The Enneagram is an ancient spiritual tool of awareness and awakening, offering insights into human nature. It dates back to the ancient Egyptians and courses forward through many religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Sufiism.
According to the Enneagram, human beings react with certain patterns of deeply held "ego" motivations. The 9 Points – or Types – describe how we coped with the demands in our childhoods and then later with the demands in our daily adult lives. What the Enneagram is not is a reductionistic tool for controlling and bypassing our emotions and how we perceive ourselves and how we want others to perceive us.
With deepening awareness of the 9 portals to our deeper Self and our Divine nature, grounded Presence makes a space for Grace and Mercy. This in turn allows compassion and wisdom to bubble up, enabling us to more ably satisfy our needs for love and belonging in this wonder-filled journey called Life.
The Enneagram is to be practiced in the here and now. As long as I am breathing, I am going to be triggered and provoked and have emotions come up to feel and process. And feeling and processing my emotions is what makes me ME. All I have is right now, and I want to be as conscious and present as humanly possible in every given moment. The more I am able to deeply embrace and surrender my painful, socially unacceptable stuff, the more change happens in spite of myself. And then the more I am able to deeply embrace not only my Self, but my fellow humans.
And for that, I am deeply grateful.
~ Sue Brooks
Ultimately I am the only one who can identify myself with a certain type of life program of the Enneagram. This process may move very quickly, or it may take a long time. I determine the tempo. Even those who don’t immediately figure out their type can observe their own life story in the mirror of a new type description and thereby make progress.
~ Richard Rohr
The point of it isn’t to just be a type, but to use the awareness of our type as a kind of entry into a more full bodied humanity and a greater and greater capacity to embody and flow with all of the different qualities of our humanness.
~ Russ Hudson
The only thing you need to do is become the person only you can be.
~ Margaret Frings Keyes, Emotions & the Enneagram
We are more than just a type, a spot on a circle, a personality or mask that we present to the world.
Even though we each have a center of gravity of sorts in one particular point, we all carry in us all of the types and all of their fixations, passions, Object Relations, Harmonic coping styles, Hornevian social styles, the three biological instincts, and all the Holy Ideas and Virutes. We glorious humans are infinite processes within processes. So we don't want to be just 1/9th of a human being!
The key to our processes is awareness - presence - starting with our Body Center - our precious physical bodies. Sue
The circle represents the One, the Source, the Absolute, the Origin. It’s the unknowable unity of everything.
The triangle represents everything that is manifest. It’s always manifested in relation to something else. … The Enneagram is teaching us on a mystical level and always including the opposites. Being aware of including the shadow is an endless dynamic process. … It’s saying that to see the nature of anything is to see it as the Unity, to see it as a particular relational manifestation in the living moment, and that the living moment keeps changing it and then you’re a little closer to reality. That’s part of the original meaning of the symbol.
God (or Spirit or the Divine) creates by differentiating. … Presence is the way that human beings experience God, which affects us physiologically [body], emotionally [heart] and cognitively [head]. When Presence starts to work us, the body switches on as a felt sense of presence, the mind softens and becomes receptive, and the heart is then able to lead. When I’m triggered and provoked, it’s a signal to come back to my body, to my open heart, and quiet mind. So don’t play favorites with the Centers. We don’t want to be a third of a human being.
Centers — the goal is alignment of all 3 —
The body (and embodiment) — Life Force — is responsible for our ability to manifest the Divine in this world; the body as grounded, practical, realistic and belonging in the world; includes our boundaries and instincts; sensations and kinesthetic awareness; somatic intelligence - "Where do I stand?"
The heart — Receptivity — ties together the Divine, the Earth, and the human, so we can become whole; the heart of connection, sensitivity, intimacy, compassion, patience and truth; felt sense and emotional intelligence - "Am I accepted?"
The head — Spaciousness — the true mind, which develops our receptivity, openness, stillness, clarity, creativity, and prayer, opens us to a direct experience of heaven; the mind of receptivity, listening and openness to wisdom; perception and cognitive intelligence - "How do I survive?"
~ adapted from Russ Hudson, Mystical Roots with Mirabai Starr, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso & Hudson
(Printable handout below.)
