Creating a Kula

I moved to New York recently, and as many of you know, moving here is incredibly challenging. Many argue that finding an apartment or a job are the hardest and most important things. But in my experience, making friends and creating a tribe beats either of those.

I was raised with a strong community around me. Friends help you get through the tough times and celebrate the best times. And after all, what is a life if you don’t share it with those you love?

An outsider thinks that meeting people in the city is soooo easy because everyone travels publicly. So of course, it won’t be difficult to spot the heart-opened yogis on a crowded subway. You can spot them by their Bhakti….right?

Actually I have been amazed at how many times I have seen my fellow classmates just disappear into the stream of people on the streets after class. Letting the energy and pace of the city sweep them up, leaving behind the softness they just cultivated on the mat. I might even say that because we all travel together it makes us even more closed off to each other.

So how do we stay hard on the streets but soft enough to meet new people?

Making new friends is like dating but without the intensity of sexual attraction. It takes a similar amount of persistence, communication and coordination to make things work. Also both parties have to be interested in order for the friendship to grow.

I have actually narrowed it down to a formula. First, I need to be clear about what I can offer the other person as a friend and vice versa. Being generous is attractive, and it also positively feeds the ego of the other person. Everyone needs something.

When meeting, I speak clearly and truthfully. It’s the best way to access someone’s heart. Truth and love always go hand in hand.

Next, follow up, follow up, follow up. But this is the hardest part. It’s so easy to meet people via social forums these days. We can build “social media friends” who are actually just acquaintances and not friends. In order to gain friends of substance, we’ve got to invest more than a quick IM or text message. Remember phone calls? When was the last time you called someone not related to you for a chat? If it was more than a week ago, try it. It’s fun.

Last but not least, TAKE YOUR PRACTICE OFF THE MAT!! Let’s walk our talk, live what we practice and be the change. Like begets like and if we maintain the peace we create on our mat for a little longer each day, then maybe we can actually connect with each other on the street on a softer level. Who knows, maybe we will even smile on the subway?

Sarah Girard

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