Join Mark, a former compulsive gambler now in recovery. Each week he talks about everything and anything to do with recovery. Each podcast is LIVE on the Podbean App every Sunday 9:30pm UK Time/4:30pm EST. Listen LIVE to get involved with the show.
Join Mark as he continues his journey through Dharma Recovery and much more!
First Segment - Dharma Recovery
Most of us enter into recovery with one goal in mind: to stop the suffering that got us here in the first place, whether that was drinking, using drugs, stealing, eating, gambling, sex, codependancy, technology, or other process addictions. As newcomers, most of us would be satisfied with simple damage control. We want to stop harming ourselves or others in particular ways.
You’re reading this right now because you had enough wisdom to start seeking the end of the suffering of your addiction. You’ve already taken the first step on the path to your own awakening. Everyone who has made the wise intention to recover, wherever they are on their path, has accessed that pure, wise part of themselves that the wreckage of addiction can never touch.
At the time of coming into recovery, did you feel like you had enough wisdom to start seeking the end of the suffering of your own addiction? Did you realise you had taken the first step on the path to your own awakening?
So many of us have hearts that are tender and worn raw from the suffering we’ve experienced. Many of us have collected layers of trauma which often led us to seek temporary relief in our addictive behaviour. But then, through our addiction, we added more layers of demoralization and shame that hardened around our hearts. On top of those layers are the ones we built for our protection: all the ways we’ve run from pain, all the ways we’ve pushed people away in fear of being vulnerable, all the ways we’ve shut parts of ourselves off in order to adapt to what often feels like a hostile world.
Did you feel like you were living in a hostile world in addiction? Do you still feel like you are living in a hostile world in recovery?
We started to recover when we let ourselves believe in the part of us that’s still there beneath all those layers we’ve collected and built - the pure, radiant, courageous heart where we find our potential for awakening. Who were we before the world got to us? Who are we beyond the obsession of our conditioned minds? Who are we beneath all our walls and heartbreak? Despite the trauma, addiction, fear, and shame, there is a still and centered part of us that remains whole. There is a part of us that’s not traumatized, that’s not addicted, that’s not ruled by fear or shame. This is where wisdom comes from, and it’s the foundation of our recovery.
Have you found the part of yourself that’s not traumatized, that’s not addicted, that’s not ruled by fear or shame? Do you believe this is where wisdom comes from? Is this the foundation of your recovery?
If you’re at the beginning of your recovery journey, it may seem impossible to access this part of you. But the reason you’re here is because you already did. It’s because you felt some small glimmer of hope - maybe born out of desperation - that there might be a way out, that things could change if you took wise action and reached out for help. Maybe it feels impossible to have faith in this part of you, to believe that you have the potential to be someone capable of wisdom and kindness and ethical deeds, to believe you can be the source of your own healing and awakening. But don’t worry. Recovery doesn’t happen all at once. The path is a lifetime of individual steps. It’s not only the Buddha’s example that shows us the way, it’s also the examples of people in our recovery communities who have gone through what we have and made it through to the other side. They show us we can, too.
How difficult was it for you to accept that “recovery doesn’t happen all at once.”
So what does the Buddha have to do with recovery?
There are two ways in which we use the word Buddha, which means “awakened.” First, it is the title given to a person
Join Mark as he continues working through Dharma Recovery and has a Q&A on the Podbean Chat Room.
First Segment - Dharma Recovery - Part 2
Where to Begin
So how can we use Buddhism for our recovery? There are three ways in which we focus our energy: not step-by-step, but in a holistic way as our insight and our awareness grow.
We come to understand the Four Noble Truths and use them as a guide for our own path of recovery. This program doesn’t ask us to believe in anything other than our own potential to wake up: just allowing ourselves to believe that it’s possible, or even that it might be possible. We begin to believe that our own efforts will make a difference. This is the realization that there is a way to recover and then the decision to start that process.
How important is it for your own recovery to believe that it is your own efforts that will make a difference? That you have to believe in your own potential to wake up? Do you think this makes recovery easier or more difficult?
As we learn about the Four Noble Truths - including the Eightfold Path that leads to the end of the suffering caused by addiction - we put these principles into practice in our lives. This book includes an introduction to these truths, and there are many ways to continue studying them. The Eightfold Path is a guide to a non-harming way of being in the world. It’s not just a philosophy, but a plan of action.
Discuss the concept of “being in the world”.
Being-in-the-world is an existential concept which was first introduced by Martin Heidegger. It refers to a state of living with a highly meaningful orientation. This philosophy further holds that this kind of existence aims to achieve personal growth. Heidegger emphasized that each human being has a unique destiny to fulfill in this world. For instance, a student realizes that he is a young and empowered individual who is meant to hone his particular skills for the betterment of his own as well as others' current functioning.
Meditation is an essential part of the program. This book has some basic instructions so you can start right away. Most of us have found it very helpful to attend meetings that include an opportunity to practice meditation with others. A key to this program is establishing a regular meditation practice, in and outside of meetings. This will help us begin the process of investigating our own minds, our reactivity, and our behaviour. We look deeply at the nature and causes of our suffering so we can find a path to freedom that’s based on authentic self-knowledge.
