Where to Start First? How to Maximize your Learning Experience?
Arizona Enneagram Association Core Classes
A dictionary definition of personality is “the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics.” Some may simply say, “It’s who I am.” Personality is a self-concept that builds in childhood and is firmly in place by the time we are adults. It’s a highly sophisticated set of beliefs, behaviors and reactions that have been tried out and reinforced over time creating automatic, unconscious patterns and habits. Some of these patterns serve us well, others do not.
Our personality is who we think we are; who we really are is much more. Our personality helps us to get along in the world, to do good work and interact with others in loving ways. However, too strong an identification with our personality limits our freedom to experience and act from what teachers of many traditions call the True or Inner Self.
The Enneagram of Personality Types is a model that incorporates the observation that personalities develop in nine distinctive styles related to one’s habits of attention and emotion and the psychological structures that hold them in place. It recognizes three centers of intelligence-the head or mental intelligence, the heart or emotional intelligence and the body or instinctual intelligence. The Enneagram model also observes and incorporates the connection of the personality with its deeper realms. Working with our Enneagram Personality Type provides an interesting and accessible path toward the self-understanding and growth that lead toward increasing freedom, authenticity and wholeness.
The Arizona Enneagram Association offers a complete course of classes that lead students from a foundational understanding of the Enneagram and of their own Type through work on those elements of Type that present barriers to their spiritual freedom and, finally, to their personal experience of spiritual freedom.
All classes are taught by certified Enneagram teachers ( primarily those who have been trained in the Narrative Tradition) who are also Professional Members of the Arizona Enneagram Association. The Narrative Tradition is a method of teaching that involves listening to representatives of each Enneagram type share their personal experience. It not only provides an open exploration of each personality type, it also provides an abundance of data that supports the understanding of the Enneagram model.
These classes are offered on an ongoing basis, primarily in the Phoenix area. To find the schedule of classes that are being offered at any given time please visit the AEA website: www.arizonaenneagram.org.
Level 1 – Foundations
This class provides a thorough groundwork for understanding and utilizing the Enneagram of Personality model. Following the path of human development from early childhood, we describe the formation of personality type as habits of attention and emotion and the strategies that hold them in place in order to form an individual self-reflective consciousness.
We also examine the relationship between the personality self and the inner/core self with its permanent essential qualities of the life force (the Virtues) and of Being itself (the Holy Ideas.) This class also provides an overview of the paths and practices that lead toward personal integration.
Understanding ourselves as well as others from this perspective greatly enhances our acceptance and appreciation of ourselves and others and provides clear direction for continued growth and development.
Methods include teaching, exercises and brief panel interviews with class participants. The Essential Enneagram by Dr. David Daniels MD is used to assist participants in identifying their own Enneagram personality Type. This basic course is highly recommended as preparation for all of the continuing Enneagram classes. It is suitable for beginners as well as those who already have some familiarity with the Enneagram. This class is taught in a one day format.
This class provides an understanding of the twenty-seven subtypes of the Enneagram. The three centers of human intelligence of head, heart and body each generate three distinct personality types that result in a total of nine types. Each of the nine types has three possible subtypes based on whether a person’s instinctual drive toward Self-Preservation/Survival, Social Interaction /Belonging in Groups, or One-to-One Bonding/Intimacy is predominant. Knowing one’s subtype is important especially because we act out our Enneagram Types through our Subtype behavior. It can also help in identifying our Type by highlighting the effect or presence of wired-in, biological drives on human behavior.
Using teaching, exercises and brief panel interviews with class participants, you can expect to identify your subtype and begin working on how the instinctual drives affect your experience and behavior. The benefits of this work are a clearer, deeper understanding of your type and its attendant triggers and blind spots. This leads to better self-management resulting in greater presence and ease in life, work and relationships.
Level 2 – Barriers to Spiritual Freedom Series
The Barriers to Spiritual Freedom Series of classes will introduce you to the practice of inquiry as an essential tool for inner development and moving beyond the habitual identification and patterns of your personality type. Whereas our emotions and thinking are essential to our self-reflective consciousness, to the extent that they become unconscious habits with which we unconsciously identify ourselves they can result in automatic, knee-jerk reactions that limit our freedom of experience and responsiveness.
These classes offer you the opportunity to work in a small group environment to deepen your self-understanding and strengthen your inner observer which in turn leads to greater freedom of choice in how to respond from a grounded center. Each of the classes in this group focuses on a particular center of intelligence- the mental, the emotional or the instinctual- and may be taken in any order. F1: The Development and Structure of the Enneagram Personality Type is strongly recommended as preparation for all classes at this level.
