Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice

Toggle
Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice
Answer
2/10/20 7:51 PM
Hi All (again)!

I have been digging around the Enneagram for a while. I took the test years ago (I'm a 7 with an 8 wing, for those in the know), but just sort of left it. Watching Steve's interview with Tina R. the other day, she mentioned it and how wonderfully it mapped to her experiences and such. 

Well, it got me ruminating on it once again and I did some quick searches for meditation and Enneagram types. One showed the potential pitfalls for each type in coming to/working through meditative techniques, but offered little in the way of how to progress. 

I am hopeful some of you fine practitioners might have a foot in both worlds and be willing to point me in a direction. As I am a 7, the mind is naturally very fast and susceptible to monkey mind. I've gone over that part much of the time, and don't struggle with concentrating on breath counting at all... but I'm also feeling as though absolutely nothing is happening. I'm missing something, maybe? 

I have posted elsewhere, but in sum:
I sit a minimum of an hour a day - sometimes another 30-60 minutes at night. 
I have been doing this since October 2018. I've sat around 500 hours, probably a little over.
I mind the breath in and out. I often mix in metta beforehand, then move to counting. 
I have had some jhana experiences, but I suspect I have difficulty letting go because they are rarely deep/hard. 
I try noting, but I mostly have difficulty; feeling the vibrations everyone is talking about. I feel tingles and such, but whatever Hz y'all throw out there just sounds alien to me. I'm not on that frequency (pun intended).

I'm planning a retreat at IMS in April, but I am worried it will be a waste of time since I'm terrible at noting (seemingly). So... seeking guidance in these various ways. 

RE: Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice
Answer
2/10/20 9:58 PM as a reply to T.
I have not read it, but multiple respected friends recommend Facets of Unity by AH Almaas as a book about the intersection of deep practice & the enneagram.

RE: Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice
Answer
2/10/20 11:56 PM as a reply to T.
I have little experience with the eneagram, but I just took it and it seems much like your run of the mill personality test.  Relatively accurate depending on the person, potentially helpful, but perhaps not something to entirely hang your hat on as it were.  Sometimes I think these things emphasize concrete personality differences when the reality is much more fluid.

Thanks for the practice description.  You sound like you have a good base of practice, the answer for what to do next might depend mainly on the question - what are you seeking get out of meditation?

Also re the vibrations and noting: noting is generally a very deliberate and concious way of approaching meditation, and slow relatively speaking - taking the time to come up with a mental description for your variable arising sensations.  Vibrations come to the fore more when you move to a more direct (and fast) sensation based mode of attention, such as simply noticing the breakdown of the myriad of physical body sensations into their minute composite parts.  This induces more of a vibratory type sensation, related to the mass diffusion of pinpoint bodily awareness.

RE: Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice
Answer
2/11/20 6:09 AM as a reply to T DC.
Thanks for the practice description.  You sound like you have a good base of practice, the answer for what to do next might depend mainly on the question - what are you seeking get out of meditation?

"Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'."
 
I assume the same as everyone - working the spiritual path to discover the meaning behind the madness. See what experience is made out of, lighten the load of existence as I currently view it sometimes. I have to say that it's much less so (a heavy load) than it used to be, thanks to meditation. I'm aiming for total freedom before death. That's my goal. That said - some descriptions of the formless realms, how perception processing can change, etc. throughout the process of meditating sound fascinating and fun. So I'm into that happening, but my true goal is as stated. 
Also re the vibrations and noting: noting is generally a very deliberate and concious way of approaching meditation, and slow relatively speaking - taking the time to come up with a mental description for your variable arising sensations.  Vibrations come to the fore more when you move to a more direct (and fast) sensation based mode of attention, such as simply noticing the breakdown of the myriad of physical body sensations into their minute composite parts.  This induces more of a vibratory type sensation, related to the mass diffusion of pinpoint bodily awareness.
Thank you. This is really helpful as a description, the rough idea, and a sort of sketch of what it may feel like. 

RE: Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice
Answer
2/11/20 2:23 PM as a reply to T.
Focusing on breathing or counting breaths is a good introductory practice, but there is much much more that can be explored. You don't need to completely get rid of monkey mind before moving on to something more powerful...

It's great that you'll be at IMS in April. Let's get you ready to make the most of it!

In order to come up with possible suggestions, what happens if you do this your next session:
* spend 5 or 10 minutes just getting settled, using any technique (or no technique) you want
* spend 5 minutes noting a physical sensation on every outbreath
* spend 5 minutes noting an emotion on every outbreath
* spend 5 minutes noting a thought on every outbreath
* spend 5 minutes noting the most obvious thing in experience (a sensation, emotion, or thought) on every outbreath
* spend 5 or 10 minutes just letting practice naturally end without applying any method

How did each part go for you? What went well? What was difficult?

