OWN
06/08/2013 09:09 am ET Updated Jun 08, 2013

Karen Armstrong, Religious Author And TED Prize Winner, Recalls Experience As A Catholic Nun (VIDEO)

Karen Armstrong is an acclaimed religious author, prestigious TED Prize winner and one of the world's foremost religious scholars -- not to mention a former nun. At just 17, Armstrong began her religious journey and became a Catholic nun, embarking on what she hoped would be an experience of total enlightenment and spiritual awakening. However, life at the convent turned out to be much different from what Armstrong expected.

While at the convent, one of Armstrong's struggles was almost unheard of for a nun, as she tells Oprah in this video from "Super Soul Sunday." Armstrong says she developed an inability to pray and couldn't seem to do anything to focus herself on prayer.

"I was completely unable to pray, which is a bit of a drawback for a nun," Armstrong tells Oprah. "When I used to go in to make my meditation every morning, off my mind went, down every skittering kind of alley and byway. This was a source of terrible shame."

When Armstrong told her superior that she could no longer pray, she was brushed off. "She said, 'Oh, Sister, you're always so dramatic. Everybody has an off day,'" Armstrong recalls.

But, for Armstrong, being a nun who couldn't pray was much more than that. "A nun is nothing except the quality of her prayer," she explains. "My prayer was so bad, it was off the charts."

In the video, Armstrong also recounts a typical day for the nuns and what leads up to the morning meditations, from the 5:15 a.m. wake-up ritual to the hours-long "great silence." She details the rest of her experience -- including her lowest moments, a mysterious illness, a suicide attempt and how she rediscovered her faith -- on "Super Soul Sunday," airing June 9 at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

PHOTO GALLERIES
Inspiring Female Religious Leaders

CONVERSATIONS