As I write, I am aglow. I just had the privilege of leading my second phone call with a group of inmates in a federal corrections facility who are studying the Enneagram and have discovered the great insights and healing that are possible. These men vary in many ways–in age, background, race, religion, in crimes committed, in Enneagram type, and in length of sentences yet to be served. Some could be released in coming years; some are in for life. But what they all share in is their humanity, their deep regret for past behavior, and the opening of their hearts to themselves and to others as they recognize the unconscious dynamics that led to their unacceptable behavior in the first place. Embracing their individual paths of growth, they sense their connection to a global community of human beings who are dedicated to living with more awareness and kindness.
What is remarkable is that these men have committed to sharing the Enneagram with other men at the facility as part of a changing prison culture which helps liberate people from their inner cells, even when they are physically incarcerated. Their intentions include being role models for authenticity, honesty, love, and increased freedom from the inner cells of the personality type structure. I had ‘goose bumps’ as they shared their dreams for themselves, their loved ones, and for other inmates.
What supports this whole-hearted embrace, this YES, to a life of wakefulness and contribution? While I can’t speak for these men, what I observed and heard was a recognition that it’s never too late, that a shift in one’s experience of themselves and in one’s orientation to life is always possible–under any circumstances, and that they believe that they have something to offer others. Four qualities were clearly demonstrated among them: Curiosity, compassion, honesty, and trust in life. Oh, and having each other, a community, to rely on. I know these qualities are important for all of us on our journey, and to experience them being lived by these convicts, some who know only what it is to live in confined environments, broke my heart wide open. This was their gift to me.
Thank you to Jacqueline Dunkle, a former Deep Coaching student, who is among the pioneers bringing the Enneagram into the prison system, and who paved the path for my extraordinary opportunity to serve. To witness the graciousness, dedication and love these men express is to have hope for what is possible in our lives. Now.