I enjoyed the Beliefnet gallery written by Darren Littlejohn, a recovering addict and author of “The 12 Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction.” I’ll excerpt the first few steps, and then you can find the rest by clicking here.
From the Buddhist perspective of attachment, we’re all addicted to something. On some level, we are attached to what we think will make us happy and we have aversion to what will cause us suffering. The 12 Steps (originally from Alcoholics Anonymous) are a powerful set of tools to create recovery from any addiction. The wisdom of the 12 Steps can enlighten anyone–if we understand their essential principles. Check out the following 12 steps as tools to begin the journey to freedom from any addiction.
1. Practice Acceptance
For 30 seconds at a time, practice allowing everything in your world to be exactly as it is. Don’t try to change, grasp, or avoid any circumstance, thought, or emotion. Practice this with everyone you come in contact with. Look them in the eyes and say to yourself, “I accept you exactly as you are.” Try it in the mirror too.
2. Develop Confidence
Our lives can be confusing. The impermanence of money, relationships, jobs, and material possessions can cause us to feel like the world is unstable. We need to develop the skill of having faith or confidence in positive things. Make a list of five positive things that don’t change – like a mother’s love for her only child. Read it daily and add to it often.
3. Create a Place of Refuge
Our day-to-day lives are often stormy with changes and unexpected setbacks. We need to find shelter. Every day, find a quiet place to cultivate a feeling of safety. Set up a shelf in a corner of your home or office. Add flowers, gems, and images of spiritual people. Sit in this space every morning and evening. Take refuge there. Eventually, learn to take your refuge out into the world with you.
4. Make Time for Self-Examination
Instead of negative self-criticism, learn to evaluate objectively your strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of three things you do well, three that you could be better at, and three that definitely need improvement. Take into account feedback from parents, spouses, teachers, and employers over the course of your life. Where were they correct? Learn to ask yourself the question, “How am I doing in this moment?” Be gentle with yourself. Don’t use a hammer.
5. Set Up a Self-Honesty Team
ll great people have a sense of self-honesty. In order to achieve it, we need to take the counsel of others. Find at least one, but no more than five people in your life whose advice you are willing to follow. Invite them to be on your spiritual/self-development management team. Read them your list of strengths and weaknesses once a week for a year.