The Sacred Journey
of the Enneagram
October 1, 2020
By Maria Mandarino, LAc, Dip Ac (NCCAOM), LMT, CSD, MSEd
About the Enneagram
When I first began learning about the Enneagram, my exploration evolved into a deeply personal and sacred process. Initially my only motivation was to gain a deeper understanding of myself. To coin an overused phrase, I had hoped “to find myself.” I had no idea how deep the work goes, that eventually I would be going on to study this ancient wisdom tradition, and that it would inform all the other work I do, not just as a spiritual director, but as an acupuncturist, as a somatic therapist, and as a wisdom teacher.
The Enneagram is an ancient system for understanding the personality. It dates back to Sufi wisdom. There are nine types around a circle that holds a nine-pointed star. And while we each have access to the wisdom of all nine types, we absolutely lead with one of them. When we understand this at the deepest level, we unlock the door to infinite understanding about who we are, why we choose as we do, and how we relate to those around us. As such, the Enneagram also unlocks the door to self-compassion and a more mature spirituality.
I say “at the deepest level” because each type has a higher and lower expression. And once we understand type, we see all of who we are, expressions of our True Self and our Shadow Self. Only then can we make genuinely spiritually informed choices. Holding space for our darkness and our light is how we evolve.
A Sacred Exploration
It is important to note that your Enneagram type does not define you. You are not a 2, or a 7, or a 9. Rather, you lead with the energy of your type. Your Enneagram type is braided into your essence, it is the lens through which you view everything and everyone around you. It is your divinely crafted map for navigating your earthly journey. Your Enneagram type is as constant as the North Star. Nothing will ever change it. It will always be there to guide you.
When the Enneagram came into my life, I had been discouraged from taking an online test. Instead I explored the Enneagram with my spiritual director, a process of discernment and discovery that took several months. The discovery was a pivotal moment in my life. And when I came upon my type, there was an immediate resonance that was not only undeniable, but I could also see how my type had informed every major decision of my life.
Given that we all have a higher and lower expression of type, I admit I didn’t always choose as well as I could have. And some of my choices caused me suffering. Since learning the Enneagram, however, I have learned how to choose from the higher expression of my type. I truly could not imagine living my life today without the gift the Enneagram.
Not a parlor game
However, every wisdom tradition holds great responsibility. There has been an enormous surge in interest about the Enneagram recently. In such a transformational time in history, to see this kind of interest is exciting. But it is important to not trivialize the Enneagram and turn it into a parlor game. The Enneagram is excavational work. It is deep soul work. And there are no shortcuts to getting there. In some ways, I believe we never “get there” as layers of type always reveal themselves with new situations and we get to meet ourselves in new ways.
The Enneagram goes deep and wide, like an auger. It will change you. It will give you powerful insight into yourself. It will enhance your relationships, starting with the one you have with yourself. I encourage you to avoid the shortcuts. Skip the online tests. Work with a skilled guide. Go deep and wide. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
I would be honored to guide you on your Enneagram journey. Please reach out to schedule your typing process interview with me. If you’re not sure, you can sign up for a 30 minute free, no-obligation call on my website to see if we would be a good fit to work together. Or you can call my office: (623) 262-7222 to schedule that appointment. All sessions are done on Zoom or by telephone, so I can work with you no matter where you are located.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Blessings and peace on your journey,