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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

Soul-centered Addiction Recovery Support

Nov 01, 2021 03:14PM ● By Amber Mc Kenzie
Souls Center in Spokane is a spiritual classroom and sanctuary for people seeking community, outlets for creativity and connection, as well as opportunities for healthy mindful movement. “We’ve been around for nearly six years and have, so far, survived this pandemic by putting all of our offerings online, using Zoom,” shares founder Julia Hayes.

Souls Center is back open to the public and there are many opportunities to practice meditation and spiritual engagement through classes, workshops and retreats. “While we are still limiting the number of people gathering in the classroom/sanctuary, our online offerings continue to be popular and now have an international presence,” says Hayes.

Hayes asserts that one of the most important offerings Souls Center provides in the Inland Northwest are Buddhist and spiritually inspired approaches to recovery and support called Recovery Dharma and SatiSeva. “I came to the recovery community almost six years ago when I received a phone call from a woman who had been facilitating Refuge Recovery—another Buddhist-inspired approach to recovery from addiction and substance use. She was looking for a new home and heard about Souls Center.” At the time, Hayes confirms that she knew next to nothing about recovery. “I had heard about traditional 12 step programs like, AA and my husband, a psychiatrist, was Medical Director for the opioid treatment program at the Spokane Regional Health District for a time. But I never got too involved,” she says.  

However, since the recovery program was offered from a Buddhist inspired approach, and Hayes was a long-term Buddhist practitioner, she was intrigued. “I agreed and started attending her weekly meetings purely out of curiosity. For several months we were a small group—no more than six people. I felt out of place but kept attending because I enjoyed the meditations and teachings. I also felt incredible compassion for the amazing people I was meeting and getting to know. I could see my biases crumbling. I could feel my heart and mind opening. Over time, something started to stir in my consciousness. An understanding, a tolerance, a deeper sense of loving-kindness for the people in my life, who I realized were suffering with substance use disorders.”

According to Hayes, from the Buddhist perspective, the human condition is defined by avoiding anything that feels unpleasant or bad and clinging to whatever feels good. “In other words, we run from or numb ourselves from what we don’t like and crave more of what we do. In the mind of a Buddhist, every human being has addictive tendencies. It’s simply the human condition,” she explains. “Something bad happens and we feel awful and instantly look for ways to feel better. It’s almost involuntary and natural even. The problem is that we never learn to sit with those challenging experiences and feelings. We’re either completely shut down by them, investing in feeling nothing, or we’re avoiding them all together looking for ways to feel better.”

As time passed and word spread that there was an alternative to traditional 12 step programs, Hayes increased the number of recovery meetings to five days a week and became the main facilitator. In 2019, she adopted a new approach called Recovery Dharma, which is what Souls Center offers to this day.

Almost two years ago, Hayes created SatiSeva—a support group for people who live with, love and work with others with substance use disorders. “I’d been to Al-Anon and read some literature but felt uninspired by what was being offered there. What I bring forward are the mindfulness practices by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is my teacher. I am deeply inspired by their wisdom and with permission by Parallax Press, Thich Nhat Hanh’s publishing company, I have rewritten them and added a few more, making them related to the journey of Recovery and Mature Wise Support,” says Hayes.  

SatiSeva is a small community of people challenging traditional ideas about what it means to be supportive while learning ways to be with the struggle with compassion, patience, care, forgiveness and love. “We meet three times a month and anyone interested in learning alternative ways of supporting someone with addiction is welcome to join,” says Hayes, who adds that serving the community in this way has been one of the greatest privileges of her life.

Location: 707 N. Cedar St., in Spokane. For more information about Recovery Dharma and SatiSeva support groups, as well as other classes and offerings at Souls Center, please visit SoulsCenter.com.
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