One of the most important ways that humans differ is in their levels of physical, mental and emotional balance. Balanced people are peaceful inside, calm and centered most of the time. A balanced person is a healthy person, sound and whole. Unbalanced people are subject to emotional, physical, or mental habits that trap them and hide the truth. The subjective feeling of imbalance is sickness, unease, fear, or the presence of any other kind of suffering.
am I mentally balanced?
Do I see the world and myself clearly, with no neurotic warping of the truth? Have I swept away the perceptual veils created by untrue beliefs? Do I continuously rediscover the truth as what it is, without trying to make it into something else and without judging it based on memories or expectations? Is my mind a penetrating, effortless tool of understanding? Do I use the mind as a sense organ, to directly perceive the beauty of creation?
am I emotionally balanced?
Do I experience my emotions as they happen, without resisting or enhancing them in any way? Do I strive for any particular emotional experience? Do I cling to emotions, trying to prolong them beyond their natural expression? Do I try to avoid or deny emotions? Do I require other people to support me emotionally? Do I support others to reinforce my own self-worth? Do I move through my emotions naturally and gracefully? Do I taste the divine nectar of unattached love?
am I physically balanced?
Do I store tension in the body? Do I move constantly, twitching or tapping? Can I sit quietly, for long periods of time, with stillness and total relaxation? Do I have any kind of chronic pain or illness? Do I make constant adjustments in my life in order to accommodate my body’s special needs? Does my body function naturally and effortlessly? Do I inhabit it joyfully, delighting in the pleasure of physical experience?
All three kinds of health can be injured or brought to higher levels. A change in one always affects the other two. Does perfect balance lead to spiritual enlightenment?
The spectrum of health
Within each type there is a complete spectrum of health, from twisted psychotics at the bottom to self-realized saints and true-born avatars at the top. One of the most important aspects of the spectrum of health is the way that each type becomes its own opposite as it moves from healthy to unhealthy (or vice-versa).
We can begin to explore the effects of health on personality by creating lists of descriptive adjectives, dividing each type approximately into healthy, average, and unhealthy states. What is someone like who is a healthy nine? How can we describe an average seven or an unhealthy three?
This is still an extremely crude representation. Few people will ever match all the descriptive words or phrases in any one category, and all such descriptions can only be applied in the moment. Level of balance is not a constant thing, it can go up or down. All of these words can also be applied to people of other types at various times.
As the enneagram sinks in, come back and look at this list again. What additional words could be added to each line? Are all the words exactly appropriate?
Don Riso’s extensive lists of descriptive adjectives provided an important source for the lists shown here.
Healthy 1: Wise, tolerant, principled, joyful.
Average 1: Orderly, precise, righteous, dry.
Unhealthy 1: Perfectionistic, rigid, intolerant, obsessive-compulsive.
Healthy 2: Generous, loving, caring, empathetic.
Average 2: Demonstrative, self-sacrificial, intrusive, possessive.
Unhealthy 2: Manipulative, histrionic, selfish, violently hysterical.
Healthy 3: Genuine, accomplished, self-assured, adaptable.
Average 3: Ambitious, goal-directed, competitive, pragmatic.
Unhealthy 3: Opportunistic, narcissistic, fraudulent, violently criminal.
Healthy 4: Creative, self-aware, compassionate, intuitive.
Average 4: Romantic, sensitive, introverted, moody.
Unhealthy 4: Depressive, despairing, self-loathing, suicidal.
Healthy 5: Visionary, perceptive, insightful, innovative.
Average 5: Analytic, detached, hyper-rational, reductionistic.
Unhealthy 5: Eccentric, scattered, paranoid, psychotically isolated.
Healthy 6: Courageous, faithful, committed, reliable.
Average 6: Traditional, cautious, ambivalent, dependent.
Unhealthy 6: Insecure, anxious, masochistic, compulsively self-destructive.
Healthy 7: Ecstatic, appreciative, multitalented, enthusiastic.
Average 7: Impulsive, excitable, materialistic, excessive.
Unhealthy 7: Demanding, manic, impatient, utterly dissipated.
Healthy 8: Masterful, magnanimous, confident, benevolent.
Average 8: Aggressive, forceful, defiant, unrefined.
Unhealthy 8: Tyrannical, combative, sadistic, violently destructive.
Healthy 9: Self-creating, unselfconscious, innocent, serene.
Average 9: Passive, self-effacing, sleepy, forgetful.
Unhealthy 9: Resigned, neglectful, withdrawn, catatonic.
Next in Enneagram 101: integration and disintegration
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