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The Enneagram and Centering Prayer: Tools to Uncover and Transform Shadow Qualities of the UnconsciousThesis 2


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The Enneagram and Centering Prayer are explored as tools for transformation of the Shadow Archetype. An attempt is made to demonstrate that the Enneagram can be used to uncover shadow qualities of personal unconscious motivations and deeply rooted influences and prejudices of a dysfunctional nature. Through the consistent practice of Center Prayer (over an extended period of time) these dysfunctional qualities are brought into full consciousness and transformed into positive motivations, influences, attitudes, and behaviors. Existing literature, the author’s personal journey, and independent research assist in demonstrating the effectiveness of these powerful tools.

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The Enneagram and Centering Prayer: Tools to Uncover and Transform Shadow Qualities of the UnconsciousThesis 2

  1. 1. Running head: Enneagram and Centering Prayer 1 The Enneagram and Centering Prayer: Tools to Uncover and Transform Shadow Qualities of the Unconscious David Grinstead Atlantic University June 2001 Author Note David Grinstead, Transpersonal Studies, Atlantic University David Grinstead is now at Department of Continuing Education, Alamance Community College. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to David Grinstead, Department of Continuing Education, Alamance Community College, P.O. Box 8000, Graham, NC 27253-8000. Contact: More information regarding the author is available at
  2. 2. Enneagram and Centering Prayer 2 Abstract The Enneagram and Centering Prayer are explored as tools for transformation of the Shadow Archetype. An attempt is made to demonstrate that the Enneagram can be used to uncover shadow qualities of personal unconscious motivations and deeply rooted influences and prejudices of a dysfunctional nature. Through the consistent practice of Center Prayer (over an extended period of time) these dysfunctional qualities are brought into full consciousness and transformed into positive motivations, influences, attitudes, and behaviors. Existing literature, the author’s personal journey, and independent research assist in demonstrating the effectiveness of these powerful tools.
  3. 3. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 3 Table of Contents Abstract 2 Chapter 1. Introduction: A Review of the Literature 4 Chapter 2. Explanation of Concepts Related to One's Shadow 6 Chapter 3. The Enneagram: Its Role and Place in Self-Discovery 13 Chapter 4. Centering Pray: A Step Toward Union With the Divine 23 Chapter 5. My Personal Experience 31 Chapter 6. Independent Research Project 57 Chapter 7. Data Interpretation and Implications for Further Research 69 References 71
  4. 4. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 4 Chapter 1 Introduction: A Review of the Literature This presentation introduces, discusses, and defines in detail the theoretical concept of the Personal Shadow, how the Enneagram can be utilized as a diagnostic tool in dealing with the Personal Shadow, and using Centering Prayer as an agent of Personal Shadow transformation. In addition to existing literature and theory, the hypothesis is supported and validated by my personal experience of being possessed by the Shadow Archetype, my subsequent recovery process, and resulting transformation. In addition, research is presented using five independent participants who: (1) were exposed to the Enneagram for the first time during a four-hours workshop (Introduction to the Enneagram) with materials from International Training Consultants, Inc., (2) identified their Enneagram personality type by taking the self-scoring Riso- Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator, (3) agreed to practice Centering Prayer twice daily for 30 days, (4) agreed to keep a daily journal of their related experiences, and (5) provide a written summary regarding their related experiences. Regarding Shadow elements and theory, existing literature (from these authors) will be used to interpret the data: Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams, William A. Miller, Morton Kelsey, Robin Robertson, and John Sanford. Regarding the Enneagram, existing literature and theory (from these authors) will be used to interpret the data: Jerome Wagner, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, Richard Rhor and Andreas Ebert, Kathleen Hurley and Theodore Dobson, Ellis Bergin and Eddie Fitzgerald, and Margaret Frings Keyes.
  5. 5. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 5 Regarding Centering Prayer, existing literature (from these authors) will be used to interpret the data: Thomas Keating, Anthony de Mello, John Sanford, and Morton Kelsey. My personal experience of a major mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual breakdown and the subsequent recovery process will be used to flesh out and bring to life what may otherwise be basic academic or philosophical concepts and theoretical postulates. The result will be an understanding of what it is like to be overwhelmed by the Shadow Archetype, of how I have used the Enneagram in retrospect as a means of understanding and making peace with my breakdown, and how the practice of Centering Prayer during my recovery empowered me to accept, transcend, and transform my personal shadow qualities.
  6. 6. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 6 Chapter 2 Explanation of Concepts Related to One's Shadow Many of us really believe that we know ourselves, however, we confuse self-knowledge with the mere awareness of our persona or conscious ego personality. We identify with our personality believing it to be the sum total of our self-identity (Miller, 1989). We do not realize that our conscious personality is developed mainly in response to the expectations of the outer world. It's all a matter of compromise as the "influence of the subculture 'conditions' the developing personality, not infrequently overwhelming it; shaping, modifying, molding and adjusting it often into something quite other than its natural disposition." (Miller, 1989, p. 91) As children, we latch onto those persona qualities for which we receive the most positive reinforcement -- from our parents and peers, for example -- but we also automatically reject the opposites of those qualities which are pushed into the unconscious (Miller, 1989). These rejected qualities comprise the shadow personality which represents the underside of the personal ego. The shadow personality contains unknown or little-known qualities and attributes of the ego (Abrams & Zweig, 1991). The reality of an inner personal shadow personality is recognized by the Christian tradition. It is clear that St. Paul was aware of his own shadow when he stated, "For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Romans 7:19) Real people are in need of what the shadow has to offer. Identifying solely with the persona is to be two-dimensional an unreal in the sense that "many people with 'model' personas appear unrealistically 'good'. We say of them that they are 'too good to be true,' because they are not true. They are false." (Miller, 1989, p 31) The shadow is simply a natural force like the wind and the tides. By coming to know the shadow and integrating it into our lives, we become
  7. 7. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 7 better people. "We see more possibilities in any situation than are presented in any simplistic scheme of morality. People who have integrated the shadow into their personality normally become genuinely kind people." (Robertson, 1997, p. 140) The purpose of the shadow is to dismantle the overpowering ego which forms the center of the conscious personality causing a personality restructuring which incorporates parts of the unconscious shadow. This process is dependent upon the shadow and produces a wholeness which can only be recovered from the unconscious. (Robertson, 1997) The process of personality restructuring and transformation can only come from within the person. Many mistakenly believe that by focusing on external realities or situations transformation is created, but only by journeying inward can we "even approach becoming what we can be." (Miller, 1989, p. 69) Jesus underscored this truism when He said: "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed... The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:24- 25) The potentials contained within the personal shadow form a major part of the undeveloped self. These are unknown and unrealized potentials because they are potentials which may have passed through consciousness "only to slip back into the unconscious" plus potential that have never "seen the light of day." (Miller, 1989, p. 97) There are many passing dreams which lie in the unconscious -- dreams that we think we have forgotten -- dreams and opportunities for writing, art, singing, travel, poetry, a different career field, a passion for science, dance, or to be more caring for others. These dreams and ambitions are not dead! They,
  8. 8. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 8 along with their potentials, have just moved into the basement of the unconscious and that is where they still live (Miller, 1989). Our fullest self-potential is contained within the shadow, for the "shadow contains everything that we can ever be...the shadow is our first look at the Self, that part of us that comes closest to divinity." (Robertson, 1997, p. 139) The possibilities are limitless if we are willing to look at the unpleasantness of the shadow (not me) and see our self as we really are, because "for every dark and undesirable attribute in our personality there is an opposite desirable characteristic in our shadow that we can bring into consciousness and employ for a richer experience of life." (Miller, 1989, p. 87) By seeking the desirable in the undesirable, we look for qualities and traits that may be used to "balance the persona's overemphasis on the opposite characteristic." (Miller, 1989, p. 73) Here are some examples of what may be gained from shadow awareness: (1) A persona that expresses an exaggerated respect of other people and a celebration of their achievements is a cover for the shadow qualities of envy and covetousness. To accept the envy and covetousness within self can product the motivation to achieve goals and to develop self. (2) A persona of godliness and sweetness is reflective of harsh anger contained in the shadow. The acceptance of this anger allows for the appropriate expression of anger when faced with an intolerable situation; plus, it frees one from much physical, emotional, and spiritual stress. (3) The shadow traits of greed and avarice, if accepted, can be transformed into attitudes needed to foster ambition and the pursuit of a goal.
  9. 9. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 9 (4) An overly meek person can discover the shadow quality of aggressive forcefulness that, when transformed, becomes positive assertiveness which can balance meekness, creating a richer experience of self-esteem (Miller, 1989). The idea is not to exploit or empower or continue or ignore self-limiting and compulsive behaviors and attitudes, but to take an objective, non-self-condemning aerial view of what each trait can tell us about "the big picture of self's journey unto itself." (Abrams & Zweis, 1991, p. 117) Here are some beneficial questions which may be used to uncover the potential value of our dark side: Do you have work-habits which you may have rigidly suppressed in an attempt to conform and be more like others? Do you have personality traits which you...initially struggled against, thought were wrong and tried to change or hide? Have you stopped trying to achieve something in some "non-significant" areas of life because you were once told these weren't important enough to warrant attention? Is there a "time-out" activity (like sleeping, watching TV, fishing, listening to music, daydreaming, etc.) that gives your work efforts renewed vigor, but which you feel you shouldn't do? (Abrams & Zweig, 1991, pp. 117-118) The goal of shadow work is to find major ways to integrate our dark side, creating an authentic and genuine and less artificial self. This is often a difficult and painful process of acknowledgment and confession. To change is to accept and not lie to our self about who and what we really are like. It is a "confessional act, the beginning of psychological change.
