Categories
Mindfulness Recovery Spirituality

Noah Levine’s Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction

Refuge Recovery is a non-profit, Buddhist oriented, non-theistic recovery program and Noah Levine’s latest book.

Noah Levine Reading from Refuge Recovery at the Book Release at BLVD Treatment

Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction was released on June 10, coincidentally the 79th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous. Noah Levine, M.A., whose story is already familiar to many in the recovery community, is also the author of the autobiographical Dharma Punx, the revolutionary meditation manual Against the Stream, and the reflections on the practice of loving-kindness Heart of the Revolution. He founded Against the Stream Meditation Society, which opened its doors in Los Angeles in 2008, and Santa Monica in 2009.

 

Refuge Recovery was birthed in direct response to the clear need for a viable, non-theistic approach to recovery. Noah, feeling disconnected from the 12 steps’ theistic philosophy, found deeper relief within the 4 Noble Truths and the 8-Fold Path of Buddhism. Many members of Against the Stream who were talking about similar difficulties pursued similar conversations. There was a need to shift the paradigm of 12-step recovery and open the door to an alternative path.  Refuge Recovery doesn’t ask anyone to shift a belief system, nor does it require anyone to believe in something. It simply asks that you “trust the process and do the hard work of recovery.” You also don’t have to be Buddhist to participate.

 

The Four Truths of Recovery are:

1: We suffer due to our addictions and the general difficulties of being human in this world of constant change and loss.

2: Craving is a natural phenomenon; it is not our fault, but we are fully responsible for our healing and recovery.

3: We can fully recover and enjoy a life of sanity and well-being.

4: This is the path to recovery: the Eight-fold Path.

 

Refuge Recovery begins with the First Truth: addiction creates suffering. Understanding that addiction always creates suffering is crucial. Suffering is craving the next drink or drug. Suffering is the idea that you can’t get enough; Suffering is the loneliness and shame and isolation. Suffering is the desire for more pleasure and less pain, which we persistently seek in our addiction. Suffering shows its face in a multitude of maladaptive behaviors.  Understanding this first truth and then accepting it as reality also means accepting that drink and drug aren’t an option any longer.  Recognizing the multiple layers of suffering is encouraged through inventory work: “Without full acceptance and disclosure, recovery is not possible. We cannot skip this step; we must be thorough in our inventory process.” (page 6, RR)

 

The Second Truth asks you to do another inventory, this time seeking clarity and acceptance around the causative factors behind your craving. “The addict is not at fault for the root causes and conditions that lead to addiction, only for the habitual reactive patterns that perpetuate it.” (page 11, RR)  More often than not, someone suffering from addiction is suffering from deep pain and dissatisfaction in their lives. Perhaps there is abuse, and drugs and alcohol help numb the pain; perhaps there is neglect, and drugs and alcohol make you forget. The reasons and root causes are many and they are varied, but they all lead to the same place: suffering.

 

The 8-Fold Path of Recovery directs us toward maintaining safety and creating a refuge from addiction. The Eight-Fold Path of Refuge Recovery is:

1: Understanding: We come to know that everything is ruled by cause and effect.

2: Intention: We renounce greed, hatred, and delusion. We train our minds to meet all pain with compassion and all pleasure with non-attached appreciation.

3: Communication/Commmunity: We take refuge in the community as a place to practice wise communication and to support others on their paths. We practice being careful, honest, and wise in our communications.

4: Action/Engagement: We let go of the behaviors that cause harm. We ask that one renounces violence, dishonesty, sexual misconduct, and intoxication. Compassion, honesty, integrity, and service are guiding principles.

5: Livelihood/Service: We are of service whenever and wherever possible. And we try and ensure that our means of livelihood are such that they don’t cause harm.

6: Effort/Energy: We commit to daily contemplative practices like meditation and yoga, exercise, and the practices of wise actions, kindness, forgiveness, compassion which lead to self-regulatory behaviors in difficult circumstances.

