Article - Beginner

Mindfulness Practices for your Enneagram Type

By Casper Oelofsen | 24 January 2018 |
article mindfulness for ennea types

Mindfulness is a key development strategy for individuals and leaders in their quest to cope, thrive and compete in a fast-paced, agile world – and yet mindfulness practices, such as meditation, may not come easily to some of us! Casper Oelofsen offers specific strategies to overcome the hurdles experienced when practicing mindfulness techniques, for each Enneagram type.

The very important question raised is: Do you want to focus better on that spreadsheet, in those important meetings or to be more present with the people in your life? Easy! We have heard that meditation is the key to finding an inner focus and calmness which permeates through us into our environment and interactions with others… But if sitting down and focusing on your breath is all it takes to gain this focussed attention and live life more in the moment, then why aren’t more of us doing it?

1 Experience the bliss of letting go
2 Spending time/energy with Self
3 Realising the benefits of Being
4 Feeling grounded
5 Realising the wisdom of/in a direct experience
6 Experiencing the safety in Feeling/Being
7 Realising the excitement/joy/opportunity in the ordinary
8 Experiencing the strength of not being in control
9 Getting in touch with the harmony within

Based on his own experience and research from over 10 years of mindfulness based interventions in the Corporate World, Casper has found that by understanding what is blocking you from ‘finding your backside in the meditation seat’, allowing you to accept this barrier rather than push against it, takes you to a realisation of ‘I can do this’. In his programmes on Mindful Leadership, Casper uses a combination of the Enneagram and Mindfulness based applications with great success and he has witnessed and measured significant positive changes in the EQ levels of participants.

Casper describes mindfulness as “experiencing the exquisite vividness of this moment, non-judgementally”. What most of us do, however, is unconsciously avoid being present as we’re making sense of the past and planning for the future. Could it be that life feels like it is racing past us because we are not paying attention? Meditation is for the brain what the push-up exercise is for the body. It is the ‘Mother Tool’ of awareness to allow for the ability to pause and reflect. It helps you to ‘anchor’ into the now.

Claudio Naranjo’s reflections on meditation:

  • Safe way of experiencing no-body or no-thing
  • Relinquish personality / our Type
  • 1st step of experiencing who we really are
  • Psychotherapy is a meeting point between 2 people with transparency
  • Meditation is also a meeting point between 2 people: the real self and the idealised self
  • Enneagram assist us in meeting the other without losing the self or seeing the self in the other

However, it’s not a one size fits all for all Types…
Describing the Enneagram as a self-awareness experience and coupling this with mindfulness practices, Casper brings the art of meditation into the grasp of every Enneagram Type.

“When an individual has an increased ability to respond (rather than react) it becomes much easier to apply the Enneagram wisdom, for example, the lines of integration are easier to access. The wisdom of the Enneagram only gets unlocked when we can “catch” ourselves (re) acting out our auto-pilot Enneagram type behaviours. Only after we have caught ourselves do we have the ability to have the choice to access other Enneagram lenses and respond accordingly”.

-Casper Oelofsen

Discovering the hurdles, remedy and allies of each Enneagram Type brings an awareness of where you or your clients may be getting stuck and what strengths you are equipped with to really submerge yourself in mindfulness practice.

The Hurdles, Remedies and Allies for Each Type.

Enneagram Type 1: One of the remedies is to normalise and welcome critical thoughts….

Hurdles Remedy (towards the imperfect) Allies
Is this right? Values… Religion… Create space for questions and discuss secular aspects Perseverance Hardworking
Impatience: “Am I doing this right?” Reminders: There is no right or wrong breath/way Clarity of focus and attention already developed
Over identifying with what's wrong and therefore miss the present Normalise and welcome impatience and critical thoughts Idealistic concern for people and causes beyond them
Striving for perfection (which does not exist) Discuss ‘Perfect’ vs ‘Good enough’
Prepare/Warn re the possibility of feeling anger
Idealistic concern for people and causes beyond them
Fear of experiencing hidden anger Breathe in: My next breath as it is. Breathe out: My need for the right breath. Self development is good for the world

Enneagram Type 2: Relationships are key for the Ennea 2, and mindfulness is in relationship to the self….

