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A message from Nomon Tim: Service and self-care

Monday, June 03, 2024 11:18 AM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

From the June 2024 Red Cedar Zen newsletter:

From Nomon Tim

I've been feeling anew into how hard it is to prioritize my own needs lately. 

Like so many in the sangha my life has become a life in service to so many others. To my children and step children, to my staff at work, to you my dear sangha, and of course to my wonderful wife. And this is truly wondrous - it opens and nourishes my heart to support, to help, to connect, and to love others. I am blessed to be in relationship with so many wonderful people. It's incredible. Truly.

And yet there's often an imbalance. If I perceive a need someone has, before I know it, I've dropped everything. A powerful impulse in me to help others takes the wheel. And there's no pausing to think, what do I need here? What are my priorities?

I do have a lovely (and quite privileged) life, don't get me wrong: I'm not complaining. But I am noticing that I often miss chances to nourish myself and my deeper passions. 

From time to time, this all catches up with me. Years can go by and areas of interest that deeply feed me gets no attention. Mostly this seems to be because I'm too busy doing everything else, and so much of that everything else is for others. 

I do know, at some level anyway, that if I take care of myself more fully, truly nourish myself, I'll actually be of more use to others. I'll show up more fully as a warmer, clearer and more loving presence. There's something to filling my own cup that matters. That there's a win-win possible here. That it doesn't have to be a tug-of-war between me and everything else.

This is an area I've been working on for some decades to be honest! Some years ago I was listening to the Canadian folk singer Brucc Cockburn and some lines to his poignant song "Pacing the Cage" just about knocked me flat:

I never knew what you all wanted,
So I gave you everything

That's what I do!! I realized at the time. All the time! Including the lack of feeling into (or asking!) what's really, truly needed here.

Our vow to save all beings, I'm reminding myself, radically and completely includes ourselves. 

How does this work in your life? Is this imbalance there at times? Often?! This can run deep.

Let's support each other by each of us taking better care of ourselves. By treasuring ourselves as fully as we treasure others.

So, if I don't call back right away, I hope you can celebrate with me. Maybe I'll be out in nature, or finally working on my Spanish, or playing guitar. I'll get back to you soon for sure, and I'll be glad to connect, but not until I've given myself some time and love first!

Nomon Tim

p.s. And please don't read these thoughts and worry about me or hesitate to ask if there's something I can do for you. No need to protect me from myself! Do ask, I do care and I want to know. And...I'll have the opportunity to practice balancing my needs with the needs of others. We take care of each other in so many ways.

Nomon Tim Burnett is Red Cedar Zen Community's Guiding Teacher

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