Since giving myself permission to embrace the monastic lifestyle that has been calling to my Soul, some interesting things have happened. In short, I have never in my life felt so secure in myself. I feel content, grounded and whole. It is as if every scattered part of myself, every fragmented part of me has been drawn into wholeness. It seems that the decision to embrace my own unique form of monasticism created a magnet that simply drew every part of me into a state of wholeness within myself. In making this commitment to myself, I have come home – home to myself.
Coming home (to myself) came about through the simple and singular act of permission. After 54 years of struggle, I gave myself permission to BE who I have always meant to and yearned to be. With that, all the struggle simply fell away. It is obvious to me that the 54 previous years has been a constant leading toward and unfolding of this simple, inevitable moment of permission. Everything I have done; all I have been through and every single tool and practice I gathered along the way provided the support I needed to acknowledge and accept this calling in a world that would have me doing everything but.
In a world where we have no models or examples of regular, ordinary, working folk embracing a monastic lifestyle, it is a commitment we must live into. What does it mean to be monastic in the regular ordinary world? For non-religious, non-vowed women and men, the answer will be unique to each individual. For me, the answers come only in the moment, in each decision I make about how to spend my time.
As one who thrives on structure, I find comfort in the daily actions that reflect my Soul’s calling – morning meditation, yoga, time for reading and study, time to create, time to interact one-on-one with my spiritual friends (who I consider family), and time for work. As I create time and space for these activities of BEING, I am finding the fruits of this permission-giving. Time expands and I can accomplish tasks that I would normally procrastinate. Joy steps in and makes itself a home. Miracles happen and connections are made. In giving myself permission to live my Soul’s own unique rhythm, a quiet and gentle flow has entered my life.
I love it.
That is not to say that the journey has been easy or that there won’t be consequences to the permission I am giving myself. I have worked very hard to move through my fears, anxieties, unhealed wounds and societal conditioning to arrive at this place. I had to set aside our societal dreams of fame, wealth, and success (as it is defined in our culture). I have had to find a way to live as the working poor. I have no savings and no investments. I own nothing except the car I am slowly paying off. If these pronouncements make you feel uncomfortable – you understand what I have been up against in arriving at the calling of my Soul. I have also been single and have had to learn how to be alone without being lonely. In this, I have discovered contentment in my own company. Who knew?
As for the consequences – these are for others to suffer. Because of the commitment I have made to myself, I find that I have to say “no” more often then I previously have. I already had pretty good boundaries, but now they are even more secure. Many will not understand the container I am creating for myself and will take my no’s personally. Some will then have to make me the enemy for caring for myself instead of bending to their will. When we live in a culture that says it is our job to make other people happy and that everyone else’s needs are more important than our own, when we say yes to ourselves, and no to others, we are challenging the cultural norm and the conditioning in which many still live. I have already experienced the clearing of relationships that happens when we choose ourselves. Some would find this sad. What I have found instead, is that those who remain are closer and more intimate. There is a naked honesty, transparency and vulnerability that emerges because in each other’s gaze, we have nothing left to hide for the simple reason that we are no longer hiding from ourselves.
What would happen if you stopped hiding from yourself and gave yourself permission to live the life your Soul yearns for?