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Center for Action and Contemplation

Belly, Heart, and Head

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Enneagram: Week 1

Belly, Heart, and Head
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

For teaching purposes, the nine Enneagram types are arranged clockwise in a circle. They are clustered in three triads or groups of three: the belly center (sometimes called the gut or instinctual center), the heart center, and the head center. We need all three centers to be awake and integrated in order to do our inner work and to truly love ourselves, others, and God in a holistic, non-dual manner. Modern psychology confirms this truth.

Russ Hudson, among others, teaches the Enneagram in a way that is readily accessible by all three centers and touches us at a deep level. I’ll share his perspective frequently in these meditations. Hudson believes “there can be no real shift of the heart or mind if we’re not grounded in our body first.” [1] He says, “The belly center [types EIGHT, NINE, and ONE] is where we’re able to feel the immediacy of life and the realness of everything, right here and right now. The heart center [types TWO, THREE, and FOUR] is the seat of identity. It’s where we know ourselves. It’s where we’re able to feel the sense of meaning, value, and preciousness of our lives and of whomever we’re with. . . . [Types FIVE, SIX, and SEVEN belong to the head center.] The true nature of Mind is complete silence, stillness, and spaciousness . . . peace, clarity. The head center gives us the possibility of recognizing the eternal Presence that’s right here as phenomena.”[2]

Hudson explains that “when we lose Presence, we lose the connection with these capacities. . . . We feel torn from the bosom of the Divine.” This suffering results in issues with anger for the belly types, shame for the heart types, and fear for the head types. The result is that we’re disassociated and disconnected from our True Self. As Hudson says, this “fixated Enneagram type is what shows up when you don’t! It works pretty well—it just happens to not be you, in your deepest sense.” [3]

While we all operate out of all three centers, the center that includes our personality type (our Enneagram number) is our dominant center. If you are trying to find which number you are, you may notice that you especially resonate with two numbers that are right next to each other. One of them will be your core number and the other will be one of your wings. The wings help balance your personality type. It is important to develop both of your wings in order to “fly” and break your entrapment in your core number.

Gut people (types EIGHT, NINE, and ONE) are concerned with power and control.

Their center of gravity lies in the belly and they are intuitive and spontaneous. I’m a ONE, so this is my center. We gut people react instinctively and have an immediate like or dislike for everything. Our judgments are stored in our body. Reality comes at us like one shock wave after another. We take it on like a full body blow every three minutes. EIGHTs fight back, NINEs back off, and we ONEs try to fix, reform, and control reality.

Types TWO, THREE, and FOUR are in the heart center. They need affection and esteem. These so-called feeling people don’t have their own feelings; they have everybody else’s feelings! They experience themselves in reaction to the feelings or behaviors of others. They unceasingly develop activities to secure the devotion or attention of others. While heart people display their solicitude for others in a sometimes exaggerated manner, they repress their aggressions and hide behind the façade of kindness and activity. Outwardly they strike people as self-confident, happy, and harmonious; inwardly they often feel empty, incapable, sad, and ashamed.

Types FIVE, SIX, and SEVEN make up the head center. Their main concerns are security and survival. Their control tower is the mind. These types substitute thought for authentic contact with reality, for which they would also need educated feeling and deep, honest, holistic intuition. Their head energy tends to draw them away from others. In every situation, they first take a step backward to reflect and think things over before acting. They have a sense for order and duty. While their fear and anxiety is exaggerated, they hide their feelings, especially the tender ones, often behind a façade of objectivity and un-involvement. Outwardly they often seem clear, convinced, and clever; inwardly they often feel isolated, confused, and meaningless. As all contemplative teachers say, you cannot be present to what is solely through your head; but head people think they can, and that becomes a paralysis for them. Hudson adds, “The idea is not to get out of your head; I’d say we need to get in our right mind. We need the mind in the spiritual journey for discrimination and clarity and inner guidance and wisdom.” [4]

Indeed, we need each part—body, heart, and mind—fully engaged to live as our most authentic and loving selves.

Gateway to Silence:
Open me to Presence.

[1] Russ Hudson, The Enneagram and Grace: 9 Journeys to Divine Presence (CAC: 2012), disc 2 (CD, MP3 download).

[2] Russ Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey (CAC: 2009), disc 2 (CD, DVD, MP3 download).

[3] Ibid, disc 2.

[4] Ibid., disc 5.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001), 35, 37-39; and

The Enneagram: The Discernment of Spirits (CAC: 2004), discs 1 and 4 (CD, DVD, MP3 download).

Is the Enneagram new to you? Are you wondering, what is the Enneagram? How can the Enneagram help me? Which number on the Enneagram am I? Does the Enneagram work? This is just one post in a two-week series about the Enneagram. Click here for an introduction to the Enneagram and links to additional reflections and resources on the topic.

The Enneagram Diagram. CAC archives.
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