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Projects as the Beloved

[July 2023 – Dharma Center Mindfulness Tip] 

A project or goal is a relationship. We always have a choice when it comes to relationships. We can love or we can hate. We can remain or we can leave. Sometimes a relationship is thrust upon us, and we fight. Other times a relationship forces us to stretch beyond our comfort zone, and we try to avoid the interaction for as long as possible. In the same way we have projects and goals thrust upon us that challenge us. Many times we choose projects that make us uncomfortable because we want the payoff of succeeding. Instead of fighting or avoiding, what would it feel like if we approached our projects and goals as our Beloved?


The first question we ask is, “Do I care about this project?” If not, then why would we do it? Sometimes we need to dig to discover our true motivation. On the surface, we may think we don’t care about washing dishes. But if we look deeper, when it’s time to eat, we will appreciate a clean plate. So in this way, we actually do care about washing dishes! If we truly do not care about a project, then there is no need to spend time and attention on it. Recognizing this allows us to move on to other projects we can love.


Next we look at our responsibility when it comes to our relationship with our project. Are we waiting for someone else to do it for us? Do we secretly feel it is not our job? Then we need to honestly ask, “Is this my responsibility?” If it is not, we can let this project go. That might mean others we are in a different relationship with will fail at their goals. It might mean redefining the roles we play with others. These scenarios give us an opportunity to practice our communication skills. Sometimes during our conversations, our view changes, and sometimes it becomes more firm. Occasionally we might even discover the person who has responsibility for the project wasn’t even aware that we were taking care of it! (I call this “Magic elf syndrome” – when things in our life get done by those close to us without our conscious awareness of their help.) On the other hand, if it is our responsibility, acknowledging this helps us move into a positive relationship with the project. By accepting responsibility, we create room for the project in our life.


Once we have determined that we care about the project and that the project is our responsibility, then we can consider respect. Do we respect the project? What hang-ups are blocking us from feeling that this project deserves our attention? Does it not seem important compared to the other things we are doing? How can we demonstrate to ourselves that this project deserves our respect? Now that we’ve given the project a place in our life, is it in the right place? Are we giving the proper amount of space, time and attention to it?


Finally, we explore what we can learn from this project. How may our knowledge and awareness expand by interacting with this goal? This last component can keep us motivated when the project feels unwieldy. It reminds us that we do not need to know everything in advance. Projects are an opportunity to learn new skills and discover new aspects of our own being.

Even if we completely fail, by treating our projects as our Beloved, we grow.

Are you looking for new projects to expand your awareness? Join the volunteer team at Dharma Center!

Published inBuddha Lessons / Mindfulness