The Enneagram – What’s All the Fuss About?

I’ll tell you what all the fuss is about. It’s about this being a fabulous tool for understanding ourselves and others. It’s about this being a great map for exploring the desires, fears and core motivations which make us tick. And it’s about this being a way of awakening to our highest selves, seeing others through a lens of acceptance and compassion, and even experiencing the world as a place where we all belong.

That’s a tall order, eh? Well, I’m here to tell you, the Enneagram delivers everything it promises.

I’ve been studying and using the Enneagram in my own life since 2000, and I am still discovering new avenues for observing myself. Through the Enneagram, I’ve learned to spot those behaviors which take me down some old familiar rabbit holes. Yet, because the Enneagram helps me understand the natural human attachments which drive me, I’ve developed quite a bit of compassion for myself.

Now when I see myself doing those things I do, instead of asking, “What in the world is wrong with me?” I am much more inclined to say, “Well, there I go again being me!” It’s such an easier and gentler way to live.

When something brings us this much understanding of ourselves, it’s bound to spill over into our relationships. Better than anything I’ve ever encountered, the Enneagram helps me really get that everyone is operating out of the same kind of personality stew (including the good stuff along with the pesky) that I am. It’s just that their stew is as particular to them as mine is to me.

Seeing where we get stuck within ourselves is just the beginning. The Enneagram offers a map for moving beyond these patterns. It points the way towards real personal and spiritual growth by guiding us towards that essence we were when we came into the world but have forgotten about. It shows us what gift we each bring to the human family and how we can awaken it within ourselves and express it in the world with awareness, yet still through our own unique personality. We grow but stay the same. We don’t have to give up being who we are in order to awaken to who we are! Pretty cool, huh?

Although I’ve been teaching the Enneagram for  years now, I still consider myself a student. I continue to read, consult with other Enneagram teachers, and attend training events to broaden my knowledge base, sharpen my teaching methods and learn new ways to engage with it to navigate my life.

You’ve heard the expression that the map is not the territory (if you haven’t, then you have now). Well, the territory is us. Who we are is really what we’re all searching for. This thing called us is a territory filled with smooth paved roads, bumpy curvy ones and sudden dead ends; mountain vistas and misty valleys; light-filled meadows and dark patches of woods; places we love and those we wish we didn’t even know about.

When you decide to travel into this territory of yourself, I suggest you take along a good flashlight, a compass and a map. The flashlight is your commitment to being more aware and accepting and loving of yourself and others. The compass is your own north star leading you home to that essence which is waiting for you. And the map…well, there are lots of maps which can take us home to ourselves. The one I recommend is the one I’ve been following all these years – the Enneagram. It never goes out of date, it never gets boring, and it never steers me wrong.

To learn more about my Enneagram offerings, click here: https://www.spaceforconsciousliving.com/the-enneagram/

 

The Mystic Heart That Will Save Us

The Mystic Heart That Will Save Us

Part of my lifelong calling and current work is as a teacher. One of the ways I really love to do this is lead groups to explore and discuss books. To find the right book, first I see where my current questions are leading me and then make the assumption that other searching souls are being led in the same direction. Then I look around at the books I’ve read or want to read and see which of those will shed light on my concerns and make the assumption that they will shed light on the concerns of the other searching souls. (Lots of assuming, I know.) Then I spread all these books out on the floor, get down on my knees, dangle a crystal over them until it is spinning wildly, and then I know that’s my book. Okay, that last part is not true. But I do pull a few books out and set them on my desk so I can see them in passing. I thumb through them, read or re-read parts, put them aside, ignore them, pick them up again, set them back down, and then (I swear this part is true), one day I just know which book to use. It’s like the cover is a little brighter and the words of the title a bit clearer than the others. This method has yet to fail me.

