Layers & Layers
One of the things I love about the Enneagram is its many layers. It doesn’t seem to matter how long I work with it – there are always new, deeper places into which it shines some insightful light. My most recent experience was at the AEA’s “Working with the Barriers to Spiritual Freedom” program held in Tucson.
This was an intensive 5 day workshop designed to process deeply what the Enneagram teaches us about our Type set-up and how it can keep us from a full expression of who we really are. We explored our habits of attention, our idealizations, passions, avoidances, defense mechanisms and projections – no stone in our Type structure was left unturned!
We did a lot of processing in pairs. While debriefing the work we’d done on Avoidances of the Types, my dyad partner shared an epiphany she’d had. She asked me if I’d had any epiphanies. I said a small one – we decided to call it an epiphanini (Yes, Ee-pif–a–ninny) – or epiphanette, if you prefer. But the more I think about it, the more I think it deserves full epiphany status. Let me explain.
One of the questions we were working on was, “What might happen if you didn’t avoid ________?” (Fill in the blank with whatever your Type is famous for trying to avoid. For my Type 5, that’s emptiness.) So the first thing out of my mouth was, “I might be filled up.” (Clue: If the first thing out of your mouth after reading that is, “well, duh,” you know you’re not a Type 5.)
Now this idea of things running into their opposites is nothing new to those of you who hang out in Enneagram territory, but it was quite significant that it was the FIRST thing out of my mouth. See, I know it’s the “right” answer because my astute teachers have hinted at this strange notion before. But in the past my mind would nevertheless go to the importance of avoiding empty – saying things like, “If I didn’t avoid emptiness I would feel drained or lonely or insufficient or flat out freaked out! Not avoid emptiness…are you crazy?” After all it’s, in David Daniels words, “the-awful-to-be-warded-off-state” – I’m sure you have one of those too.
This time, it was not only the first thing to pop into my head, it went deeper than my head – it was a whole body experience – I “grokked” it (a word I love and will continue to use despite the fact that it really, really dates me). Now my penchant for mentally chewing on stuff might tempt me to jump back into the fray and try to figure out exactly how this not avoiding what you don’t want gets you what you do want, but I can just smile and remember my epiphanini and how it felt – the layers and layers and layers of it – thanks to 5 magical days among wonderful Enneagram friends surrounded by mountains and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert – yes!