Why does one person of a certain Type appear so different to another of the same Type?
The answer can lie in the Enneagram Levels of Integration or Levels of Health (LOH). LOH is the term given by Don Riso and Russ Hudson authors of The Wisdom of the Enneagram, to demonstrate the nine different stages we can move through: disintegrated, average and the highest, most integrated expression of ourselves.
Don Riso and Russ Hudson did some incredible work in defining these nine levels. We can move up and down the levels depending on our choices and reactions to what occurs in our lives, as well as through becoming conscious more conscious. For instance, if I know that I can be very reactive, then consciously taking time to smell the roses and becoming less reactive, will serve to integrate me further.
There is a paradox of behavior from the integrated to disintegrated level. A bully when integrating, becomes the redeemer of victims, helping others to be strong. The strongly judgmental person at an average or disintegrated level, when integrated, realizes that they are in no position to judge anyone or anything, and so becomes accepting. The lying inauthentic person becomes highly authentic and so on.
How we lose presence
As we disintegrate, we lose presence. We are focused either in the future or the past. Here, but not here. Unconscious of the moment we are experiencing. We become so identified with our personalities that we are removed from the real nature of our being. Our ego rules supreme at the lower levels of self. Consequently, our sense of freedom becomes constricted and life becomes grueling. At the higher, integrated levels, all three centers of Head, Heart and Gut are engaged, while at the lowest level, we have lost connection with all three centers.
What level does most of the population live in?
Very few people are able to constantly maintain being in the three higher levels. (The world be a very different place if most people were found in the integrated/healthy levels.) In the lower three levels, we have become very dysfunctional and we lose touch with true reality. Consequently, the majority of people can be found in the three average levels.
Do our levels alter?
Yes they do, often daily as we experience life’s ups and downs. We tend though to move say between levels four, five and six (middle three) for instance than daily leap between say level seven and level two. Movements that shift us out of the three levels of three usually occur when we have some dramatic change in our lives.
Are we conscious of this?
Integration is conscious. Disintegration is unconscious. I’ve observed that often when a person believes themselves to be extremely conscious or integrated, in reality they are often the opposite.
What does being at the highest level of ourselves look like?
Remember the man who went to seek gold only to find the real gold was on his doorstep? That’s the journey when we discover that our journey to self is an inner journey. Here we discover all that we already are. From an Enneagram perspective the Basic Desire of each Type becomes realized. For example, the desire of a Type Three to feel valuable is reality.
How do we reach there?
The realization and nonjudgmental observation of our habits (Enneagram fixations and “Passions”) that have caged us is where we start. We bring awareness where previously there was none, to our behavior. So, as a Type Nine, I may observe, “Ah, I see I’m minimizing myself and avoiding conflict. In doing so, I’m repressing my feelings.” Then choice arises. Do I want to be that person? It’s definitely not a case of wanting to fix ourselves. It’s just about bringing gentle awareness to our thoughts, feelings and actions. The ego-based personality structure then relaxes: “Ah, phew, no need to worry and hold on here.” It’s then that our true presence can arise.