By Debra Moffitt, Copyright 2017.
In a society where people spend so much time with their noses stuck to their iPhones, we forget that to have friends requires some effort. Kripalu’s Stephen Cope, author of “Soul Friends,” shares his personal experiences with creating a new network of friends after his move.
The life experiment began for Cope when he left Lennox, Massachusetts where he is scholar-in-residence at Kripalu, and moved to Albany, New York, about fifty minutes away. “I had to create a whole new network of friends,” he says. “All of the research says that it takes three years to make a friend. So it takes time.” To build a new network, he says he started noticing the people in the environment who he felt energetically attracted to (not sexually). “When I experience that, I intentionally get to know them and see if there’s reciprocity there. In a friend you want it coming back to you as well as going out to them.”
“I must be an active participant in the development of friendship,” he says, so he set the intention of creating a new group of friends. He met a 37 year old man in his men’s group who also felt the connection. They both systematically and consciously decided to deepen the friendship. “In order to have friends you have to be a good friend. I think a lot of people make the mistake of waiting around for it to happen,” Cope says. But he suggests that conscious intention can lead to rewarding outcomes. He’s says he’s never felt happier or more fulfilled with the great network of friends around him now. But it required being a good friend first, he says, which includes acting with generosity, good will, and spending time together.
To select the right people to befriend, he suggests tuning in to where you feel attracted and paying attention to the energy of another as an indication of a possible connection and exploring it.
Growing up in dysfunctional families may make it more difficult to trust and move into friendships. But in his book, Cope says that “the world is a vast repair kit.” So if we felt challenged due to parental neglect, it’s possible to meet the right kind of friend at the right time and blossom through the connection.
Men in particular may feel challenged to create friendships with other men, particularly in American culture. There’s a built in competitiveness and embarrassment about being close friends that can make male friendships more challenging. But it’s not the case in cultures like India where men commonly hold hands to express affection and connection. Cope’s own experience reveals a grace and hope that inspires. In his book, he shares the different types of friendships encountered in a lifetime, from twin, and mirrors, to mystical friends, and noble adversaries. My favorite are conscious partnerships, where, like Cope with the friend he met in his circle, a relationship grows based on conscious intention. Listen to the audio interview with Cope here.
Copyright, Debra Moffitt, 2017. No portion of this blog may be copied or reused without prior written consent.