Once or twice a year I have the good fortune to gather in a community of Ennegram teachers. Okay, it’s in Dayton, Ohio and the food basically sucks but the company, oh my, what a treat! Terry Saracino, Marion Gilbert and our beloved matriarch, Helen Palmer, facilitate four days of a deep dive with the Enneagram as our guide and our hearts, minds and especially bodies as the ground of our exploration. These gatherings and teachings inform my own evolution as well as the classes that I offer to others. That’s by way of introduction to my story and an invitation to “The Energetic Enneagram: Exploring the Passions and the Virtues.”
On the Two panel in our last gathering, I was encouraged to move into the slight experience of a contraction around my heart, which I felt when thinking about allowing myself to have needs. I was encouraged to let my body express that. You see pride, the passion of the type, would encourage me to straighten up, feel the armoring encase my heart as I push against the contraction, lancing those pesky needs into oblivion.
As I allowed my chest to cave in around my heart, the tears came. Sobbing, I allowed myself to go all the way into the smallest little ball of panic and collapse. Then something else happened, I felt this energy turn. The energy began to rise and my chest with it, just like bread, and there was a simple, clear and grateful ME left. I was in touch with the life force coursing through my body and heart, my mind clear and aware. It was truly a gift.
When we’re little, we easily express our feelings. And it’s usually pretty raw…we rage, reach out for contact with a panicky cry, run away when we’re scared. As we evolve our type structures in order to be socially acceptable, we stop having tantrums and start resisting these basic animal responses to stress or threat. We do this by contracting on these responses, and therefore the life force as well, and we can experience this as we explore the passions or vice of our type. Pride contracts down on my panic when I have needs because this feels like a potential risk to connection and approval as a Two. My “orders” are to take care of your needs to get approval, to get the needed connection. So I cut myself off….literally, because the life force, is an aspect of my essential nature.
Working with our Enneagram type is like rolling around a stone in your hand and exploring it from many different angles. As a Two, one of the well-worn spots in the stone is the shadow element of owning my needs. Yet as I roll it around, the stone becomes worn with love, pain and resistance. I polish the stone and as it smooths, the rough edges wearing down, I begin to appreciate its beauty.
The great news is that we can honor all of these aspects of ourselves. We can bring awareness and kindness to our animal instincts, the structure and energy of our type structures, and CHOOSE to experience something new. With the Enneagram as our guide, we can evolve!