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Intention and Ideals Workshop – Free to be of Service

March 21, 2008 by Lightwaves

robin_3.jpgRobin Macdonald finds love and freedom through non-attachment. Robin lives in Ottawa at the Radha Yoga Centre and works as a Community Developer for an organization called Success by 6.

During an Intentions and Ideals workshop at the Ottawa Radha Yoga Centre this winter, I identified loving without attachment as one of my ideals for the New Year. In response, I’ve been given opportunity to practice this ideal in my work.

For many years now, I’ve been fortunate to find work that is meaningful to me in that it contributes to social change. Partly this makes sense to me – to intend for my work to make a difference to the greater good. In the process, I’m coming to see how I’ve also developed attachments to unhelpful consequences of that work. I’ve developed dependencies on feeling useful to others and to rely on that as a source of self-worth. As a result, when I’m not working, or not doing the type of work I want to be doing, my self-esteem suffers. Sometimes, I receive approval from others for the kind of work I do and it’s outcomes, and my ego can be greedy for praise. At times, I confuse identifying with my profession for who I really am.

robin_4.jpgI’ve noticed the tendency of my ego to step forward when I’m working in collaboration. Part of my work is to participate in multi-sectoral committees where I’ve seen my role as promoting the interests of the organization and participants who use our services. I’m realizing that this focus can stand in the way of listening and mental openness to considering perceptions and ideas that I think will jeopardize the interests I’m representing. It can lead to what I call “communication greed,” when I make sure that my interests are heard and understood – sometimes at the expense of others being heard and understood.

I’ve recently begun a new job in which my roles and responsibilities are unclear. The approach of my supervisor is to slowly bring me into the work and the community, and for me to gradually begin taking on responsibilities as needs present themselves and according to my skills and interests. It’s almost like I’m being paid for a job that has yet to take shape. For someone whose is used to hitting the ground running in starting new jobs, where common circumstances are that there is always more work to do than hours in the day, the part of my mind that thinks it needs to be useful for me to be worthy is challenged. I’m still asked to participate at meetings, but I have no attachment to any particular agenda or interests. It’s like my mind hasn’t found any aspect of the work that it can become attached to. Initially, this felt very awkward.

The strategy I’ve adopted in response to these circumstances has been to set intentions: to be attentive and engaged, to be positive, to do my best, and to keep the Light going.

I’m working with people in the early childhood development field, primarily women who are extremely passionate about what they do, and bring vigour to ensuring their interests are represented as we work towards common goals. What I’m learning, is that non-attachment plays a critical role in this process. With fewer attachments, I’m finding myself better able to see the bigger picture and to reflect this back to the group. With space to listen, I’m able to pick-out the commonalities that, at first glance, can seem like differences, and I’m remembering to hold the Light. Through this, I’m beginning to understand how non-attachment can lead to less suffering, and how beneficial it can be in other ways. When I’m not seeking to get something, there is nothing to lose. And when I’m not manipulating or grasping to have my desires fulfilled, my mind is less fettered. What is happening is that a strength in the form of clarity, calm, and perspective comes forward in my communication. Without a clear role, non-attachment has given me one: I am free to be of service.

Robin Macdonald

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