My personality was ruining my life.
It was creating persistent suffering for me and also hurting all the people around me whom I loved. At age 29, I hit a rock bottom. While my life looked pretty good from the outside, my insides were in turmoil. Inner critic voices were screaming at me, and pushing me into obsessive compulsive behaviors. I didn’t know how to stop, how to change. I didn’t know I had choices about how to respond to the chaos of life. Then I found the Enneagram. Or perhaps it found me. And the Wisdom within the Enneagram teachings kept whispering to me, and sometimes shouting, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”
At first, I did my best to read as many books as I could, to memorize all the information about the types, and launched into countless engaging discussions on the topic with my friends at parties. While this was interesting and stimulating, my life went on as usual. I still woke up irritated most days, had judging and shaming voices in my head, a heart that was either emotionally numb or overly reactive, and a body that was carrying huge amounts of stored tension and restlessness.
This all changed in 2017 when I attended a deep dive Enneagram workshop with master teacher Anne Muree. In this six-day journey, she introduced me to the missing piece that makes the Enneagram transformative: Presence. Presence is hard to explain, and can only be experienced. And it takes practice. It also requires an open willingness to be changed. To step into the unknown. Other words that point to the meaning of Presence are: Mindfulness, Embodiment, Awareness, Awakeness, and Integration of body, heart and mind. In Anne’s class, we practiced this through guided visualizations, meditations, conversational exercises with partners, breathing, journaling, and panel discussions. As a group, we began to embody “The Work” of the Enneagram. Lightbulbs of insight were popping off left and right, my Inner Critic voices were diminishing, and my body felt lighter, my mind more free.
I began to attend as many Enneagram workshops as I could, mostly through the Enneagram Institute with Russ Hudson and Michael Naylor. Their unique style of Enneagram learning combined with practicing Presence, (specifically through exercises called “repeating questions” which are done with a partner and break through our ego’s defenses) was revolutionary. Last summer after attending a week-long course with Russ in New York, I felt reborn. (I know that sounds silly, but it’s true!) The old me, my False Self (ego/personality), felt distant and irrelevant. I had touched into a grounded sense of wholeness and Being like I had never experienced before. I was living from my Essence for the first time. It was a profound sense of spiritual awakening that I wanted to carry with me back into my messy daily life of work, family, relationships, and mundane practical matters.
As time went on, the “field” of energetic support I had felt with the group out in New York began to wane. I had no community of support to come home to, to continue to hold me accountable, to speak my language, and do The Work with me. Despite my many spiritual practices and supports, without an ongoing community of support, my ego inevitably began to creep back in. While wonderful, this model of spending thousands of dollars to go out to New York for a training once a year was proving to be unsustainable, in more ways than one.
By some guided grace, I was connected with Enneagram teacher Jenny Campbell (www.enneawake.com), who invited me into her online Enneagram community as a place to continue wrestling with the materials, doing the inner work, and applying it all to the messiness and ongoing challenges of my daily life. I began, once again, and quite quickly, to notice huge leaps of growth within me, and now I had a community to sustain me.
Surprisingly, I felt closely connected to this group of people after only a couple of weeks, despite the format of meeting online via Zoom. We were spread out all over the country (and a few internationally), but we were tied together by the common desire of doing The Work of waking up. We all recognized how easy it is to slip back into a “sleepwalking” state, to go on autopilot and hand over the wheel to our egos. We all recognized that it takes persistent and ongoing support to stay awake and present to our Essence, to our suffering, and to the tricks of the Personality and Inner Critic. By naming our shadows, resentments, shame, and fears, and allowing the group to hold space for us with unconditional love, we were all changing in tangible and meaningful ways. We were all experiencing the truth taught by G.I. Gurdjieff, one of the original developers of the Enneagram teachings; the truth that,
“Doing spiritual work alone is not hard, it is impossible.”
I want to invite you into this work. No matter where you are at in your Enneagram journey, as a newcomer who doesn’t yet know their type or as an old-timer who has been studying for decades, this Work has something amazing to offer you if you are only willing to be radically honest with yourself and allow yourself to be witnessed by others.
This September, I will be offering a 10 month online Enneagram course like the one described above, called Journeying With the Enneagram. Jenny Campbell herself has generously volunteered to mentor me into this process and has allowed me to use her format to start my own online community. We will meet weekly on Tuesday evenings, using the book “The Wisdom of the Enneagram” as our study guide, doing exercises and homework together, and sharing our “wins,” struggles, and questions, as well as practicing Presence together, which means learning to connect with the true intelligence of the Body, Heart, and Mind. As a participant in this course, you will also meet with me for a 1:1 support session each month to help integrate your learning and go deeper into personal issues as they arise.
As a participant in this community, this will be a big commitment for you. But the more you put into The Work and the group, the more you will receive, and the more freedom you will experience in all areas of your life. As Riso and Hudson put it in their book The Wisdom of the Enneagram:
“When we are willing to experience the truth of how we have been and how we are now,
and when we are willing to let ourselves be healed, our true nature emerges.
The outcome is guaranteed: all we have to do is show up.” (pp. 35)
If you are feeling called to show up to your true and beautiful self, to show up to your life and make the most of it, and to show up as the best version of yourself for those you love, you may be ready for this course and this community. Click HERE for a thorough description of this course and find what to expect. Please take this Readiness Assessment Survey to determine if this course will be a good fit for you at this time.
Whether it is through this course or other workshops, I look forward to journeying with the Enneagram with you. I am so grateful and humbled to be called into this powerful work.
I'm a Spiritual Director, Enneagram Educator, and Liberationist-Buddhist-Universalist-Mystic-12 step-Queer-Christian. Playing with questions, answers, and surrender.