An increasing number of people are responding to the spiritual awakening call. An invitation that when navigated wisely and with the necessary tools will create space for authentic happiness to arise.
I hear from people around the world who are spinning their wheels trying to answer questions that leave folks feeling confused and untethered, Who am I? How can I feel more peaceful? What’s missing in my life? How can I live with deeper meaning and purpose?
These powerful spiritual questions arise when our souls are saturated with the material aspects of life and we’re ready to awaken to our deeper more authentic selves.
It was asking these questions and feeling at a loss that triggered my search for authentic happiness a number of years ago.
This article explores why meditation and the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram of personality are the dream team if you want to live a life of authentic happiness. Meditation will shift things inside of you so you have less suffering and more joy. The Enneagram will help you understand why you are suffering in the first place and the path to freedom.
Let’s start with meditation.
Like many folks drawn to meditation, I was suffering and looking for some relief so I could feel happier and more content.
I wanted to feel more peaceful, resilient, and like I was fully thriving in my life and not merely just getting by.
After practicing meditation daily for a period of time, I began to notice that I was plateauing in terms of my growth. My body, mind, and heart seemed to be functioning better, but I still wasn’t able to answer, Who am I? What’s missing when I have so much to feel grateful for? What does my future best Self look like?
I wondered whether I just needed to get deeper into my meditation practice and considered attending a multi-day meditation retreat. I had already committed to a sitting practice of 20 minutes twice a day.
There was something inside of me, however, that didn’t want to do that. It’s like my inner knowing had a sense that spending longer sitting in silence wasn’t going to give me the answers.
My gut wisdom was validated when I was listening to a webinar with Ken Wilbur, an American philosopher, and writer on transpersonal psychology and integral theory. Wilbur was talking about the science of self-actualization and explained that human beings are evolving and that meditation and mindfulness didn’t account for this.
Meditation and mindfulness will help you with many things but it doesn’t enable you to look inside and see your level of development or personality type that results in your habitual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Meditation will help you work with your body, emotions, and mind but doesn’t get to the root of why you have a habitual pattern that ultimately causes stress and suffering.
We can meditate for hours or sit in a silent retreat for a month and we won’t be able to look inside ourselves and see our evolutionary path. Who am I meant to become? What is holding me back from becoming it?
All this is to say that meditation and mindfulness are powerful and useful practices that aren’t meant to stand alone. They’ll only take us so far.
On the spiritual path, we need to learn how to discern the difference between our small self or personality and our soul that is connected to spirit.
We need a self-understanding and awareness that helps us bust out of jail and create a new way of being that honors our souls.
Why is understanding our personality SO important for authentic happiness?
Understanding our personality is vitally important because our personality is actually not who we are. We have a personality but we are not our personality.
Our personality that at one time in our lives helped us survive, over time becomes our prison – causing all sorts of symptoms that result in health, relationship, and vocational problems.
When we are called to awaken spiritually we are essentially beginning to wake up to our essential nature. We bring awareness to who we are not (our personality) in order to connect more deeply with who we actually are (a soul-aligned with spirit).
For this reason, the first step in awakening is as Plato said,
Do thine own work, and know thyself.
From a spiritual perspective, this means we need to know both our small self or personality and our soul which represents our higher self and who we’re meant to become.
We need to learn how to discern the difference between the parts of ourselves and close the gap by bringing our personalities and souls into alignment.
How do we learn to discern the difference between our personality and our soul?
The answer to this question came when I learned about the Enneagram personality map.
The Enneagram is an ancient symbol that has evolved into a psychospiritual soul map that an increasing number of spiritual teachers, psychologists, coaches, and counselors use for their own personal growth and in their work with clients.
According to the Enneagram, there are 9 different personality types, that are motivated by different things. The path to self-actualization is different for each type. For example, we have 3 sources of intelligence – the head, the heart, and the body. Depending on which type you are you’ll have different things to work on. It’s why a one size fits all approach to meditation doesn’t work.
Based on knowledge gained from understanding our personality, we can structure our practices accordingly. For example, a head type needs silence, a heart-type needs solitude, and a body-type needs stillness. This helps to explain why a client who is a heart-type needs solitude to connect with their deeper needs. The focus of their attention is always outward towards other people and so they lose touch with themselves.
When we’re aware of our Enneagram personality type we can structure our meditation, mindfulness, and inner growth practices to meet our unique needs.
Understanding our personality type and who we are not, in turn, helps us clearly see the prison of our soul and provides the key to getting out. Each type has its own unique gifts AND its own flavor of suffering that trips them up from fully thriving and fulfilling their potential
The Enneagram is all about self-awareness. Without awareness and the ability to witness our personalities, they are like a straitjacket, causing inner turmoil, relationship troubles, and limiting fears that prevent us from living a more authentic and fulfilling life.
If you’re curious you can take the free Riso & Hudson Enneagram Personality (RHETI) sampler test. Please note that it is only a sampler and is meant to spark your curiosity. Understanding ourselves and using the Enneagram as a tool for growth is a life-long journey.
Together meditation and the Enneagram are a dream team for cultivating authentic happiness. The enneagram guides us in understanding ourselves and meditation enables us to get out of our own way and grow into our future best selves.
If you feel called, please leave a comment below. Our community would love to hear from you!