  10. 10. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 10 Nothing about ourselves can change unless we first accept it and grant it reality." (Abrams & Zweig, 1991, p. 304) It is a matter of owning your shadow rather than "ganging enlightenment by banishing the dark, as some Eastern traditions teach," or "gaining enlightenment by embracing the dark, as some practitioners of black magic or Satanism teach..." (Abrams & Zweig, 1991, p. 271) Shadow work seeks balance by reconciling the opposites, by bringing the persona trait and its opposite shadow trait into a merged new self. This is generally a process that requires much time, stamina, and endurance. It is a tedious process of integration and often requires the power of faith and the Spirit of God within (Miller, 1989). Grappling with the shadow and holding onto the shadow in order to see clearly means working in dark and murky places of unclean insight. By staying the course, we "get to know it, and until we get to know it, we can't begin to sort out what parts belong to our future and what parts need to be left behind in the darkness." (Robertson, 1997, p. 34) In the end we seek and receive a blessing from the shadow and in turn we bless it. It is the "I" which we think we clearly see and know, but it is the "Not-I" which we refuse to see and know. The "Not-I" as a phrase expresses our relationship with the shadow. This is because the shadow is initially viewed as precisely everything that has nothing whatsoever to do with the acknowledged view of self (Robertson, 1997). One way of coming to know our shadow is to note those qualities which we find unbearable, hateful, and unacceptable in others. These same qualities provide a self-description of unconscious personal shadow qualities which comprise the "Not-I" (Abrams & Zweig, 1991). Here are six ways in which, even unknowingly, we meet the shadow every day:
  11. 11. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 11 (1) In our exaggerated feelings about others ("I just can't believe he would do that!" "I don't know how she could wear that outfit!") (2) In negative feedback from others who serve as our mirrors ("This is the third time you arrived late without calling me.") (3) In those interactions in which we continually have the same troubling effect on several different people ("Sam and I both feel that you have not been straightforward with us.") (4) In our impulsive and inadvertent acts ("Opps, I didn't mean to say that.") (5) In situations in which we are humiliated ("I'm so ashamed about how he treats me.") (6) In our exaggerated anger about other people's faults ("She just can't seem to do her work on time.!" "Boy, he really let is weight get out of control.") It is during such moments like these when "we are possessed by strong feelings of shame or anger, or we find that our behavior is off the mark in some way, that the shadow is erupting unexpectedly." (Abrams & Zweig, 1991, pp. xvii, xix) Even though we cannot see our shadow directly we can make a conscious effort to come to know it. Here are five pathways inward to gain insight into the composition of our shadow: (1) Soliciting feedback from others as to how they perceive us. (2) Uncovering the content of our projections. (3) Examining our "slips" of tongue and behavior, and investigating what is
  12. 12. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 12 really occurring when we are perceived other than we intended to be perceived. (4) Considering our humor and our identifications. (5) Studying our dreams, daydreams, and fantasies. (Miller, 1989, p. 52)
  13. 13. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 13 Chapter 3 The Enneagram: Its Role and Place in Self-Discovery The Enneagram espouses the biblical view (Genesis 2:31) that a person's essence as created by God is very good. Yet from conception, during pregnancy, and throughout the entire process of human development this human essence (one's true self) is under constant assault by threatening forces. As we develop and grow, we try to adapt, but we become damaged and broken goods. We develop avoidance strategies to escape danger, punishment, or other unpleasant consequences by building up specific defense mechanisms. Because of this reality a truly free, undamaged, and good person does not exist. "We are from the outset exposed to destructive powers and hen in need of redemption." It is from the "blind alleys into which we men and women stumble in our attempts to protect our life from internal and external threats" that the Enneagram is designed to deliver us. (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, pp.4-5) The Enneagram is a very old map. Like other typologies, it describes different character types. But that is only the beginning. Beyond the description of conditions, the Enneagram contains an inner dynamic that aims at change. It demands a lot and is exhausting, at least when it is taught and carried out as originally intended. The Enneagram is more than an entertaining game for learning about oneself. It is concerned with change and making a turn-around, with what the religious traditions call conversion or repentance. It confronts us with compulsions and laws under which we live -- usually without being aware of it -- and it aims to invite us to go
  14. 14. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 14 beyond them, to take steps into the domain of freedom. (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, p. 4) Innocence lost is innocence to be regained. The goal of the Enneagram is the same as the goal of individuation; not perfection, but wholeness, to become wholly yourself, for "the only thing that you are called to become is the individual that only you can be . . ." (Keyes, 1998, p. 132) The primary question addressed by the Enneagram is not what has caused us to be as we are, but how to remove the unconscious state of sleepwalking and blindness which keeps us from wholeness and the coming to know our essence. To "recognize, accept, and understand the pattern of compulsion that controls our life" is to create a balanced unity. "This union impregnates a new and higher center of intelligence that holds new potential for expanding and transcending all our former limitations of understanding and consciousness. A union within and without reaching personal depth and to transcending heights." (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, pp. 181- 182) During our development we manage to construct nine different ways of getting along in the world. Each of the nine types experiences a particular motivation which is a constant and overwhelming driving force that shapes our lives, causing us to respond to life in a consistent and particular manner. No type is any better or worse than another type. The number assigned to each type (1-9) is a way of identifying clusters of particular innate strengths, gifts, and talents that are being compulsively overused and distorted (Hurley & Dobson, 1993) To discern the false self from the individual essence it is necessary to divide self into tow aspects: the observing self and the observed personality. The use of the Enneagram greatly enhances the process of self-observation. The observing self, without passing judgment, watches
  15. 15. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 15 and makes detailed notes of how our lives are at the mercy of the personality (our Enneagram type) and "how mechanically it operates. This self-acknowledging of Enneagram type explains all kinds of hidden negative emotions which draw us into compulsion and produce egocentricity." (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, pp. 275-276) This practice gives self-compassion to self and "distinguishes false guilt from real guilt, moralizing from real morality, false pride from true strength," enabling us "to let go of what appears to be good so we can discover what in us is much better, what really is good . . ." (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, p. 18) "From small beginnings we have succeeded in constructing a complex persona to hide behind. This mask becomes a real burden to us and effectively hinders our progress to psychological and spiritual maturity." (Bergin & Fitzgerald, 1997, p. 6) The Enneagram is non- flattering to the persona because its purpose is to undermine and support efforts to let go of the self-image own which we are fixated. When identifying with the persona, people are destroyed by their gifts, because they over identify with what they do well. We are too fixated on what comes naturally: "a natural prejudice and natural models of behavior, a natural standpoint, a natural passion. The Enneagram can help us to disarm internally, to give up the defense of the self-image that we ourselves have created." (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, pp.15, 16) Proper use of the Enneagram unmasks the ego and points to its dark places. What constitutes healthy? This question is addressed in detail by the Enneagram. The Enneagram types provide a guideline tour of the states of the ego that inexorably lead to a descent into the hell of neurosis. The descriptions are an account of the complete range of personality from "the self-transcending states of integration to ordinary healthy states of ego, to average states in which ego inflation and various kinds of conflicts occur, to unhealthy states in
  16. 16. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 16 which people suffer and make others suffer." (Riso, 1990, p. 15) Freedom, individuality, and unity are keynotes of the Enneagram goal of individuation and wholeness. The ultimate goal is: . . . to move completely around the Enneagram, integrating what each type symbolizes and acquiring the active use of the healthy potentials of all types. The ideal is to become a balanced, fully-functioning human being . . . free, yet constrained by necessity; shrewd, yet innocent; open to others, yet self-reliant; strong, yet able to yield; centered on the highest values, yet able to accept imperfection; realistic about the suffering existence impose on us, yet gull of gratitude for life as it is. (Riso, 1990, p. 269) From a spiritual perspective the Enneagram transcends religious limitations and can be adapted to many different religions and religious expressions. The best evidence indicates that the spiritual roots of the Enneagram were discovered and developed by mystical Sufis to aid in their search for union with God (Riso, 1990). According to the Sufi tradition, the nine types represent nine points of energy that are nine refractions of the divine love and face of God. Each of the nine types is a mirrored reflection of that type's particular dimension of the face of God shining through the individual soul. The Enneagram brings into focus the essential truth of our soul and "will awaken the soul and lead us to greater spiritual freedom." (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, pp. 7, 9, 13) The Enneagram types infer that there are nine distinctly different versions of Jung's notion of Shadow Archetype. There is a shadow distortion or flaw accompanying each type that needs to be overcome in order to acquire a specific strength. The personal qualities which have been rejected must be faced and reclaimed (Keyes, 1998).