Hurdles Remedy (towards self love) Allies
Guilt for spending time on myself Allow permission to spend time with the self Natural attraction to Love and Kindness
Service comes first: I need to teach / help others to do this? Invite them to assist themselves: How can I help myself to do this? Generosity with care/ time / energy
Sitting for others Explain how this serves others: Sitting for me…..and therefore to the benefit of others Meditation is a relationship to the self and others. Relationships are what life is about
Difficult to sit with own feelings that arise Experience feelings as feelings of the collective Already gentle and kind hearted
Already very good listeners
Anxiety when alone and becoming aware of a deep unmet need of love Breathe in: My own breath. Breathe out: My own breath Sense of worth comes from the self

Enneagram Type 3: Welcome (rather than compete against) old habits and explore new ones.

Hurdles Remedy (towards the journey) Allies
Linear thinking prevents meditation benefits Explain outcomes / benefits of “being” They get things started……bum to the seat
The goal is NOT to have a goal Explain the limitations of goals (driving in the fog) Enough energy to accomplish something new
Doing is the only form of progress Define process as a result Very adaptable
“Getting it slowly”……is not productive Give regular reminders of patience. Again and again (with patience) Optimistic and enthusiastic
How can I just be…me… sitting and breathing? (losing the successful self image) Welcome (not compete against) old habits and explore new ones
Breathe in: The automatic breath (I don’t have to do anything). Breathe out: Doing
They are loyal to the self. If meditation is what my self needs, I will do it…..
In the Corporate aspect the Enneagram 3 brought the most challenges in getting to realise that mindfulness is not a linear movement or direct experience to increase performance. Feedback from the 3s was that by not being so focussed on the end goal, they could ‘see’ more.

Enneagram Type 4: A hurdle is that ‘I am my feelings and they change all the time, who am I then?

Casper finds it extremely helpful as a remedy to give ‘The Guest House’ poem by Rumi to Fours.
Hurdles Remedy (towards stepping back) Allies
I am my feelings. (Who am I then?) I am Casper, and currently I am experiencing…. Their creativity welcomes something new
Difficult to observe (and not feel) feelings. Rumi - Guest House poem Focused on the self
Continuous self referencing. Difficult to step back…. Regular guided meditations, with lightness in intervals. Dyads allow for referencing of others Already intuitive and connected to own and collective unconscious
A need to always “fall into” deep process. Feeling misunderstood when others can’t go that deep. Experience the ordinariness and yet beauty of the breath Attuned to feelings and moods
Seeking happiness through pain (enjoying the suffering in meditation) Ask them how “observing” their feelings can also enable self development instead of “feeling” the feelings?
Breathe in: Beauty of the breath. Breathe out: My feelings
Well developed emotional resonance
Fulfilled when in the present

Enneagram Type 5: Observation in mindfulness is not from a distance, you are the experiment. Jump in and analyse afterwards.

Hurdles Remedy (towards direct experience) Allies
I don’t need this. I am the king of observation already. Observation in mindfulness is NOT from a distance Attracted to possible wisdom
I have always been mindful (observing). YOU are the experiment. Jump in and analyse afterwards Seekers of truth
I will try this out (experiment first). No participation though… Information/Wisdom is hidden in the direct experience of mindfulness Very perceptive. Natural ability to objectively observe
I need more information / intellectual security Mindfulness replenishes on so many levels. However, to charge your batteries you have to be plugged in. Fair and non judgmental witnesses
Confuse disengagement with objectivity Breathe in: Energy.
Breathe out: Isolation
Ability to focus on the essence
Deep appreciation for solitude
Independence is their game

Enneagram Type 6: “If you are not confused, you don’t know what’s going on.”

