Book Report: The Sacred Enneagram

What follows won’t be my normal book report. I don’t know what it will be, really, because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to adequately explain the profound effect that The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, by Christopher L. Heuertz has had on me. Anyway, I knew I picked up those Enneagram books for a reason.

If You Don’t Know What an Enneagram Is, Skip This Part

I liked it. A lot.

By the time I finished the book, I realized I had mis-typed myself, and thankfully someone who understands this mumbo-jumbo better than I do helped me figure out why that happened. I feel good about things now, even if it turns out I am a Type 1 perfectionist. Ugh. But accurate. In my younger years, I veered off to the adjacent Type 2, who want to help everybody and everything, and since menopause, I have been leaning to Type 9, so no wonder I thought that was my type originally.

I’m grateful to my two friends named Victoria who talked to me and helped me figure that all out. It’s so good to have a sounding board when you know there’s something not quite right, but you can’t figure out what it is.

Here’s the Fascinating Part

At least it’s fascinating and surprising to me. The author of the book is a young man who has spent much of his life doing charity work and comes from a strong Catholic background. I talked about this, and how he even knew Mother Teresa, when I reviewed The Enneagram of Belonging, his other recent book. So, yeah, he sprinkled examples from his own spiritual journey throughout this book, as well.

The thing is, the way he wrote about the practices of his teachers, their attitudes toward God and Jesus, and their goals for their spiritual development really resonated with me. As I read on and on about the contemplative Christian tradition, I felt more and more at peace with their goals and practices.

Toward the end of the book, when Heuertz talks about ways of prayer that will help you find your spiritual home, I was deeply moved. The aims of these Christian prayers and practices practically mirrored my own, other than the words they used to refer to the Divine. There is centering, stillness, attention to your breathing and body, and invoking love. Just like what I do.

What works for me may not work for you. Image by @linnflorin via Twenty20.

It fits in very well with the kind of Buddhist teachings I am most drawn to, as well, which are the more nature-focused ones that view us on Earth as all part of one entity. Just like the Christian God being in us all and accepting us all just the way we are.

I even see where Brene Brown’s spirituality comes from, though she may well approach it from a different tradition. It all boils down to acceptance of our whole selves (not, in my case, the perfect self I keep trying to get to with all this self help, education, and introspection).

So, for me (and I would think to many readers who plow through the whole book), the Enneagram types and interrelationships all turn out to be a tool to use to figure out how to get past all that stuff. Wow. Mind blown!

As a non-Christian, the most intriguing part (and the one I want to know a LOT more about) is how these contemplative Christians fit Jesus into all this, since you sorta do have to be a fan of Christ to be a Christian. When Heuertz goes into stories about Jesus, it reminds me of my years stuck in a basement with two former theologians (supposedly writing our dissertations), where it dawned on me slowly that they knew perfectly well there’s a lot of analogy, metaphor, and interpretation going on when it comes to the role of Jesus in their faith.

One Thing This Book Did for ME

Going through this book, and reading a little more about the groups of Jesuits, Sufi, and other spiritual guides Heuertz talks about, woke me up to an area where I have needed to do more work. I realized, deep in my heart, that not all people in organized religions fit into my stereotypes. My history with Christianity has led me to some pretty unfair over-generalizations, which I’ve been trying to rid myself of, slowly but surely.

There are lots of paths to inner peace and oneness with the Divine. Mine now makes sense. I wish this for all of you, whatever your path.

This book did it. I now feel entirely comfortable with the Christian path trod by people Heuertz’s spiritual guides (and Jim Rigby, and Joanna Fontaine Crawford, and other Christians I know who are working so hard for equality, love and understanding among people).

I knew intellectually that religious folk are like any other group: so diverse that I can find people I feel kinship with as well as people I just don’t understand at all. Now I feel it in my heart.

Personal growth for the win!

PS: Of course this is just MY spiritual journey. Yours is just fine for you as long as it is helping you be the best you possible.

Feeling Centered: An Elusive Goal

The last few weeks, I really felt like I’d lost my center. That’s one reason, I think, that I was letting things other people did or said affect me more than usual. Deep down, I wasn’t coming from my customary perspective of acceptance of my own worth, dignity, and humanity. I’d lost sight of my hard-earned understanding that what connects me with my spiritual core is the realization that I’m a mix of things I’m good at and things I’m working on, and both of those naturally will fluctuate, especially when there are a lot of outside stressors.

