Recovery from addiction is a personal journey, and finding the right path is essential when shaping one's sober future. Having a plethora of varied approaches to recovery can be paramount as each individual searches for their own best approach to sobriety. Dharma recovery is one option that can be explored. However, the Dharma approach to recovery and sobriety isn't a practice conducted in isolation.
Not only is this approach focused on creating a community of support, but it can also be used in conjunction with, or in place of, other therapeutic practices. Whether an individual is looking for 12-Step alternatives to explore their sobriety or is looking to build upon other recovery strategies, the use of Dharma recovery can still be transformational.
What Is Dharma Recovery?
Dharma recovery is an approach to sobriety and healing based on traditional Buddhist practices.
However, while it has its origins in Buddhism, Dharma recovery as a practice is a non-theistic approach. This means that not only is the practice open and inviting to all people, it can also be used while still maintaining one's religious denomination. Dharma recovery is also focused on the establishment of a community of inviting, supportive, and understanding people without unnecessary barriers between people or beliefs, manifesting as peer-led recovery groups to further foster this sense of community.
Dharma recovery is an exercise in self-empowerment.
Through understanding oneself and others and following a practice of education and balance, Dharma recovery seeks to not just incorporate a newfound sense of self-empowerment, but utilizes this assuredness to directly combat the pervasive urges or cravings that one feels throughout their recovery journey.
The Practices of Dharma Recovery
The strategies utilized by Dharma recovery can be implemented alongside other therapeutic modalities. Focusing on meditation, mindfulness, breathing techniques, and establishing a core sense of community, practitioners of this recovery method are encouraged to explore their own inner wisdom, find their spiritual center, and follow their newly discovered beliefs within this sober mindset while continuing to bolster and support each other as a part of a living, active community.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool throughout the recovery process. Being mindful of oneself incorporates a number of different elements, from being aware of one's physical self to their emotions. Mindfulness is the practice of being able to physically and mentally situate oneself in the present moment, identifying and learning to accept one's current position.
For some, practicing mindfulness can be something like being aware of one's feet planted on the cold bathroom tile in the morning, while others may practice mindfulness by feeling their coat brush over their forearm. Starting with these simple sensations can help an individual begin to physically ground themselves in their present moment.
Emotionally, mindfulness is about being able to identify when one's thoughts become affected by unwanted feelings, such as depression, anxiety, or urges. Emotionally identifying the presence of anxiety in one's mind can be an empowering experience, contextualizing one's thoughts and behaviors. While mindfulness doesn't actively cause an individual to change their thoughts or feelings, it can make an individual more aware of them, adding a degree of perspective and allowing the implementation of other dedicated recovery techniques from an informed mindset.
Meditation is a common recovery practice throughout Dharma recovery. However, being able to meditate is a practiced skill that involves much more than sitting in silence. The practice of meditation is to help an individual detach themselves from the stresses of the day by utilizing mindfulness to become conscious of one's breathing or heartbeat, as well as one's emotions. Meditation allows an individual to process these feelings, but also provides a space to acknowledge stresses before releasing them. Breathing, detaching from all but one's spirit, and releasing these stresses can all empower an individual to continue looking towards the future. Meditation's goal of achieving a sense of mental and emotional clarity can be instrumental in processing the many urges or cravings that pollute the recovery process.
Embracing the Dharma Community
Community is a powerful component of self-empowerment and is a cornerstone of the Dharma recovery approach. Surrounding oneself with others in solidarity with overcoming addiction, regardless of its form, is an incredible experience. Not only does Dharma recovery use traditional Buddhist teachings to create a sense of support in the atmosphere and connect individuals to each other, but sessions are also typically peer-led and without an absolute specific doctrine.
This approach allows individuals to utilize Dharma recovery to accomplish their sober goals while still setting goals for their personal lives. Communities can also work together to determine specific practices and rituals, literature, and teachings most pertinent to the individuals present, making Dharma recovery not just a malleable recovery practice on its own, but also a powerful aid to other recovery practices, whether or not they are 12-Step focused.