  17. 17. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 17 When the shadow personality is ignored, an internal struggle ensues, creating "battles with ourselves, arguments with others, and failures at dealing with certain important aspects of life . . ." (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 141) It is absolutely necessary for one to become conscious of one's own evil, one's own shadow qualities, thereby fulfilling the longing of the personal shadow to be accepted, embraced, held, healed, and loved back into life (Hurley & Dobson, 1993). This goal is an objective reality which acknowledges shadow issues as errors of perception and decision making, which results in distortion, bad choices, and continued misperceptions. By wrestling with the shadow issue specific to each type we can transform the shadow issues into strengths. The first step in shadow integration is admitting, "I do not know what possessed me." (Keyes, 1998, pp. 132, 144) Because we know ourselves to be people who can be bigoted, who can act in blind, hateful, fearful and other intolerable ways, we astonishingly become people who can be more tolerant and accepting of the stumbling, limited mistake-making people who surround us. We forgive ourselves. (Keyes, 1998, p. 98) In a nonjudgmental way the Enneagram points out what is wrong in our lives. In so doing it uncovers the Original Wound to the personality that prompted our maladjusted approach to life. By acknowledging the Original Wound "we will discover the pain that frightens us away from the inner land of soul into the outer world of compulsion." (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 151) What is our Original Wound, and what is its origin? Our earliest life experience
  18. 18. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 18 tells the tale. For each persona, the story is unique and different, supremely personal. It is the story of our conception and birth, our infancy and childhood, our parents and/or other care givers, our education both formal and informal, and our choices. (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 151) If your freedom to trust others was wounded, you became a One. If your freedom to trust yourself was wounded, you became a Two. If your freedom to love yourself was wounded, you became a Three. If your freedom to hope in others was wounded, you became a Four. If your freedom to hope in yourself was wounded, you became a Five. If your freedom to trust in yourself and others was wounded, you became a Six. If your freedom to love others was wounded, you became a Seven. If your freedom to love yourself was wounded, you became an Eight. If your freedom to hope in yourself and others was wounded, you became a Nine. (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, pp. 153-165) There is a unique shadow side to each Enneagram type which holds a potent energy and strength for change. "Anyone who discovers the power and truth of the Enneagram inevitably comes to a baffling conclusion: God makes use of our sins." (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, p. 14) Shadow Program Strength 1. Wrath Perfection with resentment Forbearance, Serenity 2. Pride Service with manipulation Humility
  19. 19. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 19 3. Deceit Efficiency with emphasis Truth, Hope on image 4. Envy Excellence with melancholic Contentment Nostalgia 5. Avarice Knowledge with withdrawal Detachment and stinginess 6. Cowardice Security with fear and doubt Courage, Faith 7. Gluttony Easy idealism with multiple Temperance plans and options 8. Lust Self-defined justice with Innocence vengeance 9. Indolence Nonaggression with indecision Action, Love and indolence (Keyes, 1998, p. 132) The ultimate lifelong goal of the Enneagram is the recognition of our imbalance and a turning around leading to unity and freedom. Complete unity internally and externally is the goal: Having taken the interior journey, we have done enough inner work that we welcome all parts and experiences of ourselves. We remember who we are and so we ca remember who we are. No part of us is discarded, rejected, or lost; rather through healing and transformation the good in all is revealed, and all are welcomed. (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 182) Though the Enneagram shows where we are and maps the return way home, awareness in and of itself does not bring change. “In addition to awareness, desire, and will, we need a technique for accessing all the gifts, virtues, and the higher experiences . . .” (Isaacs, 2000, pp. 1,
  20. 20. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 20 19) Whatever path is chosen to break loose from the patterns of a lifetime (prayer, a form of psychotherapy, a spiritual discipline, etc.), it must be embraced and applied wholeheartedly for a long period of time before it has a chance to affect us (Keyes, 1998). A spiritual discipline is most effective because a spiritual path requires an encounter with our own dark side and what we have been programmed to avoid. While trying to let go of Enneagram strategies, we come to know and admit our own negative traits and qualities. This work involves a deep and long-term flushing out of buried emotions, memories and motive which restrict the full use of our capacities and distort our worldview (Keyes, 1998). The spiritual path draws upon an inexhaustible resource: the power and spirit of God within us. Via acknowledging that God accepts us as we are, we are able to accept ourselves as we are, for in spite of its dark appearance and “all its difficulties, the shadow is closer to the creative source . . . in a showdown, God is always on the side of the shadow not the ego . . .” (Abrams & Zweig, 1991, p. 26) It is a most unpleasant task, this working alone and often in silence as we sort and sift through our lives in an attempt to get past the baggage to our true essence; however, a spiritual path gives increased strength and staying power because “to know that we could perpetrate the most heinous of crimes – and still in the face of it all feel the mercy of God – is acceptance beyond intellectual comprehension.” (Miller, 1989, p. 34) Contemplative spiritual practices place great value on various disciplines which emphasize the quieting of the mind through the practice of silence. The practice of silence allows us to cut down on the constant flow of data input, allowing other important insights, which are usually drowned out, to get through to us. “The way to God must pass through silence, going beyond words and thoughts,” stated Anthony de Mello. (Keyes, 1998, p 119)
  21. 21. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 21 The Enneagram offers a unique awareness of the active yet generally unconscious role God plays I our becoming whole. As we actively pursue silence through “meditation, prayer, imagination, and listening – our presence invites what has been hidden in the shadows to stand in the sunlight . . . our presence makes it possible for the unconscious to become conscious, the invisible to become visible, the darkness to become light, the wound to become blessing . . .” (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 183) This sample prayer from one of the founders of the Enneagram (Sufi master, Rabia-al-Adawiyya) emphasizes the importance of God’s presence: Oh God, if I adore you from fear of hell, then burn me in hell, and if I adore you in hopes of Paradise, then do not give it to me. Yet, if I adore you for yourself, do not withhold your eternal beauty from me. (Rohe & Ebert, 1990, p. 7) Through the Enneagram and the practice of silence we come to know God in totally new way: “I, God, am your playmate! I will lead the child in you in wonderful ways for I have chosen you,” stated Mechthild of Magdeburg. (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 177) Grace becomes a mode of being, and this experience doesn’t give anything new but instead makes us a new person. We become the best of friends with God who lives within, the God who is at home among the poor and weak, among the deformed and wounded, and because this God is a true lover and loves that which needs strengthening and nourishment and “has made a home in our wound, in our repressed center.” (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 214) The necessity for personal belief in particulars no longer gets in the way of a healing relationship with the Divine. The Enneagram cooperates with the Divine showing that it is God who believes in us and redeems us while we are silent in the presence of God:
  22. 22. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 22 The God who lives in that which we repress, deny, disown, and devalue is a God who does not demand that we believe but a God who believes in us. Unconcerned about asserting power over us or demanding that specific beliefs are verbalized in specific words, this God lives in the shanty town of our repressed center, dressed in rags, waiting to welcome us whenever we stop for a visit, no matter how briefly. (Hurley & Dobson, 1993, p. 215) Redemption is the work of God’s grace, which takes place without our doing anything when we let go and expose ourselves to a greater reality, when we let ourselves fall into the Center: into God. And when we have done that, we will notice that even the letting go and opening was not our achievement. We were “seduced” by Someone. (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, p. 30)
  23. 23. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 23 Chapter 4 Centering Prayer: A Step Toward Union With the Divine The practice of silence may include contemplative prayer. The first rung on the ladder of contemplative prayer is Centering Prayer which prepares one for the gift of contemplation. Centering Prayer is a means of moving our developing relationship with God to a level of pure faith where God does the doing while we rest in the presence of God. “Pure faith is faith that is moving beyond the mental egoic level of discursive meditation and particular acts to the intuitive level of contemplation.” (Keatig, 1992, p .5) Christian scripture is supportive of this concept and practice: But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place . . . (Matthew 6:6) In your prayers do not babble as the gentles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 7:7-8) . . . the Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words; and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means . . . (Romans 8:26-27) The proper comprehension of Centering Prayer requires that we first understand what contemplative prayer is. Spiritual disciplines from both the East and West have the common good goal of ultimate divine union, which is also the ultimate goal of contemplative prayer. Maybe the best way to understand contemplative prayer is to state what is not. (1) It is not a
  24. 24. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 24 relaxation exercise, but it may bring relaxation, which is strictly a side effect. (2) It is not a charismatic gift, but he practitioner may also be a charismatic. (3) It is not a parapsychological phenomenon. The psychic level of consciousness is within the general level of present human development and is the next level above the mental egoic stage. (4) It is not a mystical phenomenon, meaning visions, bodily ecstasy, voices, dreams, etc. (Keating, 1992) Generally most people think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed as words, but such is only one of prayer’s many forms. Interior silence is the cornerstone of contemplative prayer and detachment from thoughts is the root of contemplative prayer. It is the opening of mind and heart, body and emotions – our whole being – to God, the ultimate mystery, beyond words, thoughts, and emotions – beyond, in other words, the psychological content of the present moment. We do not deny or repress what is in our consciousness. We simply accept the fact of whatever is there and go beyond it, not by effort, but by letting go of whatever is there. (Keating, 1992, p. 14) During the initial stages of contemplative prayer the release of the energies of the unconscious transforms the false self. The transformation can take place in two different ways: . . . the experience of personal development in the form of spiritual consolation, charismatic gifts, or psychic powers; and the experience of human weakness through humiliating self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the traditional term for the coming to consciousness of the dark side of one’s personality. (Keating, 1992, p. 15)
  25. 25. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 25 The desired results of either process are for Spirit to heal “the roots of self-centeredness” and become “the source of our conscious activity.” (Keating, 1992, p. 16) The emotional programming of the past must be reprogrammed so that Spirit’s influences can flow spontaneously without interference from the false self. As a spiritual discipline, Centering Prayer is designed to reduce the obstacles to contemplative prayer. It is not just a method, but is also true prayer. It is the beginning step rising “step by step to union with God.” (Keating, 1992, p. 34) It opens the doors leading beyond the ordinary flow of thoughts to a deeper part of self, to the spiritual level of our being. Remaining focused on our ordinary flow of thoughts is a primary obstacle to prayer. This manner of praying enables us to maintain the necessary level of interior silence needed in the psyche and nervous system in order to let go of all thoughts during prayer. Such thoughts may include the ongoing internal dialogue/conservation inside or our head plus any perception appearing in the inner stream of consciousness such as emotions, images, memories, plans, outside noise, feelings of peace, and even spiritual communication. The goal is to let go of all thoughts during the time of prayer (Keating, 1992). The procedure for Centering Prayer is as follows: 1. Take a relatively comfortable position, avoiding postures which cause strain, cut off circulation, or cause any discomfort. 2. Find a quiet place – avoid noises. 3. Close your eyes. 4. Use a quiet alarm clock to end the session.
