In my article on red-tailed hawk spirit animal I encourage people to identify and connect with their tribe and for good reason.
You may be surprised to learn that many people I encounter feel disconnected from a sense of tribe. They feel alone. So many people long for companionship. Often each person thinks, interestingly, that they are the only one that feels this way. There is a huge chunk of who they are that they both fear and yearn to share.
There are a fair share of acquaintances and ordinary friends and family that we get together to discuss work, children, and the woes of the world with. There are friends that we gather with to watch sporting events, movies, or concerts. There are friends that we bike, horseback ride, play sports, or walk with. There are family members that we work together with to accomplish tasks and collaborate with to caretake children or elderly relatives.
Why are We Lonely?
A few of the people that reach out with their story of loneliness truly don’t have any friends or family, but many more lonely people are surrounded by a host of friends and family. This is a paradox. To be surrounded by family and friends, but feel alone. Why is this?
The missing piece is open engagement on matters of the soul.
I am going to admit something that may make a few of you uncomfortable, but is necessary to understanding why we are so lonely. Churches play a valuable role in fostering spiritual community and friendships. Many of us no longer go to church. In spending Sundays at home, we lose the framework that nurtures conversations of the soul.
Not that I am saying you must go to church. I am simply pointing out that in not going, we lose the roadmap to developing soul friendships.
What are Soul Friendships?
Soul friendships are relationships where we have the opportunity to share those things of a spiritual or metaphysical nature that we are afraid to tell another person. Spontaneous spiritual visions, wild dreams, humbling revelations, ridiculous mean moments, and mind-blowing epiphanies are all a part of conversations with soul friends. A soul friend will hear how a polar bear stood by your bed last night, and you’ll listen to how an angel gave her advice this morning.
In a soul friendship the following components must exist:
Trust, Honesty, Listening, Compassion, Non-judgement, and Letting Go of Being the Expert.
Listening, non-judgement, compassion, and letting go of being the expert are all qualities you can cultivate in any of your relationships. You can practice that right now.
Trust and honesty are a different story. They take time. So often when we have gone too long without the spiritual nourishment of a soul friend, we want to rush into finding someone.
We get frustrated when a friendship doesn’t work out. We overshare. We wish we could open up more. We find out our friend is too pessimistic for us to endure. We realize all we want to do is have someone to complain to. We discover the friend’s beliefs are too different than our own and we can’t meet each other. You may try to turn an ordinary friend or family member into a soul friend and fail miserably.
This will happen. It might not look pretty. You may be plagued with self-doubt. But, keep the faith and remember that the person(s) you think should be your soul friend(s) are the most likely not to be. This is not an ego friendship meant to increase your social status. You’ll be presented with people you’d maybe rather not befriend. Allow the Divine to place the candidates before you and remember to replace disapproving first impressions with inquiry and acceptance.
6 Tips for Finding Soul Friendship
1. Don’t expect those closest to you to meet you where you are.
Often we want our spouse or partner to be our soul friend, but they may not be able to fill that hole for you. It can be too much to expect one person in your life to provide everything you need. Give them a break and find the courage to branch out.
2. Ask new friends interesting questions.
Ask if they practice yoga, if they know about meditation, how they feel about mindfulness or if they know about chakras. These are “safe” mainstream questions that will reveal their relationship to a spiritual life.
3. Look for friends that have a regular spiritual practice
Be it writing in a journal, watching their dreams, meditating, or reading spiritual texts. It is easier to stay committed to your own spiritual practice when you are around others who are also learning to be disciplined.
4. Ask your current friends new questions.
See if they’ve heard of a mainstream spiritual text or author that you enjoy, or ask if they watch Super Soul Sunday. So many times I’ve discovered sacred friendships with old friends I had framed as averse to being “woo-woo” by simply asking them new questions.
5. Search for local groups
that gather around a spiritual practice you appreciate. Meditation circles, drumming circles, and spiritual book clubs are everywhere. First see if one of your current soul friends are a part of a group like this and ask if you could go with them to the next meeting. If you’re starting from scratch and going it alone, focus on finding the courage to attend.
6. Be patient
This takes time and is best accomplished over a number of years. If you have the ability to put roots down in one location this will help your efforts. If you have to move often or live in a remote location, try joining an online community and finding long distant soul friends.
I trust that you will find exactly who you need when you need them. Know that the process you are going through is a process of transformation and food for your soul. Have faith.