Part 1. How can Mindfulness and Enneagram help you to discover your main personality?
The Enneagram is a powerful and profound tool for studying human behavior. The focus is on nine interrelated personality types. Each type suggests a different way a person may look at the world and respond to life situations.
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to whatever arises moment by moment — awareness of thoughts, feelings, and actions without judging them. (Whenever something happens, accept it as the way things are.)
Mindfulness will help the Enneagram learner to slow down, to observe, then recognize their thoughts, feelings, and actions whether they like them or not. They arise from your beliefs (thinking influences feelings and actions), and so they tell you about yourself. Such patterns of thinking are essential to investigate with loving kindness while noticing them just as they are. Recognizing these patterns, especially those that are causing problems, leads you to your main personality in the Enneagram.
Enneagram provides reasonable, understandable and investigable ideas for learning more about the patterns of your beliefs. Using mindfulness and Enneagram together will help you develop self-realization and compassion toward yourself and other people, then lead you to liberation.
An Enneagram practitioner shares her experience with Mindfulness Enneagram study:
“After 20 hrs of learning about myself with Kessuda, who introduced me to the Enneagram way of living, it seemed like I had died and was reborn.
“I thought I knew who I was but it wasn’t my total being. Many times, I tried to pretend not to know my true feelings. I had been deluding myself, playing games with myself. I hid my sensitivity and vulnerability, showing only an exaggerated sense of self-confidence and strength.
I always thought I was right, had much more strengths than weaknesses until I had the opportunity to get to know myself.”
— Daorung, Master of Arts Program in Educational Psychology and Guidance.Counseling Graduate Student
Many people may believe, as Daorung did, that they already know themselves quite well. However, they don’t realize that such knowledge is often incomplete or superficial.
The things that we call “ourselves” are multifaceted. There are many aspects that we like and do not like — the open part of our identity and the shadow part. They all merge together into that which we call “us”.
To know myself: I know what I like or dislike, I predict I will act like this or that.
To be aware of myself: I notice how I tend to think, feel and act in situations that I like or dislike.
Mindfulness provides the ability to observe without judgment, being conscious of what thoughts show up and what emotional feelings and body sensations arise in each moment, as well as how they affect your body language and behavior. This practice will help you to learn to understand and aware of your true self from the Enneagram better.
Enneagram is like a roadmap to help you to discover your core beliefs, attitudes, fixations, motivations (drive), defense mechanisms, emotion base, subliminal messages, passion, and virtue. This learning will allow you to cultivate your potential.
Learning the Enneagram mindfully will give you a highly beneficial tool for strengthening self-awareness and increasing emotional intelligence. It will enable you to understand others better and bring you to freedom and happiness.
Many people have told me that they have known about the Enneagram for years and they believe they know their personality characteristics. But in many cases, the recurring problems in their life remain unresolved because they haven’t actually found their dominant personality and don’t know how to get the real potential of this powerful tool. To only know an Enneagram personality from reading books, watching videos, taking a personality test, and so on may not enough. Sometime people may summarize themselves in ways something like this:
* I like to make things perfect; I know what is right or wrong quickly, then I have to fix it = I’m type one, the Perfectionist or the Reformer.
* I like to help and give. It is great to please others = I’m type two, the Helper, the Giver or the Saint.
* I work hard, achieve many things, or I have to look good = I’m type three, the Achiever or the Performer.
* I’m sensitive, creative or like to be different = I’m type four, the Artist, the Romantic or the Individualist.
* I like to be alone, observe, correct information, like to read or think a lot = I’m type five, the Observer, Investigator or the Thinker.
* I like to question everything, want to make sure everything is safe, or am loyal = I’m type six, the Loyalist, the Guardian or the questioner.
* I like to have fun and adventures, or like to make plans = I’m type seven, the Adventurer, the Planner or the Enthusiast.
* I’m strong, protect others, or like to be a leader = I’m type eight, the Leader, the Protector or the Boss.
