How to Practice Your Enneagram Number

“Who am I? This is the fundamental question of our human experience, the one that compels us to search for meaning.”
– Christopher Heuertz

So What?

Now you know.

So what?

Oftentimes, we learn things that feel valuable. But we still don’t know what to do with them. How are they useful in our everyday lives?

The more I learn about the Enneagram, the more I ask myself, “So what?” I don’t want to accrue knowledge for its own sake. I want to do something with it.

“What Is the Enneagram? It exposes nine ways we lie to ourselves about who we think we are, nine ways we can come clean about those illusions, and nine ways we can find our way back to God.”

So I’m looking hard for the how-to’s with the Enneagram. And I’m finding them.

“If we can’t self-observe, then we can’t self-correct.”

The Sacred Enneagram

In particular, I’m zeroing in on practices to counteract the weaknesses and to harness the strengths of my type. All nine types of the Enneagram have specific strengths and weaknesses.

Why does it matter? According to Christopher Heuertz in his new book, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, the purpose is “to find our way back home, back to our essential nature, our True Self, and back to God.”

Sacred-Enneagram_Christopher-Heuertz

Here’s a quick review of the Nine types and their desires.

  • Type 1: Need to Be Perfect
  • Type 2: Need to Be Needed
  • Type 3: Need to Succeed
  • Type 4: Need to Be Special (or Unique)
  • Type 5: Need to Perceive (or Understand)
  • Type 6: Need to Be Sure/Certain
  • Type 7: Need to Avoid Pain
  • Type 8: Need to Be Against
  • Type 9: Need to Avoid

How to Practice It

How do we meet those needs? In Parts 2 and 3 of Heuertz’s book, he suggests unique paths for spiritual growth for each triad of types in the following Intelligence Centers (Head, Heart, and Body):

  • For the Heart Center types (types 2, 3, 4), who are obsessed with connections, it requires:
    Solitude

“Solitude, time by ourselves, teaches us to be present—present to ourselves, present to God, and present with others.”

  • For the Head Center types (types 5, 6, 7), who are obsessed with competence, they need:
    Silence

“Silence actually teaches us to listen. . . . In silence we hear the truth that God is not as hard on us as we are on ourselves.”

  • For the Body Center types (types 8, 9, 1), who are obsessed with control, they need to engage in:
    Stillness

“Stillness teaches us restraint, and in restraint we are able to discern what appropriate engagement looks like.”

By integregating knowledge with practice, we can form contemplative practices that bring us into more wholeness and less chaos.

Expect resistance at first.

“At first, solitude, silence, and stillness trigger the most accessible emotion of each of the centers (anxiety or distress for the head types, guilt or shame for the heart types, and anger or frustration for the body types).”

Yet keep pressing into the practice. It can unlock future spiritual growth, even when it feels like it’s not “working.” (I’ve been practicing centering prayer for a few years now, and it is still difficult on most days.)

“But listen to yourself: usually the way you judge yourself or ‘feel bad’ about your practice is the very thing that begins to open your type to the graces of the practice.”

The more we show up in the present moment, where God is, the more permission and awareness we give him to shape us into who he created us to be.

Intention with God

“Our Intelligence Centers illuminate how we see the world, and our Harmony Triads illuminate how we relate to and engage the world . . . thereby exposing how we see and engage God.”

This book goes deeper into other areas as well, such as paths of integration and disintegration, the Intelligence Centers, and the Harmony Triads, which includes:

  • With the Relationists (types 2, 5, and 8), the intention is consent,
  • with the Pragmatists (types 3, 6, and 9), the intention is engagement, and
  • with the Idealists (types 1, 4, and 7), the intention is rest.

I’ve read several Enneagram books and this one may be the most complex so far. But possibly also the most practical.

As with any personality framework, the Enneagram isn’t the end-all approach. But it is a useful avenue for traveling alongside God, exploring more about our humanity and his divinity, as we enjoy the journey together.

“Waking up is the first step in the spiritual journey—a courageous alternative to the fantasies we fashion to keep us asleep.”

Other Book Recommendations

If you’re interested in learning more about the Enneagram, specifically for spiritual practices you can implement, I strongly suggest the book I mention here:

For a simpler, yet still a solid introduction, try:

For a thorough yet accessible guide, I recommend:

And for an overview of multiple personality frameworks (including the Enneagram), read the short but thorough new book:

* * *

Do you know your Ennegram number?

Which is hardest for you: Silence, Solitude, or Stillness? Please share in the comments.