The Centers are the Law of Three: Receptivity and Spaciousness reconciled by Life Force.
"I am my head, but own my body.” Thus, sadly, the body is reduced from self to property. The body becomes an object or a projection, in just the same way the shadow does. …The body is only the most visible and sensible sign. … The body is not a “deeper reality” than the ego, as many somatologists think, but the integration of the body-and-the-ego is indeed a deeper reality than either alone. On a deeper level, we fear to reclaim the body because it houses, in a particularly vivid and living form, strong emotions and feelings which are socially taboo. And ultimately, the body is avoided because it is the abode of death.
The ego is the seat of control, of manipulation, of voluntary and willed activity, and as a rule identifies itself only with voluntary processes. Yet the body is basically a well-organized collection of involuntary processes, of circulation, digestion, growth and differentiation, metabolism, and so on; all the spontaneous and involuntary actions that one feels that are somehow not-self and untrustable. In a sense, the ego feels trapped, a victim of the unruly capriciousness of its own body. It’s easy to see why in the eyes of many, flesh and sin are so terribly synonymous.
The ego feels trapped by the body’s vulnerability to pain. Pain, suffering, the intense sensitivity of living tissue and raw nerves – these understandably terrorize the ego, and it seeks to withdraw from the source of pain, to numb and freeze the body so as to reduce its vulnerability to painful vibrations. It can and does learn to withdraw awareness from the body, to globally deaden and desensitize it. But the body-deadening is accomplished only at a heavy price. For if it is true that the body is the source of pain, it is also true that it is the source of pleasure. No more suffering, and no more joy.
~ Ken Wilber, No Boundary (1979) - link to print below
The movement of love does not leave our suffering behind or abandon it. Love moves toward the difficulty and suffering. If it isn’t doing that, you’ve got dissociation, not love. You’ve got a way of making yourself feel better but over a background of all the pain that you’re ignoring.
~ Russ Hudson, The Shift, Live as Love, Trauma Part 1
We human beings have biological instincts in our bodies in order to survive, to procreate and create, and to be a part of the give and take of life. Being aware of our body and energies and emotions is instrumental in changing behaviors - which isn’t about changing the Instincts. It’s about being able to change behaviors because so we're much more aware of what’s going on, including all of our shadows - which are everywhere. ~ Sue
According to Russ Hudson, the Instincts represent the basic driving forces that operate throughout our daily life. No Instinct operates solo. One Instinct operates in service of another. However, our blind spot instinct will not be the one acting in service of another when it is repressed and unseen. Feeling shame around any Instinct or zone is not an indication of dominant Instinct or blind spot Instinct. Our 3 biological Instincts are:
Self Preservation (SP) drive is focused on survival needs such as money, food, health, safety, comfort, environment, etc.; fear of scarcity and harm; firm boundaries; contraction.
· Zone 1 - Health/Energy (conservation of)/Environment/Self-care
· Zone 2 - Practicality, Maintenance of life or Practical Wisdom
· Zone 3 - Domesticity
Sexual (SX) drive is focused on sexual energy, the experience of aliveness, and the adventures and activities that capture our attention and energy; fear of being undesirable and sexually overlooked; fluid boundaries; expansion.
· Zone 1 - Attraction
· Zone 2 - Arousal/Exploration & Edge
· Zone 3 - Merging & Fusion
Social (SO) drive is focused on connection and communication between human beings in order to create and sustain the bonds that make life possible; fear of being abandoned and ostracized; bonding; and also rejecting of connection and communication etc; adaptation.
· Zone 1 - Reading People and Situations
· Zone 2 - Creating & Maintaining Bond or Connections
· Zone 3 - Participation/Contribution
Instincts are different from what others describe as subtypes by various definitions.
(Printable handout below.)
There are two things that unlock us and get us out of our box. One is the shadow issues of the connecting points – owning them, recognizing them, meeting them with kindness and patience. The other is the shadow of our blind spot and our Instincts. You get working on those two things, and your life is going to change. Buckle your seatbelt! Working on your shadows is customizing what will get you out of your box. That’s the power of what the enneagram is really about. That’s what we are here to do.
~ Russ Hudson