Contemplative Recovery is based upon the 12 Steps of AA and simply emphasizes the contemplative component of AA, especially the 11th and 12th steps. The premise of Contemplative Recovery is by leading a contemplative life we will be aided in our recovery.
We define a contemplative life in terms of formally practicing meditation; as well as, cultivating moment-to-moment mindful self-awareness. We believe that it is important to recognize that the purpose of leading a contemplative life is cultivating the spiritual experience.
The mechanism in the contemplative life that leads to recovery from addiction is, first, by leading a contemplative life we begin to seek wholesome ways to deal with anxiety, because most addictions are just unwholesome ways of suppressing anxiety. So, a part of contemplative recovery is learning what is wholesome verses what is unwholesome.
Secondly, the practice of self-awareness in recovery is most important, because we recognize that addiction is often an unsuccessful coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety. Thus, the self-awareness of the contemplative will help us to become aware of our anxiety, and cultivate functional, or wholesome ways to deal with that anxiety.
So, one of the first stages of recovery is realizing that the first thing in recovery is to learn the difference between wholesome and unwholesome coping mechanisms. So, if one does not know the difference between these two coping methods, then recovery cannot be accomplished.
Contemplative Recovery wishes to advance is, while the AA 12-step model is a good one, it is incomplete and needs to be improved upon. The AA 12-step model recognizes some unwholesome behavior and ignores other unwholesome behavior, and really does not offer wholesomeness. The AA 12-step model also does not offer a mature understanding of the contemplative life. Thus, the AA 12-step model is essentially a negative model, because it does not offer wholesome coping mechanisms. We proposed Contemplative Recovery as that advancement.
The first step in Contemplative Recovery is embracing the idea of cultivating wholesome coping mechanisms. In AA they typically replace alcohol and drugs with caffeine, cigarettes and sugar. We propose that these are not wholesome coping mechanisms. Instead we propose the next step beyond AA is identifying wholesome behavior, which is basically becoming health conscious and contemplative. In the process of becoming health conscious one quickly learns one is addicted to many unwholesome behaviors, for which the AA recovery model could be quite useful to help overcome addiction to fast food, sugar, synthetic foods, etc. And all of the above requires leading a contemplative life.
The contemplative life is also about learning that we are all addicted to the mind, and have anxieties, which we all have coping mechanisms for, which are not necessarily successful. Thus, by practicing meditation we learn to confront the root of our addiction directly and learn to cultivate the wholesome behavior of a still and calm mind, as well as a wholesome lifestyle.
Our goal in Contemplative Recovery is, to ultimately replace our addiction to substances with a daily meditation practice that produces one of the four stages of spiritual experience. The reason why the daily attainment of the religious experience is useful in recovery is it gives us true bliss, joy, and fulfillment, which an addiction to anything else cannot offer. We find when people begin to have the religious experience every day in their meditation practice, then they lose their addictions.
We propose that each
meeting begin with a half hour meditation followed by a half hour of sharing on
how the contemplative life, and the cultivation of the religious experience, help in recovery.
Love to all, Jeffrey S. Brooks (Jhananda)
The Psychology of Gnosis Ecstasy, Kundalini and Jhana in a Christian, Buddhist & Yoga Psychology
Recorded Dharma talks: