David Nichtern – Creativity, Spirituality & Making a Buck – Ep. 38 – The Enneagram as Skillful Means w/ Susan Piver

This week on Creativity, Spirituality & Making a Buck, drop into the world of Enneagram with returning guest, Susan Piver.

Susan Piver has an international reputation as an exceptionally skillful meditation teacher. She teaches workshops and speaks on mindfulness, innovation, communication, relationships, and creativity. Susan has been a student of Buddhism since 1995, graduated from a Buddhist seminary in 2004, and was authorized to teach meditation in 2005. In 2012, she founded The Open Heart Project, the world’s largest online-only meditation center. Susan is also a New York Times bestselling author. Her newest book is The Buddhist Enneagram: Nine Paths to Warriorship. You can keep up with Susan on Instagram and Twitter.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a system of 9 ways that people manifest. Similarly to Meyers Briggs, each of the 9 outlines different personality traits that can help us navigate who we are and how we relate to others. In each Enneagram, there is both a poison and a medicine. These are referred to as the passion and the virtue. We can think of these as either our downfall or where we excel. You can not get rid of one without getting rid of the other. The system also outlines talking styles, fixations, idealizations, and avoidances. If you would like to find out your Enneagram, there are a number of free tests online.

To hear more about personalities check out Ep. 173 of Here and Now: The Problem With Personality
Improving Relationships (20:51)

The Enneagram can be a great tool within the context of a relationship. Understanding what poisons our spouses versus what medicates them can be very useful. Susan outlines an example for us. Imagine your wife or husband is an Enneagram 6. This Enneagram commonly focuses on finding threats. Now, imagine you are a person who focuses on seeking meaning. While you are trying to understand a problem your spouse will be in more of a fight-or-flight state looking for threats. With this dichotomy of traits and traps that we all have, it can be hard to communicate. However, when we know in advance, we can alter our own communication styles and meet each other in the middle. We can acknowledge what we each need in order to cater to each other.

“I found in my work as a teacher of Buddhism and in my practice as a student of Buddhism, that the Enneagram was the most potent skillful means I ever found.” – Susan Piver

Buddhism and the Enneagram (42:20)

Susan believes that we are born who we are. The Enneagram is not meant to put people into a box, it is meant to help us understand the box we are already in. Some may feel apprehensive to categorize themselves as one of nine types, but Susan says it is actually more complex than that. There are so many aspects we can learn within those nine forms. David posits that Buddhism is actually quite similar to this concept. The first noble truth is essentially outlining that we are in a box; we can not avoid suffering. Buddhism is all about learning to understand our inner selves and outside life within the context of that fact. The Enneagram helps us with this as well

“You’re already in a box, would you like to see what it looks like?” – Susan Piver

To hear more from Susan Piver, check out Ep. 14 of The Road Home: The Four Noble Truths of Love with Susan Piver