Tears streamed down my face as several pairs of eyes watched me open my birthday gifts and cards with heartfelt messages. All at once, my heart swelled with gratitude, while my gut dropped away: My Enneagram pattern of not wanting to be–not feeling deserving of being–the center of attention raged within.
Something deep inside encouraged me not to let my pattern of shrinking, staying small, and moving to the background take over.
I stayed with all of it: the joy, the embarrassment of my tears, the delight of the gifts I received. My heart melted as I now met the caring eyes of each friend. My breath faltering, I was on the verge of overwhelm, of feeling swallowed by these big emotions.
It was not easy, and this felt like presence.
I often read and hear about how presence is critical in difficult situations. Presence can help in summoning courage in moments of fear. It can help us meet others with love and compassion when judgment and blame feel second-nature.
This has been my experience, too, and yet the biggest shift I’ve felt in my work with presence is my increased ability to stay with happiness. To stay with celebration. To stay with being celebrated. I still catch myself, at times, shying away from intense moments of positive feelings, trying to protect myself from the negative thing that must be around the corner. And also I see the bud of embracing joy slowly growing and blossoming.
For me, the Enneagram has been a rich treasure of insights. What a gift it is to better understand myself and others! And, as Roxanne Howe-Murphy has said, “The Enneagram was not given to us to enhance our self-identity, but to awaken us to the mystery of who we are beyond type.”
How do you awaken to this mystery?
One way, as I shared above, is through presence. In the Deep Living approach, presence is having direct contact with your grounded belly, open heart, and a clear, quiet mind. And, this doesn’t need to happen in the confines of a meditation session. It can happen when you’re watching a sunset, having a difficult conversation with a partner, and even while standing in line at the grocery store.
By learning the Enneagram while developing your capacity for presence, your personality relaxes and more choices become available to you. Then, your inner freedom flourishes.
While simple, the following three practices to build your capacity for presence can often feel challenging. An uncomfortable sensation may trigger frustration. Swirling thoughts may derail you from the sensations in your heart. An emotion of sadness can take you out of your grounded belly. All of this is okay, even expected. Presence isn’t rising above any of this, it’s being with what comes up. And, as Roxanne shares, presence “is an invitation to the truth and experience of our real nature.”
We invite you to try the following three practices. For the first two practices, find a position that feels supportive to you. This may be lying, seated, or standing. For the last practice, write in a journal or share your experiences with a trusted friend.
Note: Quotes from Roxanne Howe-Murphy’s Deep Living with the Enneagram: Recovering Your True Nature