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From the Heart: Love Unplugged — Lessons from the Enneagram

I am writing this on a plane headed to Merida, Mexico, for an eight-day stay. It feels a bit strange but also exhilarating to be traveling again after so many months.

What are you doing again now that the world is beginning to reopen? Does it feel the same or different than before the pandemic? How are you the same or different?

I almost always take working vacations. I hop on conference calls; answer emails right away; write a lot for work, not necessarily for pleasure; and stay connected on social media.

This vacation is going to be different. I am doing all I can to unplug.

I partially have the pandemic to thank for this new way of being. Even though I have kept extremely busy during the last 14 months, there has also been a spaciousness I have grown to appreciate and want to continue to cultivate.

As the world begins to look more like it used to, I am committed to using lessons learned during the lock-down to not return to life as normal. One way is to make a conscious effort to take more than a few hours here and there to rest and recharge.

Even with the spaciousness the pandemic provided, I can still stretch myself too thin if I’m not careful. I can take on too much responsibility. I’m sure I’m not alone!

The last year has not been easy on any of us on so many fronts. For those lucky enough to still be standing and breathing without a ventilator, life has gone on in a way we are all still trying to figure out. I think we will be for a long time to come.

What are you doing to be kind and gentle with yourself as more offices reopen, as more people expect you to be with them in person — as the spaciousness you once felt may start to disappear? How are you dealing emotionally and spiritually with everything we have been through together during this unprecedented time?

As you maneuver post-pandemic life, consider using the Enneagram as a map. This sacred and ancient tool is both spiritual and secular. It cuts across all peoples and cultures to identify nine basic operating systems that predict and influence human thoughts, feelings and actions.

I have been studying the Enneagram for years. I believe it holds the kind of wisdom that can be individually and collectively transformative.

While each one of us possesses all nine Enneagram operating systems — think of them as energy centers, like the chakras — everyone has a primary type(s). Mine are One, Six and Three. There are healthy and unhealthy levels in each type.

My Type One energy makes me naturally conscientious, sensible, responsible, idealistic, ethical, serious, self-disciplined and orderly — sometimes too much so! I feel personally obligated to improve myself and the world. It’s difficult to rest with that kind of weight on your shoulders!

At their best, Ones are tolerant, accepting, discerning, wise, humane, prudent, principled, fair, and able to delay rewards for a higher good. The true value in the Enneagram, though, is the way it explores the light and shadow of each type.

As someone who is very much a One, I can clash with others by being opinionated, impatient, irritable, rigid, perfectionistic, critical (and self-critical) and judgmental. Awareness of the Enneagram has helped a lot to curb these tendencies.

I definitely identify with the Six’s need to seek security and support. At their best, Sixes are courageous, cooperative, disciplined, grounded, secure, faithful, self-expressive, funny and affectionate. I’ll take it — which means I also have to accept the flip side. One of the many ways my Six shadow shows up is in being afraid of losing everything — or at least losing momentum — if I take time out.

It is my Three energy, though, that has taught me the most about the importance of rest. Known as “Achievers,” Threes are inner-directed, authentic, modest, well-adjusted, gracious, interested in others, and self-accepting when operating from a healthy place.

As the name implies, however, we can also be so goal oriented and driven that we can forget to take a break and can steamroll over others in our passion to get things done. We worry we will fail to be “the best” (whatever that is!) or to be admired by others if we stop achieving.

The Enneagram has taught me that resting and recharging my batteries is not just practicing self-love; it ultimately makes me more loving toward others, as well.

Perhaps most important the Enneagram has taught me is that we all operate from an “energy system” that is a part of our physical, social, mental and spiritual DNA. It has helped me to look at people more objectively and to be less judgmental.

For the next eight days, I have cleared my schedule as much as possible. I am disconnecting, unplugging and letting go of the need to do — and do and do — and to not worry about still being relevant, respected and needed when I return.

In May, I will be creating daily posts about the Enneagram in the “Community in Spirit” private Facebook forum. If you are not a member and would like to learn more about this life-changing model of the human psyche, please join us.

I also encourage you to visit to take the RHETI test to determine your type(s). It only costs $12 and may be the best investment you make in understanding yourself and your world.

As a special bonus, I am offering a complimentary session to explain your results and how you can use them to deepen your spiritual journey. I am not doing this to be “perfect” like an insecure One or to keep "busy" like a driven Six — but because I believe I can use my healthy Two, or “Helper,” energy to spread love in the world.

What is yours to do in the world? How might the Enneagram better help you do it? How willing are you to look at both your light and shadow?

One final note: I will not be posting a “From the Heart” blog next week. I will instead be cooling my body and calming my soul in the Yucatan in an underground cenote!



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