20240101 Thorny teachings blog post

Thorny teachings

Thorny teachings

The gentle yet thorny reminder that came through during a recent afternoon of weeding. What could being repeatedly poked by a sharp thorn teach us? Read on to find out what emerged.


Nature doesn’t make mistakes

It would be easy to think that every uncomfortable, inconvenient, painful, or even deadly ‘thing’ that’s ‘out there’ in nature is a mistake. Why on earth were they created in the first place? Seriously, what possible purpose does a thorny bush have?

During this particular weeding afternoon, I unexpectedly came across a rambling thorny plant. It had wound its way through the overhanging dead fronds of a plant I was removing to make way for the fresh growth coming through. It felt great to lift the weight off the plant, and give it room to breathe and expand.

However, I kept coming across this determined and incredibly ferocious thorny vine.

It was SO ferocious, that even through my heavy duty gloves, I couldn’t touch it without wrapping the dead foliage around the outside. So in trimming back the thorny vine and moving it away, I began to ask it what it was teaching me.


Only take what you need

Clearly and quickly I was told:

“I’m here to remind you all to only take what you need”

It made perfect sense, and felt so appropriate, as we witness the world running rampant with entitle-itis. That juvenile and selfish attitude that says ‘I’m entitled to …..’

Perhaps the thorny plant partners with those in nature, whose fruit or nectar is so popular, that it’s often pillaged.

Nature’s way of saying “Woah, you’ve had enough, leave some for others.”


Firm boundaries

I pondered as I cleared the old vegetation, that this also speaks of our right to set boundaries for ourselves. The thorns reminiscent of the fences of old, that would be erected around the village in the late afternoon, to keep wild animals or human predators out overnight.

I talk about boundaries quite a lot, and it’s been a real learning for me over the course of my life. It’s not something we were taught years ago, and I’m so glad that it’s part of our vernacular now, and that we’re encouraging each other to communicate them. Other people don’t automatically know what your boundaries are unless you tell them.

Being given the opportunity to practice communicating when a boundary has been crossed is a gift. It’s a moment of teaching for you, and a moment of empowerment for the person expressing their needs.

When we haven’t had good boundaries modelled for us in our younger lives, it can be trickier to recognise:

  • That we even have boundaries
  • When ours are being disrespected or crossed
  • When we may be overstepping others’ boundaries, and picking up the subtle signs of what is appropriate and what’s not.


Check in with others

Unless we’re mind-readers, of course we won’t know what others’ boundaries are, but we can always check in with others about what is appropriate and comfortable for them, or what their preferences are. For example in a work situation, or a shared living space.

It’s something that we automatically do in the healing room, by determining whether someone has a traumatic background, or whether there’s an area of the body they would prefer I don’t touch during the hands-on part of the therapeutic touch.

When approaching others with a level of care and sensitivity, we are coming from a space of loving kindness. We’re not born with incredible communication skills—it’s a skill we all learn with practice. So sometimes we’ll bumble over our words, or be nervous about using the wrong words, but the more we flex these muscles, the better our level of skill in navigating these situations.


2024: the year of the boundary

It’s the year of looking after ourselves in this way. The ripple effect of valuing ourselves and what we bring to the world is felt way beyond our imaginings. Your example of stating and reaffirming your boundaries empowers others to do the same.

And it’s certainly the year to watch how we’re treating Mother Earth. Are we being wasteful? Taking and using more than we need?


Work with us

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Best wishes for your return to balance, because we’re all here to shine our light into the world!

Shelley McConaghy
Divine Balance

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