Finding a sense of peace and serenity within life’s stresses

By Paola di Paolo

It’s not too late for a New Year’s resolution, including big ones like finding ways to de-stress and start anew. But how can we renew ourselves and start a new life of hope and growth?

Refuge Recovery is a new group that meets in Lindsay once per week to inspire people to help themselves in recovering from stress, trauma, and/or addictions and is facilitated by Jim Kearse and Julie Marquis both of Lindsay.

While Jim and Julie facilitate the group, participants are welcomed as equals.  Refuge Recovery follows Buddhist principles of mindfulness, self-reflection, and non-judgement. And while the facilitators have a background in Buddhist meditation, participants are not expected to have any experience in meditation or in Buddhism.

Refuge Recovery program was founded by Noah Lavine in the US.  According to Refuge Recovery’s website:

Refuge Recovery is a non-profit organization grounded in the belief that Buddhist principles and practices create a strong foundation for the addiction recovery process. Wisdom and compassion enable those struggling with any form of addiction to become more mindful of their mental processes while also developing a deep understanding of the suffering that addiction has created and compassion for their own pain.  …. As a peer-led recovery program using Buddhism as the path to freedom from all addictions, Refuge Recovery is a community that embraces all people regardless of age, race, class, culture, nationality, ethnic origin, religious/spiritual background, gender, gender identity, sexual/affectional orientation, marital status, family structure, social identity, physical ability or appearance, mental health, legal standing, and educational or socioeconomic status. As such, we strive to speak to each other in a compassionate way using wise communication and avoiding hate-speech, intimidation, and violence of any kind. If you seek refuge in our community, we hope you feel welcome and safe, (

In the 1980s Jim Kearse was living in Toronto and experienced the usual stresses and business of life. He turned to reading Buddhist texts on mindfulness and wisdom in order find inspiration. Regarding meditation practice, Jim said “What attracted me was the sense of peace and serenity in a life of stress and business.” Jim’s readings led him to meditation groups and eventually to ordination as a Zen priest when he realized that he wanted to share the practice of mindfulness with others in order that they too may experience healing, peace, and serenity in times of stress.

According to Levine:

Refuge recovery program is a systematic approach to training our minds to see clearly and respond wisely to life.  This is a path that will need to be walked one foot in front of the other, and breath at a time.  At the beginning some of it may seem confusing … But you will find with time, familiarity, and experience, it will all make perfect sense and will gradually become a more and more natural way of being.

The Refuge Recovery group is inclusive and open to all. Participants at the weekly meetings sit in chairs around a table. Each meeting starts with a guided meditation. A reading is shared from the work of Noah Levine’s book Refuge Recovery. There is time for personal sharing and group listening. Meetings are free, but a donation toward the utilities of the church are welcome.

Here is an excerpt of a reading you might hear at a meeting:

Find a comfortable place to sit and allow your attention to settle on the present-time experience of your body. Relax any physical tension that is being held in the body …relax your eyes and jaw …After a short period of allowing yourself to settle into present-time awareness, begin to reflect on your deepest desire for happiness and freedom from suffering.

Location:  Cambridge Street United Church, 61 Cambridge St North, Lindsay (wheelchair accessible)

Time: every Thursday at 10:30 am


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