Feeling the Enneagram Through Song

We may know the Enneagram  – through reading, observing, reflecting, and working with our own Enneagram Type. Depending on your type, some of this may be somewhat cerebral. Yes, you, 5, 6, and 7. Now we can feel each Enneagram type (there are nine) through song.

Today is the official release of “Seven” for Enneagram Type 7, also known as The Enthusiast. These songs are part of the latest album and project, Atlas : Year Two from Ryan O’Neal of Sleeping At Last.

You may know Chicago-based Sleeping at Last’s beautiful music from popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Bones or his song “Turning Page” on Twilight Saga : Breaking Dawn. If you haven’t heard his music, you are in for a treat.

Ryan O’Neal discovered the Enneagram about five years ago. He self-identifies as Enneagram Type 9 (Peacemaker), and for the songs, he has invited guest musicians to contribute to the song of their own type. He has also composed this music with instruments that best present the sounds and energy for each type. For Seven which is so Peter Pan, he’s included kids playing, laughter, the ukulele, and balloons.

For each song release, Ryan O’Neal also recorded a podcast with Chris Heuertz, Enneagram coach and author of Sacred Enneagram. These podcasts invite us to delve into each type through song, words, and conversation. They are wonderful explorations of who we are, our beliefs, our pain points, our drivers, our virtues, and who we can be, beyond personality. Ryan O’Neal also shares his process, his takeaways, the gifts of each, the “fingerprints”, and themes. Another treat is hearing each song in its entirety.

If you are unfamiliar with the Enneagram, these podcasts are a great way to dive in and start your journey of discovery. Chris Heuertz, who is dominant in Type 8, introduces these personality archetypes in the podcast for “One”. Don’t know your type? You can take the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator, which is a sample of the full 144-question test. You can also read the description of each to see which one you resonate with and self-identify as.

In the “One” podcast, Chris Heuertz starts by saying, “I like to describe the Enneagram as our ego set of coping addictions that we have wrapped up around our childhood wound so that we don’t have to tell ourselves the truth of who we really are. What these coping addictions, these coping mechanisms, do is create this scaffolding for the projections of our own ego mythology. When we approach the Enneagram with truthfulness, it’s a tool for excavating our essence. It helps us to take the masks off…and help us understand we are much more than our personality…it helps us be honest about… the fragments that lay claim to the truth of who we are.”

The key is to remember that these are archetypes, portals into deeper self-understanding and all the ways we can behave. They are mirrors and an invitation to be more honest and vulnerable with who we are. For Ryan O’Neal, it is a tool for empathy and he reminds us that he does not take writing these songs lightly.

While it’s tempting to listen to only the song for your Enneagram type, I recommend listening to all the songs plus the podcasts. Yes, each podcast is over one hour. I myself am still making my way through the seven currently available recordings.

Having listened to several, I can honestly say I have learned a lot. I have always been curious about the Enneagram and have dug into it through books, workshops, and numerous conversations with Siewfan Wong over at Gallery Helios. I am by no means fluent in the nuances and the depth so for me the podcasts are illuminating. Some people may even feel understood, finally. Having this knowledge and wisdom can also bridge you closer to the people in your life. I feel it can engender greater compassion, affection, and yes, love.

Highlights from the “Seven” podcast

In the “Seven” podcast, Chris Heuertz touches on many aspects of Enneagram, such as how Seven has no natural connections to a heart type. Seven is part of the triad of mental/mind types – 5, 6, and 7. They are “curious” about these “external hearts” and “stand close” to these people. They use these heart intelligence centres as a way to find their way home, to their own heart.

Infamous planners, unhealthy Sevens are challenged to experience the present moment because they try to avoid pain, from their fear of being trapped in pain. All head types are more focused in their mind, and are often disengaged from their body. Instead, with their immense imagination, they are looking ahead, beyond the now, to always be on the move, to feel free.

For Enneagram Type 7, Chris quoted Kahlil Gibran:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

We are all stories. What’s yours?

Here is an excerpt of the lyrics for Enneagram Type 7.

i feel hope
deep in my bones
tomorrow will be beautiful

and i’m ready, God i’m ready, oh i’m ready,
restless and hungry, but i’m ready
for whatever comes next.

As Chris Heuertz said in one of the podcasts, this work by Ryan O’Neal is indeed a wonderful modern contribution to the Enneagram work.