7: Mindfulness/Meditations: We develop wisdom by means of practicing formal mindfulness meditation. We practice present-time awareness in our lives.

8: Concentration/Meditations: We develop the capacity to focus the mind on one thing, such as the breath, or a phrase, training the mind through the practices of lovingkindness, compassion, and forgiveness to cultivate that which we want to uncover. (pages 24-26 RR)

 

What Refuge Recovery does is encourage practitioners to lean into their discomfort, investigate it, notice its impermanence, and begin to let it go. It encourages a deep shift in one’s relationship to suffering, creating an element of space around it, and it provides a unique ability to begin to care for your own suffering with compassion. Ultimately, we learn that we are not our suffering.

 

Refuge Recovery asks practitioners to know and understand that everything has a cause and effect and to take action to shift toward making better, wiser choice. Our actions are never without a reaction, good, bad or indifferent.

 

Refuge Recovery has been a deep, grounding cornerstone of my own recovery for the last 6 years. It has profoundly shifted how I view my own difficulties and allowed me to come to a deep understanding of how to hold my pain with compassion and approach my difficulties with kindness. It’s exciting to see this work come to fruition and to have been involved in the Refuge Recovery movement since its inception. I have been fortunate to witness the efficacy of Refuge Recovery for those who are just getting sober and for those with long-term sobriety, proving to me that this method works. It’s also been a wonderful alternative for clients struggling with the 12-step model; these same clients have embraced the Refuge Recovery process, finding relief from their suffering and formed a solid foundation of recovery and service.

 

There are regular Refuge Recovery meetings in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Oklahoma City, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Nashville. See HERE for a complete list with times and locations. If one isn’t in your area, you are encouraged to start your own. You can download meeting formats and Refuge Recovery inventories and meditations at RefugeRecovery.org. In addition, BLVD Treatment Centers is offering the first Refuge Recovery track for adults in treatment. There is also a Refuge Recovery sober living that has recently launched, that is has created a sober living environment in coordination with the Refuge Recovery Model.

 

Categories
Holidays Recovery Self-Care

The Memorial Day Holiday Weekend and Self-Care

Memorial Day holiday weekend,  and holidays this time of year, tend to bring up an image of BBQs, beer and parties:  Lots of parties.

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is emblematic of the beginning of Summer, despite it being a about honoring those who died in active military service.  When you’re an addict or alcoholic, however, most holidays take on one meaning, and one meaning only: a means to getting high. But when you come into recovery, the meanings of holidays need to change. They need to evolve into opportunities for making healthier choices, sober fun, and creating positive memories.

In the newness of recovery, however, a holiday weekend can seem overwhelming, perhaps daunting. The thought of suddenly having to shift perspectives, change social circles, and ultimately change how we show up on our lives is tough. I challenge you to shift your perspective and begin to look at holidays as an opportunity for self-care.

Here are some helpful tips to help you stay on track on any holiday weekend and also take care of yourself in the process:

  • Go outside! Take a walk with a friend or go on a hike;
  • Go to extra meetings;
  • Call your sponsor;
  • Be of service some examples of being of service are:
    • Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.
    • Give a homeless person a meal.
    • Volunteer at an animal shelter.
    • Offer to help an elderly neighbor with their groceries.
    • Take a commitment at a meeting
  • Host or attend a sober event. For example, have a BBQ at a park – do silly activities like 3-legged races, water balloon fights, or tug of war.
  • Practice meditation or yoga – both are a great means of self-care and they do wonders to regulate your nervous system;
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” If something doesn’t feel right to you, “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer. It’s a boundary and good practice in recovery.
  • Ask for help: One of the hardest lessons to learn when we get sober is that we cannot do this alone. Asking for help is a learned skill for a lot of us. If you are lonely, or overwhelmed, or emotionally triggered, reach out to someone.

