Dear Dharma friends,
today I’d like to share a way to use Dharma.online to help us keep up our daily practice and overcome resistance, distraction, and the influence from conflicting priorities. As is often the case with methods, the following won’t be equally helpful for everyone. We’re offering it with the strong wish that it maybe beneficial for some, maybe even for many of us. Please kindly read and consider it with that in mind.
Big tasks can be daunting. Huge tasks most often are so much so that we have a hard time starting. Or picturing that we’ll ever get there. Or keeping it up in the face of difficulties, self-doubt, conflicting priorities, or distractions. For instance if you’ve been doing Ngöndro for any period of time you may have come across this phenomenon. I certainly had a hard time believing I’d ever get to 10,000, let alone 111,111 prostrations after having done the first twenty. Or maybe you’ve set yourself a goal to do this many prostrations per month. Or per day. But chances are you didn’t always stay on track. And once we manage to lose a day or three of practice (which, lets face it, can and will happen more often than we like), we get disheartened and starting it up again gets more difficult.
And of course, time and time again we hear our teachers advise us that a little bit every day is (in most cases) better than a little bit more every once in a blue moon.
And this is where the ‘target’ feature on Dharma.online comes in. You can set targets by practice for each accumulation. The system breaks them down into equal-sized chunks for every day and shows you that number right there in the counting screen.
Actually, you will see two numbers:
“Left today” tells you how many more you have to do today in order to stay on track towards your target; this number is reduced exactly by the amount you enter (or live-count) into the ‘Done today’ field — until you’ve hit today’s target, at which point you’ll see a ‘Done.’
“Remaining daily” tells you how many you’ll have to do every day from tomorrow onwards in order to reach your target. This number keeps counting down a little with each count you enter, even after you’ve hit today’s goal.
So, on days when you can’t do as much, you can see that your ‘remaining daily’ is still manageable, which helps overcome the disheartening effect of not following through on our resolutions. And on days when you can do a little more than you’ve planned for, you’ll maybe catch some additional motivation by seeing the burden for the rest of the time diminished right there.
Another effect I’ve seen with this is that it helps to do even a little bit of practice instead of telling ourselves things like, ‘ah, I’m only going to be able to do one Mala today, that’s nothing against my goal of 20 Malas, so I might as well not do it at all. But because we can *see* right there that it *does* take off a little of the “remaining daily” we manage to get over this bit of resistance and do the one Mala anyway. And maybe, once we’re at it we find that we can do a few more, after all.
Breaking a huge and intimidating project down into manageable daily chunks and then just focusing on those is a tried-and-proven method in other fields, and some of them so normal we don’t see them. Any academic degree, for instance. Instead of looking at the huge curriculum you’ll have to stuff into your head, and all the exams you’ll have to pass, all you focus on is to show up in class and do your assignments. Whether you’re in primary school or a grad student at a prestigious university, you just do your stuff every day and don’t worry about all the daunting things to come. And if you do, you’ll find you may be overcome with worry or worse.
The targets on Dharma.online serve the same purpose. And they work just as well. For some of us. Yes, you’re seeing that right, and if you’re among those for whom this kind of thing is a repellant rather than a motivator, I hope you’ve managed to keep reading until you got here.
A little while ago I mentioned ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions that we can easily dismiss. *After checking it for ourselves.* But sometimes we’re already quite sure something won’t work for us when we start reading about it. And most of the time we’re probably right. Some of those times that quick dismissal may come from resistance, though, so I’d very much like to encourage you to give it a try. Set a conservative target for your main practice that you’re doing every day anyway, and observe what it does for you. Then delete or change the target if it isn’t helpful, or, as the case may be, adopt the method for all your practices.
Your targets, like your counts are partially public within Dharma.online: all logged-in users can see the total counts of all users, and if any targets are set for a user, the sum-total of those targets is displayed alongside the total count on the ‘More’ page in the tab ‘by Person’ or ‘by Group.’ How those numbers break down for you isn’t visible to anyone but you, though. This may feel a little awkward at first, but remember that allowing others to see how we do can help the to keep their own practice strong, just like it can help us to gain inspiration or motivation from how others are doing.
Having said all that, here’s how to do it:
– from the ‘Account’ menu select ‘Edit Profile’
– select the ‘my Practices’ tab
– in the section ‘Your current practices’ find the practice you want to add a target for
– click on the ‘Details’ button — this should expand a section just below that allows you to adjust settings for this practice
– select the accumulation you want to set the target for; for a trial run, maybe choose the shorter time frame of a “Düchen” marked ‘(current’), the next one is Chötrul Düchen, on March 2, which is just a few days away
– in the field labeled ‘Target’ enter your target count to be reached by that date; you can always go back and adjust this up or down based on your needs, this is meant as a help not as some kind of coercion or frustration device
– click the button ‘Update’ to save your changes to the system
Once done, go back to ‘Count’ (you can get there via the menu or, when you are logged in, by clicking on the logo), select the same practice and accumulation you have just set your target for, and see how many you have to do today and all following days. Once more, the ‘Remaining daily’ tells you how many you will have to do every day from tomorrow if you stop for today right now, so the number will almost always be different from the ‘Left today’ figure.
That’s it, thank you for your patience and perseverance getting all the way down to this. Let me know how it works for you if you try it out.
All the best wishes for your practice and accumulations!
Coming soon: What’s with that “Dedicate!” button I see every time just after I log a count?