Silence of Snow: Peaceful Places
Snow can make you feel as though the world has stopped around you. During snowstorms, travel is suspended, and, for a day or two, the quiet of the outdoors reminds us to simply enjoy the moment and to be mindful.
Meditation is a practice in which awareness is focused on the present moment. There are many different ways to meditate and be mindful of the present moment. It’s something you can practice in any space and at any time. The rhythm of snow falling and the slower pace of winter provide a contemplative setting for the practice of slowing down in order to focus on the moment.
Additionally, as the season of giving thanks has ended, wintertime is now an occasion to set the year’s intentions and reflect. Traditionally, intentions are set on New Year’s Eve; however, the pensive nature and silent voice of winter provide the atmosphere to connect with your inner self and meditate on personal intentions.
Curious to explore mindfulness and meditation? In Western Massachusetts there are many community-based resources and spaces for people to learn about and practice mindfulness:
- The Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley runs sitting meditation sessions for various ages, demographics, and experience levels. There are special sessions for parents, experienced meditators, people of color, and young adults between the ages of 18 to mid 30s. This organization is located in Eastworks in Easthampton, MA.
- Inward Bound Mindfulness Education is a Massachusetts-based organization with many resources for learning about mindfulness on their web site, including a lecture on teen brain development and listings for adult and teen retreats.
Besides workshops, sitting sessions, and retreats, there are also beautiful, peaceful places in Western Massachusetts where you can go to practice mindfulness independently while strengthening your sense of connection to where you live. The Rivulet Trail at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead is a sacred place with old growth forest. The Peace Pagoda in Leverett, the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen, the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, and the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield are just a few suggestions.
In addition to being a worthwhile way to improve strength and flexibility, and decrease pain, yoga practice can be paired with mindfulness practice too. Yoga sessions often ask participants to focus on their breath and the present moment as they hold postures. There are innumerable yoga courses available for purchase in the region, including free yoga classes often offered at public libraries, and group classes offered at community centers, including COA’s and YMCA’s.
Download our Jan/Feb edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.