Joyce Plaza, Pennsylvania
Member since 2004
Greetings, members! As Chair of The Narrative Enneagram (TNE) Membership Committee, I want to thank you for your support for TNE, whether you are a new or longtime member.
I am very excited about our future. Since the merger of ESNT (Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition) and EANT (Enneagram Association in the Narrative Tradition), the Membership Committee has been working diligently to examine the purpose of membership, explore new benefits and fee structures, and grow the Narrative Enneagram community. Membership is now open to anyone who wishes to join our diverse international community. Currently, fees and benefits remain the same as they were for EANT. Stay tuned for new possibilities!
In this August edition of TALK, several of us want to share with you why we belong to TNE and how the Narrative Enneagram is unique and special among the greater Enneagram learning community. Read on.
The Narrative Enneagram = ❤
I attended my first Enneagram workshop in 1998 and became a Certified Narrative Enneagram Teacher in 2008. A primary reason for my continued membership is that the Narrative Enneagram touched and awakened my heart. I do not say this casually. Although this sounds simple, it describes a complex transformation and experience of inner work.
The Narrative’s ways of teaching, and the beauty of telling our stories in a safe environment through panels, provide powerful experiences that open the heart. We share our stories in the present moment, in our own way, and in the process, learn more about ourselves than we ever expected. The beauty is that by voicing our stories and our shared experience, we learn from our own words, from where we are at the moment. And, to hear others speak, we also benefit from our deeper understanding of others. The Narrative provides a developmental path that is experiential and individually meaningful. Integrating psychology, spirituality and somatics, the Narrative method reveals neurobiology and the triune brain as a living experience for us to observe and understand our character structure.
What better way to engage our hearts than to hold a safe space for ourselves and others, to speak from an honest place (How often can you do that?) and to receive support and understanding? The teachings and presence of co-founder David Daniels (we miss you David!) and Helen Palmer’s spiritual teaching and inner observer meditations are powerful, special and unique. The untiring dedication and expertise of the Core Faculty have helped thousands of individuals.
I became a member because I wanted to belong and connect. It was an awakened heart center decision – it was not a “think thing.” I wanted to belong to this community in every center of my being. What about you?
I began studying the Narrative Enneagram in the late 1990s with Leila Valtonen, who brought the Enneagram Professional Training Program (EPTP) to Finland. Since then, the Enneagram’s wisdom has been an essential part of my life. The EPTP in Finland began with a series of Enneagram Intensive trainings in English with Dr. David Daniels and Peter O’Hanrahan. In 2008, I became a Certified Teacher and have been teaching the Intensives and teacher trainings in Finnish with Leila Valtonen since 2009. EPTP Finland has been a team of three, Leila Valtonen, Laura Valtonen and myself since 2010.
The Narrative Method has always been magical for me, and over the years I have witnessed how it touches people. I distinctly remember being on panels myself, having moments of insight that I would without any hesitation call transformational. I can effortlessly recall with great clarity many of those moments seeing where – and how – I was in my life. It is amazing how much a simple question and the mindful presence of others can help us open.
I find it remarkable how someone can have no previous knowledge of what needs to emerge before that ‘something other’ that knows, does. Is it perhaps this powerfully introspective process of self-observation through the Enneagram lens that invites us to share our stories? Perhaps it’s also what is behind or underneath that story. There is so much more and somehow – in a magical way – this gets to be shared too.
The audience role is much more than simply being passive observers. The group, whether small or large, offers powerful support by helping to create and hold a sacred space for sharing. Panelists often disclose afterward how deeply touched they were by the group’s ability to listen in a most compassionate way. Listening to panels offers us a profound appreciation of what life really may be like for others. Even though we can never fully know what someone’s experience is truly like, we can have a broader understanding and more compassion. I am fascinated by how frequently people first comment on how different we are as individuals. Then, after the panel discussions, they realize how similar we truly are.
