Weeding the garden of the mind.
We arrived yesterday to our new rental property, which is without a doubt, one of the most serenely peaceful and stunning places I’ve ever been. We’re up in the mountains looking out over endless miles of forests, with the only sounds around us coming from nature itself – birds, bees and the neighbours horses in the distance. It’s pure tranquility.
I felt very guided to this place, and as soon as we arrived, I felt like I’d come home. Not just to a physical place, but truly home. That place of quiet wisdom within that we come home to when we quiet the mind enough.
The garden outside is fabulously wild, and fairly overgrown with weeds. I’m not sure why, but I got the notion to find a pair of gloves and start weeding. I don’t recall the precise moment I turned into a 72 year old man, but here we are nonetheless.
As I weeded though, I felt healing and release. These weeds had overgrown the place; much of the surface area covered in sprawling growth, and yet for all their intimidating overgrowth, pull these suckers up, and there’s nothing to them; just a measly little string of a root that burrowed in and held its ground.
And that’s exactly what our self-critical beliefs are like. They feel so strong and powerful, but when we really look at them up close, there’s absolutely no substance to them. They’re pathetic little strings of nothing that have been allowed to grow for way too long.
Somewhere along the line, a seed was planted in our mind that was left unexamined. Maybe a parent ignored a need, and we internalised this as not being worthy. Then a school bully humiliated us one day.
More unworthiness, more shame.
So the root grew and grew, and every time the world showed us that we were bad or wrong or less than in some way, that baby got bigger and stronger. The more interactions we had that reinforced our unworthiness, the wider the weed would spread, infecting other parts of the garden of the mind and contaminating previously untouched areas.
Break ups, rejection, redundancy, failures – more validation of our unworthiness, more contamination of the mind.
I’m not good enough. I’m damaged. Things work out for other people, not me. I’ll never be successful. I’ll always feel this way. I’m not attractive enough. I can’t seem to get ahead. I’m not worthy of love. No one will want me. If people saw who I really was, they’d reject me. I won’t get the job. She’s going to leave me. I have to be perfect all this time. In some way, I’m ‘less’ than. I’m a failure. I mess things up. If only people knew the ‘real’ me.
All weeds, guys, every single one of them.
And this feeling of unworthiness, this trance of ‘not enough’ is universal. None of us escapes it, bar those incapable of feeling normal human emotion (oh hi, Trump)
But if we think of the mind as being like a garden; when we regularly tend to it and are mindful about what’s growing in there, we have a nice garden where it feels good to hang out. If, on the other hand, we allow the mind to become overgrown and weedy, it becomes a pretty horrible place to spend time, and we do everything in our power to escape it. We avoid and numb. We binge eat. Drink to much. Lash out at people. We play small and avoid opening ourselves to new opportunities. We harm ourselves and others.
You know what though? We have so much more power than we might realise. When we have the courage to really sit with these beliefs, to truly examine them and be willing to accept that they’re there, we are then the in position to start to pull them up, to weed them out. We get to be the gardeners of our own minds.
This can only happen when we are fully willing to be with the weeds in all their rotten stench and deep murkiness. And this is where most of us fall down, because Christ knows, it’s easier to throw back shots on a Saturday night, or binge on that third slice of cake or light a cigarette than it is to truly sit the the feeling of not being good enough.
But as long as we look the other way, as long as we numb or avoid or strive to make everything perfect, these bad boys are only getting stronger and spreading further.
We think we’re escaping our painful, overgrown gardens, but in reality we’re becoming prisoners to them. As long as we refuse to sit with our weeds, examine them, see them, and unroot them – they’re the ones running the show. They have the power. And really, do we want to give all our beautiful life energy over to some measly little stubborn root that’s not worth shit? C’mon, we owe it to ourselves to better than that because we *deserve* better.
So however painful those beliefs you’ve been carrying are, just know that there is always, always a way to uproot them. They have no real substance. They’re not the truth of who you are, they have no worth, no value. The more light and mindful attention you shower on them, the faster they’ll dry up and die off.
You are an incredible being, a magnificent little piece of the Universe showing up in physical form. You ain’t no damn weeds, that’s for sure.