By Carole Whittaker, PhD
In four short and busy years the Arizona Enneagram Association (AEA) has gone from a start-up organization to offering in 2013 a 5 day experiential, residential program on Working with the Barriers to Spiritual Freedom and hosting David Daniels and Russ Hudson – together!!! – this November.
How did we get here? The AEA was formed during the fall of 2008 through the dedication, talent, and energy of 10 women trained in the Narrative Tradition (affectionately known as “the founding mothers”) who were determined to preserve and nourish the teaching of the Enneagram in Arizona.
You will no doubt recognize at least some of their names: Jaye Andres, Andrea Andress, Robin Cameron, Gloria Cuevas-Barnett, Gerry Fathauer, Linda Frazee, Fran Lyons, Barbara (Mira) Rossman, Judy Shoob, and Carole Whittaker. Gerry, Linda, Fran and Barbara have since “retired” from Board service and been replaced by a new generation of willing servants.
During its first year the AEA was incorporated as a non-profit organization, sponsored workshops by Helen Palmer and David Daniels, established a membership program for general and professional members, set up a scholarship account and launched a website. Helen and David were vital presenters that first year as they not only brought the excellence of their teaching but also attracted audiences who contributed to the financial viability of the organization and the fledgling scholarship fund.
We’ve come a long way in a short time. We now have a home at the adult education Transformational Learning Center of the Paradise Valley United Methodist Church (thanks to Andrea Andress, who is the assistant pastor there). The AEA has 100 professional, general and associate members, a mailing list of over 1200 and, miracle of all miracles, a part-time administrator to relieve the all-volunteer board members.
From an initial goal of simply keeping the Enneagram work alive in Arizona it is now our intention to form a community of practice among members and board, teachers and students that contributes to the expansion of consciousness through the understanding of human personality and spirituality.
Helen and David have continued to come for special events and have been joined recently by Jack Killen, Terry Saracino and Marion Gilbert. We have even ventured out a bit from our core Narrative Tradition teachers and invited Richard Rohr and Jerry Wagner in 2011 and 2012. Russ Hudson will be joining David Daniels for a much-anticipated workshop November 9 and 10 of this year.
In addition to special events, the AEA offers classes at an introductory level and beyond to help seekers understand the Enneagram and use it in their personal lives and relationships.
Professional members (those in the fields of psychology, coaching, teaching, spiritual direction or the like who have at least 50 hours of participation in Narrative Tradition Enneagram courses) provide ongoing financial support for the administration of the AEA and serve as links in marketing programs. More importantly, professional membership in the AEA provides a network of relationships whereby the professional members make their work known as counselors, teachers, coaches or spiritual directors and have access to advanced Enneagram trainings.
Genesis of the Spiritual Freedom Work
To our intention of raising consciousness, we are absolutely delighted to be launching a unique opportunity for Enneagram devotees to deepen their understanding of type, in community with others, through process work. “Working with the Barriers to Spiritual Freedom,” is being offered as an intensive 5-day program May 17-21, 2013 at the beautiful Redemptorist Renewal Center in Picture Rocks, just north of Tucson, Arizona.
Let me give you a little background on how this developed. The AEA is the “heir” to an important body of work developed during the ten years prior to its own formation that included an in-depth introductory workshop and a series of classes developed in conjunction with Helen Palmer. From 2001-2005, Helen presented her series of workshops on spiritual freedom in the Phoenix area. It was a masterful synthesis of how the psychology of personality is related to our spiritual dimensions and how to work with personality type to open the barriers to spiritual freedom.
After each of her public workshops, Helen worked with local teachers to develop 6-session “follow-on” classes to help students integrate their experience and learning. I (Carole) had a previous stint as a curriculum developer in the physical sciences for UCLA’s continuing education division.
So by the time we were teaching the 2nd follow-on for Helen’s series, I recognized that these classes were deeply related to one another and needed to be offered as an on-going, integrated curriculum of Enneagram study. Over the ensuing years, we offered all of the classes on a regular basis. To date, our local teachers have facilitated over 35 of these classes in small group settings, reaching hundreds of participants.
The Spiritual Freedom Curriculum
Part of Helen’s great insight is that the Virtues are permanent qualities of the life force, that the Holy Ideas are permanent qualities of Being, and that a barrier exists between our everyday, mental-rational-personality consciousness and our inner realms of consciousness where these qualities reside.
The first three courses, which we call “Working with the Barriers to Spiritual Freedom,” work in turn with the mental center, the heart center and then the instinctual center, reversing the order in which personality is formed. The work done by students and facilitators goes well beyond the descriptions of personality type and its structure and focuses on the process of non-judgmental observation of the phenomenon of Type. This strengthens the capacity of one’s Inner Observer and allows one to let go of identification with Type.
Having worked with and through the barriers and strengthened the capacity for inner observation, students are helped to awaken their own experience of and cooperation with the Virtues and Holy Ideas in the fourth and fifth courses that we call “Experiencing Spiritual Freedom.”
Each of the 6-session courses allows at least a week between meetings for practice and inner observation. Class sessions include an extensive report-back from participants on their experience as well as attention practice, brief didactic presentations, dyad exercises and debriefs.
Students who have participated in this work have experienced great freedom! Their personalities do not “disappear” but open up to manifest the lovely qualities which are their inner foundation. They rejoice in experiencing reduced reactivity and in finding a more authentic expression of their Self in everyday life, especially in their relationships. Teachers have been amazed at the transformation experienced by students.
Making the Spiritual Freedom Work Available to a Wider Audience
Due to the 6-week format for these classes, participation has been limited to a local Arizona audience. In order to make this valuable work available to a wider audience, we are condensing the curriculum and offering it in the form of 2 intensive retreats plus an opportunity for practice through phone groups in the interim between the two.
As I said earlier, the first part of the curriculum, “Working with the Barriers to Spiritual Freedom,” is being offered as an intensive 5-day program May 17-21, 2013 at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Picture Rocks, AZ. The second part of the curriculum, “Experiencing Spiritual Freedom,” will be offered in May, 2014 for those who want to continue with the work.
Gloria Cuevas-Barnett, Robin Cameron and I will be teaching the class and most of the AEA Board will be attending. Having three teachers will allow us to work in small groups for our process work. We sent preliminary announcements to members of AENT as well as AEA students so there is a strong participation from Narrative Tradition folks. Interestingly, a number of people are coming who have already taken (even taught!) the entire series. There are still a few spaces remaining so if you are interested in participating we would love to have you. Check out the AEA website here or call me directly at 480 502-4446.
Special Resource for Enneagram Professionals
The materials and processes used in the spiritual freedom work are great resources for Enneagram professionals to use in their practice, especially in any kind of small group meeting. They provide an effective way of working with the Enneagram, in the Narrative Tradition, without needing a large audience. They are really effective in helping to integrate our ordinary consciousness with the inner realms.
Some of these materials originated from Helen Palmer who has now passed them on to the use of teachers. I am claiming no copyright over the materials I have contributed. Participants are welcome and encouraged to use the materials they will receive in their class workbooks in their own work. In addition, a special materials package will be available (for an additional cost) that will include all of the class materials in Word and/or PDF format on a CD, a DVR teaching session and PowerPoint presentation on CD of the introductory foundations on the development of Type.
Please send us your blessing to help extend this work.
Posted by Andrea Andress