The Ecopsychology of weeding
W hen I began searching for a place in Ireland to call home, I was looking for magic. Magic and nature, and a place where I could consciously practice connecting to both. A place I could learn, about the land, myself, and my purpose here. And so, with a little intention and good luck, I found Crann Og. Having my own background in Ecopsychology and nature connection, I was thrilled to find a place that was holding ReNature Retreats, Nature Therapy walks, Forest School, food foraging workshops, and more. Here was a place where the beauty of the natural world was not only celebrated, but where people could come and consciously engage with nature in order to receive healing, guidance, and wisdom. Throw in some wise teachers, horses, yoga and meditation, and sprinkle a little magic on top. I was sold.
I’ve been living here for three weeks now, and the magic and learning abounds. In fact, it started before I even moved in, when I came to visit back in March for a couple of days. While I was getting to know the place two months ago, one of my tasks was to weed a particular garden bed. We spent an entire morning close to the ground, hands in the soil, sorting through and pulling out all the eager little weeds that were determined to grow there.
Now, two months later, here I am again. Today I found myself in that same garden bed, bent over the soil, hands full of dirt, removing new weeds, in preparation for planting. And I found myself laughing a little bit to myself; for a moment it felt silly, frustrating even–to be doing the same thing over and over. What’s the point?.
The thing is, it DOES make a difference. Each time we remove the invasive weeds, we give other plants a better chance. We save nutrients in the soil for the things we have chosen to have in our bed. Each time we weed, we are making choices. This, not that. I want to grow this, not that. The weeds themselves are not bad or evil, but in this bed, in my bed, I am nurturing something else, something more intentional.
And suddenly, I felt a huge wave of relief wash over me. This is how my life is. You see, I have a practice of setting clear intentions once a month, on the New Moon (which just passed,) for the coming month. This month I set some really wonderful, inspired, life-affirming intentions…but I couldn’t help feeling a little silly, frustrated even (sound familiar?) because they were things I have intended before. They were intentions that I have probably spoken in some way many, many times. But they felt important. They were things I wanted to choose, for myself and for my life. Things I wanted to give energy to, to nurture and grow.
And in that moment, sitting in that garden bed weeding the same soil I had weeded two months earlier, I realized that this is a never-ending process. If we have fertile soil (or rich lives), and we have life-giving rain, we are going to have weeds. Life happens, that’s it’s nature. If we want to choose what grows in our beds, and in our lives, we are going to be constantly tending it, choosing this, not that. It might be the same stubborn weed that grows over, and over, and over, and it might sometimes feel frustrating to come back time and time again to pull out the same weeds. But it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with me because I keep encountering the same challenges. That’s just the nature of it.
In the field of Ecopsychology, we operate on an understanding that humans are not separate from nature; in fact, we are designed by nature herself, and therefore fundamentally we operate by her laws. It follows (from an ecopsychological perspective) that spending time in nature helps us to learn about ourselves; to gain a deeper understanding of the natural processes in our body and psyche, and hopefully to help ourselves flourish and grow.
And so, in this time of Spring, new life, new beginnings, new growth, I might ask you: What are you choosing to grow? Is your soil fertile, or does it need some attention? What weeds might you need to sort through and/or pull out? And (this one is the hardest for me): What are those pesky weeds in your life that always seem to take over, to thwart your good intentions?
The garden can be a great place to begin exploring the ideas behind ecopsychology or nature therapy, because it naturally weaves the human back together with nature’s processes. And, if you feel drawn to explore any of this a little more– or perhaps you’re just in need of a little magic–we’re here at Crann Og waiting for you! You can see some of the opportunities we have going on here.
To learn more about Anna and her work with ecopsychology and nature-based practice, visit her website here!