Saturday, December 3, 2016

Living From the Heart: Enneagram Five

I'm an Enneagram Five. Having spent the majority of my life devouring intellect alone, I'm interested in how one goes about being able to feel. It seems although I can make sense of anything, I sense nothing. While I did have some hearty laughs from the Five poems and undoubtedly related to them, I was surprised by my reaction to the first four lines of "Not Waving But Drowning." This poem aimed at Sevens nearly brought tears. Is there a correlation between these two styles? I believe my mother is a Seven. Would her style affect my responses? Any suggestions on learning how to feel would be appreciated.
We tend to carry an overlay of our parents' Enneagram styles, so it's useful to uncover their patterns, particularly how their styles typically interact with our own. People sometimes misplace themselves on the Enneagram at first because their outward behaviors are conditioned imitations of their parents'. It's important to discover the key underlying passion and fixation, because outward behaviors can be similar among styles, though stemming from very different motivations. 

Further, we have two general ways of relating to others: similarity ("like is drawn to like") and complementarity ("opposites attract"). Because Fives and Sevens are part of the same triad (the "head" triad) it's quite likely a Five would have some similarities with a Seven mother, including gifts as well as down sides of the Seven. There would also be complementarities: a Seven is more likely to be outgoing, for example, while a Five is more likely to be withdrawing.

The  connecting line from Five to Seven reflects developmental issues for a Five (even if there weren't a Seven parent). Theoretically, Seven is a "stress point" for Five. That is, under stress Fives demonstrate some of the down sides of Sevens, such as skating away from reality, getting into more and more activity to avoid facing discomfort or going into emotional depths. From that perspective, a tearful response to the first four lines of Smith's poem could be seen as representative of the stresses a Five may be undergoing:
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
An emotional response to these lines could even reflect a fear of engaging yourself fully in reaching your emotions. From Mark Epstein (Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness):
"Many of us come to therapy -- and to psychological self-improvement in general... having trouble letting ourselves go... blocked creatively or emotionally, we have trouble falling asleep or having satisfying sex, or we suffer from feelings of isolation or alienation. Often we are afraid of falling apart, but the problem is that we have not learned how to give up control of ourselves… we do not realize that to feel more real we have to push ourselves further into the unknown…."
Epstein, a psychotherapist, describes being haunted as a youth with a feeling of emptiness, "an impossible longing in my heart." After an unsatisfactory experience with a traditional therapist, he started a meditation practice:
"In meditation, I had stumbled upon a new way to be with myself… I did not have to run away from my emptiness, or cure it, or eradicate it. I had only to see what was actually there… I discovered that emptiness was the canvas, or background, of my being. I did not understand it, but I was much less afraid. My condition had no name, but I could reach down into it… Western psychotherapists are trained to understand a report of emptiness as indicative of a deficiency in someone's emotional upbringing, a defect in character… (but) emptiness can never be eliminated, although the experience of it can be transformed… Only when we stop fighting with our personal emptiness can we begin to appreciate the transformation that is possible."
I asked this reader to notice how he is able to feel. His first e-mail comment to me was the single word, "Fascinating." I suggested he take himself back to the moment when he experienced what he was reading as "fascinating," to stay with the bodily sensations that evoke that word, and to recognize these sensations as how he expresses feelings or – at the very least – clues to what he's feeling.

With a dear friend (a Five), I experience a deep joy in intellectual interchange. My response is, I believe, similar to a Five's experience, as if one's feelings are being expressed through the intellect. Sometimes, for example, Fives will express anger or frustration through the passion of their opinions. 

I worked with a Five who said to his secretary as we ended a meeting in May, "Please make sure to schedule Mary ahead through the summer, because I'll be away several weeks at our summer cottage, and I want to make sure there's room on my schedule when I'm here." At our next meeting I said, "Last time when you asked your secretary to schedule ahead with me, that was a way of saying you like me and find our meetings useful, wasn't it?" He looked down shyly and said, "Yes." I asked him to look up at me as I said, "I know you find it difficult to say that to me directly, and I won't ask you to do it, but I will say to you I know we like each other and appreciate our time together." His eyes clouded up and he looked down again, saying, "Why is that so difficult for me?"

Why, indeed… Difficult, but not impossible. This reader said Smith's poem "nearly brought tears." Those are feelings, and he's discovered at least one way to get to them. I particularly recommend reading/writing poetry, listening to/playing music, art, journaling. You could write a poem, for example, and ask "What feelings do these words represent and/or evoke?" 

When I asked my Five friend how he reaches his emotions, he said Puran Bair's Living From the Heart had opened his heart. Bair uses the metaphor of swimming for learning to meditate. Bair writes:
"This book is about the heart, both the poetic heart that is the instrument of deep feeling and the physical heart that synchronizes all the cells of your body to a common beat. The development of the heart is the great goal of life, both a practical goal and a spiritual goal... This is not a book of philosophy; it's an instruction workbook that teaches a method, called "Heart Rhythm Practice," to bring about a more heart-centered life... Learning Heart Rhythm Practice is about as hard as learning how to swim, and at least as enjoyable. Some people do learn to 'swim' without any instruction and without following any method. They are the ones with the hearts we admire whenever we meet them. For the rest of us, living from the heart is something to be learned…"

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