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Jul 11th 2017 by lawnknight10 • 10 Questions • 52 Points

I started getting high at 7 years old, listening to punk at 9 years old, and I ended up in a group home by 15. There I started mindfulness practice at the suggestion of my father, Stephen Levine. I write about being an addict and using Buddhism (8 Fold Path and the 4 Noble Truths) to survive and conquer addiction. Refuge Recovery, the Buddhist-oriented, nontheistic recovery program now has 250 meetings worldwide.

Let's talk punk rock, the dharma, craving and sobriety.

Proof of identity: http://imgur.com/x0maWAm

Hey Everyone - thank you so much for coming out and participating. I hope that some of what we discussed is helpful. If I didn't get to your question, I apologize and we can always connect online/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/refugerecoverycenters

With metta.

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The first foundation of mindfulness is all about bringing awareness into the body. Esp. paying attention to the sensation the breath creates in the body and of course the attention is drawn back into the mind and the memories of trauma...and we gently return the attention to the breath over and over. I also encourage people to utilize trauma healing techniques such as somatic experiencing or EMDR in conjunction with mindfulness practice for trauma resolution. Thanks for your q.


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Yes, Refuge Recovery is utilized by many people to recover from primary process addictions such as sex addiction. Although most meetings are mixed with people for whom addiction is manifesting in all ways - substances, sex, food, money - there are some specific affinity meetings that are beginning such as Refuge for food addiction or sex addiction.

The Refuge Recovery book is available for Kindle on Amazon.

Thanks for your qs.


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Thanks for the question VRNverity. Yes I have a lot of good memories from the salad days....and yes, many of the next generations of punks reach out and come meditate with me.


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Self-care is probably the most important aspect of becoming a teacher- making sure to maintain one's own meditation practice and ethical renunciation. As well as being aware of the projections and transference that the students will inevitably have on the teacher. The Buddha referred to this as Praise and Blame and knowing that both of these are a part of taking the role of minister or teacher.


Q:

Hi Noah,

Thanks for doing this. I'm a former RR client, so I created a new account just now for anonymity. Honestly, I'd never ask you this in person. I still struggle with addiction and am working to find my path to recovery. Buddhism and Refuge have helped a lot.

My question is: What are your thoughts on Buddhism being "non-theistic" when the "Buddha" is so iconoclastic? There are statues everywhere, it's a very symbolic, ritualistic visual identity.

Thanks for everything you've done for both the punk rock and the recovery world!

A:

The intention behind the iconic art and statuary of Buddhism is that we see it as a reminder of our own internal wisdom and compassion inside ourselves.


Q:

Hi Noah, was great meeting you in Chicago. How do you suggest new Refuge Recovery meetings handle a strong personality when it comes to the direction of Refuge in a particular city? How do you suggest we maintain right speak/right action when confronting those whom have placed themselves as defecto leaders of the program in you city?

A:

Thanks for writing I hear the dilemma - it is one of the reasons that RR leadership is set up as a rotating process of 6 months commitment as a secretary - when a strong personality is in that position the group may just need to wait out the time period and elect a new secretary.


Q:

Hey, Noah! What was it like growing up in a Buddhist household? I raise my kids with Buddhist philosophy and sometimes the awareness around how in conflict it is with the upbringing their peers are receiving is overwhelmingly obvious. No doubt your parents are rad, but as a kid did you see them as being very wise, or nuts?

A:

Growing up I was aware that my parents were weird spiritual Buddhist hippies and that many of my parent's friends were not. I can remember resenting it on some levels but it was also ...all I knew...and my parents were mostly cool and probably cooler than most of my friend's parents. Certainly, it was having grown up in that environment that allowed me to start practicing the dharma at such a young age. My feeling is that it is ok for our children to have a different view than their peers in terms of understanding karma, personal responsibility and the importance of mindfulness compassion and forgiveness even if it sets them apart from their judeo-Christian or nihilistic peers. I would rather have my children live in reality than a delusion. Thanks for your q


Q:

Hey Noah, I love many things about Refuge Recovery, but I struggle with the same rule that I struggled with in AA meetings when that was all I had access to - abstinence from a specific list of substances.

Alcohol has never been my problem. While I have remained abstinent from my drug of choice for over 11 years now, the times I have imbibed alcohol have never led to heedlessness. Besides my DOC I also have struggles with abuse of other things like food, sleep, or emotional states. I would much prefer to work on the craving/aversion issues related to these rather than alcohol which plays a role in my life similar to, I don't know, buying the fancier cheeze once every month or two.

I do not understand why abstinence from alcohol must be part of my path, and I hate to abide by rules which I do not understand. Can you help me understand why I should be abstinent from a substance that I've never had a problem with?

A:

From a Buddhist perspective, mindfulness becomes a necessity for ending the causes of suffering in our life. in order to be mindful, the mind cannot be intoxicated, even mildly intoxicated and still be fully mindful. This is why the Buddha encouraged total abstinence from all drug and alcohol use.


Q:

Hello Noah, • What has been your greatest perceived struggle in your personal quest for liberation from greed, hatred & delusion? • What advice would you offer those who seek to be of service to their community who have no formal therapeutic training or dharma teaching?

A:

Hey Misfit_inc - In the early days my biggest struggle was with resentment, anger, fear and the afflictive emotions but, after so many years of forgiveness and compassion meditation, I have learned to care about my pain and the pain of others. These days, my biggest struggle is probably about balance and self-care while trying to help others - remembering to take time for myself.

There are so many ways to get involved in helping - whether it is feeding the homeless - educating people around the issues of the environment, working for positive change around social justice issues. You don't have to be a meditation to help to alleviate suffering on this planet.


Q:

Noah, I have wanted to ask forever - what is that brings you and Refuge to Wanderlust festivals? What's it like for you, particularly as a guy that seems more at home crowdsurfing punk shows?

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I started doing the Wanderlust festivals as an opportunity to share the dharma with people who are interested in yoga and meditation that probably haven't received clear instruction on mindfulness. I have really enjoyed the large crowds and the physical aspects of the run and the yoga at the festival.