In answer to questions about why would someone want to invest the time to learn about the Enneagram as a way of spiritual growth I wrote some thoughts to express what I find helpful in the system.
How would knowing the Enneagram benefit me?
“I don’t like being put in a box!” is the complaint of many when looking at a personality system. But each of us is already in a box of our own making. The accumulations of years of habits of how you think, feel and behave have created your personality. With the Enneagram, by careful non-judgmental observation of the structure of your habits (not so much the content), it can allow you to identify the box you are already in. With that knowledge you can begin to develop new choices and habits that allow you to go beyond the limits of your box.
The Enneagram System
The Enneagram comes to us from an ancient spiritual path of observing and understanding our own nature, a system that has experienced a renewal in our age of psychological awareness. It is a way to understand the patterns and habits of emotions, thoughts and actions we create in our lives. By observing our patterns we discover ways to get out of them. People are creatures of habit and we love repetition; it’s how we learn and grow. But too much of a good thing creates its own downside. We become so attuned to our habits that we don’t realize we are doing them. Detrimental habits can trap us in unhealthy lifestyles. Just try to change eating, sleeping or exercise habits! How much harder it is to change who we believe ourselves to be. Consider your habits as patterns you have created that once served a good purpose. But as you grew, ingrained habits became rigid and couldn’t adapt to meet the person you were becoming. So within you is a tension, a war against who you think you are versus who you can become.
As a Christian, I take the premise we are created in God’s Image. In the center of our being, the essence of who we are lies buried. Spiritual disciplines don’t create our being; they allow us to discover the essential being that is already there. We have covered it up habit upon habit by thought upon thought, emotion and action upon one another.
The Enneagram is a valuable tool uncovering patterns inherent in our personality. Remember the story of the blind men looking at the elephant and how they couldn’t “see” the “whole”, but only the part they touched. So we don’t see the essence of God in us, the mystery of faith, the hope of glory. God has given us what we need to live and that includes a personality. We are not trying to wipe away our personality, but to see how we can live to our fullest potential. We come together in community to create a whole, not just for our self, but for all of us together. As we see the internal difficulties that we and others struggle with, we become more understanding of the pain and grief we bear and become tolerant of others as we begin to work together.
The Enneagram details nine basic types/patterns people develop, but within that are subtypes, how we react to times of stress and security, and dynamic avenues that lend toward creativity and uniqueness within the system. People resist being forced into a box. But habits create types and structures that can be observed. As we notice the patterns, the Enneagram helps individuals discover the box you are in and ways to break out of it.
Enneagram Introductory, Basic and Advanced classes are being offered at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church. Please call for more information.
Rev. Andrea Andress, Paradise Valley UMC
602-840-8360, ext 142; firstname.lastname@example.org
The article was published in the TALK magazine, the magazine for the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition. Explore the magazine at: http://www.aetnt.com/why-AET/talk/