What’s Your Number? How the Enneagram Helps You to Understand Yourself and Others

What’s Your Number? How the Enneagram Helps You to Understand Yourself and Others

In the summer of 1991, a t-shirt changed my life.

I was on staff at Ring Lake Ranch, a spiritual retreat center in the Wyoming wilderness., when one mid-summer morning, Sister Agnes arrived in the dining hall wearing a t-shirt with the words, “Hi, I’m a One!”

That shirt served as both an introduction and the beginning of my continuing study of the Enneagram Personality System.

My passion for Enneagram studies will bring me to CTS next year for The Enneagram: Personality and Spirituality Deepening Capacity for Spiritual Experience this January.

This course will place us at the crossroads of spirituality and personality as we engage in questions for self-reflection, dyad inquiry, small group discussion, and Enneagram type panel interviews.

During our time together, we’ll work with the three pillars of self-awareness: a grounded presence, strengthening our inner observer, and increasing our ability to shift attention.


Participants will also…


Unlike other personality systems that I was familiar with, the Enneagram carried me into a deeper dive, one that took me beneath my behavior, describing the very patterns, fears, internal stories, and inherent strengths that shaped my worldview and my behavior.

It was stunning to read about the intricate paths and loops of my inner life on the pages of a book!

What I learned as I continued to study and read that summer were the many ways I overprotect my heart and how I viewed reality through a particular filter.

Suddenly, my blind spots were prancing before me offering a parade of ah-ha’s, deepening my awareness of how I lived my life on automatic.

I realized during my initial encounter with the Enneagram system that I had, as anthropologist Angeles Arrien put it, “been a part of the procession of the living dead.”


Waking up and becoming available to ourselves, others and to the Holy Spirit requires that we recognize the compulsions, patterns and internal stories that limit us and deny us our full dimensionality.

What is my greatest obstacle to my deepest prayer?  What stands between me and my experience of the Divine?  I do, of course!

So, “Who am I?” is a foundational theological question, and deepening our self-awareness is key for honest, authentic relationships.

Developing the capacity for spiritual experience requires an exploration of these inner dynamics that drive perceptions, feelings, and actions.

The Enneagram names the fears that bind us and identifies filters of perception that blind us to the love and compassion present in each moment when we have eyes to see and ears to hear.


The exercises and teaching methods in our January class will provide a container for developing a more intimate relationship with ourselves as well as developing a greater capacity for seeing others as they are to themselves.

Shifting automatic patterns requires support, practices, awareness, and presence.

Naming our lives as Sacred moves us toward a posture of openness, opening our hearts to a greater capacity to receive love and offer it.

An open heart requires a grounded presence, and presence is the bedrock for self-awareness, freedom from our suffering and for compassionate participation in our world.

I anticipate rich conversations as we explore prayers and type-specific practices for loosening these patterns so that we can wake up and grow beyond the limitations we impose on ourselves.


Written by Sandra Smith, MDiv

To discover your own Enneagram patterns and spiritual growth, register for the January class with Sandra by visiting http://bit.ly/CLLEnneagram.

Sandra Smith, MDiv, is a Spiritual Director and Certified Narrative Tradition teacher and an IEA (International Enneagram Association) Accredited Professional. Sandra loves the intersection of personality and spirituality and teaches the Enneagram system throughout North America as a tool for personal and spiritual growth. To learn more about her work, visit AlchemyWorksEvents.com. To schedule an individual session for spiritual direction or Enneagram consulting, call Sandra at 828-808-5820 or email sandracsmith@charter.net. These sessions can be in person or by phone.

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