Hugh Byrne, Ph. D. is a senior teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. He completed a four-year teacher training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Insight Meditation Society led by Jack Kornfield. Hugh is also trained in and teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and has completed training in Somatic Experiencing, a mind-body approach to healing trauma. He is a co-founder of the Washington Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
Hugh is the author of The Here-and-Now Habit: How Mindfulness Can Help You Break Unhealthy Habits Once and For All (New Harbinger Publications, March 2016).
Hugh has been on IMCW’s Board of Directors and a member of the Teachers Council since 2003. He teaches three weekly classes in Washington, DC, leads retreats and workshops nationally and abroad, and is available for teacher interviews. He is also one of four teachers for the Meditation Teacher Training Institute (MTTI).
As we bring loving awareness to our all that is arising in our bodies, hearts, and minds, there is a natural falling away of the illusion of separation - of ‘us’ and ‘them’ - and the cultivation of a wise and compassionate heart. With our hearts open to the suffering of the world, the Bodhisattva path of commitment to healing suffering, division and separation provides us with a vision of engaged action in the world in these difficult times.
Compassion has been called ‘the quivering of the heart in response to suffering.' Cultivating a compassionate heart helps us to hold kindly our own painful feelings and emotions, and engage with the suffering of others, near and far.
An essential element of mindfulness practice is to cultivate a willingness to be with our experience just as it is. Consciously cultivating qualities of deep-rooted acceptance, kindness, and interest in our experience supports freeing our minds and opening our hearts.
The bodhisattva path involves a training of our hearts to abandon unskillful states and cultivate qualities of love, compassion, and forgiveness--and envision actions to transform the suffering of others and the world. In the Rwandan genocide and the triumph of freedom and democracy in South Africa we see the suffering that comes from cultivating fear and hatred, and the potential for freedom and peace that results from cultivating forgiveness, compassion, and love. These recent events remind us how much our actions matter, and invite us to become bodhisattvas, committed to the awakening and freedom of all beings.
When harmful or unhealthy habits form, they can cause us much suffering and they can be hard to change because they are carried out automatically and without conscious awareness. Mindfulness is a key to changing harmful or unwanted habits as it provides skillful methods and practices to bring them into the light of awareness. Three elements of mindfulness are particularly important in changing unhealthy or unwanted habits - Intention, Attention, and Attitude. The talk explores these three elements with a focus on Intention.