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How the Enneagram Has Changed over the Past Forty Years

 June 6, 2019

My experience with the Enneagram has changed greatly over the past forty years. My first experience with the Enneagram was almost forty years ago, in the fall of 1979. At the time I was a candidate with the Adrian Dominican Sisters (what was formerly called a postulant). I always liked learning so when the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop on the Enneagram arose, I signed up. The candidate director and I attended.

The main thing I remember is that I was torn between saying I was a two or a five. Neither option appealed to me. Back then, everything was expressed in the negative, according to the sin associated with your number. I could either be a co-dependent martyr or a stingy miser. No wonder I didn’t embrace the concept, though I still have the hand-outs from that workshop.

Fast Forward Twenty Years

Fast forward about twenty years. When a friend of mine in my spiritual director’s group talked about her experience with the Enneagram as a religious sister and how it had helped her during a conflict with another sister, I brushed it aside. Maybe it had worked for her, but I wasn’t interested. There were plenty of other personality profiles available that I preferred, such as Myers-Briggs. I didn’t need another one.

As more information came out in regards to the Enneagram, I decided to give it a second chance. What I found was a far cry from the Enneagram of 1979 that I remembered. It was no longer presented in the negative, focusing on sin, but rather the focus was on the strengths and positives of each number. A refreshing change. There is still mention of the particular tendency toward sin of each number, but it is presented as just one aspect of each number.

The Enneagram Has Changed – Harmony Triads

Another member of my spiritual directors’ group, Clare Loughrige, introduced me to the concept of Harmony Triads as a means to spiritual growth. Each of the nine numbers is associated with a different center of intelligence, either heart, head or body. The idea is to achieve balance between all three by engaging your heart, head and body.

It made sense to me. And so I was hooked. I haven’t abandoned all other personality profiles as sources for spiritual growth, but have found this to be helpful, not only in my own life, but in the lives of my characters (a subject for a future blog post).

Clare has since partnered with her husband and another couple in producing the book, Spiritual Rhythms for the Enneagram. If interested in learning more about the harmony triads and how they can be used for spiritual growth, this book is all you need.

What has been your experience with the Enneagram? Has it been positive or negative?

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