Refuge Recovery Fargo Moorhead

Refuge Recovery Fargo-Moorhead began meeting in January of 2018 in The Awaken Space at Spirit Room. Since then our sangha has grown tremendously and we hold weekly meetings downtown Fargo and downtown Moorhead. We see the addictive tendencies in our community that are of major and ongoing concern and want to help people break the cycles and experience the joy of freedom from craving and attachment.

Addiction can take many forms depending on your environmental conditioning, life experience and culture. Gambling, food, sex, alcohol, money, drugs, porn, work, social media, religion, exercise, sugar, people and social systems, shopping, excitement, drama, the list of distractions and limiting beliefs that give us a temporary artificial sense of happiness and safety goes on and on…It just depends what you have learned is an effective way to disconnect yourself from your feelings and emotions. It’s not your fault. Nobody chooses to be addicted and have the shame that accompanies it. As a society we have learned to avoid unpleasant feelings and cling to pleasure. By unlearning our conditioned limiting beliefs and reconnecting to our true nature, we fill our own cup which eventually overflows to those around us and raises the collective consciousness of our world to a higher level where addiction is irrelevant.

Perhaps you’ve tried the 12-step method and are looking for a mindful alternative or a complement to practice. This is where Refuge Recovery may resonate strongly with you. With a focus on regaining personal power, developing clarity of mind through meditation, and developing compassion for ourselves and others, this approach to addiction recovery may help you make new progress on your recovery path.

We at Refuge Recovery Fargo-Moorhead believe all beings have the power within to heal and have seen for ourselves through personal experience this to be true. We also believe that we all have our own path. There is no “right” or “wrong” path for everyone. Plugging into a recovery system of any type for some may only manage symptoms and give rise to other dependencies, including the recovery system itself and community. The underlying causes of addiction may continue on along with a feeling of powerlessness and lack of progress. Refuge Recovery Fargo-Moorhead practices Buddhist psychology in effort to reconnect with the power within, heal the root causes of addiction and ultimately attain freedom from craving and attachment symptoms. Refuge Recovery works well for some independently, as a catalyst with another dedicated recovery program, with 1:1 professional therapy or a combination of all along with other lifestyle changes and recovery support tools, depending on the needs of the individual and the stage they are at in their recovery process. All are welcome to sit with us. 

“Come see for yourself.” -Buddha

What is Refuge Recovery?

Author and Buddhist teacher Noah Levine, the founder of Against the Stream and Refuge Recovery, has taught Buddhist principles and practices to alcoholics and addicts for over 25 years. A recovering alcoholic and drug addict himself, he’s written four books: Dharma Punx, Against the Stream, Heart of the Revolution, and Refuge Recovery. For his many accomplishments, he was the recipient of a Heroes in Recovery Award from Foundations Recovery Network in 2015.

Noah founded the Against The Stream Meditation Society, LA in 2008. While meditation societies are open to anyone seeking to learn about Buddhism, a large part of those communities have histories of substance dependencies, and Refuge Recovery evolved out of these recovering addicts’ need for mutual support.

Refuge Recovery originated with meetings taking place at Against The Stream Meditation Society in Los Angeles in 2010. Soon Refuge Recovery meetings began in the Bay Area, Nashville, Boston, and New York. Noah Levine wrote the book Refuge Recovery (released June 14, 2014), about how the Buddha’s Four Truths and Eightfold Path can be used to relieve the suffering/dissatisfaction of addiction. It also encourages the formation of Refuge Recovery support groups wherever possible. Since then, meetings have started all around the United States and in several other countries.

Refuge Recovery is a path and practice of healing the suffering caused by addiction. It utilizes Buddhist psychology to recognize and address issues around ‘uncontrollable thirst or repetitive craving’, with the belief that all individuals have the power and potential to free themselves from the dissatisfaction caused by addiction. At its heart, Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha) suggests that we are all addicts, in a constant search for pleasure and avoidance of pain. When this addiction disrupts our lives we become like the hungry ghost, wandering through existence in a state of constant craving and dissatisfaction. Refuge Recovery is based on the four noble truths and the eightfold path, and is non-theistic. This is ideal for spiritual seekers who do not want to follow religious belief systems or for those who follow a specific religion but prefer their recovery process not be based on religious dogma.

Refuge Recovery is based on Buddhist psychology and offers a variety of science and mindfulness-based recovery techniques designed to help practitioners view life from a more wise perspective. This holistic approach encourages practitioners to directly face and investigate the root causes behind their addictions, unlearn their conditioning and retrain the mind in effort to change their life for the better in all aspects.

Dave Smith on Refuge Recovery: Dharma as a Vehicle for Overcoming Addiction

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism was originated almost 2,600 years ago by Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha) and is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to insight/awakening into the true nature of reality. Buddhist practices like meditation are means of retraining the mind in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow a path — a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood. An enlightened being sees the nature of reality absolutely clearly, just as it is, and lives fully and naturally in accordance with that vision. This is the goal of the Buddhist spiritual life, representing the end of suffering for anyone who attains it.

Because Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god, mysticism, or indoctrination some people do not see it as a religion in the normal, Western sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. So Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, caste, sexuality, religious belief systems or gender. It teaches practical methods which enable people to realize and use its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully present and responsible for their lives.

Below is a link to a Lion’s Roar article that concisely describes Buddhism:
“It’s fair to say, as many people have, that Buddhism is the world’s most developed science of mind.” -Melvin Mcleod

Four Noble Truths

The four noble truths comprise the essence of the Buddha’s teachings around human suffering: its essential truth, causes, and possibility of a path to freedom from its cycles. Refuge Recovery utilizes these truths as a way to deal with the pain of addiction:

1st Noble Truth: We take stock of all the suffering we have experienced and caused as addicts.

To start the process of healing and recovery, we must understand, acknowledge, admit and accept the ways in which addiction has caused pain in our lives in order to address it. We share our experiences as a path to ownership and healing.

2nd Noble Truth: We investigate the causes and conditions that lead to addiction and begin the process of letting go.

All forms of addiction stem from a craving for life to be more pleasurable than it is and less painful than it is. The author of ‘Refuge Recovery’, Noah Levine, suggests that the addict is not at fault for these conditions, only for the habitual reactive patterns that perpetuate the cycle. We naturally crave pleasure, he says, and push away hurt. By developing compassion for painful situations we can help break the compensating cycle of addiction.

3rd Noble Truth: We come to understand that recovery is possible and take refuge in the path that leads to the end of addiction.

We take comfort in the fact that we can recover, and support each other to do so. We are inspired by the continuing recovery of others, and find safety and joy in the fact that we can do it, too! Healing and forgiveness is possible, if we do the hard work of committing to our own recovery. ‘Within each of us is the potential for wisdom and compassion that has been obscured and buried by our cravings and addictions’, says Levine.

4th Noble Truth: We engage in the process of the eightfold path that leads to recovery.

Commitment to recovery is essential – the path must be undertaken a step at a time, breath-by-breath. In this way recovery will gradually become a more natural way of being.

Eight-Fold Path

Refuge Recovery draws on the Buddhist psychology of the eight-fold path. This is the practice of mindful recovery that gets at the root causes, behaviors and relationships we have with desire and aversion.

Wise Understanding: To get to the root of what is causing our addictive behaviors.

Wise Intention: To renounce greed, hatred and delusion. We train ourselves to meet pain with compassion and pleasure with non-attached appreciation. We cultivate compassion, kindness and generosity towards all living beings.

Wise Communication/Community: We take refuge in a community of fellow recovering addicts, as a place to practice wise communication and support for others treading the same path of mindful recovery. This is a place of openness, honesty and humility in the face of challenges and successes we encounter along the way.

Wise Action/Engagement: We let go of the actions that cause us harm: we renounce intoxication, violence, and dishonesty. We are guided by compassion and generosity.

Wise Livelihood/Service: We try to be of service to others always, using our time, energy and resources to better the world around us. We cultivate a livelihood which causes no harm to those around us.

Wise Effort/Energy: We commit to disciplined practices of mindfulness such as meditation, yoga, sensitivity to thoughts, feelings and sensations. Through effort and energy we develop the ability to respond appropriately to a given circumstance, without fear or anger.

Wise Mindfulness/Meditations: Meditation helps us still our minds and find balance. We develop wisdom through the practice of formal mindfulness meditation. This leads to inner clarity and healing of the root causes and conditions that result in the suffering of addiction.

Wise Concentration/Meditations: Concentration is developed through meditation, honing our ability to focus on positive qualities we seek to uncover. We use this ability at times of temptation or craving to avoid acting unwisely in the face of our triggers.