Sunday, May 17, 2009

Energy, Centers of Intelligence, and the Enneagram

Determining your Point on the Enneagram of personality is best accomplished as a personal journey of self-discovery. The journey may be short or long depending on a number of factors: how well you know your internal terrain, how much you’ve camouflaged your natural personality to “get along” in the world, and the amount of time you spend noticing your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

A number of written tests have been developed that purport to find your Enneagram type. Unfortunately, results have been inconclusive (ambiguous) at best, and just plain wrong at worst. Nevertheless, a written test can be useful in beginning the process of inquiry into your habitual way of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Why don’t the tests conclusively ascertain our type? The Enneagram describes a worldview, certain beliefs and traits associated with that worldview, and habitual ways of perceiving and being in everyday life. Many of these aspects of type can be elucidated through pencil and paper tests. However, a very important element eludes reduction to multiple choice questions: the energy of each of the Enneagram types. That’s right - energy.

Energy is the manifestation of the life force of each of us. We sense the “energy” or substance of another individual whenever we come in contact with him. We feel if he “takes up a lot of space” or seems “lightweight”, if he seems “down to earth” or “transparent, almost invisible.” These descriptions by ordinary people about others embody what we mean by “energy”. We don’t physically see this energy, yet we have a ‘sense’ of the substance or life force of another even if we don’t think of it as “energy.” Each of the types has a specific energetic; a type of energy based on the primary center of intelligence utilized by the type. Each type also expresses a basic underlying emotion. How that basic, subconscious emotion is addressed by each particular type contributes to the “energetic.”

Centers of Intelligence: Making Sense of Our World

We perceive and interpret information from the environment through our five senses of hearing, seeing, taste, touch, and smell. Each of these senses has its own intelligence, adding to our conception and experience of the world around us. Yet we have more than our five senses to help us parse our environment and those that people it. We take in vital information through three additional senses or centers of intelligence. These centers are less well known, but are indispensable to understanding how we develop a worldview.

The three centers are the head or visionary center, the heart or emotional center, and the gut or instinctual center. All humans have all three centers of intelligence; although we may not access each of them equally. In the next few blog entries, we’ll examine the three centers in greater detail, how energy manifests for each Enneagram type, and how to feel and work with these different energies. Stay tuned.
(Material adapted from The Everyday Enneagram: A Personality Map for Enhancing Your Work, Love, and Life...Everyday.)

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