  26. 26. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 26 5. Pick a time when you are alert and awake rather than tired or exhausted. 6. Choose a sacred word which is indicative of your intent to surrender and open to God. 7. Gently introduce the sacred word to your imagination and keep thinking it in whatever form it arises. 8. Release the sacred word as you surrender to God’s presence, returning to it promptly whenever you become sidetracked by some other thought. 9. Allow 20-30 minutes for each session (two times daily) – at the conclusion you may return to your ordinary thoughts or converse in regular prayer. 10. Allow two minutes to pass before you open your eyes. (Keating, 1992) There is a clear distinction between Centering Prayer and other disciplines. Centering Prayer is not designed to calm the body, mind, and nervous system as are certain types of breathing, yoga, Tai Chi, jogging, etc. The central concern of Centering Prayer is a faith relationship, which is an opening of self to God, a serious coming together with God. A daily practice develops sensitivity to the spiritual dimension of one’s being. Here in patience one waits for God, and if one waits God will manifest Himself (Keating, 1992) “In this prayer God is speaking not to your ears, to your emotions, or to your head, but to your spirit, to your inmost being.” (Keating, 1992, p. 83)
  27. 27. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 27 Waiting for God is really a way of resting in God’s presence and waiting without any expectations. Instead of being a state of nothingness or blankness, there should always be a gentle spiritual awareness. A subtle intention must be at work which maintains a sense of active emptiness. Attention or concentration is avoided as there is no particular thought or effort to attend to. All that is needed is an intention to go inward to one’s innermost being where one believes God dwells. It is a matter of pure faith which goes beyond concepts or feelings. It may be compared to gently knocking on a door – the gentle knocks can’t force open the door as it must be opened from the other side. Willpower retards the effectiveness of this type of prayer because such runs counteractive to the surrender and effortlessness that is mandated (Keating, 1992). “This prayer is not a conversation in words but an exchange of hearts. It is a higher level of concentration than other levels of prayer and tends to integrate these lower levels into itself.” (Keating, 1992, p. 68) Moving into the presence of God requires the use of a sacred word. The sacred word may be a single o two-syllable word that “expresses your intention to open yourself to God, the Ultimate Mystery that dwells within you.” (Keating, 1992, p. 43) Whatever word is chosen, it should be used consistently, especially during a period of prayer. Your sacred word directs your intention toward God announcing, “Here I am,” and puts self at God’s disposal. When the sacred word is well established, it reduces casual thoughts, directing you away from them by reaffirming your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within (Keating, 1992). Eventually as you go deeper, you may go to a place where the sacred word disappears and there is just silence and no thoughts. It may seem to be a place outside of time and space, creating an experience that is beyond words, images, thoughts, and emotions. This experience
  28. 28. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 28 brings home the reality “that the core of your being is eternal and indestructible and that you as a person are loved by God and share in His divine life.” (Keating, 1992, p. 114) The ultimate goal of Centering Prayer is to become free of the false self in order to have the freedom to be the true Self. Rather than producing a state of peace and blissfulness, this discipline excavates obstacles which stand in the way of union with God. First, the false self must be dismantled and this dismantling must be done by God. Based upon our sincerity and faith God will “bring our deep-rooted selfishness into clear focus, and invite us to relinquish it. If we agree, He takes it away and replaces it with His own virtues.” (Keating, 1992, p. 72) Empirical evidence shows that “the consequences of traumatic emotional experiences from earliest childhood are stored in our bodies and nervous systems in the form of tension, anxiety, and various defense mechanisms.” (Keating, 1992, p. 93) Considering the amount of such baggage that a lifetime creates from birth throughout adulthood, there is much about self that one needs to rediscover and acknowledge. Such self-knowledge will provide “insight into our hidden motivation, into emotional needs and demands that are percolating inside of us and influencing our thinking, feeling, and activity without our being fully aware of them.” (Keating, 1992, p. 94) The losing of self in God brings self-acceptance and interior freedom. You can only face up to who you really are in the presence of someone you trust: Through the deepening of one’s trust in God, one is able to acknowledge the dark places on one’s personality according to one’s own natural rhythm. (Keating, 1992, p. 100) [God] has always known the dark side of your character and He is no letting you
  29. 29. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 29 in on the secret like a friend confiding to a friend. Insights of self- knowledge, instead of upsetting you, bring a sense of freedom. (Keating, 1992, p. 90) The deep interior silence experienced while resting in God creates “a kind of divine psychotherapy, organically designed for each of us, to empty our unconscious and free us from the obstacles to the free flow of grace in our minds, emotions, and bodies.” The emotional blocks often soften up and the natural capacity of the human organism starts to evacuate the emotional garbage in our unconscious “during prayer in the form of thoughts that have a certain urgency, energy, and emotional charge to them.” (Keating, 1992, p. 93) These inner dynamics of Centering Prayer lead to a natural transformation that goes beyond mere moral improvement, resulting in a total personality restructuring. Without realizing it, “a great many emotional conflicts that are hidden in your unconscious and affecting your decisions” are resolved. “As a consequence, over a period of time you will feel a greater sense of well-being and inner freedom.” (Keating, 1992, p. 96) How does one judge the effectiveness of Centering Prayer? By realizing that all humans have the potential to become divine, you become mindful of the virtues of God as they manifest in your life. After one or two months of practice, you observe the fruit in your daily life. If you are becoming more patient with others, more at ease with yourself, if you shout less often or less loudly at the children, feel less hurt if the family complains about your cooking – all these are signs that another set of values is beginning to operate in you. (Keating, 1992, p. 39)
  30. 30. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 30 The long-range fruits of greater peace, humility, and charity will eventually enable you to relate to others “beyond the superficial aspects of social status, race, nationality, religion, and personal characteristics.” (Keating, 1992, p. 114)
  31. 31. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 31 Chapter 5 My Personal Experience My conscious recall of deep personal spiritual sensitivity goes back to the age of three. These memoires include: (1) attending holly roller, charismatic-type church services with my sitter, Mama Rule; (2) attending an evening revival service at a local Southern Baptist church, becoming emotionally overwhelmed, and feeling prompted by a positive spiritual presence to walk the isle to the alter, and kneeling and receiving Jesus Christ as my personal savior; (3) being baptized by immersion the following Easter at the age of eleven; (4) speaking boldly and wishfully of growing up to be a missionary. With the beginning of puberty and adolescence such inclinations were forgotten. However, soon after my seventeenth birthday and late in my high school junior year, these issues were revisited. Sunday dates often occurred at church youth activities and evening worship services. It was on one such evening at an Independent Baptist church that once again the clarity of my Call was announced. The realization was a burning in the depths of my soul. It seemed that this desire had always been there, smoldering, waiting to burst into flames. My inner knowing started out as a slow burn, building to an immense intensity over a period of time. It wasn’t a vision, or a dream, or a big event – just a deep inner knowing and the whispering of a very quiet voice. With a conscious affirmation and acceptance of the Call came a complete rebirthing and transformation of my personality and quality of life. My life filled with passion, purpose, and meaning. It was my senior year and I was running wide open. Dates, gorgeous dates were readily available: cheerleaders, members of the homecoming queen’s court, plus my steady girl.
  32. 32. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 32 My grades improved to a mid-ninety average allowing me to graduate in the top third of my class and prepare for college. No longer a shy introvert, I was elected president of my F.F.A. class, won the honor of Mr. Southern for selling the most high school yearbooks, and received an award from the principal for selling the most magazine subscriptions that year. At the annual combined P.T.A. and school board meeting, I was the keynote speaker delivering a fifteen-minute talk entitled Why the Generation Gap. Plus, I had a key role in the school play and participated in the high school tutoring program. I was deeply involved in the local church serving as a Sunday school teacher, president of the church senior youth group, president of the local youth sub district, and organized and spoke at many local church services and youth revivals. Here are some comments written in my 1968 senior high school yearbook (The Southerner) by a few of my classmates: I’ve gotten to know you this year and I’ve really enjoyed it. You’re one of the nicest boys I’ve met in a long time. I’ve really enjoyed listening to some discussions about religion and philosophy. You’re good at it… (J.D) You are a very sweet person, and I am sure you will go far in the future . . . I think you will make a good minister. (A.R.) I would like to wish you best of luck in college and I know you will be a good preacher. (Edna) We have had some great times together, like cleaning out the chicken house and getting in fights. I have also enjoyed discussing the finer points of Charles Darwin, the communist party, and Black Power
  33. 33. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 33 with you. Seriously, you are the finest young person I know of. Don’t change whatever you do. Stick with being a preacher and I’m sure you’ll be rewarded. (D.H.) Knowing I have a friend in the Christian faith has meant much to me this year. You know, I heard so much about people in our class drinking and smoking, I was beginning to think there weren’t any true Christians left. I feel you are one who knows what I am speaking of. Just keep up you goal of being a pastor and maybe you can help someone else see the light. (V.E.) I think I realize now that God can’t do it all alone and it’s people like you, willing to stand up for Him in any situation, who He chooses to carry on His work. Every time I see you help someone or know that you can fulfill a need that person might have, I feel so proud of you that I could simply explode! I only pray that you can truly find an answer to many of your – shall I say – confusions . . . (Lucy) The United Methodist Church gave me a partial ministerial scholarship for college. On December 1, 1968 (half way through my first year of college), I completed the required course of study and was licensed to preach by the United Methodist Church. The required academic study was separate from and in addition to my full-time college course load. In many ways the materials were more advanced and difficult to master than my regular college studies. I was very proud of my accomplishment. Later I was informed that at that time I was the youngest to ever
  34. 34. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 34 have been licensed to preach in the North Carolina Eastern Conference of the United Methodist Church. That same year I became engaged and my bride-to-be was the 1969 valedictorian from my high school. She was an American Presidential Scholar and her college major was Christian Education. The collective perception was that of a future martial union sanctioned from heaven for a couple destined to serve united as one in the local church ministry. A busy schedule and an active life preceded and filled my sophomore college year. The summer before, I worked a four-week session as a youth counselor at a church summer camp. The second half of summer break I completed the first-year course of studies at the Duke Divinity School of Pastoral Studies for the United Methodist Church. I was president of the United Methodist Student Union, work part-time as a youth director at Thomasville United Methodist Church, and often spoke at churches of various denominations throughout the state. Here are some comments written in my 1969 freshman college yearbook (The Anchor) by a few of my classmates: I think God sent you when I was depressed or in need of some good “Methodist” counseling. Please remember me in your prayers as we go our separate ways. I just thank God for sending you when I was in need. (L. W.) I’ve learned many ways of witnessing and showing others God’s love by your ideas. (R. S.) Oh well. David, thanks for bringing me a lot closer to God. I’ll never forget that night on the Hamrick steps and I hope you’ll forgive me for any way I may have disappointed you. (L. M.)
