#9 in our series on starting an Enneagram Group
This is also referred to as “listening partners”. In this form, the aim is for each person to be deepen their personal enquiry into the question posed, without the usual interruptions or comments that we experience in a normal conversation.
Where possible, this would be with three people, but is can be with just two or even four, if this is preferable.
The total time allowed for this exercise is divided between the number of people in the group working together. So if three people in the 45 minutes, each person is give 15 minutes each to enquire. If four people, then set the timer for 10 minutes each.
Decide who is going to go first in the group of three or four (or even two)
The role of the person speaking is to allow themselves to enquire into the subject or question posed (such as, how do you experience strength? Or What does it mean to love yourself?) without needing to explain themselves to the listeners (the witnesses) or entertain them.
The role of the witness—those listening, is to stay present to themselves, and listen in a open non-judgemental frame of awareness, to what it is that the speaker is saying. Such listening can be challenging, as we may notice the desire to want to comment, nod, approve, empathise or just ask questions. This drive is normal, and as a listener, the work for you is to stay present and notice this, without getting engaging in it. The Centring practice is a vital resource for being present in this process.
When listening, be aware of non-verbal communication that could influence how the speaker is communicating. The raising of eyebrows, gasps, frowns, and other gestures can feed the speaker to go down a path of enquiry that is influenced by such feedback. We are not aiming for a stony-face, without any life, but a gentle compassionate softness, receptive and open to what is being expressed in that moment.
If the Speaker goes quiet, even invites comment, resist! Just stay quiet until their allotted time has expired.
At any time during the enquiry, be aware of your own patterns to aid someone who meets with something that could be painful, or sad. Some of the pitfalls of certain personality types can be to try and make things better for others, who they see as suffering. Others may flex their “therapy” skills and show off their ability to fix someone. Such urges are all part of what it is to work with the Enneagram. What we are practicing, is Self Observation. We’ll say more of that later.
It is enough to just notice what we notice; without judgment and with compassion for ourselves.