“Essentially, the Enneagram teaches us how to be more human.” - Christopher L. Heuertz
“Oh, that’s a classic ‘Two’ comment!”
I was introduced to the Enneagram a couple of years ago. Now, I feel like it’s all over the social media, the Enneagram workshops are popping up everywhere, businesses have their employers do the Enneagram test to build better teams and you hear your friends responding to you “oh that’s just so typical (insert your number here) comment”…! It has definitely become ‘a thing’, or perhaps, also its wisdom has been rediscovered and made accessible to the modern audience. Either way, I am thankful for it. And here is why.
The Sacred Enneagram The Enneagram, in its core, is not just a personality mapping tool, but rather an invitation to a deeper self-knowledge, which leads to knowing God better. It’s a tool that guides you on your journey to spiritual growth and riches. By now, it has become one of the most meaningful tools that God has used to increase my self-awareness and through that grow my character. It hasn’t been self-elevating or flattering, but it has given me an honest look to the deep, dark places of my heart that have kept me stuck, and spoken a message of hope to find healing and freedom. The Enneagram is increasing my compassion to myself and others.
After having read a few books on the Enneagram, I came across ‘the Sacred Enneagram’ by Christopher L. Heuertz and I just can't help myself but share some of his insights with you. Christopher's book is a wealth of wisdom, and I will only explore here briefly how we can use it in creating healthy rhythms in our lives. (See my previous blog post on rhythms.)
Contemplative Practices Even if you are not familiar with the Enneagram, and don’t know your ‘type’ or ‘number’ in the Enneagram wheel, I believe that there is still a lot to learn about how different contemplative practices can fuel our spiritual growth. In addition, although the Enneagram teaches that specific prayer postures and intentions are especially helpful for certain types, for a holistic spiritual formation it is helpful to engage in all types of prayer practices. This means that we all need; Stillness to calm our impulse to a constant activity so that when we do engage we can do it from a place of true peace; Solitude to help us differentiate our identity from others, free us from comparison and a need to be needed; Silence to guide us to quieten our crowded minds, noise and distractions all around us, and help us to listen to the voice of God.
In the Enneagram we find that people can be divided into three groups according to their ‘Intelligence Center’ (i.e. the way we see the world). These are also known as ‘wisdom centers’ and often are the means through which we hear God most naturally. The Centers include: Head (5,6,7), Heart (2,3,4) and Body Centers (8,9,1). These Intelligence Centers have been found to match with specific contemplative prayer postures (the way we bring ourselves to prayer: the prayer practice itself). For each of these triads they look the following: Head – Silence, Heart – Solitude and Body – Stillness.
Harmony Centers The other triads/centers that we learn about in the Enneagram are our ‘Harmony Centers’ (i.e. the way we engage or relate to the world): Relationist (2,5,8), Pragmatist (3,6,9) and Idealist (1,4,7). These Harmony Centers, in turn align with particular prayer intentions; the way we open our most honest self to God and they reveal what we most need in prayer. These are the prayer intentions that each harmony center can be matched with: Relationist – Consent, Pragmatist – Engage and Idealist – Rest.
Relationists need to consent to their needs, and allow themselves to receive. Pragmatists’ invitation is to engage with their center and then intentionally be present and engage to what they have. Idealists gain inner peace in rest, and can learn to rest in the truth that they have all that they need right now.
Practice As you do the sacred work of attending to your soul, and notice different patterns of what drives you, what you most desire and where your deepest fears live, you are able to better discern what you need in order to connect with God in transformative and healing ways. Each of us have unique needs and they vary at different points of our lives.
Sometimes we already know what we need and can trust our own instincts, sometimes we might be hiding in the comfort of our old-self that keeps us stuck in illusions of ourselves, and then tools like Enneagram paired with Contemplative practices can be extremely helpful. I am going to look at my ‘Rhythm of Life’ chart again and see if I am doing the kind of things that help me grow as a ‘Two’, who needs to ‘Consent to Solitude’ so that I can intentionally say yes to my own needs and what is within me.
Resources: The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, by Christopher L. Heuertz The Road Back to You, an Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People by Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele