The Narrative Tradition is an extraordinary teaching method that promotes an open exploration of each personality type, offering a unique and personally transformative experience of the Enneagram. By listening to representatives of each Enneagram type share their personal stories and reveal their particular inner worlds and realities, you can discover how to recognize different type patterns from direct experience.
In our view, there is no better way to explore, learn and teach than through this interactive method of panel interviews. Through a sophisticated inquiry method, the Narrative Tradition demonstrates the types, their struggles, dilemmas, strengths and paths of development. The types continuously teach us about themselves at ever deepening levels of awareness, and we learn from exploring with them.
Ultimately, the Enneagram is an “inside job” of determining your type and coming to know and understand your own focus of attention, core beliefs, coping strategies and path of development. The primary value of the Enneagram does not come from identifying your type based on external behaviors, but from a deeper understanding of how behavioral patterns relate to your focus of attention, motivation and personal experience.
The panel interviews bring the Enneagram alive through meaningful conversation and insights. Our programs in the Narrative Tradition are set within a rich context of self-observation practices, practical exercises for each type, directed meditations, movement exercises, and facilitated interactions between the types.
By Terry Saracino, Founding President , Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition (now the Narrative Enneagram)
“The human voice is the organ of the soul.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On May 8, 1989 in Santa Fe, NM, I found myself sitting in a circle with 25 others from around the country in a beautiful room with windows all around for a week-long course on the Enneagram. This would be the first time I met Helen Palmer and her teaching assistants – representatives of the nine types. My heart had been caught by the Enneagram a few months earlier in Denver when my first teacher had animatedly described the types in vivid detail for a full weekend. But, as this week unfolded and I watched Helen interview the types, I knew with certainty that this was how I wanted to teach the Enneagram.
Why was this method of teaching – what we refer to as the Narrative Tradition – so powerful back then and still is today? For those who have never attended a Narrative training, picture a panel of representatives of each type being interviewed by a facilitator. Dynamic and always changing, panels in the Narrative Tradition involve a community, a “field” created between the person whose story is being told and the listening audience. In a word, it is alive.
The Narrative Tradition, based on interviewing and interacting, is a process and invites us into a relationship with our inner territory. We use the content of the Enneagram and make an experience of it. When we describe our patterns on panels using our capacity for self-observation, we began to see them differently. We get some distance from them. Underlying motivations become clearer. Something clicks. Our patterns begin to loosen. As we try to make ourselves clear to the audience, we gain more insight. Insight is an essential first step toward change. Working with the insights we glean on panels helps us make the necessary changes that grow our souls. See full article >