Does any of that feel familiar to you? Are you finding it harder to treat yourself the way you want to treat others, and they way you’d like to be treated! Have you lost your Golden Rule? Aha! Time for some centering!

Everyone finds their center differently, though there are common techniques many of us use. For me, meditation has always helped. Just breathing and not letting the cares of the day intrude for a while each day certainly can’t hurt. Other people call their meditation prayer or contemplation. It all works.

Could be a goddess. Could be Virgin Mary. Could be one of us. She sure looks like she’s centered, though. (It’s a statue called The Genius of Water, in Cincinnati, OH, USA. Photo by @CrosleySpelmanPhotography via Twenty20)

Deep breathing is a real help, too. Long ago, I noticed that when I am feeling super stressed I start holding my breath! Eek! As soon as I figured that out, I began to take that as a sign I need to stop whatever I’m doing and start a series of deep breaths, the kinds you do in yoga class, or in guided meditations. I have been known to pull into a parking lot and breathe a while. This aids when dealing with road rage (in self or others), too!

Over the weekend, I got a lot of time to myself to read and re-read helpful books (I’m working through The Sacred Enneagram, which has a remarkably helpful spiritual slant that makes me want to go thank a bunch of priests and is helping me deal with some of my prejudices and biases against organized religions). I had a lot of time to meditate. And like petals unfolding and revealing the heart of a flower, my center re-emerged.

I searched for “center” and the exact image I needed showed up. Miracle! Photo by @katjakholm.68 via Twenty20

I feel like myself again (hello, Suna)! And now that I’m coming from a much better mental space, all sorts of things are easing up. I’ve been able to deal with people I’ve found difficult in the past with grace and kindness. I’ve been a better family member. My work is going better. Funny how that works, right?

There’s still a lot to be done. I messed a lot of things up during my little bout with depression and hopelessness. I didn’t treat myself or others the way I’d want to, but I can be kind to myself now, learn from those mistakes, and move forward.

We’re all on a journey, as I like to remind myself. There are ups, downs, and curves along the road. Worse, we never “get there” until our life ends. Ya just keep going.

I chose this image because there’s only room for one person on this path, and that helps me remember we are all on our OWN paths, and they don’t look the same. I also like the marker up ahead, which reminds me it’s okay to set some goals, and maybe you’ll get to them. Photo by  @trackin_scout via Twenty20

Failure and disappointment will show up. That reminds me: Chris read me a piece about failure this morning, which he said made him think of me. It talked about the opportunities that arise from “failing,” and was spot on. Once you fail, fall down, or regress, you get the opportunity to start again, maybe with some new knowledge or insight that will help you on your journey.

Insert platitude here! I’m full of them today. But I’m sincere. This is yesterday’s sunset, which looks much like the sunsets all week.

I’m wishing all of you peace and understanding, and encourage you to find the areas in your life where there IS hope, and insights into what your challenges can teach you on your own journey.

Quick Enneagram Update

As I talked about recently, I have been looking into the Enneagram to see what insights it could give me into how I could function better as a person and interact with others.

Two of the types came close to describing me, 2 (helper) and 9 (peacemaker). I eventually decided I was a 9 after realizing how strongly my urge to keep peace around me had affected my life (not always positively).

I broke down and spent the twelve dollars to take the official test, the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI). That test identifies how your responses to a series of questions match each type. I found the results interesting:

Enneagram Type Score
Type 2, The Helper 28
Type 9, The Peacemaker 24
Type 4, The Individualist 18
Type 7, The Enthusiast 17
Type 5, The Investigator 14
Type 6, The Loyalist 13
Type 3, The Achiever 12
Type 1, The Reformer 10
Type 8, The Challenger 8

The two I’d self identified were the two highest, by far. The results commentary said: “Your primary Enneagram personality type is most likely the highest of these scores, and almost certainly among the highest two or three.”

I’m still going with 9, but with a lot of 2. I don’t know if the standard version “allows” being mixed with two types, but, there ya go, I gotta be me. The two types on either side of you are supposed to be your “wings” to draw from. Note that those were the two least identified with me (and 8 is my spouse’s type, oh my).

Reflecting on how Type 2 people tend to want to rescue others, form large groups of friends, and focus on helping, I do see that I have been that way, but more in the past. It may be that I am moving from Type 2 to Type 9 as I get older. A lot of the things Type 2 people do are just not me, while pretty much everything in Type 9 hits home with a bang.

