This is a review of the 12-Step Buddhist retreat experience by a member of FA – Food Addicts Anonymous. I often get emails asking if the 12-Step Buddhist practices can be applied to issues related with food, so this is a good thing to know about.
When I was invited to the Breitenbush 12-step Buddhist retreat, I was hesitant. Being that I am a member of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, I thought I would not relate to others. I went with three alcoholics in recovery and I have always felt like the odd ball out.
Thinking that the retreat was going to be focused mainly on alcohol, I thought I would not relate. I also did not have any previous knowledge with Buddhist principles and I am young in my recovery in FA. Once I heard I would have full access to the hot springs I immediately accepted the invitation. My intention for the retreat was to just soak all day and zone out from life. Little did I know that the work I did with Darren and the fellows would ground me and clue me more into my life. The topic of boundaries and community were great tools that helped me relate to all people recovering from addiction, not just food addicts. I learned that addiction goes deep into many areas. I learned that self-care does not just mean soaking in the hot springs, but also working a program and interacting with others. This retreat was nothing that I expected. I thought it was going to be just lecture based, and I was so surprised that there was so much interaction, and how personal it was. Darren is an amazing leader who provides a safe environment to open up.
As a food addict, I always have to be prepared with my own food, which sometimes takes away from connecting with others during meal times. Breitenbush was a perfect place for a food addict to eat out. Everyone was very conscious about others’ food needs. I still have past insecurities about my food that like to pop-up sometimes, especially when eating with others, but I felt very much a part of and safe. Ultimately this retreat allowed me to open up my boundaries to other addicts. I have been practicing saying to people “the light in me see’s the light in you.” Remembering to acknowledge people in my mind. I really learned that I am “home” through group work. I learned how to breathe, and how to not stay in fight or flight mode. This retreat covered the physical, mental and spiritual realms. It was super fun, with many jokes, and great authentic people. The substance doesn’t matter, the emotions do, and it works when you work it. I will be very grateful to attend one of Darren’s retreats in the future.
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