Asking these questions helps us to know from the outset what kind of friendship we are interested in building. As trust and truth are the foundations for any lasting friendship, a woman must be able to be honest about the kind of commitment she is capable of.
Once you have mapped out a sketch of what kind of friend you are capable of being to others, then formulate an image of the kind of friend that you would like to attract into your life. Paint a picture of her attributes: Is she politically involved, spiritually developed, strong-minded, funny, loving, or gentle? Is she an outdoors person, an artist, or a get-together-over-dinner type of girlfriend? Is she more thoughtful and serious, or is she extroverted and fun-loving? Next, determine if there is some specific area that you would like to focus on with a friend. It's often said that male friendships are centered on activities, while women mostly like to relate and talk, but I have found that women share activities and interests just as much as men do. Not the kinds of things that you want to be able to talk about with a friend: perhaps you are a writer, and would like the company of other writers; perhaps you are politically active and want to be able to talk politics with a close friend; perhaps you need to share the journey of motherhood with another mother.
In addition to setting an intention and making a descriptive list of characteristics, you may also want to be spontaneous and let life surprise you. Before I moved to Washington, D.C., for example, all of my closest women friends were Sufis, or on some other spiritual path. Thrown back on my own for the first time in my adult life, I was lonely and uncertain how to meet new people. When I decided to open myself up to friends who were not as formally involved with spirituality as I had been, I was delighted to meet and make friends with a number of women whose lives had been quite different from mine, yet with whom, years later, I share a deep and abiding relationship. Difference, as well as sameness, can sometimes be a refreshing component.
Loving a Soul Sister
Loving a soul sister as a friend can add untold depth and richness to your life. This is a meditation to help deepen an already existing friendship.
First, call to mind the friend you wish to honor. Recall the story of how you met--the events that surrounded your introduction, and what you said and how you felt at the time.
Then, go back in time. Because so many friends feel as if they already know each other even when they are meeting for the first time, it's possible that you have shared lifetimes together. My friend Taj and I, for example, often feel as if we must have shared an Egyptian lifetime together. Don't censor your imagination--just let the stories and images arise in your mind. If you feel comfortable, share them with your friend. These buried memories embroider your relationship with age and meaning. They link you in a long lineage of soul sisters. And they are a part of a momentum carrying you forward into more lifetimes and more adventures together.
Make a date with your soul sister. Before you meet, pick out an especially beautiful box that, to you, says something about the quality of your friendship. Then make a point during your get-together to share stories from the past--whether past lifetimes or events you have shared along the way. At the end of your time together, present your friend with a box as a container for all the special memories you've shared so far--and are looking forward to sharing more of in the future.