Thursday, March 31, 2022


"We first thought of presence as being fully conscious and aware in the present moment. Then we began to appreciate presence as deep listening, of being open beyond one's preconceptions and historical ways of making sense. We came to see the importance of letting go of old identities and the need to control . . . leading to a state of 'letting come,' of consciously participating in a larger field for change." (Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers, Presence, pp. 13-14).
The most important and basic practice toward liberation from any one Enneagram fixation is to observe your patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior without judging or interpreting. This quality of awareness, which Enneagram teachers refer to as "the observer," is similar to the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, holding full awareness in the present, noticing your flow of thoughts, accepting your experiences without judgment, without attempts to control.
  1. Being present moment by moment to automatic, unconscious, and habitual behavior. Become simply a mirror to yourself--what are you thinking, feeling, experiencing? Pay attention to how self-judgment is part of a set of habitual patterns that form a fixation. (I remember my big "ah-hah" moment in a long-ago workshop with Claudio Naranjo, when he pointed out that self-judgment is part of what keeps us fixed at one of the nine points--self-judgment is simply another mechanism of the fixation that we can observe and release.) The true observer is outside the points and lines of the Enneagram; it simply sees what is.
  2. Noticing and learning from not being present. When you've been chugging along, enacting one of the points automatically, instead of criticizing  yourself or feeling regret, simply stop and describe how you have avoided being present. It's natural to drift away from self-observation. When did you first notice yourself operating from the fixation? What, exactly, did you do? What did you say to yourself?
Self-awareness without judgment is the pathway to releasing a fixation. Instead of theorizing about or labeling your behavior, simply identify, embrace, and learn from your patterns. In Enneagram Spirituality, Suzanne Zuercher used the term "active contemplation" to connote this spiritual stance of mindfulness: awareness of our habits of attention, the intention to invite our unknown and disowned parts to come forth, and the readiness to take specific actions that shift our focus of attention.

From this perspective you can stay present while doing what is most difficult for you, without avoiding or denying or projecting blame. One way to begin--write down one pattern of behavior that's been characteristic of your key fixation and has caused you difficulty.
  1. Hold the intention to invite the pattern instead of ignoring or trying to overcome it. Do this for several days. Notice any annoyance or frustration that it's still with you. Let go of self-judgment.
  2. Engage in the patterned behavior consciously, but change one small thing from the way you usually do it. You might exaggerate it, or add to it. When you do this, what are you thinking, feeling, experiencing? Let go of self-judgment.