Recovery Dharma: What You Should Know

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people sitting in circle at recovery dharma meeting

Those pursuing recovery have an additional option in a peer-led journey that uses Buddhist principles to find empowerment. Recovery Dharma is a grassroots recovery movement founded on, and inspired by, traditional Buddhist teachings to utilize practices and principles to overcome addiction and the suffering caused by the condition.

What is Recovery Dharma?

The Recovery Dharma (RD) approach is based on the belief that the path to healing is a personal process that involves meditation, self-inquiry, wisdom, ethical practices, and community support. Recovery Dharma offers an alternative or complement to traditional programs, emphasizing mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness, and generosity as tools for healing.

“There are multiple paths to sustaining recovery. Peer-led programs such as AA, NA, and CA are extremely popular and have a strong following,” said Rich Lobel, Recovery Coach at Mountainside. “But there are many people who want to complement their 12-Step program or find a different approach to peer-to-peer groups.”

The RD program encourages participants to develop their understanding of the core elements of Buddhist teachings as a framework for overcoming addiction. Recovery Dharma meetings allow members to share their experiences and support each other in their recovery journey.

What Are RD Meetings Like?

The community is inclusive, welcoming people of all backgrounds and beliefs who are struggling with any form of addiction, whether it be to substances, behaviors, or harmful patterns of thinking.

“Recovery Dharma is a movement and community that leans into the Buddhist teachings,” said Lobel. “The program is unified by members’ trust in the potential of everyone to recover – and find freedom from the suffering of addiction.”

“RD is about empowerment,” Lobel added, “and the program supports each other as partners walking the path together. RD believes that recovery is rooted in finding a person’s own inner wisdom and individual journey. “

A typical Recovery Dharma meeting flow is as follows:

  • Opening: Brief readings establishing the principles of RD (i.e., provide an overview of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path of Buddhism).
  • Meditation: Following opening protocol, each meeting starts with a 15 to 20-minute guided meditation.
  • Reading: Group reading from the RD book.
  • Discussion: Using the topic of meditation and reading to engage in a structured process of self-reflection with others in the meetings.
  • Sangha (aka fellowship): Working with “Wise Friends” and mentors to support others in the program and continue to reflect and attend meetings/retreats to deepen one’s understanding.

Is Recovery Dharma Right For You?

A beautiful over-arching premise to RD is grounded in the quote that “if you purpose to speak, always ask yourself:  is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”  Lobel added. “The idea is that if you endeavor to be kind, you will attract people who are kind – and you will become attracted to people who are also kind.”

Finding your inner wisdom is the goal of RD and members believe that is where recovery is rooted. Through that process, members find empowerment and a community to support each other.

“Your relationships with yourself and others gradually become better – and kinder,” Lobel continued. “And in recovery, self-love/awareness/kindness are vital to embarking on a journey of living free from substance use.”

Mountainside NYC is delighted to offer a Recovery Dharma meeting every Monday at 5.30 pm on the 3rd floor of 243 W. 18th Street. You can also find a Recovery Dharma meeting daily around the US.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.