In this class, you will clarify and deepen your understanding that personality is not all of who you are but rather is a structure that is formed and held in place by habits of attention. What does that mean? You can think of personality as a filter that is based on a set of beliefs that you have adopted about the world. This filter determines what you pay attention to. And what you pay attention to reinforces what you believe. And what you believe determines how you behave. It’s one giant feedback loop; a kind of trance. But reality is far broader than what our filters allow into our experience. In any situation, we have many choices open to us as to how to react and yet most of the time we fall into automatic patterns of response.
The key to breaking this “trance of type” is to develop what is called the “inner observer” – the capacity to observe one’s own behavior and motivation without judgment. That is the heart of the work that we do in this highly interactive class through inquiry exercises, practices of attention and dialogues on the habits of attention and the idealization, identification and secondary gain that reinforce the habit of attention. .
As very young children we experience afflictive or “negative” emotions such as anxiety, anger or distress when we encounter conflict or danger in our environment. By the time we are six or seven years old, we develop neuro-physiological pathways or habits of these afflictive emotions (called “passions” in the Enneagram model) according to our temperament and specific to our emerging Type.
These habits of emotion and their defenses provide a way of adapting to the world and lead toward the development of individual, self-reflective consciousness. However, to the extent that we are not aware of these habits we tend to have unconscious, “knee-jerk” reactions to our environment and in our relationships. When experiencing our passions, we lose contact with the natural qualities of our life force energy (called “Virtues” in the Enneagram model.) The emotional patterns that contribute to our human consciousness can become barriers to deeper experience and to further development.
In this class we work with the emotional center and explore the passions of each of the Types and the way in which specific avoidances, defense mechanisms and projections of our worldview support the experience and expression of our passion. Through inquiry exercises, dialogue, and practices of attention and letting go you will recognize your own passion and learn how to loosen the defense system that keeps it running on automatic. You will gradually lessen your identification with your Type and develop greater freedom and authenticity.
Our instinctual energies drive us to seek survival, intimacy in one-to-one bonding, and social belonging. They are expressed through our Enneagram Type and affect our behavior in the arenas of relationship to oneself, to another individual and to social groups. Observation of these “subtype” behaviors can assist greatly in identifying the movement of the instinctual energies that give rise to the behaviors.
The exercises, practices and dialogue in this class will help you to identify and deepen your understanding of your subtypes and how your subtype placement of attention affects your behavior and relationships. The intent of this work is to use the observation of subtype behavior to become aware of your instinctual energies and to open the body center to the experience of essence.
Doing this puts us in touch with what is always accessible – the deep knowing that we are safe and secure, loved and affirmed, and powerful in a grounded way. It leads us into deeper authenticity and presence when we know that we don’t have to strategize to get something that we think is missing but rather open to receive the wholeness that is available to us—a huge benefit of dong this work.
Level 3 – Accessing the Higher Qualities of Type
These classes give students the opportunity to continue their work in a small group environment. Having already developed skills in inner observation, students are led into the direct experience of the qualities of their higher emotional and mental centers, the Virtues and Holy Ideas. The experience of these higher qualities can lead to a deep transformation of our patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. The experience and response to these innate qualities lead to greater freedom, personal authenticity and wholeness.
The Virtues described by the Enneagram are qualities of the higher emotional center of one’s Type. Specifically, the Virtues are qualities of the life force and can be experienced in everyday life when we are well-balanced and non-reactive, when our heart center is open and awake. Although the Virtues are always present, they are frequently screened out of our awareness by our Type, particularly when we are in the reactivity of our passion or the fixation of our mental habits. The good news is that when we connect to any one of the Virtues, we have access to them all!
This is a highly experiential class that gives you an opportunity to work with a community of like-minded seekers. Through exercises, meditation practices and dialogue you will:
- Discover practical ways to work through the automatic responses of your Type
- Learn how to relax the contraction that occurs when you become reactive
- Experience Serenity, Humility, Honesty, Equanimity, Nonattachment, Courage, Constancy, Innocence and Right Action
- Open more easily and frequently to the grace of being present in your life
The Holy Ideas are qualities of the higher mental center of our Enneagram Type that are related to Essence or Being itself, to our relationship to Being and to our response to Being as a result of that relationship. The Holy Ideas are direct perceptions of Reality that are not obscured by the perceptions of our Type and, in that sense, are sacred experiences of Being, or Essence. Like the Virtues, they are permanent qualities although we may need new capacities that exceed those of our personality Type in order to experience them.
