The Enneagram is an ancient spiritual tool of awareness and awakening, offering insights into our human nature. It dates back to the ancient Egyptians and courses through many religious traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Sufiism.
According to the Enneagram, human beings react with certain patterns of deeply held psychological and emotional "ego" motivations. The 9 Types – what some refer to as Points and Super Powers – describe how we humans coped with the demands in our childhoods and then later with the demands in our daily adult lives.
With deepening awareness of these portals to our Deeper Self and our Divine nature, Presence allows Grace to seep through and Wisdom and Compassion to bubble to up, enabling us to satisfy our needs for love and belonging on this our wonder-filled journey of Life.
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 the 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
The enneagram is not a reductionistic tool for controlling and bypassing my emotions and thoughts and how I am perceived by others. The Enneagram is tool of spiritual awareness — whatever one’s spiritual beliefs about life and their ultimate concerns are.
As long as I am still breathing, I am going to get provoked and triggered and have emotions come up to feel and process. Feeling and processing my emotions are way more important to me than whether a particular theory or type fits with me or not.
The more I am able to truly, deeply embrace all my painful, socially unacceptable stuff, the more change happens in spite of myself. And for that I am deeply grateful.
~ Sue Brooks, Sx8w9
The circle represents the One, the Source, the Absolute, the Origin. It’s the unknownable 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, is always including the opposites. It’s being aware of including the shadow which 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 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 your ability to manifest the Divine in this world; the body as grounded, practical, realistic and belonging in the world; 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.
According to Russ Hudson, the Instincts represent the basic driving forces that operate throughout our daily life. No Instinct operates like an island or 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. Feeling shame around any Instinct or zone is not an indication of dominant Instinct or blind spot Instinct. The 3 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, and also on 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; adaptation
· Zone 1 - Reading People and Situations
· Zone 2 - Creating & Maintaining Bond or Connections
· Zone 3 - Participation/Contribution
Instincts are different from what some describe as subtypes by various definitions.
(Printable handout below.)
9 ~ Incubating and imagining
1 ~ Perfecting a plan
2 ~ Getting input and support
3 ~ Testing initial ideas
4 ~ Diving deeper
5 ~ Solving problems
6 ~ Following through
7 ~ Wandering freely and finishing up
8 ~ Mastering
See handout below
Processing around the Enneagram circle
Handouts related to processing