As in Circling, I enjoy gathering as much perspective as I can. To see the world through as many angles and lenses as possible always energizes me. One of the things I really enjoy about this video, is the many ways in which just staying with the one perspective, actually allows us to see things we might not have noticed otherwise.
For those of you not familiar, the Enneagram is a personality typology consisting of 9 personality types. It’s origins are debated, but by some accounts it dates back to as early as the 4th century.
As with any personality typology, the average person can see characteristics of themselves in any of the nine types. What makes the Enneagram different in my eyes, is that these types are then connected in a manner that show what various types integrate to in times of security, and disintegrates to in times of stress.
The more I have learned about the Enneagram, the more fascinated I have become.
Initially, I heard about it from several friends who happened to be really in to the subject. Seeing as I respected a lot of the other work they had done in transformation, I thought I would check it out. So, I went online and began to take some random tests that are available. I usually find these tests entertaining, and I also find them frustrating as I can most always identify with all the multiple choice answers in different situations.
I was stunned when I got the results. I had received 100% on several different numbers! How is that even possible?
After speaking with several different people, I was told that this was common. We can identify with all the different personalities at different stages in our development, and the tests can sometimes reflect that. After taking several different online tests several different times, I was asked to identify my type for a workshop I was participating in. Being frustrated the process, I chose one of the numbers I had scored 100% on, and called it good. I was a 6. It seemed right. I could relate. I wasn’t quite buying into all the fuss, but this would do in order to get through the workshop.
As the topic began to show up more and more in my everyday life, the question would come up from time to time. What number are you on the Enneagram? I would identify as six, and then begin to own the fact that I really didn’t feel like I was any one number, and questioned whether or not this personality typology really worked.
Then, a friend on Facebook gave me some of the best advice I had ever received about discovering my type number. She suggested I read a book on the subject, read the shadow aspects of the types I suspect I might be, and when I read the one that has me most pissed off, and want to throw the book across the room, that would be the type number I most identify with.
The thought amused me, and seeing how I still found the subject interesting, I thought I’d give it a go. I took another online test, and scored 100% in several different numbers. I then checked in with some friends who had recently attended a 3 day Enneagram conference and asked their opinion of which of these numbers they could see me as. I then went and read the shadow aspects of those numbers.
I laughed. I cringed. It was painful and enlightening at the same time. I had to accept these aspects of myself I had been blind to.
At that point, I had to admit, I had found a personality typology that really added some deeper understanding to my life.
I have recently began to identify as a Type 9. (The Peacemaker/ The Mediator)
I’d love to read any experiences you have had with the Enneagram.
Honored to be part of this amazing chalk drawing. Hanging in the main Chapel Room at The Integral Center.
So, I’ve decided I’m going to write 100 blog posts before the end of this year. (I’ll forgive myself for not achieving this if the world ends on Dec.21, 2012)
A large reason for this decision is to practice blogging. I desire to effortlessly write blog posts that are succinct, entertaining, and hopefully profound. (Of course, that is a subjective goal. As long as I feel good about it, great.)
I imagine by creating 100 blog posts, I’ll be able to go back, and notice what I do well. The process of blogging takes priority of writing a successful blog at this point.
In my world, the act of owning my own experience is the most powerful way of connecting with another person. It allows me to own my projections and assessments as my own, and check in with the other person, to see if it matches their experience.
This is another one of my practices, and as the word practice implies, it is an exercise in development, and I don’t always have it mastered. Like any practice, it is a muscle to develop.
Here is a 3 step process I use to develop my ability to own my experience:
1) Notice what I’m noticing.
This sounds like a rule handed down from the head of the Department of Redundancy Department, but I’m amazed at how often I miss this.
I have also found through the practice of circling, that it’s not uncommon for others to gloss this step over.
I once asked a woman what she was feeling in a particular moment. She replied, “I don’t feel anything.”. To that I asked, “What is like to not feel anything?”. Her response, “Scary”.
I find this quite intriguing. Was she truly not experiencing any emotion in that moment, and the experience of not feeling an emotion had her scared, or was she scared at the initial question, and me asking it have her drop into a level of more awareness in the moment?
It was all her subjective experience. I have no authority in stating what she is feeling. AND the experience leaves me even more curious about her process.
This step can also be linked to a practice of what I have heard referred to as “Witness Consciousness”. It is the act of making your subjective experience, objective.
Right now, I’m noticing that I’m typing on my laptop. I’m also noticing that the heat from the laptop is warming up my right leg. I’m also feeling slightly nervous about adding this to the blog.
Which brings me to step number two:
2) Notice what I’m imagining.
Often, in our culture, one can be prone to imagining one knows exactly what is happening in an interaction between ourselves and another. But can we be so certain?
Are we even certain we can know exactly is going on with ourselves?
This imagining we know what is happening with another person can be the source of much misunderstanding and conflict.
What did you imagine I was nervous about at the end of the first step?
So you know, I was nervous that I would be judged negatively for adding to the blog what I was imagining in that moment. (Are you curious why?)
I felt judgmental of my writing style, and imagined others would read it and find it corny. (Maybe you do!)
My own judgement had me feeling nervous about adding it in, for fear that I would appear inferior to some other imaginary blogger in my mind.
