Gerry Fathauer, a Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network (EIBN), wrote the following Insight Activity on Inspiration and inspired me to explore this topic in depth for each enneatype over a 3-part series.
The word inspiration is derived from the word in as in breathe in and the root word spire, as in spirit. The very act of breathing is expansive. When we breathe deeply from our diaphragm, our body expands to take in breath, to fill us with life.
Inspiration avails us of spirit within, and spirit is that which brings us alive. Key to inspiration is seeing anew: the beauty in nature, a pet at play, an authentic masterpiece, even an intricate machine when viewed from a place of awe and wonder has the capacity to inspire.
The fuel for inspiration can be found in the ordinary when viewed with fresh eyes. If you have ever lapsed into total absorption in the explorations of a child, or in the antics of squirrels at play, you’ve momentarily stepped aside to experience the world anew. Yet inspiration is not an outside job, though the seeds for inspiration may originate elsewhere. Inspiration arises, as the word suggests, from inside.
The inside job of inspiration requires awareness. Where does your awareness of inspiration arise? Is it in your Enneagram type’s Center of Intelligence – the Center from which your Enneagram type is formed – or is it another Center? Inspiration is an asset when coaching clients and becomes an asset that most clients covet for themselves. How might you support your clients in being inspired?
Allowing spirit within is a simple act of awareness. Imagine the possibilities in a world open to inspiration as a way of life!
In this blog, based on Gerry’s insights above, I’m going to explore how each enneatype can use one of their three Centers of Intelligence to draw out the ability to become more inspired. I do believe that each of us can enhance and accelerate our ability to be inspired from all three of our Centers; however, for this blog, I’ve selected one Center for each enneatype. And because the blog topic is more complex than simple, I’ve divided the blog into a 3-part series, starting with the Body Center styles Eight, Nine, and One.
Body Center Enneagram Styles: Eight, Nine, and One
Eights: Using Their Mental Center for Inspiration
Eights almost always have strong access to the Body Center (although they often over-use it and/or use it in partial ways), and many Eights have fairly easy access to their Heart Centers (particularly, the 1-1 and social subtype Eights). However, it is the Mental Center that many Eights underutilize or under-acknowledge (with the exception of the few Eights, who in fits of grandiosity, act as if they are super-smart because they want to be perceived as highly intellectual). The Eight’s superb Mental Center gift is in their understanding of the complex dynamics of systems and how the parts interconnect. This is what helps Eights be so strategic.
However, my experience is that if you ask most Eights if they think they are smart (intelligent, intellectual, etc.), they more often than not look startled in response to this question. Even when these individuals are highly regarded at work or among their peers and family for being highly intelligent, Eights tend to say something like this: “I’ve gotten where I am by pure tenacity and will.” Then, when confronted (yes, it feels like a confrontation to them) with the idea that others perceive them as extremely smart, Eights often get really embarrassed. I’ve even seen Eight men cry at the thought that smart is something they really are. Here are some suggestions for how Eights can gain more pure access to their Mental Centers:
Suggestion 1: Eights may already use their Mental Center to justify what their guts instinctively tell them, but this is not an optimal use of the Mental Center. To further develop their Mental Centers, it can be helpful to separate the “collusion” between the Gut Center and the Mental Center; in other words, allow the Mental Center to have its own life and functioning apart from the Body, then integrate these two Centers when both are fully independent and highly functioning. Just knowing this helps.
Suggestion 2: Those Eights (and they are by no means the majority of Eights) who use their intellectual prowess as a way to be big or to overpower those who disagree with them need to recognize how they are (mis)using their Mental Center in this way, stop themselves when they are about to do so, and ask themselves this question: How am I feeling right now; what’s behind my need to be big mentally, to use my Head Center as a gun or a shield?
Suggestion 3: All Eights can learn to use their minds to identify the multi-truths of the situations they are in. In other words, don’t rely so heavily on your gut to give the instantaneous answer to the question, What is the truth here? Relying on your Body Center to such an extent can make your reactions too quick, overly strong, and totally or partially inaccurate. Think of this as your having a 3-legged stool on which to sit, but one leg is over-built and the other two legs are wobbly. Real strength comes from all three Centers of Intelligence, as does true inspiration.
