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Lions Roar : September 2014
reCoVery IS An ACt of intentional redirection of our life’s energy. This is where the intentional application of energy comes into play. Everything we are talking about takes effort. None of these practices or principles are easy to develop. We all have the energy necessary for this, but only with wise and inten- tional use of that energy—that is, with effort—can we master these liberating practices and avoid the habitual reactive ten- dencies that create more addiction and suffering in our lives. When it comes to training our minds and hearts in the path of recovery, each of us must find the balance of applying the right amount of effort: not so much that we get strained, not so little that we get spaced out. Developing a balanced effort and energy in our spiritual life is key to our recovery. The Buddha likened spiritual effort to the tuning of a stringed instrument. If the strings are too tight, it doesn’t play correctly. If the strings are too loose, it doesn’t sound right either. The path to recovery and freedom takes great effort and fine-tuning. Here are some suggested guidelines for developing a recovery practice: from the beginning: Start with the practice of meditation right away. Meditation is the most important tool in support- ing your renunciation and beginning your recovery. Begin with simple breath awareness concentration practice. After a week or so of renunciation/abstinence, begin to alternate forgiveness meditation with breath practice every other day. 2 to 6 months: Meditate for twenty minutes daily. Go to as many meetings and meditation groups as you can. Ask some- one from the recovery community to mentor you and call him or her regularly to check in about your practice of the four truths. Complete your first truth and second truth inventories. Perform weekly physical practices like yoga, dance, or other exercises with mindfulness. 6 to 12 months: Increase your meditation practice to thirty minutes a day, and begin expanding the mindfulness practice to include forgiveness practice in your meditation for at least fifteen minutes every other day until you have no more resent- ments. Attend a weekend retreat. Begin making amends as part of the forgiveness process. 1 to 5 years: Begin daily meditation of forty-five minutes in one sitting or split into one thirty-minute and one fifteen-minute session. After the first year of renunciation/sobriety/abstinence, begin practicing the four foundations of mindfulness and the heart practices of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciation, and equanimity. Incorporate more and more mindfulness and heart practice in daily life. Complete the amends process. Attend a seven- to ten-day silent meditation retreat yearly. After complet- ing a retreat and finishing your amends, begin mentoring others. Do an annual inventory on your recovery, looking at how you are currently engaging with the four truths and the eightfold path. Where are the weak links? What needs more attention and effort? 5 years to life: Stay involved, continue to practice, and share your experience, time, and energy with the newer people. Include the forgiveness practice in your meditation for at least fifteen minutes every other day until you have no more resent- ments. Try to attend a longer retreat that is one to three months in length. Continue to do an annual inventory on your recovery, looking at how you are currently engaging with the four truths and the eightfold path. Where are the weak links? What needs more attention and effort? not too tight, not too loose: recovery Practice SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2014 61