  35. 35. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 35 You have been a real friend and great source of strength spiritually for me this year. (D. F.) It has been great knowing you this year. You know God didn’t say for us to be like sour lemons, and I can say this much for you, you’re a go getter. (B. C.) Something else major happened to me the second year of college. Those were the years of the counterculture, Vietnam War, and civil rights unrest; plus there was much social and political unrest inside and outside of the United Methodist Church. These external forces had a major personal impact, but there was something more, something much bigger. There were forces deep within me which drove me and manhandled my psyche, driving me to the edge of insanity. Others saw in me that which they wished me to see, usually a ministerial student on his way to becoming a Man of God. Externally my life appeared to be in order. Many times I was told by others how they envied how my life seemed to be on target and how they wished they could be certain as I was about my own life purpose and direction. None knew of the countless hours (all hours of the day and night) that I spent seeking out and finding the college chaplain to have him console fears which I could not name. That man was my link to sanity on many occasions. Popular psychological theory of the time taught that one may think what one wishes (regardless of the content) as long as one does not necessarily act upon those same thoughts. It was a time of experimentation and freedom of expression – just let your mind go wherever it desired. And I did just that. My mind strayed to the gutter, and over a period of time I began to
  36. 36. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 36 linger there. My dark side, which I consciously believed had moved out when the Spirit moved in, returned home and brought with it many relatives. Late in my sophomore college year, major splits in my values, goals, personality, and self-concepts first appeared at the surface level of consciousness. They were forcing their way out. The terrible headaches, nights of insomnia, floating anxiety, panic attacks, bouts of depression, thoughts of suicide, and feelings of never be completely in control had been with me for years and were now gaining the upper hand. I vividly recall my drive home from Duke Divinity School that summer. Waves and waves of depression and anxiety would sweep over me. Desperately I wanted to drive my car into a tree and end it all. Countless times during that drive I aimed my car at a tree only to pull away at the last minute. My first full blown panic attack occurred during second term. Shaking all over and crying uncontrollably, I went to the dorm pay phone, phoned my fiancée (her dorm was across campus), and begged her to meet me immediately. It took her a long time to calm me down. I just knew that this was what it was like to lose one’s mind. That night was the beginning of the end. My internal turmoil prompted me to press my fiancée of two years to get married, but she repeatedly refused, saying that then was not the right time. Her response did not deter me from marriage. Soon afterwards I broke off the relationship. Three months later and against the advice and wishes of almost everyone, I married a friend (Jackie) who attended another college. We really didn’t know each other in depth. Jackie wanted to wait one year, but I insisted that we get married as soon as possible. At that time, no one could have reached me. I was driven to do things for reasons which were beyond anyone’s understanding.
  37. 37. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 37 Reflecting on my religious experiences and beliefs, it seems that my religion controlled and distorted my self-understanding. Reality seemed to be somewhat like that of a carnival mirror in which all personal aspects appeared distorted and out of proportion to each other. Religion as I knew it tended to place one under the Law, producing a heavy burden of guilt. The resulting fear of rejection by my peers and the god with whom I wished to commune distorted the truth of what Self was really like. It was heard for me to face the truth of the real me. That external veneer that everyone else saw blinded them to the fears and raging going on inside of me. They never ever saw or knew the scared little boy who felt so unloved and unsure of himself. I knew what constituted a sincere Christian, and I preached and taught that message to many with great success. My prime message was about grace and the concept of a god who knows all there is to know about each of us and still loves us to the infinite degree. Consciously I was able to acknowledge these theological concepts, but subconsciously there was much inside of me that was unacceptable and unloved which longed for acceptance and love. Sexual desire was always a driving, driving, driving force for me; even in elementary school. The combination of my strong sex drive and deep religious values created inner turmoil and conflict. Everything inside and outside told me to wait until marriage, and equally everything inside and outside wanted immediate gratification. Well, I felt I couldn’t save myself much longer, and marriage fulfilled the Law and terminated the demanded wait. We were married the summer prior to my junior college year. Out families and everyone who knew us could tell that we were confused by our out-of-character actions. Our marriage was doomed from the beginning and lasted less than twenty months. No doubt (in my mind) if
  38. 38. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 38 we were Catholic there would have been grounds for an annulment. We both had numerous spiritual and psychological problems. Though we both desired to save our marriage, we first needed to save ourselves. Near the end of our marriage, I was serving as a student associate pastor at a five hundred member United Methodist church, had enrolled in the master of divinity program at Garrett Theological Seminary, and was one year away from ordination. Despite outward appearances it was a time of great confusion for me within the Church. My bible contained uplifting stories of a deeply personal god with positive attributes who was wondrously and mysteriously involved with all people of all origins. It spoke of the Spirit of life and vitality that produces peace, love, understanding, tolerance, faith, hope, charity, and long-suffering. It seemed to me that almost all of the people (both laity and clergy) with whom I interacted inside the Church were deeply religious, but they didn’t read these same things in their bibles. Their lives, mannerisms, values, and other ways of living reflected attitudes of deep guilt, mistrust, dread, fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, controlling behaviors, etc. Their religion appeared to be a burden which enslaved them. Most were my senior whom I believed to be much wiser than I. I was confused. Accompanying these confusions were illnesses such as heart palpitations, a stomach ulcer, and many strange body aches. I was twenty-one and my best friend and constant companion was a bottle of Maalox. Disillusioned with my health, my life, the Church, and my marriage; I entered treatment as an outpatient at the local mental health center. The psychologist informed me that I was close to going over the edge. He administered the Minnesota Multiple Personality Inventory (MMPI) and, based upon the results, told me that I
  39. 39. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 39 was an anxious neurotic and borderline schizophrenic. The official diagnosis included 301.50 Hysterical Personality Disorder. My medical records stated the following: David is a 21-yr.-old married college student with an assistant pastorship. Therein lies his problem. He is highly ambitious, and so has found himself completely overwhelmed with things to do and not enough time. At the same time, he says he cannot reduce his course load. His wife, Jackie, a patient of Mr. James, works swing shift as a nurse. David has trouble organizing his many activities around her schedule; therefore, they don’t see much of one another. He began the interview by saying how much his wife has change since her two visits at M.H.C. He says their marriage is great – and Jackie is now responding more sexually. David says he needs to learn how to relax, and he must learn to cope with all the things he feels compelled to excel in. David is a typical college senior – full of idealism and ready to go forth with great vigor to change the world. He is thinking about changing his major to social work, and he says he would like to work here in High Point with Mental Health. I don’t feel David is really in need of therapy per se; however, he could possibly benefit from listening to a relaxation tape, or some mild medication. Disposition: To see Mr. Springs, 10-19-71. Note: David controlled the interview. He does a good deal of counseling with young people, so it was evidently difficult for him to assume the other side. (Intake worker) David came into the clinic with the complaints that he has a “marital conflict” and
  40. 40. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 40 “identity crisis” – David is a senior at H.P. College and is an assistant minister on Sundays. He is good at analyzing and intellectualizing but no real contact with feelings. Feel he comes into group lacking something essential to be successful. Feel David would be a good candidate for group therapy. Discussed this with him and Mr. James. So will put him in group – 301.50 Hysterical Personality (Summary 10-9-71 through 10-27- 71) On the first 8 sessions of group therapy David was true to his psychopathology. He continued to intellectualize and analyze this group rather than join in and become a member. The group finally took him to task on this an after a group talk David was able to admit he was afraid. At this point he began to make some progress and move towards becoming a member of the group. (Summary 11-9-71 through 12-30-91) David continues to move in and out of the group. He wants to badly but very stressful. He continues to vie for leadership for the group. Much interaction continues around his inability to trust and be himself – transfers blame mechanism to his wife as to his difficulty. He appears to be making real effort get something from group. (Summary 1-6-72 through 2-10-92) David has begun to try to put to work some of the things he is learning in group. The group coming to end. He has separated from his wife and is attempting to deal with the grief he now feels over this “failure.” Feel that
  41. 41. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 41 David is expressing more feeling and has improved although feelings not as much as we would have wished. (Summary 2-17-72 through 3-30-72) Date of Dictation: 9-28-73 Date of Termination: 10-1-73 Presenting Problem: Martial conflict and loss of confidence in self. Identity crisis. Course of Treatment and Response: Patient seen in individual and group psychotherapy with attempt to help him build confidence and get in touch and express feelings. Response was not as good as was hoped for. Recommendations: Patient would benefit from additional treatment Disposition: 01 – Patient moved. Final Diagnosis: 301.50 Hysterical Personality. Three months after entering treatment as an outpatient at the local mental health center, I left Jackie. The separation was my idea. She was opposed. I moved out anyway. Soon thereafter I resigned my position as associate pastor. Approximately one year later, I resigned my license to preach. All alone accept for my parents and a few close friends, I struggled to stay in college and get myself together. Throughout my ordeal the Church’s silence was deafening. After having served the Church so faithfully, I thought that it would come to my aid. Instead it pointed a finger and turned its back. Depression paralyzed me, my grades dropped, courses were failed, and my anger at God intensified. It was a big disappointment when I didn’t graduate with my classmates because of my failing grades and repeating of classes. An extra semester was required before I had enough credit hours to graduate.