Just knowing how I tend to react to things has helped me explain how I am to others, and has already made communication easier in my family. So, I’m grateful for that. If you want to take the test yourself, here’s the link.

Books

Anyway, I read a couple more of the most recent books on the Enneagram, so I may as well tell you what I thought of them.

The cover of The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case.
Another blogger writes a book.

The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case, is an introductory level book that uses “normal” language to help people understand how to apply knowledge of their type to their lives. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but you sure get the idea that Sarajane is a kind person who wants to help everyone be their best. I gave the book to Kathleen to look over and share with Chris, because it’s a nice intro. It’s also a really pretty book.

If you know your type, this is interesting for sure.

The other book I got was The Enneagram for Relationships: Transform Your Connections with Friends, Family, Colleagues, and in Love, by Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober. Ashton is another person who just oozes concern for people. I am getting a bit more new information out of this one, especially about others (like my son and spouse). It’s really helpful, because this book gives you ideas for how to let people you love know you care for them, and how to best communicate with them. That’s useful information. I got some good ideas for how to communicate with a lot of people I know, at work, as friends, and as family members. I will use this one as a reference for a long time, I’m sure.

Both these books are available on Kindle for not much money at all, so check them out if you’re interested. I have one more book to read, then I’ll move on, since I may have found a new spiritual path!

What’s been bringing YOU insight? Are you using this time of being close to home to look inside yourself like I have been doing?

Book Report: The Enneagram of Belonging

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I was reading a book on the Enneagram and that I’d gotten some helpful insight in it. I had a lot of time last night to read, so I finished The Enneagram of Belonging: A Compassionate Journey of Self-Acceptance, by Christopher L. Heurtz.

A Little Background

I’ve always been a sucker for personality tests, astrology, and other ways of categorizing people’s personalities or figuring out what makes people tick. I love archetypes, too, as evidenced by how much I enjoy tarot. I have always liked to meditate and I do a lot of reading about self-help topics and ways to lead me to get along with others better, enjoy life, and love myself. I am very aware that some of the science (if there is any) behind these kinds of things is suspect or non-existent. I happily coexist with my cognitive dissonance, and take what works from the things I explore and leave what doesn’t work behind.

When I first read about the Enneagram, back in its earlier days, I didn’t see any science in there at all and a lot of mysticism. It reminded me a lot of numerology, which I also had a hard time with (but who knows, numbers may very well have effects on us).

I picked this book up, though, because I’d heard there has been a lot of work in the Enneagram community, and a couple of friends were very enthusiastic. Plus, seeing the words “compassionate” and “self-acceptance” in the subtitle made it sound like the book would fit in with all the work I’ve done on self-love. And Brene Brown wrote the introduction!

On to the Book

I ended up getting a lot of ideas and insights, and a lot of it I credit to the author. Heuertz is very good at making the complexities of the Enneagram make sense and is very careful to make clear that the spiritual aspect of the system are way more important than identifying your type and buying a t-shirt with your number on it. (Nonetheless, I am adopting the sloth as my official mascot since my type’s main passion is sloth.)

Continue reading “Book Report: The Enneagram of Belonging”

Are We OK? Okay? Heading Down a Path to Okay-hood

It’s fascinating when things happen in different parts of your life that coalesce into one collection of insights. Right now it’s been “okay-hood” and how to cope when advice overwhelms me.

One area in which this happens for me is the issues I’d been having with Apache and his sudden backsliding in behavior. I’ve appreciated all the advice I’ve gotten from a variety of sources, very much. At first I started to get worried that I’d upset people if I didn’t do THEIR idea. Then, upon further reflection, I realized that I know the horse and he knows me. I know our abilities. I can take what I’ve heard and learned, and incorporate it in a way that works for us. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll try another thing. It’s okay!

Equine Okay-hood

For example, I decided I didn’t want to use the bit for the foreseeable future with Apache, but was willing to listen to input from Chris and Sara about other options than the halter. Sara gave me this rather sad-looking side-pull bridle (one that does not use a bit, but combines nose pressure with reins attached at the sides of the mouth) and I said I’d give it a try.

Before: a sad side-pull bridle

First I had to clean it up. That was really fun, because the dang thing turned out to be a completely different color than it was when all covered with mildew and ickiness. Saddle soap is a great thing!

Continue reading “Are We OK? Okay? Heading Down a Path to Okay-hood”