As my spiritual journey deepened, friends fell away. As I shed one identity after another, I no longer identified with the people attached to them. It was as though the bridge between us had simply collapsed. Old ways of interacting seemed inauthentic, scripted, staged. We weren't walking down the same path anymore.
At first this suited me fine. With the quest for truth to keep me company, I didn't long for contact to fill me up or distract me from reality. My romance with my own soul engaged me more than most social experiences. Although there were some utterly lonely phases, I came to love my "soulitude" -- undistracted time alone with my soul-self- because it was here that I met myself. It was in the heart of soulitude that I worked through many of my emotional obstructions and excavated the callings that lived within me. In its absence, I felt pulled back to old ways of being, and found it difficult to cultivate new possibilities. In an often overwhelming world, soulitude is essential to our efforts to clarify and transform.
What was interesting about my time alone was that I actually felt somewhat connected to all of humanity. The call to expand pulled me out of an isolated self-sense and reminded me that we are all part of the same interconnected web of connectiveness. Through these eyes, there were no strangers. We were all inextricably linked on the dance floor of sacred imagination.
After some time, I began to long for new friends to spend time with. Letting your soul be your pilot often means that you fly solo until you are ready for deeper connection. My time alone had been the perfect grist for my expansion, but now I needed real human contact. I had so many discoveries to share, and longed for people who could resonate with who I had become.
This is the nature of the self-creation journey. We move back and forth between polarities -- alone and connected, receptive and assertive, detached and attached -- until we find a way to integrate everything in a sacred balance. Now that I knew how to be alone, I needed to bring human sharing and intimacy back into the equation.
I began looking for my next "soulpod" everywhere. Our soulpod is that person or group of people whom our soul finds the most resonance with at any given moment -- people of "soulnificance." It can include anyone that appears on our path to inform and catalyze our expansion -- our family of origin, significant figures, strangers with a lesson. How long they stay depends on the lesson. It could be a moment, a decade, a lifetime…
At first, my soulpod was very difficult to find. When I was less individuated, it had been easier to make friends. The more amorphous we are, the easier it is to find someone to have a drink with. But now I didn't want to just have a drink. I wanted to be met in the deep within. I wanted to connect with people walking the same soul beat -- less ego, more essence, true to path.
Finding My Soulpod
And then they started to appear, in both expected and unexpected places. I found them at the yoga studios, the retreat centres, the hiking trails. But I also found them in taxis, at family gatherings (imagine that!) and even at the Thoroughbred racetrack. Ah, the sacred and the profane.
One member of my biological family crossed the bridge with me as well. My grandmother had been an essential figure in my birth pod, nourishing me amid the challenges of early life. Yet through new eyes I recognized that the vulnerable little woman at the head of my family was also a member of my consciousness pod. She too fought for the open heart amid the distractions of daily life.
Inner growth is like a truth serum that reframes and clarifies our lens to the outside world. Our social life is one of the things that must change to accommodate our expansion and reflect our new ways of being. In this process, we must have faith that we will survive that often-lonely space between old friends falling away and new ones showing their face. This faith is our buffer against the temptation to go back to the familiar. If we can hang tight and make conscious efforts to connect, the next pod will be walked in our direction when the moment is right. We call to them, they call to us, and our angels broker the deal.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of "Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation," recently published by North Atlantic Books. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser and Ram Dass, "Soulshaping" is Brown's autobiography -- an inner travelogue of his journey from archetypal male warrior to a more surrendered path. Click here to connect with his work