A weed by any other name

The weeding never ends!

While weeding,  I was thinking about a seminar I ran as an inpatient* psychologist where we talked about listening out for the voice of that Pathological Critic**. We talked about saying kind, gentle things to ourselves and how, given how persistent some of our negative Critic messages are, watching out for these messages. I made the point then that one single weeding is not enough – these messages keep coming back.

As I was weeding though, I was thinking about how to reconcile this view with the view we hold in mindfulness – that thoughts are just thoughts. Rather than fighting our thoughts (or pulling out the weeds), we let our thoughts just be. It doesn’t mean we believe them. Rather, we see them for what they are: simply stories our mind tries to tell us.

Help came in the form of seeing a stinging nettle plant. Before I started drinking nettle tea and discovered that nettle has benefits for the soil and soul, I had pulled out this plant with quite a lot of distaste for the prickles.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered

Ralph  Waldo Emerson

So – thoughts, like weeds, are simply what we make them.  Like all plants, we can hold these lightly, doing what we need to do with them, knowing that some will flower and some will not. Some are useful to us and some are not.

*in patient, not impatient!

**you can download a worksheet and audio file about the Pathological Critic from my website: www.kumari.co.nz, under “Resources”

Gardening, Therapy, & Teaching

I’m very interested in trying to garden by the moon this year.  If you haven’t already heard about biodynamic farming, it makes for interesting learning! Tomorrow starts a phase (15-20th Jan) that’s apparently good for crops that produce food/flowers/seeds above ground. As I’ve recently bought lots of seeds, it’s difficult deciding what to plant!

As I’ve been preparing the soil, I’ve been thinking about various things. One of the diagrams I recall from my first class of psychology was a diagram about plants in soil. The topic was “nature vs nurture” regarding human intelligence. Our textbook made the point about seeds sown in enriched soil vs. improverished soil. Even the best seeds struggle when soil conditions aren’t great. They don’t have to be perfect, just okay enough.  Similarly, in schema therapy, and, for that matter, other forms of therapy, we talk about “good enough” parenting. (A few) Weeds and all!

To extend this metaphor though – what counts as good soil for relationships? For good teaching? For good learning? What is the type of soil that we want to be cultivate? Can we make time to pull out the weeds and repair those therapeutic ruptures/friendship ruptures/ruptures in the learning environment as necessary?

Oh – and back to gardening: I’ve invested in an electric propagator. We’re going to undertake a controlled experiment (hopefully from today!) where we compare seeds raised in the propagator and in the glasshouse.


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