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No garden is free of weeds; no mind free from unwanted thoughts.

If you have a garden you don’t have to look after it if you don’t want to. You can just let nature take its course. Chances are, if you do, after a short time you won’t like how it looks. If, on the other hand, you want a nice garden there is a lot you can do.

Whatever space you have you can design different areas of it; plan flowerbeds, put down paths and paint fences; add features such as benches, bird baths and borders; choose attractive flowers such as pretty pansies, dazzling daisies and ravishing roses. Once you have your design you can tend your garden; mow the lawn, water and feed the plants, dead-head the flowers, prune the bushes.

Of course, there is little point doing all this work if you’re not going to enjoy the work and have time to appreciate the results of your efforts.

Whether you do or not, sooner or later weeds will appear. No garden is free of weeds. Will they spoil your appreciation? Will you curse them and be annoyed and frustrated? Or will you just accept them as inevitable?

If you curse them your annoyance and frustration will be like weeds in your mind destroying your appreciation and enjoyment. No mind is free of such unwanted thoughts.

Our minds generate all sorts of thoughts, good and bad. But thoughts are just thoughts. If we take them seriously and mistake them for reality, that’s when we make life difficult for ourselves.

We can get into the habit of being generally negative; “something is bound to go wrong”, or constantly thinking “what if…” These are like the common-or-garden weeds in our gardens. Just like weeds, such thoughts can take root and gradually take over the gardens of our mind.

Many psychological problems arise because we mistake some particular weed/thought for reality. We take it too seriously; we water it with our attention and feed it with our concern. If we are anxious and notice our heart beating fast, we can think something is wrong and we might be having a heart attack. If we have a thought we might do something wrong, we can be shocked we had such a thought. We can use the fact we’ve had the thought as evidence we must want to do it or are likely to do it even if we don’t want to. If we imagine something is dirty, we can mistake our emotional reaction of disgust as evidence it is actually dirty. Once established these thoughts can easily just keep growing.

Such thoughts are like the weeds in our gardens; they are inevitable and to be expected. The question is what could we do about them?

If you don’t pay attention to your garden, the weeds naturally keep growing. They take over parts of the garden killing your prized blooms and taking over the lawn. You could, of course, periodically blast them with toxic chemicals. Alternatively, you could go into your garden regularly and simply pull out the weeds, pulling them gently to make sure you get the roots.