Is this true? Maybe. Depends on who you ask. But the fact of the matter is, that was my subjective experience in that moment.
Which leads me to step 3. How to check in with another while owning my experience.
3) Share what I’m noticing and imagining. Then share how I am feeling about it, or get curious if it matches the other person’s experience.
So, in my example here, I’ve noticed I was writing this blog, and imagining that I would be judged as corny. That had me feeling nervous about sharing this blog publicly.
Sharing that has me feel even more nervous, or even a little bit vulnerable to share.
In my last post, I left off at a point where I explained the concept of one’s subjective experience during meditation. In this post, I would like to expand on what the term Inter-subjective Meditation means to the art and practice of Circling.
In Circling, the participants in the circle are focusing a portion of their concentration on the person being circled, while the person being circled is contemplating their own subjective experience. This practice is in service of what we like to call “getting their world”, meaning understanding the subjective experience of the person being circled, in service of creating an inter-subjective experience.
That’s a lot of “subjective” words. Let me brake it down in my own vernacular. (aka:Talk like a normal person)
One’s subjective experience, is what the world looks like through their filters. It is “the water we swim in”. The more we can understand the point of view of someone else, the more we can understand their motivations, desires, etc. The more we can understand that, the more we can relate to the person. The more we can relate to the person, the more we can share connection.
If sharing more connection with another is not enough, I find there is also another very valuable aspect to this practice.
Through the process of getting the world of someone else, I begin to understand my own a little more. I find I can relate with a new perspective that informs my own perspective. This allows me to know my own motivation, desires, ect. even more. The more I know myself, the more awareness I can cultivate to make informed decisions on how I choose to live my life and react to situations. This creates more efficiency in creating and achieving goals as well as how I interact in relationships.
Also, if I’m the one getting circled, the attention of the group, and their genuine curiosity can allow me more understanding of myself. Having to explain to another what seems so obvious to me, can have me actually examine why and how I look at the world in the way I do. Once again, this cultivates awareness through relationship with the circle in ways that are not possible on my own.
At The Integral Center, I facilitate our Circling Lab, Circling Fundamentals, and Circling Happy Hour.
Circling is shorthand for what we like to call Intersubjective Meditation.
I like to start off our Fundamentals class with some basic distinctions on what makes this practice “Intersubjective” as well as set some context for the practice.
First off, let’s take a basic look at the practice of meditation itself, and compare it to the art and practice of Intersubjective meditation (AKA Circling).
Meditation is a term used to cover a wide variety of practices or disciplines. It’s like the term yoga, or sports. It can mean a lot of different things.
(I’m about to simplify things here. I like to keep my blog posts short, and this is a subject that volumes have been written upon in the past. Bare with me. I’m not looking to write an anthology.)
In most mental disciplines of meditation, the practice can be divided in to two categories: concentration, or contemplation.
Examples of concentration meditation practices could be as simple as focusing on your breath for a certain length of time. Also, as in Transcendental Meditation, one could focus on a mantra. Or a candle flame. Or a mandala. Or mindfulness. Or your Aunt Marietta’s meatloaf. Or anything really.
The point of this practice is to focus your attention on the object of concentration. If (really, if I’m going to be 100% honest, I should say when) you should notice your attention drift, you immediately bring it back to the object of your focus. This practice helps build the discipline of concentration and focus over time, with practice.
The other discipline is one of contemplation. Contemplation is another one of those “tricky” words that means different things to different people. As I am using it here, I’ll refer to it as content-free mind directed towards awareness.
(“Content free mind directed towards awareness” is in, of itself, a pretty tall order. AND, that’s why we call it practice. I prefer to go easy on myself and direct my mind back if (when) it begins to drift.)
Now, anything that should arise within ones consciousness during a meditation practice is a purely subjective experience. Nobody, except the one doing the meditation, has any authority over what occurred to the person meditating. It was purely their own experience.
This is where I would introduce the concept of “Intersubjective Meditation”.
A sonnet is 14 lines.
A Haiku has the syllable pattern of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables.
The creative act cannot be performed without boundaries. Without defining edges, there is no form to witness..
How to solve the problem within the container.
Listening to this interview with Fred Armisen by Alec Baldwin on “Here’s the Thing”.
Fred spent 10 years in an indie rock band. It sounds like he loved it.
One night he saw another drummer in another band who was about 10 years older than him, still sleeping on floors, still lugging his own gear, and he decided he didn’t want that.
We have a belief in our culture, if you put in the hours, and you stick to it, you will be successful. That might be true, depending on your definition of success.
But Armisen was not satisfied. He let go and followed his intuition.
He started video taping interviews with unsigned bands, in his own style of funny voices and wit. From there, he started sharing the videos. Which led to hosting shorts on HBO, which led to his job on SNL.
He had the courage to let go of his original idea, and allowed what was naturally arising in him to happen. Had he not have had that courage, I know my life would have had less laughter.
I find that I enjoy being in the present moment.
So much of transformational work is being in the “now”. I know I enjoy it, and also that it can be a way for me to “check out”. Being in the now can keep me from getting things done, being motivated. If I’m present in the moment, I’m not concerned with the future, therefore, creating my future often takes a backseat to the moment I’m now in.
Finding the balance for me looks like being present while creating the future.