About five or six years ago, I read The Mystic Heart by the late monk Wayne Teasdale. I knew I wanted to offer it, but it just wasn’t time. I didn’t have a firm enough grasp on his proposition. So I’ve been using other wonderful books which I think really matter for the spiritual journey. Earlier this year, and as a direct result of the election, I led two studies of books which tie spirituality together with how to survive these chaotic and scary times. They are The Powers That Be by Walter Wink and Active Hope by Joanna Macy, both of which I highly recommend. Then I let the summer go by, led two workshops on the Enneagram and another on cultivating our relationship with the Divine all while incubating the question of which book to go with next.

And then one day in late August, The Mystic Heart leapt off my desk, shouting “Pick me, pick me! It’s time!”

Teasdale’s premise is that if our venerated religious institutions want to play their part in moving human consciousness to the next level so we can stand a chance of surviving, they better get over themselves. They better come to grips with the fact that at their core, they’re not all that different. They’re all trying to answer the same questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? And where am I going? These are questions which have captivated humankind long before institutional religion developed. They are questions of soul and spirit, not doctrine and dogma.

The answers to these questions can be found in the great perennial spiritual wisdom which runs like a river through the world’s religions. Each religious tributary certainly has its own direction, and that’s just fine. Teasdale nor those who inspired him are saying these have to be relinquished. What Teasdale IS saying is that the time has come for our religions to go beyond tolerance and even acceptance. To truly serve us at this critical moment in our history, our religions must find that place from which they all spring, that place where all directions to the Divine begin and end, a place Teasdale calls the “interspiritual.”

Teasdale tells us that without giving up their own particular form, our world religions must discover the mystic heart of “interspirituality” which beats in all of them. This heart reveals these core truths: We are all one, we come from the same place, we’re here to discover our true essential divine nature, and we’re headed back to the same place from which we came.

By embracing these fundamental truths, the religions of the world can come together, not to just tolerate and even accept one another, but to embrace one another like brothers and sisters separated at birth. While celebrating their individuality, these religious siblings can rejoice in their common spiritual parentage. In this blended family of “interspirituality,” the religions of the world truly can work together towards the common goals of human service grounded in a collective ethic, a shared global commitment to economic and social justice, recognition of our oneness as human beings, and the evolution of our glorious world into its next stage of higher consciousness.

 

 

 

Forgiveness – I’ll Meet You There

Forgiveness – I’ll Meet You There

We often hear that when we forgive someone for hurting us, we are really giving a gift to ourselves. When I trade in hurt and anger for forgiveness, I discover a deep peace and freedom. I’m no longer carrying around that resentment which has been chewing on me, and my world feels a little bit better. But if you’ve ever been the one who did the offending, the one who inflicted the wound (and who hasn’t?) and yet been forgiven, then you know what a great gift it is to be on the receiving end of that trade. So I think it works both ways – forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves and to others. We all get hurt in life, and we all hurt others because we’re all flawed human beings. When we extend forgiveness, it’s a mutual exchange of mercy, and everybody receives.

“But what if I’m not ready to forgive?” I can hear the question rising up in your throat as you read this. Forgiveness is not an event. It’s not a quick snap-of-our- fingers fix. It’s a process, and it can take time. But consider this idea. What if we think of forgiveness as a place? A place we know exists even if it is far away, and in order to get there, all we have to do to begin the journey is open the door a tad. Maybe peek out, maybe not. We go back to our coffee, to our laptops, to whatever it is we do, but the door’s been opened. When we’re ready, we open the door a little more. And then one day, we take a step. And then another. We pass a speed limit sign which says “As fast or as slow as you need to go.” We take a few more steps. We pass a destination sign which say “Forgiveness – As close or as far as you need it to be.”

Over time, we find we think less and less about the offense and that our baggage of hurt and anger starts to grow wings as it gets lighter and lighter. We’re moving towards this place called Forgiveness, and the journey is not nearly as painful as we thought it would be. So what do we do? We keep going.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.  ~Rumi, 13th Century Sufi Mystic