I'm having one of those weeks. Looking at my own inner garden, my temptation is to weed out everything that hurts: new and old woundings, self-judgments, and most of all, my resistance to having these painful feelings in the first place.
Jonathan Bessone's insights into the secret wisdom of weeds - and the resistance they represent in our own psyches - are just what I need today. May his piece have the same transformative effect on you. So honored to feature one of my teachers and mentors this week on my blog. Take it away, Jonathan!
Resistance, the Resilient Psyche, and the Wisdom of Weeds
By Jonathan T. Bessone
Have you ever encountered part of yourself that was really stubborn and that you’d rather be rid of? Perhaps a persistent self-judgement? Or a hard-to-break habit that seemed unproductive? Maybe wanting to get rid of a chronic emotional state? A counter-productive defensiveness? Or maybe even a resistance to receiving good things?
Yeah, me too. And just about everybody else. I’ve worked with sincerely motivated clients and students for over two decades, and every one of them had thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that they wanted to get rid of that did not yield easily to their conscious wishes. And so often, the harder they tried to get rid of them, the longer they stuck around.
To use a garden metaphor, let’s call these stubborn aspects of ourselves weeds. Persistent undesirables. Things we’d rather be able to uproot and be rid of.
Instead of trying to violently “get rid of” the weeds of our psyche, what if we first came to appreciate their function? What if, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, we sought to understand the virtues of our unwanted aspects? There is no waste in natural systems and no waste in the human psyche. Everything has a purpose.
As a gardener, when I encounter a new plant popping up where I don’t think it should be, I hop on the internet to identify it. Many of them are tasty and nutritious and already growing in my garden without any help. They are resistant to drought and insects, and require virtually no care. In other words, free food and medicine! Some of my favorite common and persistent weeds are wood sorrel (vitamin C), purslane (high omega 3), sow thistle (tastes like lettuce!), dandelion, mustard greens (calcium), lycospericum (tiny wild tomatoes!), lambs quarters, chickweed, and salad mallow, just to name a few common weeds.
Weeds are persistent.
Weeds are resilient.
Weeds are survivors.
Weeds have deep genetic wisdom that knows
how to wait for just the right conditions to come alive.
Weeds are healers.
When the earth is disturbed,
weeds are first to colonize the scarred earth,
rebuilding soil for majestic trees that will grow later.
What if our resistances, our defenses, our chronic thoughts, feelings and behaviors were sacred? What if they are quietly going about some holy purpose without us being wise to it? And what if we had the curiosity and patience to resist trying to get rid of any part of us, and instead observe and appreciate those parts until they started to reveal their virtues?
I have yet to find an aspect of the self that does not contain a tremendous seed of virtue. So, next time you encounter a persistent “weed” in your psyche, I encourage you: Be kind, be patient and keep asking, “What purpose does this serve?”
Jonathan Bessone is the co-founder, along with his wife, Rumi, of Embodied Awakening, which is a path to living from essence in a way that is grounded, authentic, joyful and full of heart. He started his path 25 years ago as a firewalker and breathworker and has been pushing the boundaries of transformational work ever since. Having trained in dozens of therapeutic modalities, Jonathan brings a rare depth and breadth of experience to his work. He is the Director of Education at Lionheart Institute in Los Angeles and supports professional healers to succeed in business through doing their inner work as a part of the Thriving Healers program, together with Julie Mingeault.
Get Heart-Shaped wisdom delivered to your inbox weekly! Subscribe to Christina McMahon's blog here, and you'll receive a bonus guided meditation, "Compassion & Emotional Release."