Hurdles Remedy (towards uncertainty) Allies
Am I safe? Who is in the group and who leads it? Container building is extra important. Group information and leader resume are crucial, beforehand (make use of emails / course material) Committed to commitments. Loyal to Sit & Repeat
Will I be exposed (what is expected from me)? Share the planned process / agenda / flow beforehand (no surprises) Already trust their own inner world
Lack of certainty. How do I know this will work for me? Get them to trust that even if this does not work, they will be ok. Respect for ritual (law and order)
Constant need for more information (more certainty) If you are not confused you don’t know what is going on…. Cautious and realistic. Start slow….
Very busy mind / racing thoughts Normalise busy mind / racing thoughts
Breathe in: Trusting the in breath.
Breathe out: Fear of no next breath
Deep need to be in present

Enneagram Type 7: This will remain new. Every sitting is different, feelings don’t have rank, all feelings are good.

Hurdles Remedy (towards boredom (feelings)) Allies
False starts. This is so exciting (because it’s new), let's start! This will remain new. Every sitting is different Keen for new opportunities / gifts
Now that we have meditated, what is next? Not willing to do the hard yards. Feelings don’t have rank. All feelings are good Ample creativity
Ouch… Feelings other than joy just surfaced - I am out! Boredom is a sign of something new…stay with it Visionary. Easy buy into benefits
Advocates of growth
Only trust excitement. Boredom…is this it?...Let’s move on Help them focus….back to the breath…..back to the current opportunity Childlike responsiveness to the NOW
Wow, there are so many opportunities with this. Jump to the next.
They get swamped by their stories and miss the realness of meditation
Breathe in: The new breath. Breathe out: Releasing the old breath Already intuitive

Enneagram Type 8:They can cut through the noise and get to the real thing

Hurdles Remedy (vulnerability is strength) Allies
I can do this, my way though. Make sure they know this is NOT easy. Prepare them for pain and vulnerability beforehand Already self confident. I can do this
Let's get on with this and don’t waste time The body breathes itself, even without our control Healthy self image. I can face me
Frustration of no control. We are not getting anywhere Redefine vulnerability as a strength Comfortable with directness / honesty
Huge discomfort with arising vulnerability Normalise (and welcome) pain and discomfort They can cut through the noise and get to the real thing (the breath)
Physical discomfort and pain with sitting No pain, no gain
Breathe in: Strength.
Breathe out: Control
Energised by challenges
Natural enthusiasm

Enneagram Type 9 Easy to sit, but slow/distracted to get there

Hurdles Remedy (just do it) Allies
If I can only get to the sitting… slow to sit Create Routine & Ritual (Rinse & Repeat) Value peace and tranquillity
Distraction in and around sittings Get your left brain in charge to get your bum on the seat Intuitive sense for harmony… when things fit together
Once they sit… peaceful… too easy, ”fall asleep” Emphasize/Start with intention of sitting Ability to let things unfold in their own way (let the body breathe itself)
Unreflective and diffuse activity for yourself Get a sitting buddy… peer pressure Open listeners with limited judgements (essence of meditation)
Need to run from possible inner disharmony Normalise and welcome disharmony
Breathe in: Breathing action of the body.
Breathe out: Numbness
Down to earth and no need to impress

More about the presenter

Casper Oelofsen

holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economic Science (University of Stellenbosch). He is completing his post graduate course in Mindfulness based applications (Faculty of Medicine at the University of Stellenbosch). He completed the Coaching to Excellence course at UCT Graduate School of Business, a course in Process Work facilitation for Transformational Leaders (University of Portland in association with USB) Casper is one of the founding members of Mindful Leadership.

Casper is a registered member of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa), a member of the Neuroleadership Institute based in Sydney Australia, a member of the Institute for Mindfulness in South Africa (IMISA) and a member of The International Regulator of Coaching (ICRM).

To get in touch, please visit the website at contact Casper directly at

This article is based on a presentation from the South African Enneagram Conference 2014, on “The relationship between Enneagram Types and Mindfulness based practices” by Casper Oelofsen. The original presentation review was written by Cherise Nortje in collaboration with Casper Oelofsen.
Casper Oelofsen Enneagram Practitioner