A Guest Blog by Jane Strong
Part 4: Enneagram Body Center Style Nine
This story is about a NINE named Rob, who loved his new black quarter horse more than anyone I know. His equine companion named Orient loved him, too. He came running from the pasture when Rob whistled and didn’t hesitate to join him of his own free will when he walked to the barn. The problem was, Rob could hardly keep this gentle giant from walking right over him. Most horses have no idea how big they are or how small we are in comparison. They still think they’re still 40-pound quadrupeds who have to watch out for low-flying pterodactyls on the hunt. We have to teach them to respect our boundaries as much as we have to respect theirs when they’re eating, or when we approach them for affection, or ask them to engage with us.
So while Rob was happy to spend time with Orient, it was clear to me that he couldn’t raise or focus the energy in his body center enough to get this horse to keep out of his way. When I asked him how he’d describe the issue, he said, “Well, I like him so much. I hate to push him away and make him disconnect from me.” I asked him if he felt that asking for distance and respect was unkind and he said, “Yes, I guess I do.”
Obviously, Rob shared the same problem that many NINES have. Creating space for themselves implies disconnecting, and this feels like conflict. As we know, NINES can also believe that if they take a stand, it may cost the relationship. And, as the rest of us know, that’s EXACTLY what we need them to do in order for us to know and respect them as individuals.
So, the first thing I showed Rob was a bunch of other horses in the field. They pushed and shoved, kicked up their heels and sometimes nipped at their pasture mates to gain control over their space and let each other “know” who they were. No hard feelings, just space. When I asked Rob what he saw, he told me he was amazed at how rough they could be and still come back for more. “Interesting,” he said. “I’m really surprised they’re so resilient.”
So, we went into the round pen, and I asked Rob to focus his attention on the place about two inches below his belt and two inches in, the center of the body center. Then, I suggested that he feel his feet and visualize a laser beam coming out of that place. I told him he needed to put all of his energy there and direct it out toward Orient’s hind end. I told him he could scuff the ground or use his arms to emphasize this gesture.
Rob looked perplexed and somewhat concerned about this request, as this kind of energy was both unfamiliar and not easy to access. He didn’t like the idea of taking a threatening stance toward this horse he liked so much. On top of that, he said it was exhausting for him to focus his energy as I had requested, but he tried. It was clear to me that Orient wasn’t “buying” Rob’s first attempt, because he just stood right next to Rob looking for a peppermint in his pocket.
“OK. Step away from Orient, using this rope as an extension of your arm as you direct all of the energy from that point in your body toward his hind end. Just toss the rope out onto the ground. It won’t hurt him.” It was hard for Rob to accept the concept of minimum essential pressure. We start slow and keep ‘upping the ante’ if we don’t get what we want. It took a lot reassurance from me to convey that boundaries are not enemy lines and that both should take a request from Rob to Orient seriously.
This time, Rob had clearly made an effort to focus his energy and used the rope for emphasis. He was a bit awkward, but Orient got the point and moved away toward the perimeter of the pen. I asked Rob to keep his energy up and to kick up some dirt with the toe of his boot. He did, and Orient moved faster. Clearly, Rob himself was getting a kick out of this newfound connection to clarity in his body. I told him that he didn’t have to lose his connection to his heart. He smiled and kept on pushing Orient forward with his laser beam, grounded energy. He then dropped the rope and continued to “push” with his body. Orient slowed down for a moment, and then felt the pressure from Rob himself to keep going. Rob kept up his “experiment” and played with the volume and direction of his energy as he watched the impact on his horse.
Then, the moment Rob softened the focus and intensity of his energy, Orient slowed down. As he continued to do this, the horse came to a walk and looked toward the center, and lowered his head. “See Rob? He’s not angry with you at all…just asking if he can stop working now. When you’re ready for that, lower your eyes and let him come to you.” Orient came to the center and stood right next to Rob as soon as he was ‘invited.’ “He ‘s not angry and isn’t all over me either,” Rob said. “This is what respect looks like,” I replied.
When we did some work with the Enneagram, Rob began to understand why as a NINE, he had trouble setting boundaries and making his wishes known. He experienced first hand how to stay CONNECTED to another WHILE standing up for what he wanted. Over time, he also came to learn that both Orient AND the significant others in his life, were more respectful and attracted to him when they knew where he stood. Bravo, Rob!
This is the last of four blogs on The Equine Enneagram by Jane Strong.
An Enneagram teacher, business consultant, coach, and Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network, Jane is the pioneer in the field of the “Equine Enneagram.” An Equine Learning Instructor since the early 2000s, Jane combines her Enneagram expertise and her work with horses to accelerate her client’s growth, transformation, presence, and leadership skills. Jane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.