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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

From Election Year Angst to Opioid Epidemic:

Mar 30, 2016 08:51PM

Here-and-Now Habit Can Make a Difference

by Diane Minor
Combining cutting edge neuroscience with ancient wisdom to address unhealthy habits, ranging from the opioid epidemic to the anxiety that can overtake people in an election year, is the theme of a top-selling new book by prominent local mindfulness meditation teacher, activist and author Hugh Byrne.

Byrne’s new book, The Here and Now Habit: How Mindfulness Can Help You Break Unhealthy Habits Once and for All (New Harbinger Publications, 2016), was immediately a top trending new title in both the meditation and the substance abuse categories of Though not confined to physical habits, Byrne’s book cites promising scientific studies documenting the success of mindfulness training in addressing smoking and substance use.

Byrne tells the story of a U.S. Army veteran he had worked with who had a successful military career, including an honorable discharge, but emerged addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs. Over the course of several years of work together with Byrne, this veteran learned to use mindfulness meditation to handle painful feelings he had suppressed for decades.

“Sometimes I felt like my whole body was going to explode, but I learned that I could stay” the veteran said.  “I really believe this practice has rewired my brain.  I can feel pain and be with it in a different way.”

Byrne’s book and his in-person trainings in mindfulness are also providing people with relief from other harmful mind/body habits ranging from overuse of electronics to aggressive driving. For example, a participant in Byrne’s weekly meditation class (in the Tenley town neighborhood ) who had just read Byrne’s book said she discovered a habit of being “too helpful” to others was, in fact, intrusive to them.

“You’re all going to hate me after you first read my book,” Byrne quipped in reply. “But you’ll soon find that mindfulness practice allows you to meet difficult situations as a challenge rather than as a curse—as something that shouldn’t be happening.”

Byrne is a Washington, D.C., area-based meditation teacher who leads classes, retreats and workshops in the United States and internationally. In March, he hosted a National Geographic livestream of an event with the Dalai Lama.

A former human rights activist with a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, Byrne is convinced that the principles and practices of mindfulness meditation help relieve suffering in the world.

In addressing habits, specifically, Byrne guides people through a four-step process that includes understanding how habits are formed, setting clear intentions about changing them, focusing attention on habits before, during and after they occur and gently noticing one’s attitudes toward habits.

Taken together, these practices help people stop living on autopilot and start living more powerfully in the here and now.

Find more information about Hugh Byrne and The Here-and-Now Habit at

Diane Minor is a Virginia-based writer who has been practicing mindfulness meditation for 22 years.


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