Recovery Meditation Group

Meditation Support for people in recovery

Tuesdays 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

The Bozeman Dharma Center’s Recovery Meditation Group (RMG) offers Buddhist meditation practice and instruction to support those in the process of recovery. Participants are invited to learn and explore meditation practices, share experiences in applying them to recovery, and receive communal support to the challenges of the recovery process.

RMG offers Buddhist practices for people in recovery who would like to supplement their program with meditation. It is not a recovery program and does not provide sufficient support to be used as a recovery program or a substitute for another program.

The meditations offered are derived from the Buddhist practices of mindfulness and metta, internal practices that build mindfulness of one’s experience and the capacity to meet it with equanimity and kindness. We look to the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the Five Precepts to provide common ground for our group to cultivate recovery and strengthen meditation practice.

The RMG is open to anyone in recovery from addictive behaviors and substance use who has a sincere interest in Buddhist meditation as a support to their sobriety and can be a compassionate and supportive group member. No prior meditation experience is necessary.

Meeting Structure

5:00 – 5:05 Welcome/introduction
5:05 – 5:30 Guided meditation practice
5:30 – 5:35 Reading from Dharma/Recovery literature
5:35 – 5:55 Group sharing on the experience of practice or the reading
5:55 – 6:00 Closing with gratitude, honoring of intention, metta/self-compassion

About Our Meditation Practice

The two broad aims of meditation practice are to first: to build the habit of Mindfulness so that we are aware of thoughts and body sensations in present time and attuned to our experience. And second: to develop wise responses to the experience that bring freedom, compassion, well-being and kindness to ourselves and others. More specifically:

Mindfulness-based practices are designed to:

  • Develop awareness of personal triggers and habitual reactions
  • Create a “wedge” between the urge or trigger and the automatic reaction, a “pause”
  • Build our comfort with discomfort, meaning expand the capacity to feel through difficult emotional
    and physical experiences and trust that we can weather them.
  • Develop a non-judgmental and compassionate attitude towards oneself.
  • Create a lifestyle that supports mindfulness, awareness and empathy.

We develop four specific heart qualities in our meditation practice:

  • Kindness: Towards all experience
  • Compassion/forgiveness: Towards the suffering we experience, and have caused.
  • Appreciation: Of pleasure, enjoyment and success.
  • Equanimity: Maintaining our balance with the conditions as they presently are

Religious/Secular Orientation

This group is not a faith-based program. These teachings, as we practice them, are fully compatible with any religion or secular perspective. Meditation can be a useful practice for those who believe in a God or higher power and for those who do not. Participants are free to practice this Buddhist-based meditation within the spiritual framework of their choosing. We do not promote the adoption of any religious principles, only to do the work needed for these practices to transform our lives.

“As we embrace and develop mindfulness practice we find that we learn to become honest about the difficulties in our lives. We take full responsibility for our unsuccessful denial strategies and we work to overcome them with effort and willingness. The experience of regret diminishes as we become aware of how and where we are causing it. This allows us to see clearly all the ways we are causing unnecessary suffering for ourselves and we begin to let go. We learn the power of empathy and compassion and promote positive change in our lives and in this world .”   

– Dave Smith

Participant Expectations and Guidelines

Participants are asked to help us maintain a safe and respectful meeting space. The following is required of all attendees.

  • No attendance under the influence of alcohol or other substances
  • No smoking anywhere in the building or within 15 yards of the doors.
  • Respect other’s physical boundaries and personal space
  • No harsh or disrespectful language
  • Respect the experience of others and the diversity of the group
  • No asking anyone else to meet personally for romantic or sexual interest

Guidelines for Sharing in the Meeting

  • Participants are invited to share their experiences of the meditation or experiences in bringing mindfulness and self-compassion to recovery.
  • In this group, we do not distinguish or name the substances or behaviors we are challenged by, or share stories of substance use and recovery lapses.
  • Because sharing in this group differs from many 12-step meetings, instruction about this will be succinctly given at every meeting.
  • Sharing averages approximately 3 minutes per person, “popcorn” style while the group engages in deep listening – meaning without cross-talk, follow-up questioning or giving advice.  
  • We honor and respect each other’s perspectives and diverse life experience.
  • We give each other the gift of confidentiality: what’s said in the room stays in the room.

Cost

In the Buddhist tradition, we do not put a price on these practices, their value or commercial worth. We offer the program in the spirit of generosity and compassion for all. If you are able to support this program and those who might benefit from it, you will help ensure its existence. We pass a basket at the close of each meeting for anonymous, voluntary contributions of any amount. The funds go to the Dharma Center to cover marketing costs and provide the space for these meetings. The facilitators are volunteers and do not receive any compensation.

Leaders

Kelly Knight, Meeting facilitator:  Kelly is an associate professor of sociology at MSU and has been teaching there for 5 years. She has been in recovery for 11 years and practicing meditation for 21 years. Kelly has a PhD in Sociology, an MA in Psychology, and advanced training in trauma. In addition to her teaching and research in traumatology, victimology, and criminology, she has served as an assistant prison chaplain, a mental health counselor for dual-diagnosis adults struggling with substance abuse and mental health, and a sexual assault and domestic violence advocate and crisis hotline volunteer.

Colter Ellis, Meeting facilitator:  Colter is also a Sociology professor at MSU and has taught at the university for 5 years. He has been in recovery for 11 years and had an established meditation practice for 5 years. Along with Kelly he has completed ~250 hours of training in Somatic Experiencing Trauma Resolution, co-organized 5 day trainings on healing trauma and will be a full Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in 2020.

Suzanne Colón, Dharma leader for the group: Suzanne is co-founder of the Bozeman Dharma Center and leader of the Bozeman Insight Meditation Community that meets there. She has been meditating in the Insight tradition since 1992 and has been a member of the Bozeman Insight Community since moving here in 1998. She graduated from Sprit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader training program in 2017. She’s a mom of two kids, the wife of a therapist and familiar with recovery programs through family-of-origin healing and Al-Anon.  

Resources

Because the RMG is only a once-a-week offering and can’t provide additional support outside of our meetings, we offer the following resources for those seeking more support. Click on the name for more information.

Meetings
Bozeman Area Addiction counselors and specialists
Online resources
Audio and Podcasts
Books
  • One Breath at a Time – Buddhism and the 12 Steps by Kevin Griffin
  • Recovery Dharma – How to Use Buddhist Practices and Principles to Heal the Suffering of Addiction
  • A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery by Kevin Griffin
  • Against the Stream, Refuge Recovery and Dharma Punx: A Memoir by Noah Levine
  • Cool Water: Alcoholism, Mindfulness and Ordinary Recovery by William Alexander
  • Dead Drunk: Saving myself from alcoholism in a Thai monastery by Paul Garrigan
  • 12 Steps on Buddha’s Path by Laura S.

Acknowledgements

The leaders of the Recovery Meditation Group are grateful to:

  • Dave Smith for training and consultation. Some content for this webpage was drawn from his website and online resources.
  • The Dharma Center Board for their stewardship, guidance and support
  • Community members who held the vision for this group and got the process underway
  • Marlisa Papp for support, feedback, networking and Addiction Counselor (LAC) perspectives
  • Michāel Palmer for graphic design and marketing