Group Advice: Buddhist Recovery Network Suggestions on Setting up and Facilitating a Group
Over the past several years groups have been coming together to support people who want to explore the connection between Buddhism and recovery. The Buddhist Recovery Network is vitally interested in supporting as well as learning from these groups. This guide brings together my own thoughts on how these groups might work along with information about the formats used by existing groups.
My book, One Breath at a Time, makes the point that what Twelve Step groups have that many Buddhist communities are lacking is “fellowship.” This means much more than casual social connection. Many Buddhist groups have monthly potlucks, family classes, or community events meant to encourage personal connections among community members. But what Twelve Step groups offer is a unique environment for “sharing,” the deep personal exploration and revelation that has been so healing for Twelve Step participants. In revealing our demons in a safe, supportive atmosphere, we have the opportunity to deal with them in ways that silent meditation often does not allow. The contemporary Buddhist form which probably most mimics this Twelve Step model is called a Kalyana Mitta (spiritual friends) group (more about them later).
This guide, as they say in the Big Book, “is meant to be suggestive only”. I realize I “know only a little.” I hope it will open the door for group exploration. Please let me know about your own experiences so that I, too, can learn about how such groups might be best organized and how they might serve the needs of the community.
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