Retreating to the Monastary

Q: Louise, I recently looked into entering a monastery in Nova Scotia, but it's too cold up there, I couldn't take my dog, and I have to be a year younger than my age to be a resident. I do believe it's time to 'put on the robes' and search for where I should place myself to break this block I feel at my current location.

A: Many clients at one time or another feel a pull to drop everything and retreat to a life of contemplation, one that they feel might allow them to shed the chaos and confusion that dominates their lives. They long to seek refuge in an environment that would more fully support their "spiritual" self.

More often than not, when I probe deeper with these clients in their consultations, we discover that they've actually been-there-done-that! They've experienced the cloistered, monastic lifetime in one (or more) other life spaces within a religious and/or strictly spiritually-disciplined structure.

Entering this life space, it's as if these clients have metaphorically hopped over the wall of the convent/monastery to follow a different Soul agenda, one in which they find themselves "back in the village with the folks" with a focus on becoming a more integrated soul. That is, taking the opportunity to synthesize accumulated religious dogma with real-life experiences, purposely configured to promote growth and a deepening in the Soul. You know...the kind of challenges that can make us want to run fast — and far.

This is why I often call this a "misinterpretation of a soul sensing." When we come to junctures where we think we ought to sequester ourselves to become more spiritually pure, to put some distance between ourselves and all that has become so very challenging, confusing, tempting and chaotic, we can misinterpret the meaning of that pull. We're back, in fact, to figure out how to find sanctuary within ourselves, to empower ourselves by learning how rise up and lift ourselves above the fray.

I found another version of this kind of misinterpretation when I was seeing clients years ago in Nevada City, CA. It's a beautiful gold rush town at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Three different clients (they do cluster) wanted confirmation about their tentative decisions to drop everything and literally "head for the hills," to go live their lives as reclusive miners.

Sure enough, we found that they had been-there-done-that, having returned to be challenged by today's version of unfinished business, and to discover new truths that would evolve their souls — but back in town, living in the thick of it. I've also consulted for those who've felt a pull to sail away to explore new lands — literally or metaphorically — far and adrift from their issues on shore. What's the expression? "Wherever you run — that's where you'll find yourself!"

I occasionally observe another version of this when I meet with clients who wrestle with whether or not to quit their job and go back to school. In some cases, I find this to be another type misinterpretation-of-a-certain-sensing. The tug they feel reveals itself as a soul yearning to actually become more "certified" within themselves. I often hear a big sigh of relief when I offer this interpretation.

This isn't to say to never trust yourself or to disregard what might be your initial interpretation of a strong feeling, especially one that simply won't leave you alone. If your heart is open, if you are in alignment (fully present, rather than caught in a loop of obsessive thoughts), feeling positive (rather than fearful or skittish), you'll watch events unfold in serendipitous and synchronistic ways. This is a surefire indicator that you're headed in the right direction. (The monastery will have a special place to keep your dog, and you'll be the appropriate age).

Otherwise, stay put and look deeper. That's where you'll find peace...and the gold.