  42. 42. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 42 My most vivid memories are of the depth of my anger and hate for God who, I thought, had failed me by abandoning me during my greatest hour of need. My attitude was that I had done everything that God had wanted me to do and that I had done it all without hesitation or reservation. I was the golden boy, the son who had stayed home while others wasted their lives in riotous and evil living. However, my Church and my religion had failed me, so why have either in my life? Twice Jackie and I separated and came back together. After the second separation, Jackie grew more distant while I continued to hope that things would eventually be okay. Imagine the stunned feeling which overwhelmed me the day I opened a letter addressed to Jackie which had been accidentally delivered to my apartment. It was from another man. He wrote of how much he had enjoyed their previous night out at a local night club. This revelation was devastating. Throughout our separation, I had clung to my idealism and continued to wear my wedding ring. I avoided all other women in hopes that things would work out between us. Prior to our marriage, we often wen night clubbing and dancing; but after marriage Jackie felt that being married to a preacher meant that we could no longer enjoy such activities. Now she was sharing and enjoying such with another man. Furious, angry, enraged, out of control are all understatements regarding my reactions to this unwelcomed knowledge. After reading the letter, I walked methodically to the trash dumpster. At the dumpster, I removed my wedding band, and along with the shredded remains of the letter, angrily threw both in the dumpster. Then raising my right fist and staring skyward, I shook my fist in God’s face and shouted at the top of my voice: “Go to hell! I do not believe
  43. 43. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 43 in You anymore! Fuck you!” That day I consciously severed all ties with God and became an honest agnostic. I no longer cared if God existed and I wasn’t going looking. It was time to party! All the things which until then my religion had kept me from doing were no longer off limits. Not believing in God or an afterlife, I lived for the moment. Parties, booze, drugs, and other women occupied my free time. My former religious career was nonexistent, and it seemed impossible for me to get or keep a decent job. There was an adult book store located close by my work place(s) and I became a regular. The owner, who was connected to organized crime, became a close friend. But my best friend was my Yamaha motorcycle. Whenever possible, I rode it on winding back-country roads. I would open it to the max, hug the sharp curves, and lay it down as close to the pavement as I dared. There was a death wish in the back of my mind and the sooner death arrived -- the better. Miraculously, while still entrenched and immersed in this state of mind and being, I managed to graduate one semester later with a 2.0 average. Soon after graduation I traveled to the Tampa Bay area for some much needed recreation and relaxation. At this time, though legally separated, I was still married and had not as of yet resigned my ministerial orders. It was a Saturday night and I was spending the night with an eighteen-year-old college student at her apartment at the beach. It was after midnight and we were in bed. She was at my right side and sound asleep. As I lay there wide awake, I pondered for the first time in a long time the question of the existence of God, and I reviewed in my mind the series of past events which had resulted in my being in those particular circumstances. With my hand clasped behind head, I spoke out
  44. 44. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 44 loud in a sarcastic voice with a jeering half-laugh: “God? Which is it? Are the Baptist right that once saved always saved? Or was John Wesley right that you can backslide into hell?” For me God had long since died and ceased to exist, so I wasn’t expecting an answer to my sarcastic question; but an answer was given. The entire room filled with the brightest white light and I felt indescribable total love, peace, calm, and acceptance to the very depths of my deepest being. Before me stood the Master, the Christ, and inside of my head I heard Him speak these words: “Maybe now you understand! Who is keeping score?” The experience was overwhelming, and I didn’t know what to think except that maybe I had finally crossed over to complete insanity. It took time for the reality of what had happened to reawaken me. That event changed my perspective and returned me to the reality of a loving, personal God who looked beyond that I had become to what I was capable of becoming both in this life and the next . . . that day I transversed from religion and the law of karma to spirituality and the law of grace. During this part of my life, if I had use of the Enneagram as a diagnostic tool through which to view, understand, and interpret what was going; it would have been beneficial to my recovery. The Enneagram is the clearest, most accurate method available for understanding my core self and basic personality type. While therapy or psychological and spiritual practices produce change, the core self and basic personality remain the same. (Riso, 1995) My basic Enneagram personality type is the One, which is often labeled: The Reformer, The Good Person, The Achiever, or The Perfectionist. Ones ae idealists, driven by a deep longing for a world of truth, justice, and moral
  45. 45. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 45 order. They have a hard time accepting their own and other people’s imperfections. They want at all costs to prevent their inner voices from condemning them. (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, pp. 35-36) They become high-minded idealists, feeling noblesse oblige – that it is up to them to strive to improve everything: reformers, advocates, critics, and crusaders. They become involved in causes, making progress toward the ideal, toward how they think things “ought” to be. Afraid of making a mistake: everything must be consistent with their ideals. Become orderly and well organized but impersonal, too emotionally constricted, rigid and logical, keeping their feelings and impulses in tight check. Puritanical, punctual, pedantic, and fastidious. Their thinking is deductive and hierarchical, in dichotomies of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. Very critical both of self and others: picky, judgmental, perfectionistic, impatient, and never settling for less than perfection in self and others. (Riso, 1995, p. 79) In the effort to stay true to their principles, Ones resist being affected by their instinctual drives, consciously not giving into them or expressing them too freely. The result is a personality type that has problems with repression, resistance, and aggression. They are usually seen by others as highly self- controlled, even rigid, although this is not how Ones experience themselves. It seems to them that they are sitting on a cauldron of passions and desires and they had better “keep the lid on” lest they and
  46. 46. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 46 everyone else around them regret it. Ones believe that being strict with themselves will justify themselves in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. But by attempting to create their own brand of perfection, they often create their own personal hell. (Riso & Hudson, 199, p. 100) The persona of a One projects these positive personality traits: serious striving for perfection reliable responsible idealistic dedicated conscientious thorough high purpose painstaking precise fair punctual persevering honest hardworking develop all potentials ethical moral clarity seeking intense high standards (Wagner, 1996, p. 39) The shadow of a One projects these negative personality traits: demanding high expectations angry unrealistic overly critical perfectionistic uptight overly persistent sharp strict driven interfering impatient puritanical slave-driver preachy moralistic many “should” trying too hard overly serious (Wagner, 1996, p. 39)
  47. 47. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 47 The preferred method of therapy prescribed for me during my six months as an out- patient at High Point Mental Health Center was that of confrontational group therapy. Sequentially one of my college psychology classes required regular participation in a T-Group which focused on sensitivity training. During this entire time I was deeply depressed and especially defensive when either of the group members (with forced regularity) would in unison ask me about the source of the reasons for my unexpressed anger. Even in the midst of overwhelming group pressure I was unable to admit my repressed anger because: . . . we ONES are ashamed of our anger, our sin and our avoidance coincide. We avoid admitting the vexation that motivates and drives us, and can acknowledge neither to ourselves not to others that we are resentful. For anger, too, as we see it, is something imperfect. Model children are not full of rage. This is our chief dilemma. Internally we are boiling over with rage because the world is so damned imperfect. But we do not articulate our resentments as such. We can scarcely perceive them ourselves and certainly not stand for them. I remember arguing with people who claimed, “Admit, you’re angry.” I said, “No, I’m not!” The very suspicion that I could be angry deeply wounded me. But others generally recognize our sin much more readily than we ourselves. (Rohr & Ebert, 1990, p. 40) It was primarily my mid-adolescence conviction of being called to preach which stylized and entrenched my young adult persona and shadow. My ego ideal fully embraced the Judeo- Christian moral code that “urges us to be loving, forgiving, sexually chaste, etc.” In attempting
  48. 48. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 48 to conform to this ideal, I rejected that part of me “that gets angry, is vindictive, and has uncontrolled sexual urges.” (Sanford, 1999a, p. 49) My spiritual awakening did not cause these qualities to cease to exist, but was instead accompanied by denials and reaction formations that buried these personal traits into my unconscious. There they lived on as my secondary shadow personality, for “there is an inevitable dark side to our nature that refuses to be assimilated into our lofty ideals of goodness, morality, and ideal human behavior.” (Sanford, 1996a, pp. 50, 23) My striving to overdo personal goodness only produced the opposite reaction in my unconscious. My denial and fear of my shadow allowed it to overpower me (Sanford, 1996a). A clear example is found in Peter’s denial of Jesus: . . . see . . . clearly the difference between Peter and Christ. Christ knows what he is doing. In full consciousness of his purpose and destiny he faces his adversaries with steadfast endurance and calm courage. Peter, in contrast, is thrown into his areas of darkness. Those parts of himself of which he is not aware catch up to him and throw him into confusion and fear. Out of this dark matrix comes his denial, which leads to his bitter anguish. On this cross of his own individuation, which forces him to become conscious of all the darkness within him, Peter is psychologically crucified. From the psychological point of view, Peter’s struggle is between his egocentric ego and his real Self. In his deepest heart he loves his Lord and is devoted to him. When in John 13:36 he said he would lay down his life for Jesus, he spoke from his deepest Center . . . But when he made his declaration of his love for Christ he failed to recognize his shadow. His old ego had not
  49. 49. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 49 yet died. It lived on with its desire to protect itself and its fear to give up its life, and in this crisis of Jesus’ arrest it reasserted itself. Peter thought his old ego had been changed, or, more likely, he had never become aware of the depths of his egocentricity, and so it continued to cast a shadow over him. (Sanford, 1996b, p. 311) My ego in its denial of my shadow qualities was put to the test by dark side of the Self which, under said conditions, can be equated with the Shadow Archetype. My breakdown was the result of operating in opposition to the Self’s call to wholeness: accidents, illnesses, psychosis, compulsive fantasies, all can be manifestations of the opposition that has risen between ego consciousness on the one hand and the demands of the Self for wholeness on the other hand. (Sanford, 1996a, p. 31) The result was my being overwhelmed by the Shadow Archetype. What is it like to be a One and be overwhelmed by the Shadow Archetype . . . to have your personality, your total life turned inside out and upside down, to become insane acting and thinking? This is how I described it when I wrote: A Mocking Bird A mocking bird cries for help for it is drowning in a lake. It did not ask to drink of the water, only what made the water so rough. It saw the waves tossed about by the uneasiness of the deep. It heard the cries of the sinking times and said, “Beckon a little louder and perhaps I will help.” The sinking times beckoned again and again, hoping that the bird would seek, for in
