INSIGHTS: What Are Your True Gifts? It Could Be A Numbers Game
Christine Chen
July 7, 2021
Russ Hudson, Enneagram Specialist, standing above the water

Nine. That’s the magic number for the array of personality types that give you a clue about your deepest, authentic gifts. Each personality type indicates patterns of our own behavior based on our human psyche. The map of these numbers is called an Enneagram. 

“In recent years, Oscar Ichazo presented it as a map of nine distinct vectors or patterns of the human psyche,” said Russ Hudson, Enneagram Typologist and co-founder of the Enneagram Institute. “We have all nine of these patterns within us, but one of them is our primary way to cope with challenges and with our emotions. Our sense of self tends to constellate around one of these patterns more than the others.”

Do you lead with your mind, your heart, or your gut? The nine numbers fall into those categories, and when you know your number(s), the enneagram method gives you critical knowledge to help you explore your greatest potential. “When we understand the Enneagram in the right way, it is a treasure trove of wisdom about the workings of our inner thoughts, feelings, and drives.”

Hudson will guide a workshop at Esalen August 8-13, 2021: The Transformational Enneagram: Mindfulness, Insight, and Experience. He took a moment to give us more insight into the numbers, what they mean, and how to apply a new, clearer, and more effective way of contributing to the world.

Christine: Is the Enneagram a legitimate way to gauge someone’s potential contribution to change? 

Russ Hudson: The Enneagram certainly gives us some clues about what comes most easily to us. We are each carrying a particular lesson that everyone needs to learn. 

CC: How do we use the enneagram system to maximize an individual’s potential? 

RH: The Enneagram works best in conjunction with practices that support the cultivation of presence and awareness. Recognizing our central pattern, and “catching ourselves in the act,” provides an ongoing reminder in life to come back to our centered awareness. We turn our habitual patterns into alarm clocks to wake ourselves up.

Further, the Enneagram teaches us about our three main qualities of intelligence: cognitive, emotional, and instinctual. Each one of these elements helps us recognize and experience more and more clearly what it is like to live in presence, especially when we are involved in our busy lives. It also helps us customize practices that will be most helpful in “getting out of our box.”

Map of the nine Enneagram types
Map of the nine Enneagram Types

CC: If you are a “Thinking” type, how does that manifest? 

RH: The three Thinking Types (points 5, 6, and 7) teach us about the relationship between our deeper mind as lucid, crisp awareness and the usual clatter that goes on in our heads. Each of these points represents a particular characteristic of True Mind as well as some of the symptoms and problems that arise when we are no longer present with our mind.

CC: The “Emotion” type? 

RH: The three Feeling Types (points 2, 3, and 4) teach us about the relationship between our deeper heart as the source of compassion, personal meaning, real intimacy and the series of emotional reactions that usually dominate our feelings, or the ways our buttons get pushed. Each of these three points represents a particular characteristic of the Deeper Heart as well as some of the symptoms and problems that arise when we are no longer present with what we are feeling.

CC: The "Instinct” type? 

RH: The three Instinctual or Gut Types (points 8, 9, and 1) teach us about the relationship between embodied presence as lifeforce, groundedness, and intelligent response, and the various ways we become numb and cut off from our life energy and from real connection with the world. Each of these three points represents a particular characteristic of the Embodied Presence as well as some of the symptoms and problems that arise when we are no longer relaxed, and awake in our bodies.

CC: Is it possible to be more than one? How does that manifest?

RH: The general view in the Enneagram work is that we have elements of all nine points, but one is our “home base.” It functions both as our primary way of constructing an ego self, but also, when we become compassionately aware of that ego construction process, as our greatest gift. There are other important type qualities that are part of our personality described by the types connected with our main type by the inner lines of the Enneagram symbol. The human psyche is dynamic and the Enneagram model accounts for this, but also guides us back to awareness of the key patterns on which our ego hinges.

CC: With 9 actual types, how do we integrate this knowledge to connect with ourselves and others? 

RH: When we get a clearer picture of ourselves, it also helps us understand the motivations of others, and can be a powerful support in better dancing with the different motivations and needs of the people who are most important to us. 

CC: What’s your top recommendation when learning about and applying Enneagram theory? 

RH: By all means, take your time. It is a huge topic, and it impacts pretty much every part of our psychological, spiritual, and relational lives. Read some of the good books about it, but also make sure that you learn about it experientially. It is one thing to know the descriptions of the nine type patterns, and quite another to know how to use that knowledge for growth and development. 

I always invite my students to keep coming back to what aspects of the teachings most help them wake up. That is where we want to focus our attention.

Learn more about Russ Hudson and register for his workshop, The Transformational Enneagram: Mindfulness, Insight, and Experience, August 8-13, 2021.


Christine Chen

Christine Chen is the host of Esalen Live! and Senior Content Producer. Christine is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, a best-selling author, California native, and yoga teacher's teacher (ERYT500, ERYT300, YACEP) on Esalen Faculty.