Connecting with your Holy Idea brings with it the experience of Basic Trust, which is a deep abiding knowing that what is happening is optimal or optimizing. This is a trust that is not dependent on a person, thing or situation but rather a feeling of complete confidence that life is unfolding in “right order,” despite circumstance – that you are deeply, completely and permanently “held.”
This is a highly experiential class that gives you the opportunity to interact with a community of like-minded seekers. Through exercises, meditation practices and dialogue in class you will:
- Learn how to be receptive to the Holy Ideas of Love, Faith and Hope as well as that of your own Type
- Feel more ease and freedom as you replace efforting with trust
- Relax the automatic defensive patterns of your Type and open to presence, grace and joy in your life
- Feel the freedom and authenticity of a deeper sense of your own self and that of others
Spiritual Freedom Intensive Classes
The Spiritual Freedom Intensives are 5-day residential programs that offer the Level 2 and 3 classes described above in a condensed format rather than over a period of weekly meetings. The shortened format makes this valuable work available to those who do not live in the Phoenix area. It also provides an environment for deep study and experience. The residential retreat format of the Spiritual Freedom Intensives provides the opportunity to experience the dynamic of working with the barriers to spiritual freedom and of experiencing spiritual freedom as a whole rather than over a period of many weeks in separate classes.
The Spiritual Freedom Intensives offer you the opportunity to work in a small group in a retreat environment to deepen your self-understanding and strengthen your inner observer which in turn leads to greater freedom of choice in how to respond from a grounded center rather than react from unconscious habits. They also support you in the development of increased capacities for experiencing the qualities of higher mind, heart and body; for experiencing greater authenticity and freedom as a personal self.
The Spiritual Freedom Intensives are especially appropriate and valuable for those who incorporate the Enneagram into their practices as teachers, therapists, coaches, or spiritual directors. The AEA makes all of the materials used in these programs available to all participants for their own personal or professional use. Participation in the intensive classes is of value to those who have already taken some or all of the individual classes of Levels 1 and 2 above as it supports the integration of their understanding and deepens their personal experience of spiritual freedom.
In this 5-day residential program you will explore the patterns of your mental, emotional and instinctual centers of knowing as well as the idealization and defense system that hold them in place. You will work with your instinctual energy center to gain the experience of Essence that puts you in touch with the deep knowing that you are safe and secure, loved and affirmed, and powerful in a grounded way. Deeper authenticity and presence is possible when you realize that you don’t have to strategize to get something that you think is missing, but rather open to receive the wholeness that is available to you.
This is a highly experiential class that gives you an opportunity to work with a community of like-minded seekers. Through inquiry exercises, self observation, inner practices, body movement and panel interviews you will:
- Strengthen your inner observer and your capacity for presence
- Learn how to reduce the automatic knee-jerk reactivity produced by your passion
- Become aware of your instinctual energies and how they influence your behavior when filtered by your Type
- Lessen you identification with your Type
- Grow in a sense of freedom and authenticity
In this 5-day residential program you will be led into the direct experience of the qualities of your higher emotional and mental centers, the Virtues and the Holy Ideas. We begin with opening the instinctual center and experiencing Essence and proceed toward the experience of the balanced and unimpeded life force whose qualities are the Virtues and then to the qualities of Being or Essence.
This is a highly experiential class that gives you the opportunity to interact with a community of like-minded seekers. Through inquiry exercises, meditation practices, dialogue and panel interviews you will:
- Discover practical ways to work through the automatic reactions of your Type
- Learn how to relax the contraction that occurs when you become reactive
- Experience the Virtues of Serenity, Humility, Honesty, Equanimity, Nonattachment, Courage, Constancy, Innocence and Right Action
- Learn how to be receptive and responsive to the Holy Ideas of Love, Faith and Hope as well as that of your own Type
- Open more easily and frequently to the grace, presence and joy in your life
Connecting with your Holy Idea brings with it the experience of Basic Trust, a deep abiding knowing that what is happening is optimal or optimizing. This is a trust that is not dependent on a person, thing or situation but rather a feeling of complete confidence that life is unfolding in “right order,” despite circumstance—that you are deeply, completely and permanently “held.” As we experience Basic Trust we gain the freedom to enter more easily into the presence and flow of Essence that leads to a transformation of our consciousness that deepens and fulfills our personhood.