And last but not least, Don’t forget to have fun. Find the joy in the little things: the light on a flower, the smell of the ocean, the sand between your toes, your friend’s laugh, a great cup of coffee, a beautiful sunset, or a great movie (or one so bad that it’s good!). Have a safe and sober weekend!

Categories
Addiction Adolescence Alcoholism Alumni Guest Posts Recovery

Alumni Voices: Alcoholics Anonymous Through the Lens of Adolescence

We are really honored to be able to share another alumni post, this one talking about Alcoholics Anonymous through the lens of a young person.  Having come to recovery as a young adult myself, her words resonate with me. It’s not easy walking in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous as a young person, but the beauty of young peoples’ meetings is the camaraderie and unspoken understanding amidst the community.  No one wants to hang out in a smokey room, drinking bad coffee on a Saturday night…unless you have to be there. And these young people get that. They get that they have to be there and they show up, week after week, day after day, learning ways in which to show up for themselves and their recovery:

 

Walking into a room of Alcoholics Anonymous may be the most defining moment in an alcoholic’s life. I know it was pretty life changing for me. Not necessarily in the sense that my life was being threatened by my drug use (although my behavior was), but in the sense that if I hadn’t made it to rehab and to these rooms, I would not be where I am or who I am today.

I sat in the pre-meeting the other night, waiting for it to begin, when it struck me. “Where would I be if I hadn’t gone to rehab and been introduced to these rooms? What would my life look like?” Many people in the Young People’s rooms go through Treatment, many don’t. What matters is that whoever they are, if they are alcoholic, they make it to the rooms of AA.

My beliefs vary when it comes down to an alcoholic’s diagnosis. Sometimes I believe that an alcoholic is born an alcoholic, sometimes I believe they become one. When it comes to myself, I don’t exactly know. I still struggle with identifying, even at meetings, and especially when a speaker has a gnarly story.

I believe this is a common thread in the rooms of AA. Comparing ourselves to others is pretty standard among alcoholics, particularly in the rooms with young people. I used to think that the young people’s meetings were fake and ridiculous. I thought it was like a talent show. Everyone gets all dressed up just to call attention to themselves. That’s not what the principles state and its not what the program is about.

I know now that I was just uncomfortable and insecure, and I was projecting my feelings of dislike for myself into the room. One of my favorite counselors in rehab, who was a young person in the program and who I was very close to and respected very much, challenged my dislike and asked “Where else are we going to get all dressed up to go on a Saturday night?”

When you walk into the rooms of a young peoples’ meeting, a thick smog of E-cig vapor coats the room. It’s so clouded that if the lighting is right and you are sitting far back enough, sometimes you can’t even see the speaker clearly. Everyone is uncomfortable and many people are new to the program. There are a handful of people that are “chronic relapsers,” but they keep coming back. That’s what’s so special about this program.

Altogether, there are many years of sobriety in the room. These meetings are popular; even a few from the older crowd shuffle in. We are all for having a good time, yet most people take the meeting very seriously; it’s life and death for many people. That’s what’s so special about these meetings.

Some of us are very judgmental, its honestly because we are insecure about ourselves. Many of us have been through the wringer, and we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We are the only people who truly get one another. That’s what’s so special about people in recovery.

 

 

Categories
Adolescence Holidays Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Service Spirituality Teen Activism Wellness

Resolution, Schmesolution: Create a New Year Theme

© 2013 sarit z. rogers — all rights reserved

It’s that time: New Year’s Eve celebrations are upon us! For many, it’s the time of year often met with party plans and resolutions. Parties and resolutions together sound like a juxtaposition and affect some legitimate irony, but nevertheless, they go together for most people every 31st of December. However, if you are in recovery, have clearer eyes and hopefully a wiser mind, things might look a bit different during this time of year.

