From the Heart: Balancing the Enneagram

I did not survive cancer three times to succumb to the cancer in the White House, our government, or in my thinking about it. I experienced a huge shift this week. If sharing my experience helps even one other person to deal with this upside-down world in a more balanced way, it is worth it.

Cancer taught me many things but three in particular: the importance of community; the power of prayer; and the grace of knowing oneness ... not just thinking or feeling it but knowing it.

To know oneness was more of a gift of pure grace than a teaching—one I feel humbled to have received. When you feel and see it enough to know it, you never want to lose that kind of love.

I also don’t want to—and can’t—ignore or deny the likelihood of a new conservative Supreme Court throwing out the Affordable Care Act and preexisting conditions. An alternative plan is teased mercilessly but never revealed.

I find that to be hurtful—and I have more resources and options than most to deal with it. I think it is especially cruel to those who do not even have money for a tank of gas let alone insurance of any kind. During moments of oneness, I have seen that I am one with those people. I know it to be true.

My teacher and a true prophet for our times, Richard Rohr, said this week, “We are living with the catastrophic results of several centuries of what philosophers call nihilism or post-modernism (nothing means anything, there are no universal patterns). We are without doubt in an apocalyptic time (the Latin word apocalypsis refers to an urgent unveiling of an ultimate state of affairs).”

He goes on to say: “All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.

“God cannot abide with us in a place of fear. God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred. God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim. God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis. God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit. God cannot be found when all sides are so far from ‘the Falconer.’ God cannot be born except in a womb of Love. So offer God that womb.

“Stand as a sentry at the door of your senses for these coming months, so ‘the blood-dimmed tide’ cannot make its way into your soul.”

His words, as they often do, created a shift in my consciousness and heart. If they don't after all this time, he is the wrong teacher. I did not survive cancer for anything to become my prison—certainly not Donald Trump or his supporters ... or my feelings about them.

I am also one with them. I saw that too—just through a more personal, and fear-based lens.

There is a lot at stake here—for all of us. If my partner and I lose our health coverage in January, which can very possibly happen, it will change our lives drastically. When I’m in a good place, I know I will be okay no matter what happens ... that I’ve always had more than enough for myself and to share with others, and somehow I always will. It will create opportunities.

When I’m in a not-so-good place (maybe you have your own place like that you visit from time to time), I begin to think about the uncertainty and act out of fear. I feed into the extremism of both sides even though I know being more in the middle—being in balance—leads to more peace.

Fortunately, Father Richard provided a great suggestion this week about balance.

He says, “If you will allow, I recommend for your spiritual practice for the next four months that you impose a moratorium on exactly how much news you are subject to—hopefully not more than an hour a day of television, social media, internet news, magazine and newspaper commentary, and/or political discussions. It will only tear you apart and pull you into the dualistic world of opinion and counter-opinion, not Divine Truth, which is always found in a bigger place.

“Instead, I suggest that you use this time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above. You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all. And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose. And everything to gain.”

These are powerful words. They made me wonder what I could do instead.

I have committed to limiting my news/social media intake to one hour a day for the next four months—and to spend that time watching Richard’s YouTube videos on the Enneagram. The introductory one is the longest: the others are much shorter and can be watched daily.

The Enneagram is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. It is both spiritual and secular and has already greatly influenced the way I see things and am in the world.

I want to look at it through an inter-spiritual/interfaith/oneness lens specifically in terms of how it can heal our wounded nation ... how I can be part of the healing.

Using my time to learn the Enneagram will help me to better understand and relate to all people—including myself—with insight on how to better meet them in the middle.

If you are interested in accompanying me on this Enneagram journey, let me know. We will learn together. Let’s form a community of people who are taking a break from the noise of the world—not to disconnect but to become even more connected.

If we talk about political issues, I promise it will be in terms of how someone on the Enneagram might think, act, or feel about something in order for us to relate to them and ourselves in a more peaceful and loving way. It will not be to debate issues or defend where we stand. We don't even have to identify our Enneagram type. This is about learning together—not labeling or shaming.

My blessing this week is that we connect in whatever way feels right to discover inner peace and to create a more loving, just and harmonious world.



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