River Valley Insight Meditation Community

A welcoming Buddhist Sangha in western Massachusetts

By Kim Weeber. The winter solstice is almost upon us, and snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. It often seems like a shock to notice the darker days, feel the cold air and see the snow flakes when we have just been enjoying sunshine and longer days. It is always interesting to me how the weather we are having in any one season seems like it will just keep on going…

However the winter solstice is a reminder of change, as the longest night of the year gives way to longer days and the eventual return of spring. In Buddhist teachings, change and impermanence are central concepts. Just as the seasons change and the days become longer after the solstice, everything in our lives is constantly changing.

So, the winter solstice can also be recognized as a time of change: endings and new beginnings. As the old year comes to a close, we can reflect on the things that have come to an end and let go of anything which no longer serves us. We can make space for each new experience in the new year. We can intend to practice skillful intentions and ethics in this new year as a daily practice.

Even as we cannot hold on to the warm, sunny weather of this fall, we cannot hold onto any pleasant circumstances which have arisen in our lives due to causes and conditions. We can learn to let go into being present with the way things are, and hold our circumstances with equanimity, be they pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. This can bring a sense of ease and well-being to our lives.

Overall, the winter solstice gives us an opportunity to reflect on impermanence and to let go of the past in order to make way for new beginnings. By embracing change and practicing non-attachment, we can find peace and contentment in the present moment. And we can open ourselves up to what the future will bring.