* I like to avoid conflict, be kind and/or easy-going = I’m type nine, the Comforter, the or the peacemaker.
Many may categorize themselves and others just from this information. But being aware of the motivation and needs that lie behind our behavior would more accurate and useful in finding our true personality.
If you want to understand yourself deeply, to find your dominant personality, here are some recommendations:
1. Practice Inner Observer (mindfulness) daily: stop all of your activity, find a stable and comfortable position like sitting or standing with back support. Bring attention to your body, pay attention to your breaths (natural breaths or deep breathing) for 5-10 breaths, depending on the time you have. Then move attention to your body sensations, noting what it feels like in each part of your body as well as any emotions and thoughts that arise. Bring attention back to your breaths again for the remainder of the time available.
– When you are stressed: slow down and take time to observe the patterns of thought that lead you to negative emotions. What kind of thoughts arise often? Please take note, it will provide insights into your beliefs or worldview. The nine Enneagram personalities revolve around different world views and drives.
– Whenever you are stressed: notice negative feelings that show up quite often. It may show your emotional base (dominant center: head, heart, gut) in Enneagram theory.
– In stressful situations: notice the ways you typically react, for example, fighting, fleeing, freezing, faking or flooding. Our actions tell us about our defense mechanisms and the way we use energy towards the world: introverts, extrovert, and both. Whatever arises, it is always the key to learning about yourself.
2. Find your strengths and weaknesses in general on your own and from people who know you well. Be open-minded and aware of the tendency that wants to hear only the parts that we like, then push away what we dislike. Notice and investigate this tendency if it arises. Enneagram theory gives you guidelines about the strengths and weaknesses of each personality.
3. Notice what makes you uncomfortable with others. The way that you expect other to behave may tell you about your values, beliefs, desires, and dominant type.
4. Observe what thoughts and actions you often have when you are in a safe, relaxed and stable environment. Enneagram tells about your behavior in this situation with the arrow theory.
5. Observe what thoughts and actions you often have when you are in an uncomfortable or a stressful environment. The Enneagram arrow theory will also guide you to discover possible behavior patterns in such situations.
6. Observe your focus of attention. Whatever our actions, it is always related to our highest priority needs. This observation will help you accurately identify your center and your Enneagram personality type as well.
Continuing mindful study of the Enneagram will help you to:
1. Understand, accept and have compassion for yourself and others.
2. Be aware of your beliefs, emotions, and actions. (Emotional Intelligence)
3. Be aware of others’ opinions, feelings, and actions. (Emotional Intelligence)
4. Build a healthy relationship with the people around you.
5. Heal yourself and reduce conflict, shifting toward more joy and peace with yourself and others.
6. Recognize and understand hidden problems, which can lead you into continuing relationship difficulties and stress in life.
7. Improve personal, family and work relationships. 8. Develop a flexible approach to life.
9. Maximize potential and begin to realize your innermost values and motivation, which speak to your purpose and make life meaningful.
If you can’t find your dominant personality or you know your Enneagram type but wonder why you still can’t find your potential or you don’t know how to deal with the ongoing issues or relationship problems, or you may need to know more about how to use the Enneagram healthily. If using these guidelines on your own seems complicated, incomplete, or difficult and you are thinking about looking for guidance to help you find your real personality. You may need to find an Enneagram teacher or coach who is experienced and skillful in both mindfulness practice and Enneagram. Someone who can listen to you entirely, who is present and non-judging, and who will help you to slow down, ask questions and enable you to find answers. A teacher you can trust and who will guide you in the same practices they are following themselves.
Author: Kessuda Boonngamanong, Enneagram and Mindfulness instructor.
Certified Mindfulness and Enneagram Professional Coach.
Who’s been teaching Mindfulness Enneagram for 17 years. She brought the Enneagram to use as one of the primary therapy programs for the Mindfulness Recovery Center.