As an Enneagram teacher, the panel method feels like the most natural way to teach the Enneagram. Each of us holds a responsibility for creating the safe container of sharing and learning. By way of example, in Finland, we have had two themes as vital parts of the training: Grounded Presence and Compassionate Listening. As teachers, we naturally need to embody the Enneagram model and theory well, yet we can strongly rely on the participants to make it come alive with us. We invite and learn from external experts, always learning something new, and, more importantly, have a chance to unlearn things that were maybe too simplistic or stereotypical. Again and again, magic happens on the panels. Suddenly someone drops into a deeper level and says something that surprises even himself or herself.
Recently, I’ve been conducting subtype trainings based on Beatrice Chestnut’s teachings and materials with my colleague Liisa Lehtosalo-Iskanius. It’s wonderful to interview larger panels of a certain type group and explore the similarities as well as the differences within each type. We have an opportunity to learn how the type is truly about structure and not about the content. What’s more, it’s fascinating to see how panelists interact, and how their stories touch themselves and each other.
Each time I participate in a Narrative Enneagram training, I am grateful and deeply touched. I feel blessed and privileged to be part of the Narrative Enneagram Community.
I certified as a Narrative Enneagram teacher in 2009. What the Narrative Tradition has meant to me in my personal and professional journey is beyond description. It has been the most honest, confronting, yet loving and compassionate way to grow in awareness and in love.
Through listening to others’ stories and keeping them in my heart as a precious gift, I have been able to carry those lessons and understanding on to others. In my experience, the Narrative Tradition is the most real approach to learning the Enneagram. We not only gain a deeper understanding of the types, but most importantly, of who we truly are – the mystery of our true nature.
Me certifiqué como Maestra de Eneagrama en la Tradición Narrativa en 2009. Lo que la Tradición Narrativa me ha traído a nivel personal y profesional está más allá de las palabras. Ha sido la manera más honesta y confrontadora, pero amorosa y compasiva de crecer en el amor y en la capacidad de tener más consciencia.
Escuchando las historias de otros y atesorándolas en mi corazón, como un preciado regalo, he podido compartirlas y llevar esas lecciones y entendimiento a otros. En mi experiencia, la Tradición Narrativa es la aproximación más real al aprendizaje del Eneagrama y a lograr un entendimiento más profundo de los tipos. Pero más importante aún, de quien verdaderamente somos y del misterio de nuestra naturaleza verdadera.
I was first touched by the Narrative Enneagram Community 10 years ago and now am honored to serve on the Board of TNE.
One of the main reasons I feel so connected to the Narrative Tradition is because of the loving community it fosters. The panel method of teaching gives each person the opportunity to speak his or her truth in the moment. This immediately creates a shared vulnerability that transcends all differences, and in turn, creates deeper compassion and acceptance for self and others. This nurtures and sustains a thriving community.
The Narrative Tradition is also integral in my life because its core values and basic propositions inform most of my teachings. By teaching others these core values of self-awareness, integrity, transparency, balance, commitment and generosity of spirit through the panel method I learned from the Narrative Tradition, it is bringing so many others to higher levels of consciousness and inviting them to be their highest and best self. Being able to bring these teachings and sense of community to others gives me great satisfaction.
I got hooked on the Narrative approach to learning – and teaching others – about the Enneagram during my first experience witnessing an Enneagram panel 16 years ago in Washington, DC. There are many things to love about the community and the method, but two reasons top my list.
First, when people are telling their own stories, they don’t just use words. The also “DO” their stories, naturally expressing authentic feelings and depth through body language, intonation, inflections of speech, and all the other elements of interpersonal communication that make the difference between our experience of reading an email and having a face-to-face conversation with its author. As we listen and watch, our mirror neurons are helping us “FEEL” the other’s experience, and our minds are paying careful attention to all that information, and naturally, in the background, adding its richness to what we take away from the experience of witnessing.
The other reason is because the Narrative method rests on both curiosity and humility. In leading a panel, we may think we understand how this or that type structure plays out in this or that situation, but the Narrative method insists that we check it out with the experts. Even more important, it asks us as a community to hold the material as a living and evolving body of wisdom, which is still being shaped, on many fronts, by what we learn in our collective, ongoing inquiry and exploration. I think holding this spirit of humility, and openness to re-thinking what we believe we know, is profoundly important. It often seems to me missing in the larger Enneagram world. I think the way we walk our talk about it is something very special and important about the Narrative Tradition.