More on the Enneagram here:

My thanks to NetGalley
for the review copy of this book

34 thoughts on “How to Practice Your Enneagram Number

  1. Meg Gemelli

    Hey Lisa! The Enneagram is my absolute favorite…even more than disc, etc. I so enjoy helping clients to learn more about how God wired them. It’s fun to see the lightbulbs go off! This is such an interesting, helpful post. Glad to be your neighbor at Holley’s and sharing now 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you love the Enneagram too, Meg! It’s my favorite framework as well. For me it seems to be the most practical of the systems for “doing” instead of only understanding. I like to have action items to move forward in my spiritual growth and the Enneagram paves the way a little easier for me than some other systems. What a wonderful ministry you have to help clients grow in their own paths.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hang on, Debbie, because you’ll probably start hearing more and more about the Enneagram now. 🙂 I kept seeing it pop up in different places in the past 3 years or so, and finally last year I decided to dive in and discover more. It’s been an interesting journey.

  2. Candace Playforth

    I need to check out this book. It looks so interesting. I’m also thinking about your list at the bottom. I really want to know more about the Enneagram. Thanks for the recommendations! I’m a true believer in learning how to use our natural wiring to the fullest capacity.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m a believer alongside you, Candace. God made us all unique, and yet we also have many things in common with others who are wired in similar ways. It’s enlightening when we can learn to work within our own personalities, and better understand others as well. The Enneagram has been an interesting framework for these kind of discoveries for me!

  3. Michele Morin

    These are new thoughts to me, so I agree with you that this book must have gone into more and different detail than some of the others I’ve read.
    Great insights! (And I struggle with all three S’s so it’s hard to pick which is most difficult . . .)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think those 3 S’s are difficult for most of us, Michele. Solitude comes most naturally to me; Silence the least (and of course silence is the one that the author suggests type 5’s practice the most, ha). This book did provide several new ways of looking at the Enneagram than some of the others I’ve read. But granted, the first book or two I read was probably way over my head and I likely missed much of what the author said. Maybe I should go back and reread.

  4. Beth

    I bought an Enneagram book a couple of years ago and discovered my number but, quite frankly, don’t remember what it was, Lisa. However, I love those kinds of books and it seems like this one, in particular, helps to apply what we learn about ourselves from the test. I always want to learn how I can leverage the wiring God has put in my life for good. Thanks for this interesting post, my friend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love your attitude, Beth: leverage your wiring for good. I see you do that and appreciate the insights you share from what you learn on your journey. The Enneagram has provided some new discoveries for me in my relationships so it’s been enlightening (and at times disturbing because I don’t always like what I learn about myself!). 🙂

  5. Debbie Wilson

    I enjoyed Reading People. I listened to the audio version of The Road Back to You and must have been distracted because I don’t remember much of it. I certainly need more understanding of these. But stillness is a huge challenge for me. Lisa, I always learns something from you. Thanks.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Smiling at your comment, Debbie, because often when I listen to audio, I don’t remember much of what I heard either. 🙂 I retain more with visual content, especially if it requires a lot of thinking. (But I do love, love, love my podcasts anyway!) My friend and I went to a seminar last year that the authors of The Road Back to You did, and it was so helpful to have them there in person to answer our questions and to explain things.

  6. Trudy

    Interesting, Lisa. I’ll admit my mind got a little boggled though. I see myself in more than one of them. 🙂 I love your thoughts, especially this one – “The more we show up in the present moment, where God is, the more permission and awareness we give him to shape us into who he created us to be.” Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think we all have pieces of each number in us, and yes, it still boggles my mind, too, Trudy. 🙂 It’s starting to come together clearer, the more I read, but it’s still one of the more complicated frameworks (although Myers-Briggs can get deep too with all its subtypes, etc.). But interesting! Hope you’re doing well!

  7. floyd

    “Is it hot in here? Am I the only one sweating?” He thought to himself…

    I think you can tell the people that avoid introspection in life. It’s a pretty ugly thing to find an older person without any wisdom. And I don’t wanna be that person.

    I’m a solid three of those numbers… Rats…

  8. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Okay, Lisa. I’ll be honest: This isn’t a buncha New-Age hocus pocus is it? It sounds a bit odd, but must tell you that years ago, a friend recommended it, and she and I simply lost touch, so I’m not sure where she landed with this. But I did respect her opinion. And now, you, whose opinion I value. I hate to waste $ on books I don’t need. Can you tell me a little more and how this has really helped you? I’ve an open mind. tHanks!
    Lynn

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate your honesty and skepticism, Lynn—I felt the same way when I first heard of the Enneagram. (And when I saw the picture of it, ha). But it’s really a centuries-old framework of just looking at *why* we do the things we do, instead of just *what* we do. For example, three people may do the same behavior (say, take a meal to a sick friend), but one is doing it to ease her own guilt, one is doing it to feel needed, one is doing it because it was done for her, etc. The Enneagram points us to which source tends to motivate us the most.

