Let’s Get Physical

Most Personality Enneagram teachings focus on how the type patterns manifest in the head center -- thinking loops, focuses of attention, mental fixations, etc. -- and in the heart center -- emotional drivers unconsciously motivating behavior, strategies for getting needs met, styles of connecting, etc.

Not surprisingly, however, the type patterns also manifest through the body center -- physical gestures, postures, facial expressions, movement, etc. 

This sketch by Margarita Fernandez is found in Claudio Naranjo's penetrating masterpiece, Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View (1994). Much wisdom can be gleaned from its simplicity. Beyond apparent physicality, the postures depict the energetic quality of each type.

Naturally, each of us strikes each of the poses at some point or another. Yet certain gestures are connected predominately with one ennea-type. People of that ennea-type likely manifests their associated gesture more than other folks -- perhaps especially when caught in the throes of their reactive patterns.

Mindfulness of our body postures is a useful tool for transformation. Noticing when we strike a certain pose can bring attention to what else is going on for us mentally and emotionally.

Perhaps we will discover our type-related poses often happen when we are unconsciously running our habitual patterns. Changing postures can bring spaciousness and fresh insight!

When do you strike a variation of your pose? What happens when you shift your body in that moment, particularly to postures along your connecting lines? (Example: 1 connects with 4 & 7 on the diagram.)

Getting physical with the Enneagram has been a longstanding tradition, well before, and unrelated to, the postures depicted by Fernandez.

G.I. Gurdjieff -- himself a Body Type (Type 8) -- famously used movement and sacred dance in his teachings. Gurdjieff was a leading light in the emergence of the Enneagram in the Twentieth Century, 

Gurdjieff's approach enacted esoteric aspects of the Enneagram, including its dynamism & three laws. His teachings pre-date the Personality Enneagram best known today, and his Fourth Way work is fairly considered an entirely separate transmission lineage.


A purported example of Gurdjieff's movements include a performance at the 2013 Konya Festival, shown in this video.

Other examples include a film clip from Peter Brook's Meetings With Remarkable Men (1979), an extensive piece presented by Kay Smith, and a 2010 performance in South Korea.

I really enjoy the physicality of Rachel Alexandria's approach. Interestingly, she self-identifies as an 8.

In this video, she introduces each type by inhabiting them energetically. She includes observations on eye and facial expressions.

Rachel also works with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)  in her psychotherapy practice. She has a terrific series on Tapping For Your Type, as can be found on her website.

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