P O'HanrahanEditor’s Note: Below is the summary of the workshop that Peter O’hanrahan presented at the 2014 IEA Conference. In following weeks, I’ll be posting additional articles that he has written about the Enneagram lines and wings, the topic of his IEA workshop Thank you Peter!

At the recent IEA conference in San Francisco I presented a workshop on “Moving on the lines – resources for personal development and inner work.” While this is not a new topic I thought it would be a good time for an update. It turned out to be a lot of fun – 50 of us crowded into a small meeting room to talk about this topic. After a 45 minute overview I had planned to ask people to break into type groups to discuss their own experience and report back. When the time came, I hesitated, since we were so packed in and I thought that maybe there was not enough room for small groups. And breakout groups are not always a priority for conference participants! Fortunately I asked the group and got a strong positive response, so we spent 30 minutes in breakout groups and then 45 minutes (5 minutes per type) hearing what people had to say. While my initial presentation was well received, these reports were really the best part of our gathering. People spoke very clearly, and with feeling, about their experience of moving on the lines.

From many years of experience I know that there are good but general theories about how we move on the connecting lines. What seems most important is that we continue to develop our understanding about all this by paying close attention to people’s experience. What is it like to move to the heart/security point? When do we go there? And how is the stress point also a resource point? Having experienced enneagrammers in the room made for a great conversation.

One of the challenges in teaching the enneagram to a new audience – after talking about the nine types, there is usually someone who asks: “Those lines in the diagram, do they mean something?” Well, yes. But how do we explain this in a beginning class? It would be easier if we just had a list of nine types, the way other typologies have a list. But how can this rather strange and esoteric symbol actually have meaning in our personal lives? We can try to talk about the Law of Three and Law of Seven, although this is a bit much for beginners. (Much easier to talk about this at the IEA). What I say is that there are important connections here, that we do seem to move under different conditions to a type on the enneagram that is different from our home base, and that we are informed by the experience of many thousands of enneagram students over the years. But the main point is: “See how it may be useful to you!”

One of our IEA friends made the point that the “original” enneagram, with the three equilateral triangles, published by Ramon Llull in 1305 CE is as important as our “modern” enneagram from Gurdjieff. The “enneagram of harmony” has its own flow pattern and things to teach us, although I find that (somewhat mysteriously) the 3-9-6-3, and the 1-4-2-8-5-7-1 flow does represent a significant “psychodynamic” process for us and we can learn to track, and even manage, these important shifts.

I really appreciate the Law of Three in many ways. I’m still trying to understand the Law of Seven. What I most appreciate is that the enneagram offers such a practical map of human experience. And moving on the lines is part of this. If you are interested, my workshop handout, “Moving on the Lines”, is available on my website in the articles menu: www.EnneagramWork.com

Thanks to all the hard workers on the IEA board, and the other volunteers, for producing a great conference in San Francisco this year!

Let me know if you have thoughts, comments or questions about what I’ve written here. I’d love to discuss with you. Comments can be posted by clicking on “Comments” at the beginning of this article. Thanks in advance!!