Eastern Approach to Recovery


Buddhism is thousands of years old, but it’s ancient teachings can be applied to basic principles to live by today to supplement a program of recovery. Many recovery and 12-step programs today require a psychic change, which essentially gives the recovering individual a new perspective on life. This allows to put down the old unhealthy thinking and replace it with ideals of compassion, love, health, and gratitude.

Buddhist teachings put a strong emphasis on compassion and generosity, which correlates closely with the idea altruism that can be found in most recovery programs.

“ Happiness arises as a result of different causes and conditions. If you harm someone out of anger, you may feel some superficial satisfaction, but deep down you know it was wrong. Your confidence will be undermined. However, if you have an altruistic attitude, you’ll feel comfortable and confident in the presence of others. “ Dalai Lama

Part of the psychic change that takes place when someone enters a program of recovery is a shift of thoughts of ones own narcissistic and superficial thoughts to an emphasis on caring for others. A lot of our dysfunctional thinking comes from obsessive self-centered thoughts.

Meditation and mindfulness also have a strong presence in Buddhist teachings. When most think of meditation, sitting Indian-style for hours in silence comes to mind. Meditation can simply be driving in the car and listening to ambient music. This allows for the individual time for self-reflection, ultimately having a calming effect. This allows for a more centered body and spirit. Without taking a break from daily stresses to just be mindful of ones own breathe, recovery will inevitably suffer. Early recovery is a very fragile thing and something that Buddhist ideals can nurture.

Refuge Recovery is a new program that applies Buddhism to a spiritual program of recovery. It is generally a new concept, but seems to be gaining moment fairly quickly. Ultimately there is no one correct path to recovery from co-dependency, substance abuse, gambling, and other addiction; therefore, it is up to the individual to find their own path to happiness and abstinence from their addiction.


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