  50. 50. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 50 him they saw hope of smoothness of waves. Headlong he plunged into the uneasy deep, hoping to help, and now, as he holds his head above the rough waves, he too beckons for help. The seemingly overpowering evil which consumed me and ruined my life was my path to wholeness. It seems that mostly “only when people encounter evil in some form – as pain, loss of meaning, or something that appears to be threatening or destructive to them – that they begin to find their way to consciousness.” (Sanford, 1996a, p. 40) The Shadow Archetype which literally owned me produced a process that forced me to “undergo powerful transformations in” my “personality which” I later realized was good (Sanford, 1996a, p. 9) The same lessons that were learned by Peter I, too, learned: Only when we are put to the test, as Peter was, is the most firmly entrenched part of our shadow brought to the light of consciousness. Yet in the experience lie the seeds of our salvation, for without confrontation with the shadow, consciousness cannot develop, nor can the Real Self emerge. (Sanford, 1996b, p. 311) The process of progressive deconstruction and reconstruction which dominated my life was a “journey of spiritual development” (Grof & Grof, 1990, p. 1) that resulted in a full-blown spiritual emergency. This is how I described my personal process of ego/persona/personality deconstruction and reconstruction: Like a Falling Star Is life like a falling star? Once so bright and glowing, full of freedom, blazing its
  51. 51. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 51 way across the heavens only to be snatched from its path by some invisible hand of gravity, flung towards the ground in a flaming burst of fire and consumed in the grinding jaws of the atmosphere? My subsequent recovery and restoration was a protracted process which took place over several years independent of any further institutional medical care. It was a journey which, for the most part, I made alone and without any specialized assistance from others. Throughout the duration I was very distrustful and doubtful of the intentions and capabilities of both the Church and the mental health community. However, one specific individual did have a significant impact on me. After returning home from Florida, I was employed for six months as the associate director of alcoholism for Alamance County. My primary responsibility was to teach alcohol and drug education at local churches, schools, etc. My boss, Ronnie Cates, was a recovering alcoholic and a national authority on the subject. He insisted that part of my training include regular attendance at local AA meetings where I was to listen and observe. Ronnie was big on listening. These listening/learning experiences had a major influence on me as I independently and quietly applied them along with the twelve-step recovery program to my entrenched compulsions and anxieties. This made a major impact on my life and future mental well-being. Equally important was Ronnie’s advice regarding my insatiable appetite for knowledge for I was still a big-time reader. I was the ultimate riddle solver with a need to know why and how. I still needed to get it right. It was a compulsion which had as its source a roving mind that would not and could not be quiet. Ronnie’s advice was simple and straightforward: “If you would put down those damn books and just listen, you might learn something.” This was the
  52. 52. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 52 best piece of singular advice ever given me. Consciously or unconsciously Ronnie was directing me toward the practice of Contemplative [Centering] Prayer. After a lengthy period of incubation and while searching for solace in the New Testament book of Romans, this particular passage (which I had previously read countless times) spoke to me in a new way and introduced me to the concept of Contemplative [Centering] Prayer: . . . the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to prayer properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words; and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers that the Spirit makes for God’s holy people are always in accordance with the mind of God. (Romans 8:26-27) A best friend had given me a copy of The Prophet by Kahill Gibran. It became my primary source of inspiration and daily devotions. A portion from the reading on religion completely transformed my understanding of prayer and the necessity for centering quiet: For if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles. Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children. And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, out stretching His arms in the lighting and descending in rain. You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees. (Gibran, pp. 78-79) Perhaps if my therapist had introduced me to Contemplative (Centering) Prayer and the spiritual discipline of Silence [“David says he needs to learn how to relax . . . I don’t feel David really is in need of therapy per se; however, he could possibly benefit from listening to a
  53. 53. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 53 relaxation tape . . .”] spiritual emergence rather than spiritual emergency would have been the result. (Grinstead, Personal medical records) Intuitively I sensed how to move into the Silence and abide effortlessly in the loving presence of God – no judgment, just total complete acceptance. Sometimes we would enjoy each other in total silence. Other times I might feel overwhelmed by gratitude and weep uncontrollably or chuckle with laughter. Often, especially in the earliest stages of application; all I could do was weep and sigh with deep moans and groans. The overwhelming reality was that God felt what I felt and shared to the deepest of depths all that which I was experiencing. My sufferings were God’s sufferings, my joys were God’s joys, and because of my daily practice of Centering Prayer I came to know (as expressed via my personal poetry/prose): Not Being Aware A mystery it is that surrounds us – each alone in the midst! This being in the midst, how do you explain it? Always being there, yet not being aware of being there. Is that how it is? A way we tilt our mind, a way we cloak our self while in the midst? Odd it is the ways we see what we want to see, yet denying what we do see. Truths denied while in the midst. It seems we shudder to think, to realize that we are never, have never, and never will be alone. Overall the lessons I learned because of the practice of Centering Prayer were: When we stop in silence and allow God to perform His transforming work in us, we are like trees lifting our branches to the sun, light transforming into leaf and branch and root.
  54. 54. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 54 What do I do in silence? First, I abide in it with gratitude that Abba with unbelievable love welcomes one such as I. Then I try to listen to what God wishes to speak to speak in my heart. We need to die daily and then come again and again for resurrection and new life, or we can burn out and give up. We begin to see how difficult it is to face all of ourselves and bring all this to God. I have encountered many social-action ministers who had come to the end of their ropes and were about to abandon not only their activities, but their faith, until they returned to the never failing springs of life that emerge from contact with the Spirit. (Kelsey, 1986, pp. 103-105) Though many varied spiritual disciplines played key roles in my eventual recovery, the long-term practice of Contemplative (Centering) Prayer was paramount. This is how I describe the end results received through divine grace via my regular practice of Centering Prayer (as expressed via my personal poetry/prose): At The Master’s Table I sit outside the door longing to go in . . . lingering, shuffling my feet, eyes fixed on the ground. I wonder how I will be greeted. Oh, what the Hell? I am hungry, my soul cries for nourishment, it is a slow agonizing death I face so to the door I go. The table is spread – a banquet fit for a king. A feast such as my eyes has never beheld. I sit. Though I am dirty and unkempt, the master awaits me, his gaze fixated upon me. I don’t know, I don’t understand; he waits on me first, never once showing discontent or displeasure with my unkempt presence. Never have I experience such
  55. 55. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 55 total undemanding presence of mind. I want to dine with him forever. His presence! I feel so clean, so made anew. The need fills me. I long, I must stay at the table with him forever. Just to be there -- my mind, my thoughts, and my desires – they are different! I have changed. As he is, I become. It is said that “religion is for people who want to avoid hell and spirituality is for people who have been there.” (Bergin & Fitzgerald, 1997, p. 7) From my vantage point such is reality based. My religion created a hell here on earth for me. Some of the major world religions position hell as a literal physical reality residing in the underworld beneath the earth’s surface, where all is cloaked in total darkness and where what remains of life is live in the shadows such as the Greek concept of Hades and the Jewish concept of Sheol. Some even claim that hell is a place where all humans are undesirable, unacceptable, an unlovable are removed from the holy presence of God. Hell’s ultimate agony is this total absence of God’s presence and love. Likewise, hell can be understood to reside in the personal unconscious where all that is collectively and personally undesirable, unacceptable, and unlovable is cast off and hidden from God’s holy sight. But damning and removing these elements form conscious acceptance does not rob them of their life force and their demanding desire to dance in the presence of God. The Self and the call to wholeness know what the Psalmist stated is the ultimate truth: “Where can I go to escape your spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence? If I scale the heaven you are there, I lie flat in Sheol, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8)
  56. 56. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 56 My experience of being damned and controlled by the Shadow Archetype was God’s way of calling me to wholeness and bringing me home. Contrary to the collective religious myth of rejection, it was through the practice of Contemplative (Centering) Prayer that I came to know: . . . God was head over heels in love with us and simply couldn’t stop looking at us! In a very real sense, we are so utterly loved that we can never step out of that loving embrace. Nothing we can do can stop God from loving us. Even in our brokenness we are still loved. As the beautiful Spanish proverb puts it, “God can write straight with crooked lines.” God is infinitely patient with both our weakness and our willfulness. (Bergin & Fitzgerald, 1997, p. 116) Though my use of the Enneagram is 20/20 rear-sighted vision it has served me well by putting to rest much personal wonderings about the why and how of my spiritual emergency and ultimate restoration. If the Enneagram as a diagnostic tool had been available and used during my treatment by the mental health system, my path to recovery may not have been so rocky and prolonged because: “The Enneagram I s a method of self-discovery which helps people see themselves as they really are so that they can then allow their best self to break through into the light.” A deeper understanding of my personality type may have enabled me to tap into “the well-spring of strength, wisdom and love within” myself, allowing me to “face up to” my “illusions, transcend” my “compulsions and liberate” my “special gifts.” (Bergin & Fitzgerald, 1997, p. 6) Surely such would have been more conducive to spiritual emergence instead of a full-blown spiritual emergency.
