Skip to content

COLUMN: Teachings of letting go and picking up offer starting point for new year

Silence is key to clear the clouded mind, writes Jillian Morris
No:ia, Happy New Year.

Jillian Morris is Kanien’kehá:ka, turtle clan and band member of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory now living in Collingwood. She will be sharing stories and experience passed down through the oral traditions of Kanien’kehá:ka culture in her regular column, entitled Ka’nikonhrí:io, (The Good Mind) published on 


Shé:kon sewakwé:kon, greetings all. A warm welcome and well wishes to you. No:ia, Happy New Year.

We have greeted 2022. For many, maybe most, the year has not started as anticipated. This time last year, there was hope that things would look much different today.

A new year, a fresh start. Post-pandemic. Time to recover.

That is not where we find ourselves.

There are few things in life that we will experience collectively on this scale. It has never been more important to love your neighbour. Care for your community.

I sat looking at a blank, white page day after day. What do I share or offer in this climate that feels unending? I want to promote hope.

I do not make new year’s resolutions per se. I do carry teachings that encourage a similar practice. Letting go and picking up.

It begins with honest and deep introspection.

That seems like a starting point.

I offer again the concept of Kan’nikonhri:io, the Good Mind. My reflections begin here. Bring openness, good intentions, care, and compassion to interactions – including with self.

The Ohen:ton Karihwatehwken, Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address brings me first to humility as I offer gratitude to all life. For the duties they carry out that promote the continuance of the natural cycles. 

Within traditional teachings, there is encouragement at this time to repair or reconcile damaged relationships. This can apply to those beyond our human relationships. (Re)connect with nature. Nourish your body and mind. Keep active. Show pets extra attention.

Commitments deserving of dedication can be difficult to keep. Extend kindness and patience to self.

Kan’nikonhri:io has a counterpart, Wake’nikonhrén:ton, the Clouded Mind.

In a society where we are over-saturated with sound bites, memes, and clips, we are often deprived of a critical lens. The nuance and complexities of issues washed over.

Silence is key. Time to flush out the noise is necessary. Clear the cloudiness.

Reflection and self-exploration can help to identify harmful behaviours, internal narratives, or beliefs that restrict growth.

In the past, I have been afraid to label myself as spiritual. I witnessed resistance and judgement cast upon those who openly identified this way.

What I understand now is that we are all spirit having a human experience. It is human nature to attach ego to this life. 

I must check myself routinely. Where is my ego getting in the way?  

Uncovering shortcomings in ourselves is uncomfortable. I do not profess to have extraordinary understanding or wisdom. I falter as much as the next person.

By renewing this covenant of continued holistic growth, I hope to hold myself accountable. I hope to be a better friend, mother, partner, community member.

Traditional teachers will often share a caveat to the stories told. I follow their lead. For the listener, take what suits you at this point in your journey. The teachings can meet you where you are.

Pick up what benefits you. Contemplate the aspects that resonate.

Leave that which is not meant for you right now. You can always come back for them.

Skén:nen, Peace.


Here are a few questions that I have found useful in my reflections.

What seeds do you want to plant?

What are you preparing to harvest?

In what ways do you plan to share your bounty?

Reader Feedback

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
Read more