I live in a large U.S. city, and lately, I find myself fantasizing more and more about moving to the country. I even think about how peaceful it would be to live in a monastery or a convent. It seems like life is so loud and busy these days that spiritual growth is just an uphill battle. All I do is go, go, go; I feel like a hamster on a wheel. I am wondering if my inner being is trying to tell me something with these ideas, like maybe living in a big city is bad for your spiritual health. What do you think? Are there places where spiritual growth is easier than others? Is living in the country better for you?
I do believe that there are some places that are generally healthier for us on all levels than others. These don’t necessarily break down to
country, however. Further, how a place affects various people is highly individual. People who are highly sensitive tend to crave the peace and quiet of the country, while people who are very outgoing and easily bored often prefer the excitement of the city. Though it’s hard for me to understand, there are even some people who thrive spiritually in the midst of all sorts of chaos and confusion.
Every region, city, neighborhood and home has its own vibration. This is why different places
feel different to us. Think of the place you’re living now, and how it feels. Now think of the home of a friend or relative, and how it feels. If you’re sensitive and aware of energy, you’ll immediately be aware that your home and other people’s homes feel very different. If this is too subtle for you, then imagine yourself in a creepy old haunted house, and then imagine yourself in a sacred temple. (Those are two locations that would be worlds apart in energy.)
Every city has its own unique feeling. You might argue that this is because the people who live there are different, but places attract people based on their vibrations. People who are in harmony with San Francisco gravitate there, while people who are in greater harmony with Miami are drawn in that direction. We tend to like or feel drawn to places that we resonate with, either because we’re on the same vibration or a complementary one. I love Chicago and London, but there is a certain other big city that completely overwhelms me. I even feel put off when I meet people from that city in my own hometown, like I should keep my distance. (It’s nothing personal; we’re just usually not on the same wavelength.) I can peg strangers from a distance as being from this city based simply on recognizing that strong vibration. I know that living there wouldn’t work for me on any level; I’m just not in harmony with it. It would be like asking a dog to live in a tree. Many lovely creatures such as birds and monkeys and squirrels are right at home in trees, but for others, such a move would be uncomfortable and even dangerous.
The energy in cities, of course, is more agitated than in nature. This is why nature is so soothing to us. We don’t have to deal with the energy residue of the thousands of people who have stood right where we stand, walked where we’re walking, been born and died and made love and quarreled and cried and laughed and prayed here before us. It’s also easier to become conscious of subtle energies when we’re in subtle environments. If we want to hear the whispers of Spirit, for example, it’s best to listen for them in a quiet place. If we’re surrounded by a cacophony of noises, those whispers tend to get lost in the shuffle.
This may be why peace and quiet has always been associated with spirituality. This is also true because as we develop spiritually, we generally become more and more sensitive. The noise and commotion of the city can be overwhelming to someone who is highly sensitive, to the point where we end up expending so much energy just coping that we don’t have any left for growth and reflection.
Modern technology has also put a growing strain on the average first world dweller. Instead of technology saving us time (meaning that we get more time to just ‘be’), the pace of life in high-tech nations keeps accelerating, and demands on our time keep growing. We can see this in how it’s difficult in most places to afford good housing unless you have two incomes coming into the household. As women entered the work force, the economy expanded and adjusted so that what was once a bonus is now essential.
As I see it, every place has its pros and cons. In big cities, just keeping up with life is a major challenge for most of us these days. I believe that most people need a gentler setting to really thrive. Further, as we change, our needs change as well. As I mentioned, spiritual growth promotes greater sensitivity, so it’s natural to feel more and more drawn to peace and quiet the further you travel down a spiritual path. Your thoughts of joining a convent or monastery are indeed messages from your inner guidance that your current home is not a good match to your current needs. While some can thrive in that environment, for most people, it’s an uncomfortable fit.
There is something you’ll to ponder in regards to these daydreams about living in a convent or monastery. Many people who have lived in convents, monasteries, ashrams, etc. in past lives will crave those settings again, especially when they lose touch with a sense of spiritual center that they were immersed in daily a long time ago. If, when longing for more spiritual serenity, your thoughts immediately turn to a certain setting or certain mental images, you’re probably summoning a past life memory in answer to the longing in your soul. It doesn’t mean you’re meant to join a nunnery in the future; it just means you found what you are now looking for in such a place in the past, so in looking for serenity again, your soul naturally goes back to where you last had it.
If you don’t want to move, there are lots of things you can do right where you are to make your spirit more comfortable. I once visited a Japanese garden right in the middle of a city and was amazed by how I forgot where I really was. When I emerged onto the street a few hours later, I was in shock. It had been so serene in that garden! What big cities really lack is nature, so you’ll have to bring nature to you. Fence in your yard and make it a haven. If you only have a balcony, you can work some real magic there. (I’ve seen it done!) If you live in a colder climate, it’s especially important to create nature’s serenity indoors with plants, fountains, etc. Also, seek out the places in your city where you can find serenity. There are lots of pros to living in a city. For one, you’ll find lots of other people who share your needs, and they will have created Buddhist temples, yoga classes, art museums, nature trails, etc. You’ll also be able to find lots of organic/healthy produce; spiritual teachers, classes and workshops; New Age bookstores full of great books, healing music, incense, rocks, crystals and all sorts of other wonderful stuff.
It’s exciting to know that we can live just about anywhere we want to these days; the choice is entirely ours. In order to take good care of ourselves and enjoy a true sense of comfort and home, we have only to listen to our inner guidance. There is a great big world out there full of wonderful places. Go exploring. When you find just the right place for you, your inner guidance is sure to let you know.
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