      My type (I think I’m a Five) tends to want to understand things deeper, so I tend to turn to information too much when I’m struggling. Someone else may turn to activism; another person to worrying. So it’s helping me learn to relax when I do *not* know something, and resting on God in the mystery instead of frantically trying to figure it out myself. Hope this helps some!

      1. Lynn D. Morrissey

        Yes, it does. Thanks! And thank you for hearing my heart behind the questions. I wasn’t goading or criticizing, but just trying to understand.

  9. Kristin Hill Taylor

    I’m just reading up on Enneagram, and I had my husband take the test just yesterday. I’m excited to explore this more so I can understand more about how God made me and what that means for my daily life. Thanks for sharing this and linking up at #PorchStories.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad this excites you, too, Kristin. The more I learn about my type, the more I see things I can do to grow in the right direction and things I can let go of to eliminate bad thought patterns, etc. This won’t click with everyone, which is totally okay, but I’m thankful it is helpful to others of us.

  10. Linda Stoll

    This whole Enneagram thing is getting me a bit intrigued … I’m reading more about it here and there these days …

    Maybe I’ll start exploring in 2018?

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa …

    I hope your Thanksgiving was a delight.

  11. Brenda

    I’ve not seen this book, Lisa. I’m starting to recognize that there are a lot of books out there on this topic I haven’t seen before. Julie, from Stuff of Heaven, was the first person I’d ever heard this from. I love its Biblical focus. I liked a podcast I heard Annie Downs do on it. Have you heard that one before? I’ll link it in case you haven’t, and would like to. — Interesting post, Lisa, thanks for sharing. xoxo — http://www.anniefdowns.com/2017/09/21/that-sounds-fun-episode-53-beth-mccord-the-enneagram/

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m so glad you shared the podcast link with me, Brenda! I hadn’t heard of Annie’s podcast, so I downloaded that episode on my phone and have been listening to it. It’s very intriguing stuff. I don’t always like what I learn about myself. ha. But it’s useful information.

  12. Jean Wise

    This sounds like a great read. I am a 3 and find solitude very comforting and actually easy for me. Stillness is more of a challenge. I don’t think I have my number wrong as every time I take the test good old 3 appears. lol. I will check out this book. sounds so interesting. I know you went to a workshop on this a few months back, I would love to find one, not a basic one, but one more on how the arrows and wings work. I just know surface stuff on this and think it would be neat to learn more depth. Thanks Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I imagine you are wonderful at all of the contemplative practices, Jean. I think having years of experience makes a difference. And knowing to value them! I was slow arriving at the practices, and even then, it was mainly through reading Celebration of Disciple from Richard Foster. The past few years I’ve finally discovered other people to do them with in person and to talk about them with, but I still don’t have an in-life community that I regularly participate in. Maybe one day that will happen!

      Yes, I went to a workshop with Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile and it was very enlightening to be able to hear them talk about the Enneagram in person and to ask questions. There is definitely a lot of breadth and depth to it. I’m still barely scratching the surface.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re welcome, Alice. I had to pass along this book because it really has such useful information. There’s one more book on the Enneagram that I’d like to read, but for now I’ll take a break from them and just try to DO the work instead of just reading about it. 🙂

  13. Dawn

    Hi Lisa!

    This sentence really stirred my heart today, ” The more we show up in the present moment, where God is, the more permission and awareness we give him to shape us into who he created us to be.” No matter what type we are, showing up in whatever way we connect, right where God is…giving Him permission to be Lord of our everything is the purpose of it all, isn’t it? I am adding these books to my growing wish list. 🙂 I have Anne new book Reading People, but have to confess that my procrastinating and severely unorganized self has set it on a shelf to read when I have time. I think I need to make the time, huh?

    Thanks for sharing this at the #GraceMoments Link up. I am grateful for your continued presence each week.
    Many Blessings,
    Dawn

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Being in the present moment is something I have to continually work on. It doesn’t come naturally to me; I typically want to rush ahead and start planning for the future. Anne’s book would be a great one for you to pick up first; it’s shorter and easy to read but has LOTS of good stuff in it. Thanks for hosting us each week, Dawn!

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