Senses Wide Open
A Body-Based Approach to Self-Investigation
Johanna Putnoi

Senses Wide Open
A Body-Based Approach to Self-Investigation
Johanna Putnoi
This painting by Fra Angelico (1432-35) entitled The Day of Judgment, 
illustrates the universal nature of the Enneagram work. The souls who are condemned to hell, live in bodies distorted by the torturous or fixated states so well described by the Enneagram, while those invited into heaven live in bodies alive with love, serenity, humility, equanimity, generosity, courage, sobriety and truth. This point of view is found in many of the wisdom traditions and is not unique to Christianity.

In Claudio Naranjo's book, The Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World, he describes how each enneagram fixation is in truth unconsciously governed by a love disturbance that causes each type to practice its own version of a false love appearing to them to be real. This false love is driven by a sense of deficiency whereas real love is born of abundance. 

In other words: A person doesn’t have to die in order to go to heaven or hell. Life on earth is hell when we are in the grip of our Enneagram fixation - like heaven when we are resting in the arms of love. 


The study of human nature may be thought of as an art with
many tools at its disposal, an art closely related to all the 
other arts, and relevant to them all. In literature and poetry, 
particularly, this is especially significant. Its primary aim must 
be to broaden our knowledge of human beings, that is to say, it must enable us all to become better, fuller, and finer people. 
                                                                                -Alfred Adler

The ancient Enneagram is a profound and elegant approach to communication, character and culture. Based on ancient sources - versions of the Enneagram appear in Homer, HaKaballah, Chaucer, Dante, and in modern times, the Gurdjieff Work - the Enneagram describes nine different personality types or worldviews: the ways that people and groups think, act, feel, and most especially, relate to one another.

Each of the nine has both a high side and a low side. On the low side, each is dominated by a fixation - an unconscious habit of mind that blocks higher awareness, and a passion - an unconscious habit of emotional/physical expression that drives inhibition and compulsion. Accordingly, each type manifests a distinct mental style, body language and aesthetic sensibility, with attention rigidly over-focused in some areas and avoidant in others. Together they work to shape personality traits and defenses and have a powerful effect on primary instinct, body posture, emotional climate, energetic expression, and intercommunication style. 

When we use Somatics in conjunction with the Enneagram, specific patterns of physical and emotional holding and expression actually become visible by type. This provides a way to directly disengage from our fixated habits of body, heart and mind and thereby experience ourselves and the world around us with more receptivity, balance and clarity. It is in this 3D state of center that we are most likely to find our way to the high side of our type.

With study and practice, we can learn how to use this sophisticated system of embodied self-discovery. The enneagram work combined with the somatic approach helps to loosen the grip of ego, providing a trusty guide to more honest communication driven by empathy, compassion and love. 

The Enneagram Is As Old as History