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 3rd blog based on Gerry’s insights about how to become more inspired, the focus is on the three Mental Center styles – Five, Six, and Seven – and how they can use one of the Centers of Intelligence for enhanced inspiration. In reality, we can each use all three Centers of Intelligence to do this; however, I’ve selected one Center for each style just to give a sense of how to do this.
Mental Center Enneagram Styles: Five, Six, and Seven
Fives: Using Their Heart Center for Inspiration
Using the Heart Center of Intelligence for inspiration is an obvious choice for Fives, many of whom have pure hearts but don’t feel that comfortable in their Heart Center area. They often vacate their Heart Center by not breathing into their hearts (or their bodies either, for that matter). They vacate their hearts by devaluing emotional life because they find it unpredictable, illogical, and overwhelming. They may also vacate their hearts by staying separated from people, even those they love. So here are three suggestions for Fives to become more at ease in their hearts and to use their hearts for inspiration.
Suggestion 1: Breathe into your heart area. This may sound extremely foreign if you are used to only breathing into your head area, but head breathing keeps you out of touch with your heart and emotions and, in a sense, not attuned to all of your inner self and the wisdom of the heart. So breathe more deeply into your heart (think of it as breathing through your neck into your chest), going slowly at first, then less slowly as you get more comfortable with breathing in this way. Breath provides energy, fuel, and life force wherever you send it. Once you have re-discovered your Heart Center by way of your breath, you can use this energy to inspire you. Maybe you’ll even write love songs!
Suggestion 2: Use your body sensations to re-discover your heart. Almost every emotion has a corresponding physical sensation, although not every physical sensation corresponds to a feeling. For example, the feeling of anxiety or fear might be preceded or accompanied with movement in the stomach area (flutters, tightening, or pangs); thus, these stomach cues are clues to feelings once you start making the association. Of course, a stomach pang could simply be a stomachache, with no feeling whatever attached to it. But because of this connection between body and emotion, it is important that you notice each and every physical sensation you experience and ask yourself this: Am I feeling something now? If so, what? Over time, this creates your own booklet for emotional literacy; from emotional literacy comes inspiration. You might even write a play!
Suggestion 3: Tell people how you feel. Start actually telling people with whom you interact how you feel about something relevant between the two of you. When you do this, you can keep it simple. For example, if you go to the grocery store and the clerk is especially helpful, tell him or her that you liked the service. With someone close to you at home or work, if you liked or disliked something, mention what you feel in real time. If you only figure out later how you felt, then approach the person and say what’s on your mind and in your heart. Practice, practice, practice makes it much easier.
Sixes: Using Their Body Center for Inspiration
Sixes are on a search for what is solid, true, meaningful, and certain. In some respects, nothing is; in other ways, Sixes can find this in their Body Centers. Why? Well, they haven’t found it in their Mental Centers yet, the mind that keeps spinning with multiple questions and various scenarios. The heart is also uncertain, as it responds to the vicissitudes of the mind. But the body is more solid and stabilizes the mind and heart of the Six. Here are some suggestions for using the body:
Suggestion 1: Recognize that you really do have a body by taking care of it. Get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and get some form of exercise on a regular basis.
Suggestion 2: Take daily walks just to enjoy yourself and calm your heart and mind. Don’t think (too much), don’t reflect on your emotional reactions, just engage in the walking process. In addition, when you feel like you are spinning with solutions to a problem, go for a walk and don’t think. Don’t even think about not thinking. Get solid in your body; inspiration will flow.
Suggestion 3: Take some form of martial arts: akido, karate, tae kwon do, or even yoga (or power yoga). These build strength, flexibility, and even more, they develop physical balance in every way. From this place of solid, balanced strength comes true inspiration to just know what to do.
Sevens: Using Their Mental Center for Inspiration
Why use the Mental Center for inspiration when it is the Mental Center that is so dynamic (and uncontrolled) in Sevens? Wouldn’t it be better to use the Heart Center – to get Sevens in touch with their deepest sense of feeling for inspiration – or to use the Body Center for grounding and anchoring, given that Sevens can appear to be ungrounded as if always walking above ground-level? The answer is that any of us can use any of our Centers for more inspiration, so here are some Mental Center-based suggestions for Sevens.
Suggestion 1: Focus your mind on your interior world, rather than being stimulated primarily by ideas or external stimulation. In other words, use your mind to explore your heart’s reactions and your interior physical sensations. Imagine you are on a treasure hunt and the treasure is inside yourself; what you will find is just as fascinating (and possibly even more stimulating) than what you can create in your mind alone. Simply choose to go inside your heart area and explore the sensations you experience, probing those that are new to you. You don’t need to understand them yet, just experience them. Do the same with your physical sensations all throughout your body. Again, don’t try to understand or analyze them. Simply just experience them. After 2 weeks of doing this daily activity – start with 5 minutes, 3 times per day and then keep adding one more minute once you feel comfortable doing it – continue with the activity, but each time you find a sensation in your heart or somewhere in your body, ask yourself: What is this? You will have an answer. Get inspired by the wonder inside!
Suggestion 2: Draw a picture of your mind as it currently operates. Use colors, shapes, and whatever else helps you express the way your mind works. Then draw another picture, a picture of how your mind looks (or would look) when it is fully inspired by one important thing, something that really interests you and holds your attention. Put that picture in a place in your office or home where it can inspire you to focus your mind and be inspired.
Suggestion 3: Become more discerning. Learn the difference between flights of mental fancy and inspiration. Learn the difference between a stimulated mind and an inspired mind. Experience the distinction between an unfocused mind and a clear mind. From clarity comes inspiration.