RE: Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice
Answer
2/12/20 4:49 AM as a reply to shargrol.
In order to come up with possible suggestions, what happens if you do this your next session:
* spend 5 or 10 minutes just getting settled, using any technique (or no technique) you want
* spend 5 minutes noting a physical sensation on every outbreath
* spend 5 minutes noting an emotion on every outbreath
* spend 5 minutes noting a thought on every outbreath
* spend 5 minutes noting the most obvious thing in experience (a sensation, emotion, or thought) on every outbreath
* spend 5 or 10 minutes just letting practice naturally end without applying any method

How did each part go for you? What went well? What was difficult?

*Easy peasy. I actually just used the four following pieces of focus (So I wouldn't say 'hey, what was next?') as a mantra and said them mentally over and over. Got honed right in. 
*This was also easy, except there are so many physical sensations. Butt on cushion. Arm touching.Hair.Coolness on face. You get the idea. 
*I have done some gestalt therapy, so I'm aware that emotions are physical more than mental, or at least have a combination of that and thought. So, I mostly noted the physical sensations around the core of the body that seem to be emotional - heart swelling when my daughter talked in her sleep (notice love), thinking she is waking (noting nervous about being interrupted), sort of anxious/excited feeling about this new practice exercise (excitement/anxiety). Again, you get the idea. This went well - there were periods where I was noticing nothing, nothing was happening, and I noticed that.
*This one was interesting and almost caught me at first. I noted the sensation of my arm on my leg and quickly realized it was a thought about my arm on my leg and not the sensation itself. After that, I didn't mentally notice physical senses. I tracked thoughts, which were sometimes frequent and sometimes not. I was aware of being a sort of... void vessel/blank attention/awareness and a thought would swing 'round. I would just say "thinking" and go back to the blackness and silence. I never got caught by anything and went along for a thought ride.
*This one was just fun whack-a-mole. I was all over between the previous exercises and just listing things. -thought.excitement.heater noise.fan.daughter noise.chest swelling.wife noise.dog whining.annoyed.butt hurts.back tight.thinking. You very much get the idea. 

I wouldn't say this was confined to the out breath throughout this entire work. I know that was the instruction, and I did try, but often the things happening don't wait for an out breath, or rather I'd have to pretend not to notice it in order to wait for an out breath - or skip something until the out breath. So, I went with it in spirit, but I was probably noticing things much more than just on the out breath. 

*When I transitioned to this last thing, my mind sort of froze up in a way. It wanted to keep noticing and not just sit there and let things go. I noticed a couple things and the mind kept wanting to alight on something, but it didn't exactly. Then, I noticed very physical sort of pressure medial on my right eyebrow, another bit of pressure medial to that in my brow/forehead, some kind of tension in the forehead, and a pressure spot out near my right temple. It created this odd shape, defined by these areas of tension/pressure. I have heard many say that is where the mind places the "I" in many cases. I tried taking a peek at that, but not much was revealed. It moved around a bit and eventually I had a new pressure on the back of my head, upper right near the hair swirl. The one near the temple was still there, but the brow pressures/tensions had changed. I then moved to doing some metta, working with the heart to see what happened to the pressure/tension of the head. It didn't exactly go away, but my attention moved elsewhere. It would be vaguely there if I checked on it. 

My bell tolled for me. 
I sat another 15 minutes (total of an hour) making a serious attempt at doing absolutely nothing and letting myself wander about. DId some metta.
End scene. 

RE: Enneagram 7 and Meditation Advice
Answer
2/12/20 9:15 AM as a reply to T.
Well done. Okay, here's some diagnosis/suggestions...

As an aside, it's worht noticing how sometimes having a simple structure can take some of the "pressure" off of sits and help target certain aspects of practice. It's a good tool to have in the toolbox for times when we're just kinda going through the motions of practice, but not really diving in with full intention/dedication. No need to structure things all the time, but sometimes it can help.

T:

*Easy peasy. I actually just used the four following pieces of focus (So I wouldn't say 'hey, what was next?') as a mantra and said them mentally over and over. Got honed right in. 
Nice.


*This was also easy, except there are so many physical sensations. Butt on cushion. Arm touching.Hair.Coolness on face. You get the idea. 

Right, when we're really tuned into this channel of experience, there are many sensations that arise in the space of one breath. No big deal, for noting practice you just chose one and note it. There is no right or wrong sensation to choose, just choose one and note it. (Although, to be very technical: don't keep choosing the same on over and over again out of laziness! Not to say that I've ever found myself doing that... emoticon   )


*I have done some gestalt therapy, so I'm aware that emotions are physical more than mental, or at least have a combination of that and thought. So, I mostly noted the physical sensations around the core of the body that seem to be emotional - heart swelling when my daughter talked in her sleep (notice love), thinking she is waking (noting nervous about being interrupted), sort of anxious/excited feeling about this new practice exercise (excitement/anxiety). Again, you get the idea. This went well - there were periods where I was noticing nothing, nothing was happening, and I noticed that.
So this is interesting... although there are some modalities where we focus on the sensation/thoughts associated with emotions, for this part of the practice it is important to really zone into the emotion bandwidth. Good job on love, nervousness, axious, excitement.

