Martin Murphy, Program Liason
A Recovery Approach inspired by Buddhism
Refuge Recovery began in southern California around 2010, founded by Noah Levine and others who sought to apply Buddhist teachings to recovering from addiction. It draws partially from Alcoholics Anonymous but is mainly centered around Buddhist philosophy in an attempt to create a new, non-theist path to recovery. The “Refuge” referred to in its name is the tradition of Buddhists to seek refuge in three things: awakening (Buddha), truth (Dharma), and community (Sangha). Along these lines, Refuge Recovery focuses on meditation and mindfulness as tools for recovery, but also includes the AA staples of mentorship, personal inventory, and service work. It does not require any particular beliefs, and is meant only to offer a practical, behavior-based path for overcoming addiction.
An Alternative to the 12 steps
I founded the Refuge Recovery group here at SLR after receiving feedback from many residents that the 12-Step model simply doesn’t connect for them. Since then, the group has consistently run every Wednesday evening for two years. We begin each meeting by reading the foundational philosophies of the program (the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, drawn from Buddhism but applied to addiction), and then we listen to a guided meditation for 15-20 minutes. After that, we will complete a short, related reading either from the Refuge Recovery book or another source (Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nhat Hanh are the most prominently featured outside authors) and spend the remaining 25-30 minutes in open discussion.
A Success in the Ranch Community
Although I wasn’t personally familiar with Refuge Recovery before researching it while working at the Ranch, part of why I’m so passionate about it is that the principles of meditation, mindfulness, and renunciation all play massive roles in my own recovery. It’s been an honor and a privilege to share that with the Ranch, to pass along some of the lessons I’ve learned, and to bear witness to others’ progress in recovery. I’m proud to say that our Refuge Recovery group has been one of the most consistently well-attended recovery groups at the Ranch, holds an important place in the wide range of recovery programming offered here, and has helped us continue providing high-quality recovery meetings throughout the duration of COVID-19.