  57. 57. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 57 Chapter 6 Independent Research Project Five people (three females and two males), comprising a local sales team for an international media company, participated in this study. None of the participants had any prior knowledge of the Enneagram. The research procedures and methodologies used were: 1) Introduction to the Enneagram during a four-hour workshop using training materials from International Training Consultants and the text The Nine Ways of Working: How to Use the Enneagram to Discover Your Natural Strengths and Work More Effectively by Michael J. Goldberg. 2) During the workshop each participant identified her/his own Enneagram personality type by taking the self-scoring Rico-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator. 3) Introduction to Centering Prayer (during the workshop), using instructional excerpts from the text Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel by Thomas Keating. 4) Each participant agreed to practice Centering Prayer twice daily for 30 consecutive days. 5) Introduction (during the workshop) to keeping a personal journal, using instructional excerpts from the text Companions on the Inner Way: The Art of Spiritual Guidance by Morton T. Kelsey. 6) Each participant agreed to maintain a daily journal of his/her related experiences for 30 days. 7) Each participant agreed to provide a written summary of a general nature regarding his/her take on the overall experience.
  58. 58. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 58 8) Open ended individual program exit interview of a non-specific nature intended to flesh out further understanding of each participant’s summary statement. The first three participants each decided that they are Enneagram type Seven, which is often classified as The Optimist or The Epicure. Sevens approach life with easy optimism accompanied by uneasy activity. They have the “ability to create pleasure and make things happen.” And project a persona of “I’m fun. I see the bright side of life.” Sevens do not naturally seek to live “a levelheaded, moderate life” for they are addicted to “maintaining high levels of stimulation, many activities, many things to do, wanting to stay ‘high.’” Accompanying their tendency towards narcissism are the shadow issues of gluttony and an overwhelming desire to avoid pain – especially the pain of self-reflection. (Keyes, 1998, pp. 53, 57) The dual shadow issues of gluttony and the avoidance of pain must be approached head-on and claimed if a Seven is to deal effectively with his/her personal shadow issues. A Seven must claim that: Deep down I’m intemperate. That’s my brokenness. I don’t normally admit it, but I’m a glutton for more. What I want is a superabundance of the good things in life, of the things that are likely to bring me happiness. Nothing is ever enough. I consume things rather than savor and enjoy them. I take life in big gulps rather than in little sips. I emphasize the positive and minimize the negative. Basically, what I’m doing is trying to avoid pain and the emptiness inside. I look for distractions to keep me occupied and help me cope with painful realities. The trouble is that I can . . . vividly imagine the intensity of pain, and I look for every possible diversion to
  59. 59. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTRING PRAYER 59 avoid it. That’s why I’m continually on the go and try not to get tied down to routine tasks. In effect, I’m running away from myself because I fear that, if I stop to look inside, I won’t like what I see. (Bergin & Fitzgerald, 1997, pp. 103-104) Participant number one is a recently remarried female in her late thirties or early forties with a B.A. in psychology. She has three children from a previous marriage, two of who are grown and out of the home. Her youngest son is in his mid-teens and lives with her. She determined that she is an Enneagram type Seven. She did not provide a summary of her related research experience; however, her journal does provide some insightful entries: Didn’t take time for lunch; had headache all afternoon. Have the fear of how to check voice mail or pager!! Would love to twitch my nose and disappear! Instead – going to have some wine and try to “chill out”! Have a 7:00 hair appointment – got to run! I can’t be all things to all people. . . . one of those days where you see a lot of folks but no feeling of real Accomplishment . . . lots of kids around tonight, had cookout, played more ball in yard, think I jammed my thumb! Gonna have a glass of wine now and watch movie! No sleep! How long can this last? Lots of folks here for fireworks at
  60. 60. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 60 Tanglewood and cookout. Writing in journal now while chilli warms . . . gotta sleep tonight. Last entry . . . journal one week from tomorrow. Need to get back to guests! Other than keeping a daily journal, which reads more like a diary, participant #1 never fully committed herself to the agreed upon program. Though very vocal about being a sincere and active Christian, it seems she was reluctant or unable to practice Centering Prayer with any regularity. There is not a single entry in her journal regarding Centering Prayer. I assume that the prolonged sitting, stillness, and quiet required by the discipline were more than her Enneagram Seven traits could bear. During her exit interview, she confided that “due to time constraints” it was all she could do to maintain the journal. When I pointed out that her journal entries are mainly lists of daily activities rather than personal moments of inner reflection and contemplation, she confided (once again true to her Seven traits) that she didn’t “want to go there” because it was uncomfortable and she didn’t want to be self-revealing. Her lack of commitment to the daily regimen means that no conclusions can be made concerning Centering Prayer; however, the Enneagram is very accurate in describing her primary personality traits and shadows issues. Participant number two is a married female; age forty-three, with a B.A. in speech communication. She has one preteen daughter. She determined that she is an Enneagram personality type Seven. Her summary of her research experiences states: Final reflection on Centering Prayer and journaling . . . lying on the porch swing
  61. 61. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 61 on front porch of beach cottage . . . overcast, rough surf. I have many thoughts and feelings about the centering/journaling experience and I will try to organize them in some sort of coherent order. The biggest thing I learned was how important it is to slow down. It’s amazing to me that sometimes it was difficult to find twenty minutes twice a day to sit still. I guess I am a type seven and love to socialize and entertain and stay busy, busy, busy; but this project forced me to slow down and clear my mind a little. I knew I was always in a hurry, but I always thought all the stuff I did was necessary and important. Some of it is, but some of it is not! It’s like part of me – the 2 or 3 or 4 – wanted to slow down, but the 7 (most dominant) wouldn’t allow it. I feel guilt or something when I do nothing, but I noticed that may times it wasn’t until I did nothing (during the Centering Prayer) that I would slow down enough to do some good things for myself that were normally at the bottom of the list and often neglected. I also realized how impatient I can be with myself and others when I get in a big hurry. The 20-minute Centering Prayer was very difficult some days because I would actually catch myself thinking: “My gosh! When is the 20 minutes going to be up? Not always, but some days when I was really pressed for time. I’m more convinced than ever that our whole culture is too busy and in too big of a hurry. The old adage “can’t see the forest for the trees” has a whole new meaning for me because it was all those “trees” which kept getting in my way during the prayer. One after another, those
  62. 62. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 62 trees (thoughts, problems, stuff) kept popping into my head and I had to struggle to clear them away. I honestly believe the quiet time or prayer time was so good for me and many people could benefit from it. I also think the Centering Prayer practice of “clearing” your mind and “praying” about specific things is good, because traditional prayer sometimes makes you dwell on the problems (many of them), so your mind is not clear to “see” the solutions. It was a most beneficial experience for me – one I will try to continue to practice. Participant number two was deeply committed in her efforts to maintain the thirty days regimen of Centering Prayer and journaling. Her journal entries and summary show much depth of inner searching, reflection, and contemplation. Sevens (more than any type) are extreme surface dwellers living chaotic, frenzied lifestyles with activity calendars generally void of any space for self-care or self-reflection. Vie the essence of her summary, it is clear that Centering Prayer and journaling enabled her to come to center and confront her shadow issues of gluttony (over-being, over-doing, over-getting, etc.) and the personal costs of avoiding the pain of self- reflection. The confrontation if accompanied by a conscious awareness of the virtue/strength (level-headed moderation) which is needed by a Seven in order to embrace the rejected pain that brings personal transformation (Keyes, 1998). Participant number two’s experiences fully support the hypothesis. Participant number three is a recently divorced female; age thirty-eight, with a B.S. in business. She shares joint custody of her two primary school-aged boys with her ex-husband.
  63. 63. ENNEAGRAM AND CENTERING PRAYER 63 She determined that she is an Enneagram personality type Seven. Her summary of her related research experiences states: Participating in this experience of the Centering Prayer, I found to be . . . restful, relaxing – most times too relaxing. If I came close to completely closing my mind – which I did a few times – I dozed off. Writing the dairy I found to be, for lack of a better word, upsetting. The reason for that feeling is quilt. I knew what you expected, but found it extremely difficult to open up. I’ve learned that I go to a lot of trouble to cover up anything that may hurt, anger, disappoint, or in any way “ruffle” the exterior – in working environment at least. During her exit interview, participant number three was very enthusiastic about the outcomes of her experiences, especially of how Centering Prayer allowed her to calm her mind and come to center. Since the conclusion the experiment she has introduced the path of silence to a local Optimist Club and several friends. In her journal she states several times that the overall program empowered her to consciously deal with her attempts to avoid the fear, anger, and other internal discomforts she still experiences whenever in the presence of her ex-spouse of two years. Her biggest gain was the ability to consciously confront and deal with her fear of the pain of self-reflection and self-disclosure. Participant number three’s experiences fully support the hypothesis. Participant number four is a single male; age thirty-eight, with a B.A. in marketing. He determined that he is an Enneagram personality type Three, which is classified as The Performer,