I have spent the last 5 days in California, listening and sharing personal stories about their life\’s journey and how they have grown (and are continuing to work on growing). It has been a clear reminder of not only the tragedies, but the tenacity and the resiliency of the human condition. It is an inspiring experience.
My Journey with the Enneagram
My interest in the Enneagram started when I was 17 years old. Learning about the Enneagram was a integral part of my (Roman Catholic) Confirmation Retreat. It was the last time my church used this tool as part of the confirmation process, as we received a new youth minister the following year and his view on the matter was more conservative. At the time, I had typed myself as a 7 (a mistyping, but a reasonable mistyping considering my place in life at the time and my overall type structure. I found it interesting and started reading a bit about it, but quickly fell off my radar. It was interesting, yes, but what value does it offer? Not a whole lot, I thought, so I moved on.
When I was in college, the Enneagram came up yet again, this time with some friends involved in the Schoenstatt movement, who were using it to do self-education. After my experiences at the beginning of college, I noticed a shift in the way I was dealing with my life and retyped myself (correctly, I might add) as a 6, with probably a very strong 7 wing. This realization unleashed an intellectual passion for the system. I began reading about it, seeing how my personality interacted with others\’, painting my own interpretations of each type, listening to podcasts of current research/applications and eventually joining the Austin Enneagram Community as well as being involved in the leadership of the Austin Young Adult Enneagram Community. My latest endeavor for the past 6 months, has been to get trained in the system as a teacher (right now in the Narrative Tradition). This has required me to travel to California to learn from some of the top Enneagram leaders in the world. That\’s where I was this week.
More Than an Intellectual Pursuit
My first workshop with Marion and Terry was a shock to my system. I walked in to the two days in Houston with a head full of knowledge and not a whole lot of anything else. What I was confronted with, was something that at once terrified me, yet urged me on. For the first time in my life, I was encouraged to tap into not just my head knowledge, on which I almost exclusively rely, but to see what was going on in my body and connect with my emotional center. I admit, I wasn\’t great at this. My biggest takeaway from that weekend was that I didn\’t really have any access to my emotions and I didn\’t even regard my body as being important enough to consider in terms of personal growth and development. It was shocking how incomplete I felt at the end of the weekend. I drove back to Austin with a completely different mindset about the Enneagram and how our personality structure impacts so much of our life experience.
Six months later, I came to California for the first time and did the Enneagram Intensive 2.0 course. It was an intense 6 days of panels of every type from 9 am to 9 pm everyday. I came to a profound conclusion about my own struggles with anxiety (particularly in regards to my panic attacks triggered by nausea / vomiting) and spent a good portion of the 6 growth panel with silent tears flowing down my face as I realized my deep-seated distrust (and hatred) of my body that will inevitably fail me at the end of life. As someone who has seen several therapists in my lifetime to try and deal with these issues, I can say that Dr. David Daniels was able to help me more in 15 minutes than my therapists had ever been able to do.
This journey to California was focused on Deepening Spiritual Awareness with (mystic) Helen Palmer and (somatic expert) Marion Gilbert and understanding the Instincts and Subtypes. I realized with a new understanding of how guarded I am and how much energetic armor I have. I have started noticing how very often my shoulders are tense (perhaps taking on the weight of the world), how very difficult it is for me to relax, and how I use my intense positive energy as a force field of protection around me so much of the time. It gives me something to work on for myself and raise my own level of conscious awareness of how I operate in the world and how I can potentially operate better.
There is No Community Like It
For much of my life, I have been deeply involved in Church communities (youth group, a Catholic sorority, Awakening, Schoenstatt, etc.) and I am absolutely floored by the compassion, love and acceptance of the people in the Enneagram community. I have met ex-criminals whose lives have quite literally been saved by doing their inner work. I have heard stories of personal tragedies, deep-seated struggles, psychological torment and seeing those people work on healing. Out of all the groups I\’ve been in that claim to accept everyone where they are, only the Enneagram community has backed that up with providing a truly safe and non-judgmental environment. There are no directives of what you \”should\” do. There is nothing that you \”need\” to do to be accepted. You are allowed to be and to explore who you are at a deep and meaningful level. It is a breath of fresh air. I want to thank everyone that held the space in such a loving, tender way. You have changed me and my life in a remarkably beautiful way.