in body awareness and works on that level setting up the conditions for formal sitting meditation as well as creating an imperative though gentle context for disassociated, traumatized individuals to begin trusting their bodies.