 

There are several articles offering tips and guidelines for setting up the “perfect” New Year resolutions, 0r embarking on a New Year cleanse, or signing up for a New Year workout plan. The one thing all of these have in common is the idea that you can and will actually commit to changing a bevy of major things just because it’s the New Year. Sadly, many fail or abandon those impassioned resolutions after a few weeks. One article in particular stuck out to me. This article suggests creating a theme for the New Year rather than a resolution. A New Year’s Theme! That is right in line with the New Year Intentions I have suggested in the past. Both of these, a theme or an intention, are something that can easily be created, worked with and maintained throughout the year. Rather than seeking perfection, or a grand, finite accomplishment, a theme or intention allows one to slowly change behaviors and invite the possibility of more long-term, sustainable changes.

 

What might your New Year’s Theme or Intention be for 2014?

 

Kindness: The wonderful quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. You can choose to practice random and not so random acts of kindness throughout the year. Make it a year of being kind when you might otherwise be gruff. Invite some personal curiosity and investigation about what it might be like to respond to difficulty with kindness instead of anger or fear. It’s an interesting one to work with, but everyone can be kind and deserves kindness in return.

 

Mindfulness: Also looked at as keen “awareness,” mindfulness is an astute awareness of reality and the present moment.  It is an acknowledgement that things are just as they are in that moment. If you make mindfulness your New Year theme, perhaps you will begin by investigating the contemplative practices of meditation and yoga. Or perhaps it might mean choosing not to use your cell phone when you are walking around and instead bringing your awareness to your surroundings and becoming more present. It might mean driving without the radio on, or not always having your cell phone nearby. It might mean eating dinner without the television on so you can be more present with your family. Remember, it is not about perfection; this is a practice.

 

Wellness: If you are desirous of changing your health or the way you eat or the amount of activity you engage in, this is a wonderful theme. You might do this by ruling out meat for one day a week, or by eating more greens. You may choose to limit your caffeine, or cut down on your cigarettes or vape pens: eventually you may even quit! You can increase your wellness, that healthy balance of mind, body and spirit, even if you start small. In fact, small changes over a long period of time have a longer lasting effect.

 

Movement: Increase your physicality in 2014. You can start with walking more or riding your bike. If you usually drive to the corner store or to a meeting that’s only a mile away, try riding a bike once a week! The more you do ride your bike or walk, the more it might become a habit. Honestly, there’s no concrete rule about how long habits take to form or break. Instead, look at this as small opportunities for personal change.

 

Service: Make 2014 your year of being of service! Take a commitment at a meeting and keep it for a year. Volunteer to feed the homeless. Volunteer at an animal shelter once a week. Find a cause you believe in and get involved in raising awareness about it. Being of service is the fulcrum of recovery; “We can’t keep it unless we give it away” is one of the most-often repeated sayings relating to being of service. Write it on something you can always see to remind you to get out of yourself and into action.

 

No matter your theme or plan, the New Year is a time of reflection and growth. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past year so we can grow into the new one. May you ring this New Year in with self-care, compassion, kindness, and great joy. We wish you a wonderful New Year celebration and look forward to celebrating and growing with you in 2014.

Categories
Feelings Holidays Mental Health Prevention Recovery Self-Care Stress Wellness

Compassion and Kindness Over Holiday Hustling

We are neck deep in last-minute holiday madness! Traffic is catawampus, and the stores

are loud and overly crowded. I am noticing and experiencing a real hustle and bustle to get things done for the upcoming Christmas holiday, but for many of us, holidays can represent added stress and perhaps anxiety.

 

How about flipping the holiday coin, so to speak, and leaning into the recovery work you’ve been doing around stress and anxiety? Try taking a look at this holiday as an opportune time to work with your discomfort and begin to hold some internal space for it. You may begin to notice some of the other amazing things that occur during this time of year: joy, friendship, abundance, and generosity, community and togetherness.

 

Here are some thoughts on how to do this while also taking care of yourself at the same time:

 

Self-care: You need to care for yourself first before you can care for others. You can’t do anything effectively if you are pulling from an empty well. So, what does that self-care look like for you?

