Ep. 210: Spiritual Friends and How to Make Them

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I think a lot of us feel the importance of friendships. We know we can feel lonely, we notice we long to be around people who care about us. We sense a desire to belong.


I remember when I got pregnant not too long after moving to Alaska, and I lost a lot of regular contact with my new local friends. We were the first in the group to have a kid and they didn’t really know how to support us.


I didn’t know what to ask for, and none of us realized I was deep in postpartum depression, often alone in my house with our baby, and Thai often in the mountains.


He would ask if I needed anything when he wanted to head out, but I would always just say, “I guess not.” It felt odd to ask someone to stay home and be bored with you. But that’s what I needed. 


I didn’t realize I should have asked for that support. From him or from my friends. And my life changed drastically when I lost that contact with my people and dropped into isolation. 


I knew I wanted to prioritize finding time with them, but I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do a lot of what they wanted to do now that I had a kid. Especially when it was later at night.”, or requiring a lot of adrenaline.


I also knew that I needed to focus on my spiritual practice, which had taken a major backseat for the first few years as a mother. I mean, I went from 90-minute hot yoga classes multiple times a week and sitting in meditation for an hour or more, to just meditating for 2 minutes before falling asleep and managing 10 sun salutations a day in my living room.


Then I received an email from Spirit Rock about a Dedicated Practitioner’s Program – two years of deeply studying the Pali suttas. I decided to go for it, and I was accepted. I knew this would help me to do what I desperately needed – to get OUT and do something for myself.


The first silent retreat, I stayed relatively isolated, savoring the silence and time alone. But over time I realized that these people were really fucking cool. Who would have thought I’d find all these people who were interested in geeking out on the dharma like me?


I had found community again. Community that I could engage with right where I was at. That had the same priorities for this season of life.


Some didn’t have kids, but others did, and I learned a lot about sustaining a practice while being a parent. And all of them shared a passion for something that didn’t require me to tax my sleep-deprived body to explore by engaging in some kind of risk-taking activity:


Spiritual Practice!


I had begun to feel something I hadn’t felt for a long time: I had found my people.


This changed a lot of things for me. That program helped me understand more than just the dharma. It also helped me find my sangha – spiritual friends. And I finally appreciated why in Buddhism, it’s said there are 3 refuges: the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha. (Sangha being our spiritual community)


My meditation practice deepened, I was addressing my depression, and my bandwidth for spending time with friends grew. I also started going to yoga classes again and I loved the people I met there, too.


I still went through some rough times – near divorce, burnout from working full time through all that sleep deprivation. Health challenges.


But I got through it with my spiritual friends. Those in my retreat life and my day-to-day life.


The thing is, we all have a fixed amount of time and energy, and we need to use that wisely. For me, I had to consider a few things when it came to how I wanted to prioritize that, and that meant spending time with those who also focused on their spiritual practice and community.


A friendship audit was in order.


I wanted a sangha who would call me out on my shit with compassion. People I could learn from, who could challenge me when I needed it. I also wanted friends who allowed me to evolve, even if some aspects of that evolution weren’t convenient to them.


I also used the four types of friends that the Buddha describes in the suttas (more on that in the full episode). Did my friends fit into one or more of these types? 


And what about me? After all, what we put out is often what we receive. What kind of friend was I being/wanting to be?


Finally, I had to take action. Signing up for a program to cultivate my sangha. Applying for the Community Dharma Leader program. Signing up for fly fishing classes. Each time I stepped out, I would connect with those whose priorities aligned with mine. And I’d realize: I’m continuing to find my people!


Your people are there, but you have to seek them out, try new things, and explore your options. Talk to them. Ask to hang out. (Eek I know – it’s awkward at first, but it gets better).


AND let go of spending time with those who no longer nourish you or your practice.


I know – that in and of itself can be anxiety producing, as we all have a fear of rejection. But we need to if we want to cultivate our spiritual friendships.


Your sangha – your true spiritual friends – can help you through the darkest times. You can actually rely on them. You can feel safe and at home.

You will learn:

// Why it can be so hard to find true spiritual friends as an adult… especially in moments of major transition

// How I began to find my people again, and the difference it made in my personal and spiritual path

// The 4 types of friends and why we should prioritize those who fit these categories

// The importance of taking action when you’re searching for your own spiritual community



// Episode 115: Making Quality New Friends


// Blog Post: Your Squad Matters


// I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a review on the Rebel Buddhist Podcast on iTunes by clicking here  


// If you want to start gathering proof that there are spiritual friends in the world, come join us in Freedom School, where we gather once a week and you can get coached and witness other authentic souls exploring their path at JoinFreedomSchool.com

// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist private group, and tune in every Wednesday as I go live with new inspiration and topics.