Practices for Transforming Your Type's Habitual Patterns

The Zen of Apology

The Enneagram is an elegant tool for helping individuals see their types’s patterns and what occurs when they lose contact with Presence and are taken into the gravitational pull of their type’s defense patterns. The challenge with this is actually learning to see when one is caught in the obscurations of one’s type because, believe it or not–and yes the angels weep here and our Inner Critic sings with joy– when we are caught up in our types patterns we believe that we are acting from a healthy perspective and that those around us just don’t get it. In fact, they are at fault and in due time will wise up and embrace our wisdom. That is, we feel right about our perspective and are attached to others seeing this too. Well, welcome to your humaness. Each of us will trip over this stone many times between now and when we transfer our awareness to a new sphere of existence. 

So, that said, what is at stake is our ability to self-observe ourselves such that when a painful pattern is triggered and we go into our mad robot response to protecting our heart and soul, something in us gasps and whispers, “What a second there, tiger, slow down your response, breathe, contemplate…don’t act, but contain what you are experiencing.” Ha! That’s like restraining an Irish Setter that’s just bolted from the starting gate at hyper speed. So…you are tasked with this first practice: noticing for the 100th, 20oth, 1000th times witnessing this pattern when the voice in the back of head barely reaches you with the whisper of “Stop Action Now, Apologies will be needed. Once again.” Meaning that you had the observational capacity of a humble moron and only barely caught a glimpse of your Mad Robot Response too late, my friend, too late and are left in the aftermath of some familiar misery. You hurt, and your friend hurts, and you must step forward and say “I am sorry. One of my unruly patterns just launched itself on you. It’s a wayward child that I’m trying to heal. So I am sorry for any damage I’ve inflicted.” 


Now this, believe it or not, is one of the most fundamental practices you can engage in. With enough apologies or reparations communicated from a heart of remorse for unconscious behavior you begin to build a memory inside yourself that at one miraculous moment will provide you clear seeing just before you fly out of the door of your wounded self on to the unsuspecting other. That is, a certain ‘something’ intercedes wherein you have eyes to see your reactivity and actually not engage it. This is a miracle. 

Along with it comes the awesome gift of humility in which after tripping into the same hole, and pulling yourself out, you begin to realize that everyone struggles, trips and falls. And with this realization you begin to relax your judgments of others and become a friendlier person. And then the angels sing “Hallelujah!”

The Zen of "Thinking for Yourself."

This is an important action, this notion of actually thinking for yourself regarding the information you receive from an ever-growing pool of Enneagram authorities, writers, over-night-experts, speakers, money-makers, egoists, and down-to-earth-living-their-truth, genuine-the-real-deal-awake-human.  Sorting out who is who, the wheat from the chaff, well, that’s your task which means first noticing when you are being a passive-drunkard-of-the-words-of-someone-you-admire (while making no effort to discern fantasy from lived truth). Getting filled with a warm-feel-good-no-discernment-faith-ecstasy-drug. That is, falling asleep in a comforting-I’m-an-awesome-spiritual-person trance, an idealized internal atmosphere that sometimes goes like this: “If I just believe this awesome teacher of the moment, then by believing in them, idolizing them in my ever-ready-spiritual-imagination, I will imbibe what I admire, I will flow into those yummy Essence states that I paid top dollar for (so they must be real, darn it!), or I’ll at least be riding on the coat-tails-of-their-imagined-wisdom, and that surely will cheer me up. Well, at the very least, I’ll get a bit of spiritual intoxication.” And as we all know, spiritual intoxication can be way better than being a human being with feet on the ground, discovering that one is as unevolved as the next person, filled with enough illusions to give one way-more humility that one would ever wish for. Who wants that!!!

This is a fundamental human tendency. Gurdjieff spoke about it all the time: “Don’t believe my words.  What is only useful to you is what your wrestle with to have a real, living experience that validates with facts (or not) the truth of anything I speak of. Simple believing will give you idiot wisdom which isn’t worth a thing, dear one. You must wrestle with the ideas, apply them to your experience and see what you discover. And, you will discover that learning to think for yourself is very hard work.” 

Being quite the connoisseur of idiot wisdom on my journey to those precious moments of presence, I know just how powerful these imagination-patterns, these flowing-in-the-waters-of-spiritual-ecstasy without initially discovering whether these waters are shark-infested, can be.  It is fun to idealize, to ‘just believe.’ Confronting with conscious mentation the info that I’m taking it means I’ve got to be awake. Noticing. Discerning this from that. But something inside me wants to be on the good-guy-spiritual-guru-list because secretly I imagine that I get a blessing from the universe or from some corner of this vast mystery that guarantees that by being star-struck, just maybe someday I’ll be a star. One can only wish. 

And, that said, it is interesting to notice this mechanism and how at-the-ready it is. It helps, as you know, when your spiritual idols fall into their humanness. Disappointing, mostly because now I have to do my own work. And of course, as I know from the Gurdjieff work I realize that any wish I have to grow and mature will be met with an equal inner wish to fantasize that growth, or to simply put it off till 10 minutes before I die. Okay then.Enough. All is well. 

Now what were we talking about? 

The Zen of Self-Indulgence by A.H. Almass

Okay, before we start, take a deep breath. This will hurt, but it’s a good kind of hurt…

“Indulgence is what permits the weak part of you to run the strong part of you. Indulgence is allowing what is unhealthy in you to control your life even when you know it is unhealthy. Indulgence is being lazy about what you know you need to do, allowing the usual automatic tendencies to dominate and run your life.”

“What do you do…Indulge in the habits and tendencies that you know are detrimental to your freedom, to your development, to your expansion, even to your health. You know the problem but you continue the old ways…Five minutes after your sixty-fifth insight, you’re doing the same thing. Busy, wasting time, fooling around. What happened to the sixty-five insights? You’re waiting for the sixty-sixth!”

“You go along with your habitual patterns; it’s indulgence. You might even be indulging in something you know is actually harmful. That is one of the qualities of personality: to keep on indulging. Even when you know it really is just your personality, even when you know it’s something you picked up along the way and serves no good purpose, you continue doing it. So indulgence is going along with a tendency or an attitude that you know is detrimental to your freedom, your health, or your development. The result is you don’t take responsibility for yourself. You don’t take your life in your own hands. Implied in this is that you are waiting for a savior, which could be an insight, a blessing, a person, or the attitude that things will change in time.”

“Time becomes a Savior…Indulgence is you not taking responsibility for the regulation of your own system. You expect somebody else, time, God, or whatever to do it…When your indulging yourself it’s a way of trying to be close to mother…something about her is near to you; some kind of sweetness is in the air. You’re opting for that little murky sweetness, that little obscure pleasure of somebody regulating you, like wiping your ass!”

“The work of freedom needs your best effort. If you’re not doing your best, you’re indulging. And if you’re indulging, your personality has the upper hand!!!”
(Diamond Heart: Book One, p. 193-197)

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