Years ago, I was privileged to be part of a group of Enneagram teachers who met monthly to swap ideas and insights on how to break free of type. One meeting just before the holiday season stands out in my mind. Our resident counterphobic Six announced that he was beginning a new practice for the coming year: the practice of civility.
I was struck by the one word clarity of his commitment. A word to live by for the coming year. A clarion call to a new way of being as he saw it. I particularly was interested that he didn’t choose a practice that pushed away an aspect of type or specifically interrupted a habitual way of being. He wasn’t focused on not being cynical or not looking for hidden motives. He specifically chose a positive state to live into – a spacious opening. He reported over the year that it had been incredibly successful, even when he didn’t actually voice his “civility”, only felt it internally.
I didn’t adopt my own word until last year. And it had much more to do with my security or heart point of Five than my home base of Seven. It seems that as we break the hold of one habitual way of being, another rears its head. And so the Work is ongoing.
I had found myself guarding my privacy so rigorously that when friends dropped by or invitations ensued, I felt myself contract physically and emotionally. While silence and contemplation are lovely companions on the spiritual journey, I felt that my avarice for them had gone too far. I was in perpetual retreat from engagement.
With that in mind, I chose my own word for this past year: “hospitality”. Like the Benedictine monks, I have endeavored to host friends, family, acquaintances, and even myself with open arms and heart. I breathed them in and noticed when I focused on “hospitality”, I no longer felt intruded upon nor that my energy was sapped by these contacts. I felt fulfilled and rejuvenated – the opposite of that which I feared. (My Five friends can surely explain this even better.)
I have asked a number of friends of each type to share the word that they feel most drawn to as a way to break free of type at this time. Here are some of their answers.
Type One: Appreciate
Type Two: Allowing
Type Three: Sufficiency
Type Four: Plainness
Type Five: Welcoming
Type Six: Civility
Type Seven: Simplify
Type Eight: Soften
Type Nine: Borders
Each of us is currently working on a different issue or habitual aspect of type. And it may not be related to your Type as much as Stress Point or Security Point or even Wing. I invite you to find your own word that resonates as a focusing for your own Work. Please share it here in the comments or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to remain anonymous.
Our one word can be an invitation to opening, an antidote to constriction, and a quiet call to action for breaking the hold of personality type.
It can be a word to live by, for at least the coming year.