Nines: Using Their Body Center for Inspiration
Nines are often referred to as having “anger that went to sleep.” Another way of expressing this is that Nines stuff their feelings of anger and discontent far below their awareness by removing themselves from their body awareness of physical sensation. As a result, Nines put a high percentage of their bodies to sleep; how does the body know which sensations and feelings are OK to allow closer to the surface and which are not!
For this reason, awakening the Body Center is central to the Nines’ awakening and without this, deeply fueled inspiration suffers. To wake up in this way requires the courage to experience oneself fully. When Nines do this, they come to learn a number of important lessons, ones they likely know cognitively (at least to some degree); however, this mental knowledge has not infiltrated the rest of them. Lesson 1: expressing needs, desires, and preferences is their human right; Lesson 2: self-expression does not necessarily lead to conflict; it can lead to intimacy and is, in fact, intimacy’s key ingredient; Lesson 3: they can handle every reaction that comes their way, including disagreements; Lesson 4: many other sensations and emotions, including pleasurable ones, are based in physical experience; as a result, awakening their Body Center enables them to engage fully in life.
How do Nines develop more access to and more comfort being more fully in their Body Center?
Suggestion 1: Breathe fully into your stomach area (but don’t bypass your Heart Center when doing this) and allow your breath to invigorate your belly area. Do this as a daily practice until you are doing it without even trying.
Suggestion 2: When you feel sensations in you body (think of these as physical stirrings), you may not recognize what they mean at first, but that’s OK. For each physical stirring, keep breathing into that area, identify where that sensation is located, and allow your feelings to emerge. Then ask yourself: What am I feeling, experiencing, and/or wanting right now
Suggestion 3: Recognize that being more awake (aware of) what is occurring within you does not mean you must express this. It is really your choice what to do. The reason it is important to recognize this choice is simple. When you do not allow yourself to be more awake, you have no real choice. When you are more awake to yourself, you have the choice to express yourself (including how, when and to whom) or to not. Having a real choice then gives you both permission and control over your external behavior without your over-controlling yourself by keeping your deeper responses so subliminal that even you don’t know what they are. From awakeness comes inspiration.
Ones: Using Their Heart Center for Inspiration
I have noticed that many Ones, when given feedback that they are not warm enough, become quite hurt by the idea that someone else would perceive them this way. When I observe this reaction in Ones, I feel very saddened for them because I do believe that most Ones have very deep feelings; at the same time, these interior experiences may not be felt or sensed by others. Just to be clear, some Ones do come across as very warm, often those with a strong Two wing or strong access to their arrow line at 4, as well as Ones who have done a great deal of self-development work so that their inner critic is less intense (on themselves, especially). This allows their heartfulness to become more apparent to others.
But how can all Ones use their Heart Centers for more inspiration? Ones, like Eights, usually have a “collusional” relationship between the Body Center and Mental Center. However, while Eights might misuse their Head Centers to “be big,” Ones can misuse their Head Centers to “be right,” justifying their gut reactions through a mental formulation (aka an opinion). How can Ones separate these two Centers so that each has more autonomy (and can, therefore, provide more inspiration)? The answer is through the Heart Center, because the One’s Heart Center is usually its own entity rather than being in non-differentiated collusion with the other two Centers.
So how do Ones access and amplify openness in their Heart Center? This is really a good question for us all, no matter what our Enneagram style. Here are some suggestions for Ones:
Suggestion 1: When you get a strong body-based reaction to something, instead of going to your Head Center for a justification, move into your Heart Center and ask: What am I feeling right now? Then stay with this feeling and ask yourself: What else am I feeling?
Suggestion 2: Breathe. Breathe into your Heart and Body Centers simultaneously. Do this as a daily practice until it becomes your everyday way of breathing. This will open up your Heart Center.
Suggestion 3: Do things you love. Dance, sing, paint, write. Do whatever brings you joy, and do these with an entirely open heart!
The next blog will focus on how the Heart Center styles – Two, Three, and Four – can become more inspired, while the final blog in this series will do the same for the Head Center styles, Five, Six and Seven.
Part 2 Heart Center Enneagram Styles: Two, Three, and Four
Two: Mental Center
Three: Heart Center
Four: Body Center
Part 3 Mental Center Enneagram Styles: Five, Six, and Seven
Five: Heart Center
Six: Body Center
Seven: Mental Center