 

Be of service: Do one random act of kindness every day (more if you are inspired).

 

1. Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.

 

2. Buy a homeless person a meal.

 

3. Help someone with their groceries at the market.

 

4. Volunteer at an animal shelter.

 

5. Offer to help an elderly neighbor or with their groceries.

 

6. Take a commitment at a meeting. The greeter commitment is a favorite because you get to meet new people.

 

Be kind (to yourself and to others), even when you don’t want to.

 

Practice compassion. “Sympathetic concern for the sufferings and/or misfortunes of others.” There’s a difference between pity and concern: Compassion isn’t a way to feel sorry for someone. It’s an opportunity to show care and kindness to the suffering of others.

 

These small acts of kindness and service during the holidays may actually decrease our focus on stress and anxiety created around the holiday itself. Acts of kindness and compassion facilitate connection with others and allow us to let go of some of that stress and anxiety we are holding onto. Connected action allows us to reconnect with the roots of what the holiday is really about: community, love, and togetherness.  Ironically, all that running around to get last-minute items actually makes us disconnected.

 

So, I leave you with this: a video of two 16-year-olds engaging in random acts of kindness. They dress up as superheroes, wearing tights and capes, and running around paying for people’s food, giving tips to waitresses without even ordering, helping people out when they see they’re struggling to pay for something, and feeding a homeless guy. What can you do this holiday season to practice random acts of kindness? You don’t need a cape and tights, just some willingness to be kind.

 

 

Categories
Adolescence Mental Health Recovery School Treatment

The Benefits of Blending School and Treatment

There is tremendous value in blending school and treatment. Many clients come to us

(Photo credit: theirhistory)

having fallen off-track in their education as a result of substance abuse and mental health issues. There may also be undiagnosed learning disabilities that need to be addressed. Falling grades and school pressure can create another layer of stress and panic for a teen. When an adolescent comes to treatment, it is our responsibility to provide them with both treatment and educational support that fosters an environment of safety and encouragement around learning and healing. At the same time, providing school and treatment simultaneously allows us to notice where an adolescent needs extra support so we can provide that client with adequate educational and clinical support.

 

I looked to Daniel Dewey, our Residential Director of Education, and Joseph Rogers, our Educational Coordinator at our Outpatient Day School for some insight and perspective, particularly since they each see both sides of the education/treatment pendulum. Daniel sees our clients from their initial point of treatment, while Joseph spends time with our clients during their aftercare process. Both of them promote and create foundational pieces to add to the bedrock of an adolescent’s recovery; they invite curiosity about learning, provide support during times of difficulty, and provide individualized methods of teaching to facilitate and nurture a healthy outlook on education.

 

Daniel gave me some wonderful insight when he said, “School is important for treatment success; when a resident can stay on track (or in many cases gets back on track) they will have a stronger foundation for their aftercare. School can be a big stressor, so if school can work with treatment, we feel residents will be better equipped to leave Visions and follow their academic path. Additionally, doing well in school tends to be a source of self-esteem for adolescents.  We want our clients to feel good about learning. Many of our clients come into treatment hopeless. It is our goal to help them see the intrinsic value in education and to guide them toward a meaningful life.”

 

Joseph gave us similar insights, which also help identify the continuum that occurs with school and treatment. He said,  “The practical piece of joining treatment and education is having the benefit of rolling enrollment – clients can enroll at any time, increasing their opportunities of getting back on track. Additionally, students may not be emotionally able or prepared to go back into a normalized educational setting. Having them in a setting that is therapeutically structured for their safety gives them the chance to practice their new behaviors before they go back to their regular school, and because we have clinicians on staff, we can react to and notice a change in behavior quickly and effectively.”

