Hugh Poulton

Hugh Poulton’s Bio

From my first encounter with Buddhism when working in my 20’s in Asia, to co-teaching the first secular mindfulness courses in 2008 at the Oxford Mindfulness centre more than 25 years later, Buddhism has been a foundation of support and enquiry throughout my adult life.

For more than 20 years I practised in the Mahasi meditation tradition, experiencing all the stages of insight and was invited to introduce it to beginners by my monastic teachers. I found the rigour, discipline and insight of this practice had a positive impact in many areas of my life and work, but the learnt capacity to withstand levels of emotional, physical and mental pain ultimately was not an aid in my personal life.  It was my experience that the subtle suppression of unwholesome states of mind, I’d become so adept at in formal practice, held a buried tension that was incompatible with finding balance in my life.

Meeting Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation in 2008 started a deep process of healing and a lot of change happened very quickly. My Yoga practice that I’d also had since my 20’s transformed into a much more subtle somatic relationship to internal experience. I learnt to embody loving kindness and compassion when meeting tension and this encouraged balance in form and movement in a way that was also a healthy model for daily life. So much fell away from my Yoga practice and life that was imbalanced and this included my relationship at that time. In the place of habitual tension and willed strength, a new way forward emerged that was rooted in loving kindness, compassion and balance and this felt sustaining and wholesome.

This experience is one for which I will always have huge gratitude for the genuinely radical teaching of the Buddha and to Bhante Vimaralamsi for his insights to bring it to life today in a way that is immediately effective as the Suttas describe. Not only was my life directed towards the wholesome in an integrated way – mentally, physically, energetically and spiritually but the training also aligned with the transcendent path described in the Suttas.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to attend more than a dozen retreats, some online but mostly face to face with Bhante Vimalaramsi, Sister Khema and more recently Bhante Dhammagavesi. Since 2017 I’ve also taught Yoga on TWIM retreats not only to support greater comfort and ease for students whilst sitting but increasingly as a complement to the TWIM teaching, providing a embodied TWIM practice that shows how to use the body as an aid to the practice without creating attachment. The Yoga I share today is called Sukhita Yoga. Sukhita is a name given to me by Bhante Vimaralamsi as a reminder to smile more. It is a joy and relief that the relax and smile step has become a constant presence for me and all those I share the practice with in this way.

In 2022 I had the opportunity to co-teach a 10 day TWIM retreat in Poland with Sister Khema where we also explored the benefits of Sukhita Yoga with the students.  After this experience Sister invited me to teach 10 day online and in-person retreats. I am looking forward to sharing this wonderful teaching with all who are curious about the path of development and transformation that comes from their direct experience as the Buddha taught.