The Enneagram showed up in my life about four years ago when I was in a period of transition. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Chicago to Cincinnati. My family of six along with a yellow lab, guinea pig and lizard was living in a temporary apartment that I thought resembled a college dorm. My purpose as a stay at home mom was in question as my youngest headed to school for full days. As our house in Chicago languished on the market, I spent a lot of time on my rented couch in Cincinnati pondering what was next. I realize now that the universe had served me a big plate of discomfort….just what an Enneagram Type Nine like me most likes to avoid.
It’s not clear to me why this discomfort propelled me off the couch and into an Enneagram community. It easily could have encouraged more self-forgetting, but I guess that strategy had finally stopped working for me. I attended groups, read books, watched panels, experimented with spiritual practice and worked with my coach. I began to see my type operating in my everyday encounters. Some days I could feel something bigger holding me as I confronted things about myself I had never acknowledged. Some days these things were hard to accept and I used the Enneagram to beat myself up and tell that Type Nine story of unworthiness one more time.
The more I worked with my type structure, the more I saw the necessity of getting up off the couch for what is important to me. My decision to attend the Enneagram Professional Training Program (EPTP) inMenlo Parklast summer was just that….a getting up off the couch for something that has completely changed how I see people, relationships, and myself.
EPTP is a unique training. The first section is called the “Intensive” and is being offered in Cincinnati this summer. It involves five days of listening to and experiencing all nine types through facilitated panel interviews. It involves participating on two panels with those who share your type structure. Interspersed between the panels is clear and useful teaching on the Enneagram from experienced and compassionate teachers. In addition, there are small group discussions, guided meditations and bodywork. Participants share meals and discussions during breaks.
Although I found all these parts of EPTP valuable, the part that sticks with me the most is the community that formed in five short days. My group last summer included South Africans, Australians, Ethiopians, Brits as well those from all over theU.S.. There were people from medicine, science, theology, and business. The group included those that had done a lot of personal work and those who had not. Two of my fellow Nines who quickly became my friends happened to be Ethiopian men. We marveled at how a Mid-Western housewife and two single men from Ethiopia could share many of the same struggles and strengths. Listening to panel after panel of my fellow students certainly birthed more self-awareness, but it also fostered an aching compassion for how each of us lose a sense of our essence in the process of living regardless of where you are from or what you do professionally. This is the magic of the Enneagram in the Narrative and of a training program like EPTP.
After completing the Intensive, which is part one of EPTP, I completed parts two and three in Menlo Park. I completed my internship of typing interviewing and panel facilitation in six months and returned to the Intensive last month to complete my certification. My plans for the future include teaching the Enneagram in my community, coaching individuals using the Enneagram and staying off the couch.