Discuss your authentic self. Do you know who that is?
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”- Carl Jung. This quote sums up the importance of growing into your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you truly are as a person, regardless of your occupation, regardless of the influence of others, it is an honest representation of you. To be authentic means not caring what others think about you. This may sometimes lead to you standing out from the crowd. To be authentic is to be true to yourself through your thoughts, words and actions. It means being able to sacrifice any relationship, situation or circumstance that diverges from your truth. For example, if you are in a job or relationship that does not make you happy or makes you act differently to who you truly are, you leave it.
The following chapters talk about these three aspects of the program - the “three jewels” of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha - as a way of developing the wisdom, ethical conduct, and spiritual practice that we have found leads to recovery. We hope that people and groups will use this book in ways that are useful for their own processes of recovery. We offer some suggestions in that spirit. You’re invited to take what works for you and leave the rest.
What, in your opinion, is the difference bet
Join Mark & Mick as they delve into Dharma Recovery for the first time and much more!
First Segment - Recovery Dharma - How to Use Buddhist Practices and Principles to Heal the Suffering of Addiction - Part 1
Once we make a decision to recover from addiction - to substances, habits, people, whatever - it can be scary. The feeling is often one of loss and loneliness, because recovery can shake our sense of identity, our idea of who we are. Who will I be if I let my addiction go? Change can be hard to face, even if we know we’re letting go of something that’s a danger to us. For many of us, the first and most significant challenge was finding a safe and stable place to begin healing.
Did you ever wrestle with the question “who will I be if I let my addiction go?”
This is a book about using Buddhist practices and principles to recover from addiction, but you don’t need to become a Buddhist to benefit from this program. One of the most revolutionary things the Buddha taught was that the mind is not only the source of suffering - due to craving, greed, anger, and confusion - but the cure for that suffering as well. So what we’re doing is using an ancient, proven way to literally change our minds. And we’re choosing to trust in our own potential for wisdom and compassion for others and ourselves.
Today, do you trust in your own potential for wisdom and compassion for others and yourself? How has your compassion for others and yourself changed over the past 12 months?
What you have in your hands is a collaboration from many members of our community. It’s intended to be a friendly guide for those new to this path as well as long-term practitioners. It’s structured around what are sometimes called the “three jewels of Buddhism:” the Buddha (the potential for our own awakening and the goal of the path), the Dharma (how we get there), and the Sangha (who we travel with). We’ll share how we have used this program to recover from addiction and the ways we’ve made it our own: not as a one-size-fits-all approach, but as a dynamic set of tools and techniques that anyone can use to find relief from the suffering of addiction.
Describe the “three jewels” in your recovery today. What is the goal of your path, how do you get there and who do you travel with?
WHAT IS RECOVERY DHARMA?
The word dharma doesn’t have a single English meaning. It’s a word in an ancient language called Sanskrit, and it can be translated as “truth,” “phenomena,” or “the nature of things.” When it’s capitalised, the word Dharma usually means the teachings of the Buddha and the practices based on those teachings.
The Buddha knew that all human beings, to one degree or another, struggle with craving - the powerful, sometimes blinding desire to change our thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. Those of us who experience addiction have been more driven to use substances or behaviours to do this, but the underlying craving is the same. And even though the Buddha didn’t talk specifically about addiction, he understood the obsessive nature of the human mind. He understood our attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain. He understood the extreme lengths we can sometimes go to, chasing what we want to feel and running away from the feelings we fear. And he found a solution.
This book describes a way to free ourselves from the suffering of addiction using Buddhist practices and principles. This program leads to recovery from addiction to substances like alcohol and drugs, and also from what we refer to as process addictions. We can also become addicted to sex, gambling, technology, work, codependance, shopping, food, media, self-harm, lying, stealing, obsessive worrying. This is a path to freedom from any repetitive and habitual behaviour that causes suffering.
Many of us who have found our way here might be new to
Join Mark & Mick as they finish their discussion on the Gamblers Anonymous Combo Book and much more!
First Segment - GA Combo Book - Part 5
In terms of spiritual maturity:
We have faith in a Higher Power.
We feel an organic part of mankind as a whole, contributing our part to each group of which we are a member.
We obey the spiritual essence of the Golden Rule: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Why are GA members anonymous?
Anonymity has a great practical value in maintaining unity within our fellowship. Through its practice at the level of the press, radio, films and television, we have eliminated the possibility of fame and recognition being given to the individual member; hence, we have not been faced with any great internal struggles for power and prestige, which would prove highly detrimental to our essential unity.
Anonymity also has great value in attracting new members who might feel there is a stigma attached to the problem. Therefore, we guarantee the newcomer as much anonymity as he or she chooses. More importantly, we are beginning to realise that anonymity has tremendous spiritual significance. It represents a powerful reminder that we need always place principles above personalities.
Our survival as individuals demands that we renounce personal glorification... so our GA movement not only advocates but tries to practise true humility, and it is through greater humility that we will be able to live in peace and security for all the years to come.
Is GA a religious society?
No, GA is composed of people from many religious faiths, along with agnostics and atheists. Since membership in GA requires no particular religious beliefs as a condition of membership, it cannot be described as a religious society. The GA Recovery Programme is based on acceptance of certain spiritual values, but the individual member is free to interpret these principles as he chooses.
As it is used in GA, what is the meaning of the word "spiritual"?
Simply stated, the word can be said to describe that characteristic of the human mind which is marked by the highest and finest qualities, such as generosity, honesty, tolerance and humility. Inasmuch as the GA Fellowship advocates acceptance of these principles as a way of life, it can thus be said that GA is a spiritual fellowship.
WHAT IS GAM-ANON?
Compulsive gambling is recognised as an emotional illness. Living with this illness proves to be a devastating experience. Family relationships become unbearably strained. The home is filled with bitterness, frustration and resentment.
There seems to be no way to solve our insurmountable difficulties. We are unable to think rationally at times. As families and friends of gamblers, we also are very prone to develop a neurosis. Life seems hardly worthwhile.
As families and friends of compulsive gamblers, many of us have found a strong bond. We need no longer feel alone. A wonderful new life is ours.
Come join with us in this, the Gam-Anon way of life.
For information, contact Gam-Anon direct on their website www.gamanon.org.uk
ADVICE FOR ALL MEMBERS
Attend as many meetings as possible per week.
Contact other members as often as possible between meetings.
Use the telephone list or whatever means of communication possible.
Don't tempt or test yourself.
Don't associate with acquaintances who gamble.
Don't go in or near gambling establishments.
Don't gamble for anything - this includes buying lottery tickets, raffle tickets, premium bonds, flipping a coin, or playing games for table stakes.
Live the Gamblers Anonymous Recovery Programme one day at a time.
Don't try to tackle your whole life's problems at once.
Read and practise Just for Today (page23) and the Serenity Prayer (back cover).
Ask trusted servants at your
Mark & Mick discuss the second half of the moral inventory from the Gamblers Anonymous Combo book and discuss the definition of a mature person.
First Segment - GA Combo Book - Part 4
MY DAILY MORAL INVENTORY
Looking for the good
DEFINITION OF A MATURE PERSON
(Taken from the "Moral and Spiritual Values in Education" used by the Los Angeles City Schools as part of their educational programme.)
As mature people, we have developed attitudes in relation to ourselves and our environment, which have lifted us above "childishness" in thought and behaviour.
We accept criticism gratefully, being honestly glad for an opportunity to improve.
We do not indulge in self-pity and have begun to feel the laws of compensation operating in all life.
We do not expect special consideration from anyone.
We control our temper.
We meet emergencies with poise.
Our feelings are not easily hurt.
We accept the responsibility of our own acts.
We have outgrown the "all or nothing" stage, recognising that no person or situation is wholly good or bad and begun to appreciate the Golden Mean (Aristotle's terminology stating that it is always desirable to remain in the middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other deficiency).
We are not impatient at unreasonable delays. We have learned that we are not the arbiters of the universe and that we must often adjust to other people and their convenience.
We can endure defeat and disappointment without whining or complaining.
We do not worry unduly about things that cannot be helped.
We are not given to boasting or "showing off in socially unacceptable ways.
We are honestly glad when others enjoy success or good fortune. We have outgrown envy and jealousy.
We are open-minded enough to listen thoughtfully to the opinions of others and do not become vigorously argumentative when our views are opposed.
We are not chronic "fault finders".
We plan things in advance rather than trusting in the inspiration of the moment.
Join Mark & Mick as they continue discussing the GA Combo book and delve into ego and low self esteem!
First Segment - GA Combo Book - Part 3
What is the Unity Programme?
Unity is the most precious quality our society possesses. Our lives and the lives of all to come depend squarely upon it. Yet unity in GA cannot automatically sustain itself. Like personal recovery, it demands honesty, open-mindedness and, above all, vigilance. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, when he expressed his opinion that unity was essential to achieve victory in the American War of Independence; "We must hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." So there can be no sacrifice too great if it will strengthen our essential unity.
In maintaining unity, we have begun to traditionally practice the following principles:
Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon GA unity.
Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.
The only requirements for GA membership is a desire to stop gambling.
Each group shall be self-governing except in matters affecting other groups or GA as a whole.
GA has but one primary purpose - to carry the message to the compulsive gambler who still suffers.
GA should never endorse, finance, or lend the GA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Every GA group ought to be self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
GA should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centres may employ special workers.
GA as such ought never to be organised, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
GA has no opinion on outside issues; hence the GA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion, we must always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films and television.
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of the GA Recovery Programme, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
JUST FOR TODAY
Just for today I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appal me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that: "most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."
Just for today I will adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take each day as it comes and fit myself to it.
Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count; I will do at least two things I don't want to do - just for exercise; I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt - they may be hurt but today I will not show it.
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticise not one bit, not find fault with anything, and not try to improve or regulate anybody but myself.
Just for today I will have a programme. I may not follow it exactly but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests - hurry and indecision.
Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. During this half-hour, sometime, I will try and get a better perspective of my life.
Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe that, as I give to the world, so the