 

We understand the importance of creating a therapeutically alive and nourishing environment for our clients and their families. Placing school in the treatment arena allows us to support our clients at optimum levels, and it provides a multi-level aspect to the healing process. Blending school and treatment from the residential and outpatient perspective is a necessary stone in the path to wellness. It is beneficial to the adolescent, building confidence and self-esteem, and it is advantageous for parents to see their children simultaneously succeed in their education and in their substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Categories
Events Recovery Service

National Youth Recovery Foundation: Over the Edge Event

(Photo credit: swanksalot)

The National Youth Recovery Foundation is going Over the Edge for youth recovery and we are a proud sponsor.

The National Youth Recovery Foundation partnered up with Over the Edge,  an innovative fundraising organization that partners up with non-profit organizations and sends “participants who’ve raised pledges rappelling down an office building.” Wow! This coming Saturday, in an effort to raise money for young people in recovery, 76 brave folks will rappel down the outside of the W Hotel. The National Youth Recovery Foundation is on a mission to raise awareness and affect change–we are looking forward to this event.

 

The National Youth Recovery Foundation is a citizen-run non-profit organization that supports young people in recovery, ages 15-30. The NYRF “funds and promotes programs and initiatives that increase young people’s access to treatment and aftercare.” Their work encourages continuing education, career building, social networking as a means of support, and community building so that young people have a means of breaking barriers and creating sustainable, long-term recovery.

 

Are you interested in participating? The registration fee for National Youth Recovery Foundation’s Over the Edge event is $25, which will go toward the $1500 fundraising goal. There’s only a week left, but anything is possible! Join and fundraise or come down to support the event!

 

This is where it’s all happening:

 

When:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

9 am – 6 pm

 

Where:

W Hollywood Hotel
6250 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028

 

Don’t forget to check out National Youth Recovery Foundation, Over the Edge, and Young People in Recovery for more information on these incredible organizations.

Categories
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Mental Health Recovery Therapy Trauma

Redefining Your Emotional Landscape With DBT

mindfulness 1.0 (Photo credit: Mrs Janet R)

The ideology behind therapeutic tools like DBT is to facilitate and encourage an emotional and psychological paradigm shift towards a more sustainable relationship to one’s mental health challenges. The foundational tenant of DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is mindfulness training. By using core mindfulness skills, one becomes personally active in redefining their relationship to their suffering.  Using these tools, one can learn to be non-reactive to their discomfort while staying emotionally present.  In a nutshell, they are taking what is a learned response to stress and dismantling it. DBT teaches you how to put it back together in a healthier, more sustainable and manageable way.

 

Are we programmed to fix things? Is being present with “what is” simply too much? For many, the answer to these questions is a wholehearted “Yes!” We come to recovery in deep suffering, and often times, this suffering is precluded by failed attempts at “fixing” what was “wrong” with us. Substance abuse, sex, shopping, self-harming, video games, the Internet, and gambling are used as ways to mollify our pain; these things are temporary and eventually, they cease to work. What we are left with are the frayed shadows of unaddressed traumas, hurt, loss, shame, sadness, depression, anxiety, et cetera.

 

Redefining the way we approach our difficulties takes patience. It takes effort. It takes acceptance. It requires us to sit with our discomfort without trying to fix it or change it in any way. Imagine someone clutching something with all of their might, because letting go would be unfathomable. But their grip is so tight, what they are holding onto is crushed, creating sheer devastation and heartbreak. What if we look at our difficulties the same way: if we hold onto them so tightly, we create heartbreak and devastation. Instead, we can hold them gently, giving those same difficulties room to breathe and change.

 

There is no magic bullet. There is work to be done, and it takes effort and patience and support. With tremendous tools like DBT elicited by skilled clinicians, it’s clear the temperature of mental health recovery is changing; it’s more inclusive and collaborative.

Categories
Addiction Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Unworthiness: Feelings Aren’t Facts

The overwhelming sense of unworthiness that permeates someone’s mind when they begin their recovery can be astonishing. So often, we begin the path to recovery with this sense of not being worth anything: love, affection, respect, you name it. We show the world our feelings of unworthiness in our actions and our interactions. This is an interesting phenomenon to behold, and a challenging one to unwind and rewire. From the perspective of one who holds the position of sponsor or mentor, the way to help someone rewire often comes by way of being an example; planting seeds and watering them with knowledge, love, and support, and waiting for them to root. They eventually do, but not always in my time, or your time. They root during the natural progression of the person’s readiness to recover and do the necessary work.

 

Unworthiness is a state of mind, a feeling that tends to hover over those who are feeling down and out. It can be a temporary state or it can linger and lead to depression. It is not something to shrug off and ignore or to be held lightly.

 

In order to combat this, it’s vital we do the deep excavating work that’s required for the healing process of recovery to take effect. This work is not an opportunity to beat ourselves up but instead, a time to learn to take steps toward self-care and freedom. Unfortunately, the tendency toward self-deprecation is far too high and can often hinder one’s willingness to move forward.

 

How do we overcome this sense of being unworthy so we can develop feelings of being valuable or worthwhile?

 

1: Be of service: It can be as small as doing your dishes, or picking up the phone and calling someone to see how they are. Smiling at strangers is a nice way to bring some light to your day.

 

2: Ask for help. You can’t do this alone.

 

3: Start a gratitude practice: write down three things that you are grateful for every day and then share them with someone else.

 

4: Look in the mirror every morning and say, “You are magnificent.” Even if it feels weird, the positive reverberations are tangible.

5. Start a meditation practice of Lovingkindness.

 

Going through this process of recovery can be dark. We have to find ways in which to bring some light. Gratitude lists, being of service, and asking for help, developing a meditation practice, and practicing acts of kindness to others and ourselves: those are all flickers of light. We can and will recover, one step, one tear, and one laugh at a time. Those feelings of unworthiness will eventually fade and we will soon realize our feelings aren’t facts.

 

 

Categories
Events Recovery

ICYPAA 55: Phoenix, Here We Come

The 55th ICYPAA Convention (International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous) is happening and it’s in Phoenix, Arizona this year! ICYPAA is an annual gathering for young people to celebrate and honor their sobriety. Over the years, we have seen an increase in the numbers of young people coming into recovery. ICYPAA has been a consistent resource.  ICYPAA provides a huge pool of experience, strength and hope for young people, allowing a safe space for those walking similar paths and trying to better their lives to be amongst their peers in a fun, entertaining, spiritual, hopeful way.

 

Being of service is something you can do no matter how long you’re sober: it can be a day, months or years. It simply doesn’t matter. Putting your hand out and helping someone else gets you out of yourself.  Being at an ICYPAA convention is a neat way to approach fellowship and service work because you’re in a huge container for the process to unfold. You are essentially hanging out with other people for an extended period of time, and all are on the same path. It can be a truly wonderful experience. But nothing says it better than this:

 

“ICYPAA and its attendees are also committed to reaching out to the newcomer, and to involvement in every other facet of AA service. ICYPAA participants can often be found serving at the national, state, area, and group levels. Newcomers are shown, by people their own age, that using AA principles in their daily lives and getting involved in AA service can have a significant impact on a lasting and comfortable sobriety.”

 

I got to spend some time at our Day School, and the kids were abuzz with excitement and anticipation about the weekend ahead of them. The members of the staff that are going are excited too. Sober conventions are an experience! When I asked Will, one of our tutors, about his thoughts and expectations venturing off to ICYPAA, he said,

 

“I’m just as excited for the road trip as I am for the actual convention. This will be my first conference, so I don’t quite know what to expect. My plan is to go to the meetings and interact with as many people as possible. I think that people from other parts of the world have a different perspective on sobriety. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s point of view.”

How amazing is it to get to experience the world with open eyes, and an open heart?

 

It looks like this is going to be an amazing weekend of sober fun, meetings, and support. From what I hear, it’s also monsoon season in Arizona, so it will be hot, muggy, rainy and absolutely beautiful. Life is infinitely better when you can be present for it!