Paths of Development

In this section we will explore moving into action through growth pathways for each of the nine types. 

An intellectual knowledge of the Enneagram is important, as is a heartfelt feeling for the nine types.  But the only way to actually use the Enneagram as a tool for growth and development is by practicing – not unlike learning how to play the piano or getting better at a sport.

And - for better or worse - the Enneagram is quite precise at shining a light on our type-related issues!

 

Here we will take a look at some of the potential pathways of development specific to each of the nine types, including working with issues such as our habitual patterns, driving emotions, avoidances, defense mechanisms, etc.

Before we dive into type-related pathways of development, let me suggest two general practices that are important, helpful and foundational for all of us: a meditative practice and a body practice.

Please note that some of the types in this section are still under construction.
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Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.
                                          - Antonio Machado
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#1 A MEDITATIVE PRACTICE

I don’t need go into the benefits of or methodologies for meditation here.  They are well documented, and there are numerous excellent books and websites on the subject.  I will say, however, that slowly but diligently developing a regular meditation practice helps us in at least two ways that are relevant to the Enneagram.

First, meditation helps us see more clearly our type-related habitual patterns and where we get stuck.  At first, we may only notice them in retrospect (when the damage has already been done).  But as we develop our practice, we begin to be able to shorten that timespan, and eventually can catch ourselves in the act.
 

Second, meditation begins to create some spaciousness around where we tend to get hooked, allowing us more and more time in that gap after our type-related triggers kick in to choose a thoughtful response…versus a knee-jerk reaction.

#2 A BODY PRACTICE

Our culture has come to preference mental intelligence (the head center), and to some extent emotional intelligence (the heart center), over body intelligence (the body center).  So, most of us tend to have very easy access to our thoughts (monkey-mind, anyone?), and to a lesser extent our emotions.  (Note: If accessing your emotions is challenging for you, you might want to practice identifying your feelings using the Feelings Inventory.  Pause three times a day and explore which emotion(s) you are feeling in the moment.  Try to get as specific as possible.)

Many of us, however, can be quite removed from the intelligence of our bodies.  The question, “how does that feel in your body?”, is often met with a blank stare.  We can pick up incoming sensory experiences such as the smell of smoke or the touch of a loved one, but may have trouble registering the body’s more subtle (and sometimes not so subtle signs) internal sensations such as a clenched jaw, raised shoulders, held breath, tightened stomach, “gut feelings”, etc.  These bodily responses are happening pre-thought and have lots of information for us if we are able to tune in to them.

 

To make our best choices, we want to ensure that we are equally accessing all three sources of intelligence (thoughts, feelings, and body sensations) at any given time.  One of the best ways to increase body awareness is through an ongoing somatic practice such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong, some non-competitive sports, mindful walking, etc.  Through them we learn to tune in to the deep knowledge our bodies are offering us.

In this section I have used yoga for examples of type-related body practices, but please feel free to substitute your own preferences.