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Somatic Advice for Fives | A Guest Blog by Peter O’Hanrahan

Fives are rightly called the observers, scholars and thinkers. Even at times hermits and shamans. Their perception is so keen – in their areas of interest – and they can travel the far reaches of the cosmos. But will they be fully embodied (and embedded) in our human community? Of course many Fives have an active physical life with sports, yoga, or outdoor exercise. But it’s a bigger challenge to simply “be” in the body, sensing the instincts and the life force without trying to control or direct it all from the mind. That can be scary.Looking at the neurobiology of the nine types, Fives seem to have the most sensitive nervous system of all. It’s common for them to feel overwhelmed by too much stimulation from the environment: noise, motion, and the expectations of other people. The classic body type for Five is the slender and highly strung “ectomorph.” But even Fives with a larger body are very sensitive, although it might not be so obvious.

Detachment can be a great strength for Fives; it allows them to think clearly and they can be great in emergency situations. But detachment is also used as a defense against feeling, a kind of internal withdrawal up into the intellect. Over time this leads to a reduced capacity for emotion and sensation.

Body therapists such as myself have come to understand that working with Fives means paying close attention to the “contact boundary.” If we move too quickly to make physical contact, or too much contact, Fives will withdraw from the periphery of their body and retreat to the inside. Contact must be an invitation, not a demand.

Fives often seem to get by on very little breath. This may reflect chronic tension in the ribcage or simply a reluctance to breathe any more than is necessary for thinking. Perhaps this is a way to avoid feeling overwhelmed but at the cost of reducing emotion and sensation. Everyone can have tight muscles, but Fives are more likely to hold tension in the core of the body. This tension in the belly plus food sensitivities can lead to problems with the digestive system.

If you are a Five you can balance the strength of your head center with body awareness exercises. Sensing your body, your breath, and your feet on the floor will help you to reduce states of overwhelm and keep you “in your body.” You can learn to notice the sudden “pulling away” from contact to the inside. This allows for inquiry about what you need in the moment. Do you need to take a break, ask for time or space? What makes it possible for you to feel safe and expand your tolerance for feeling and sensation?

By breathing deeply into the belly you can learn to calm yourself in the moment. Not the “out of the body calm” but staying present in the body. Belly breathing will help you assimilate your food better as well. On the other hand, breathing deeply, and slowly, into the chest will gradually build a larger capacity for physical energy and feelings.

Good connections with other people require responsiveness with the body and facial expressions, a subtle dance of micro-movements that George Leonard described as “entrainment” in his book, “The Silent Pulse.” As you breathe more fully and allow the energy to move through your body in a flexible way, your rapport with others will increase by leaps and bounds.

Your somatic pattern is sustained by the idealization and avoidance of your type: acquiring intellectual knowledge protects against the experience of inner emptiness. Yet going into, and through, the emptiness with courage and support opens up room inside to experience an abundant life force which will keep you connected to the earth and the people who care about you.

Peter O’Hanrahan is an Enneagram teacher, body therapist, business consultant, and Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network (EIBN) who teaches internationally and also works closely with the Enneagram Worldwide and the Palmer/Daniels Enneagram Professional Training Program. You can visit his website at EnneagramWork.com | POhanrahan@aol.com

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