How to Engage in Life Again

After spiritual awakening, you may spend some time in the Hermit’s Cave. If it’s been a long time, you may be asking how can I have a life again?

Whether it’s a literal retreat from the world a la Himalayan monastic cell or moving back into your mom’s house while cutting work and social responsibilities to a bare minimum, after a profound spiritual shift it’s not uncommon to experience some kind of pulling in or withdrawal from the world and life you knew. Sometimes this is of your own design, and sometimes it’s not voluntary: your life breaks up with you.

You may find this withdrawal a great relief in some ways. It gives you space to just be, without the constant mindless stimulation and demands of society. It allows you time to let the changes blossom in you, or blow through you—the process can be gentle or merciless!

However, you might also feel a sense of loss, or at a loss. You may have lost your bond with friends, even family. You may have left your career or find that you are constitutionally no longer able to continue doing the kind of work you used to. You might end up feeling like a rubber band that’s lost its elasticity. You might spend years in this state of passivity, withdrawal or limitation. People describe it as a kind of limbo state.

Hermit’s Caves are awesome, for hermits

Some people are natural hermits. It may have never been obvious before, but after a big spiritual shift, their inner hermit becomes evident, dominant. It’s in their nature to withdraw after spiritual awakening and to remain apart, permanently. There is no draw or tension to re-enter society. The Hermit’s Cave is their home.

For others this is not the case. And even if you visit your own version of the Hermit’s Cave, it’s more like a retreat—you go to cocoon for a while and re-emerge. You are not supposed to stay there forever.

This is not to say you should rush your time in the cave, just because you feel uncomfortable with the process of dissolution. It can be very uncomfortable, indeed. You can’t skip steps here.

What am I still doing here?

This is an important question, more so for people who are actually awake rather than those who have had a Big Spiritual Experience. Once the helping others or teaching others mission rises and falls away, and any other Life Purpose plots and story lines fall away, the fact remains: you are still here.

If you are not a true hermit, then at some point the tension of being too long in The Cave will equal the passivity. Now that can be quite an uncomfortable and confusing process—dialing up the tension, when it has no natural outlet. You may experience anxiety, disordered sleep, all kinds of symptoms of tension rising in a passive system.

There is a tipping point when you have been in withdrawal long enough. The tension can be quite pronounced, but it’s confusing when the passivity, the lack of structure and will to leave are pretty much still equal to or slightly greater than the tension.

Some people will exit The Cave at this point. Some will do it gracefully and others, not so much. For some The Cave, which is the movement of passivity into withdrawal, is self reinforcing. The longer you stay in the cave past your exit date, the less possible it seems to leave. You can feel trapped in amber while life is passing by. This is not the same as profound inner stillness. This is being stuck.

Learning to live in the world, even though you’ll never be of the world, isn’t a cakewalk. But if you are not a hermit, staying in The Hermit’s Cave for longer than you need to is pretty lame. It feels pretty lame! Everyone has their own path and method to exit The Cave, and also, their own obstacles to overcome before they can take that step over the threshold into the world again.

Thanks for stopping by…

Hello to my readers in London! I was surprised to learn that I have more readers in London than any other city. Also, a warm welcome to subscribers in Melbourne and Stockholm…and in the lovely Bay Area, Pittsburg.


You'll Also Like


  1. Lin says:

    Nice article. I feel very understood. After dedicating myself to my spiritual growth for three years, I am ready to break out from my cave and be active again, but I am finding myself at a loss as to exactly what to focus on. The pull for non-doing is so strong. It feels very much like being suspended in a void without much momentum in any direction. I feel so alone.

    How to break free from the limbo state?

    • Lilith says:

      Hi Lin,
      You describe the feeling of being suspended in Limbo Land so well. I believe there are many people who can relate to this. Each person has their own way out, and it’s a process, rather than an action.

  2. Donald says:

    I can totally relate. This is the subject that somehow brought me to this website to discover the wonderful writings of Ms. Lilith.

  3. brettalinehan says:

    Greetings from the cave. Definitely feel like there are things I have not come to accept yet, rites of passage that keep me dwelling as a recluse unemployed in my parents’ house. Getting over some feelings of humiliation of moving back here and having no plan; there are a series of older adults in my life who together constitute a strong pull out of this state. I cannot seem to convince anyone that it is not really so bad to be here! I am not miserable (most of the time), though it would seem the world has little to no understanding of this state even when I explain it as clearly as I can.
    Sometimes I go out and do things and I notice that I observe much more and engage much less than I used to. I’ve become comfortable with social situations where I used to say there was an “awkward silence”. I love the silence, it’s such a natural part of dialogue that I have overlooked before. I laugh a little when I see how uncomfortable most others still are with silence in dialogue; lots of people seem to have an agenda of connecting, sometimes with a romantic script. Usually I do not find an opening to engage in these ways and I end up retreating back to the cave before too long!
    Thanks for writing these blog entries. With how confused and disoriented I have been lately one point of solace I’ve taken is in prayer for the others who are going through this too.

Questions & Comments (please read commenting guidelines in the FAQ)

"We’ve gotten into the habit of always wanting what’s next. We bring this consumeristic approach to spirituality as well. We learn something, file it away, and want what’s next. The next teaching, the next guru, the next spiritual blogger, the next method, the next initiation, a longer retreat, another psychedelic shamanic journey. We want what’s next when we haven’t even become intimate with the teaching or the experience or the knowledge that is right in front of us." continue reading