Although this seems like it went well, you might try really focusing specifically on emotions. https://liveboldandbloom.com/04/self-improvement/ultimate-list-emotions  The goal here is to get good at detecting subtle emotions or emotions that we tend to overlook. Some of the more sneaky emotions are the emotions involved with meditation practice itself or performing a particular mediation method (frustration, awkwardness, boredome, doubt, annoyance, spacing out, indifference, enjoyment, excitement, pride, ambition, strugging, etc etc etc.)

Subtle emotions is one of the classic places our sense of self tends to hide. That's why emotional awareness/intelligence is so important to making progress in meditation. 

*This one was interesting and almost caught me at first. I noted the sensation of my arm on my leg and quickly realized it was a thought about my arm on my leg and not the sensation itself. After that, I didn't mentally notice physical senses. I tracked thoughts, which were sometimes frequent and sometimes not. I was aware of being a sort of... void vessel/blank attention/awareness and a thought would swing 'round. I would just say "thinking" and go back to the blackness and silence. I never got caught by anything and went along for a thought ride.
Nice. Yeah, there are a lot of thoughts related to proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of the body). In general, you'll want to seriously try to label some aspect of thinking on each outbreath, rather than just going for a thought ride (that's more the next step emoticon ). 

Labelling thoughts is tricky sometimes. Definitely come up with your own approach. One thing you can do is to focus on "categories of thought" if it helps simplify things. So for example, you could have also said:
* "body thought" which is shorthand for "I'm thinking about this sensation on my body"
* "searching" which is shorthand for "i notice my mind searching for the right kind of thought to note"
* you can even do "practicing thought" which is shorthand for "i'm thinking about the right way to practice and I'm noticing myself do that" 
* you could do "blankness" for a blank mind
* you can do "no thought" for when there are no thoughts

Again, for this you want to both go for a thought ride, but also note it along the way.

*This one was just fun whack-a-mole. I was all over between the previous exercises and just listing things. -thought.excitement.heater noise.fan.daughter noise.chest swelling.wife noise.dog whining.annoyed.butt hurts.back tight.thinking. You very much get the idea. 

I wouldn't say this was confined to the out breath throughout this entire work. I know that was the instruction, and I did try, but often the things happening don't wait for an out breath, or rather I'd have to pretend not to notice it in order to wait for an out breath - or skip something until the out breath. So, I went with it in spirit, but I was probably noticing things much more than just on the out breath. 

Very good. The trick on this step is to get into a groove. It can be fun and fine to go full out wack a mole, but for training for a long retreat, it's good to get into the slow and steady groove. While on retreat, there may be times when you are flooded with experience. What you are training is the ability to be flooded yet also clear minded enough to note one thing. 

Another way to say this is "notice everything, note one thing on the outbreath"

*When I transitioned to this last thing, my mind sort of froze up in a way. It wanted to keep noticing and not just sit there and let things go. I noticed a couple things and the mind kept wanting to alight on something, but it didn't exactly. Then, I noticed very physical sort of pressure medial on my right eyebrow, another bit of pressure medial to that in my brow/forehead, some kind of tension in the forehead, and a pressure spot out near my right temple. It created this odd shape, defined by these areas of tension/pressure. I have heard many say that is where the mind places the "I" in many cases. I tried taking a peek at that, but not much was revealed. It moved around a bit and eventually I had a new pressure on the back of my head, upper right near the hair swirl. The one near the temple was still there, but the brow pressures/tensions had changed. I then moved to doing some metta, working with the heart to see what happened to the pressure/tension of the head. It didn't exactly go away, but my attention moved elsewhere. It would be vaguely there if I checked on it. 

Nice. So that first freeze up is the ego/self not wanting to let go. Perfect observation! And then notice how you took control of the situation and created a new challenge to work on...

One of the most tricky things is that we identify with "being the meditator" yet the mind naturally notices things. Technically, we aren't in charge of awareness --- this become more obvious in time. Awareness happens automatically and without effort. Instead, we create a little thing that is supposedly controlling what we experience, yet is more of an assumption of a thing rather than truly a thing. It takes time, but this is a key part of awakening and it becomes more clear in little steps along the way...

So the next time you are in this phase, really let go. Let the mind do what it does. There is no wrong or right experience here, just make sure you "do it" for about 5 to 10 minutes. Don't get up. Don't try to practice. Just sit and notice mind doing itself.


My bell tolled for me. 
I sat another 15 minutes (total of an hour) making a serious attempt at doing absolutely nothing and letting myself wander about. DId some metta.
End scene. 
Well done!


As you can tell, my suggestion is going to be to try this again sometime in the near future and with the fine-tuning mentioned above. 

I make these recommendations as someone who had real struggles during my first few retreats (at IMS), mostly because I didn't really understand all the aspects of noting practice. I also didn't have a good balance between sensations, emotions, and thoughts. And I also didin't have a good balance between effort and ease.

So hopefully this helps you or someone else avoid many of the troubles I had.