Presence...Maybe

Thank you.  This is so good and is helping so much.  

So, in my last letter, I said, I had a hard time determining when I was crossing the line from healthy to unhealthy.  As fate or irony would have it, my ‘Ennea-Thought of the Day’ email was the following: “As an Eight, your wake-up call [the call to let you know you are crossing the line from health to emotional illness] is feeling that you must push and struggle to make things happen. Can you ‘hear' your Wake-up Call as it's happening today?”  Whoa!  Yep, the alarm is sounding loud and clear

You said in your last letter, the advice offered to sevens was to “learn to appreciate silence and solitude.”  So good.  I’ve learned sevens and eights have a lot in common.

So, like the seven, silence is very important for the eight, but possibly for different reasons.  So, maybe while the practice is the same, the focus for an eight is about stillness.  I am a very physical, and a pretty active person, so this isn’t always easy.  So finding the importance of simply being is my active way of turning against my obsession to accomplish.  This is all a reorientation of focus, from obsessing over the accomplishment or end result to being deeply present within the process.  It’s about embedding myself within a people, place, and process and enjoying it, rather than obsessing with the “what’s next.”

So, two of the words the Enneagram Institute suggests for the eight to build his/her practices and rhythms upon are the values of 'self-restraint' and 'yield'.  

Those are very similar ideas with different focuses.  Self-restraint for me would be about noticing when I am becoming obsessed about the vision ahead and restraining myself from getting lost in that; whereas 'yielding' would be about submitting to the flow of things rather than struggling against it (when the flow is not destructive).  This is about balancing out my natural bend.  There are many, others who would almost need to practice rhythms opposite of ours because their natural tendency may be toward complacency, acedia, or fear.

This is, I feel, the importance of the enneagram: it invites us, to be honest about our dark side and assigns us the responsibility and work of learning balance, through as you state, a “Rule for Life”.  

You said, “Most of my Rules are aimed at helping me learn to be satisfied and to be satisfied I have to slow down. This is where hobbies like knitting and calligraphy are helpful.” So for me, part of my rule for life is beginning each day with stillness - absent of accomplishing, reading, and working - just me, my coffee, and the settling of my mind on a single thought.  I then attempt to thread process-heavy practices into my week, like bread making, drawing, beer brewing, and writing.  I even plan an entire day made up of these practices, right in the middle of my week, as a way to disrupt the obsession.  

So, your 2017 word is “savor”, I. Love. It.  And makes complete sense in all we have been writing about.  I think the “word of the year”, is healthy for anyone to practice.  It carries with it the same idea as having stated values, right?  When we know our values, we make sure everything we do is both influenced by those values and at the same time strengthens those values.  Values guide us.  They tell us what to say “no” to, and when or to what we say “yes.”  So the same comes with having a word of the year. 

It sets a tone.  

It establishes boundaries.  

It gives guidance.  

I don’t have my word yet, and this is pretty true for eights, a common thing to say about eights is that we see eight sides to a seven sided object.  So, I’m looking for a word that encompasses the ideas of presence, present, process, and slow.  Maybe that word is ‘presence’.    I'm open for suggestions.  You know me. 

Anyway, the holidays are kicking into full gear, so I’m going to fall off the grid for a couple weeks.  I’d love to hear from you one more time, to hear if you have any other thoughts.  But until then, I’ll write around the first part of 2017.

Love you Jenn, and am thankful for you in my life!

Matthew