The Eight Steps

The 8 Steps

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Step 1

Accepting that this human life will bring suffering

“In Step One, we accept that this human life will bring suffering. We learn to face our pain. We do this by noticing our pain with mindfulness. We begin to notice our pain with a calm mind. We learn to stop, pause, and slow down.

We occupy the breath and the body and become aware of what is going on in the mind. We also reflect on our precious life, that death is inevitable, actions have consequences, and unsatisfactoriness is part of everyday life.”

Step 2

Seeing how we create extra suffering in our lives

“In Step Two, we realize that we create more suffering in our lives. Every time we move away from pain, we multiply the suffering in our lives. We need to learn to sit with the pain calmly. We begin to do this by identifying the things that trigger us, and the high-risk situations that may bring about a relapse.

We must also remember that our thoughts are not fact. We do not have to believe our thinking. We can create space whenever we feel at risk of reaching for our addiction, or overwhelmed by the intense feelings of craving, by practicing the three-minute breathing space, AGE. In this space we can learn to do something different.

Step 3

Recognizing impermanence shows us that our suffering can end

In Step Three, we embrace the fact that there is an end to suffering, that everything in our lives is impermanent, including our addictions, compulsive and obsessive behaviors.

We accept that change is possible. We begin to pay attention to small changes in our lives. We do this by practicing one of the meditative exercises to help us slow down.

Step 4

Being willing to step onto the path of recovery, and discover freedom

In Step Four, we need to be willing to step onto the path of recovery and connect to a vision that is greater than our addiction or compulsive behaviors. We need to begin to identify things we want more than our addiction. We can begin to discover this new freedom by cultivating loving-kindness in our lives.

It is like blowing onto coals: after a while, a flame arises. We must keep on diligently practicing loving-kindness toward ourselves, so that one day we will choose the path that leads to recovery instead of the path that leads to our addiction.

Step 5

Transforming our speech, actions, and livelihood

In Step Five, we learn to transform our speech, actions, and livelihood. With an attitude of kindness, we review our past actions. We acknowledge them and their impact on us and others. We make amends, and plan to do something different. We take our GIFTS to move forward in our recovery and commit to living our lives more in line with the five training principles.

We acknowledge the consequences of our addictions and have healthy compassionate regret. If we make a promise, we make a plan of action before promising to let go. And, if we are able, we admit to another human being the exact nature of our actions and give ourselves forgiveness.

Step 6

Placing positive values at the center of our lives

“In Step Six, we place positive values at the center of our lives, values that will support us in our recovery. We recognize that our addiction is a false refuge and cannot bring about true happiness and contentment. We go for refuge to a community that offers the ideal of recovery, sobriety, and abstinence.”

Step 7

Making every effort to stay on the path of recovery

“In Step Seven, we make every effort to stay on the path of recovery. We are likely to have to feel the unbearable pain of not turning to our addiction. We ride the harrowing waves of recovery with calm, and know that, every time we surf the pain of recovery, the waves will become calmer.

We surf the waves with calm by preventing unhelpful states of mind from arising, eradicating them when they do arise, and cultivating and maintaining helpful states of mind. We get to know our minds by identifying our dominant hindrances. And we breathe.”

Step 8

Helping others to share the benefits I have gained

In Step Eight, we learn to help others from a place of kindness and share our recovery with others. We continue to cultivate our five new senses of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. We don’t teach recovery: we radiate recovery. We live our lives as people who have stepped onto the path of recovery and freedom from their addictions.