Category Archives: Thinking Center

Type 6: Suspicious Minds

number_6This video clip on Type 6 from understandingpersonality.com suggests that life, for 6s, is akin to being trapped in an endless Halloween scene–or a scary fairy tale with no happy ending in sight.

It’s hard to feel safe when the witches and goblins are always after you. The deer-in-the-headlights expression on this 6‘s face below says it all.

The comments definitely have a theme. Here are three statements from three different participants:

…a constant checking for what’s going on
…you’re always watching your back
…it’s all about staying safe

Maybe 6s should come equipped with eyes in the backs of their heads.

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Type 5: Sponging Everything Up

fiveHere’s the clip on Type 5 from understandingpersonality.com. I think it’s fascinating that two of the people interviewed referred to having a “black hole” inside. The waiter I tentatively identified as a 5 last fall also made a reference to black holes.

There’s this black hole inside, and if you know enough you’re safe.

Could this be coincidental or might it be a commonality among 5s?

In Your Head?

Thinking types are often accused of being in their heads. But advising them to get out of their heads is about as useful as advising Doing types to get out of their bodies. So a technique that include observation can be a good place for Thinking types to begin mindfulness practice.

Vipassana is a form of meditation that focuses on self-observation. The video below is a meditation on the thinking process.

Sherlock Holmes and Mindfulness Training

Sherlock Holmes appears to have become the poster child for mindfulness of late. Maria Konnikova has written a book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle’s Holmes had taught himself to observe on a regular, almost superhuman basis. For him, taking note of the myriad inputs from his surroundings was a matter of course. He was never not observing, never not in touch with his environment. He had mindfulness down to an art. Most of us aren’t as careful.

–“Don’t Just See, Observe: What Sherlock Holmes Can Teach Us About Mindful Decisions,” Maria Konnikova, Scientific American

As a model of mindfulness, Holmes might be especially appealing to Thinking types.

Meditation: Move, Sit, Chant

Breathe

Breathe (Photo credit: PhotoLab XL)

Unless we have the capacity to be still and listen, we can’t tune in to our own inner guidance, in which case we’re more or less doomed to remain stuck in the vicious cycle of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Acting out the same compulsions. Repeating the same stories about ourselves over and over again.

Meditating is a great way to learn to be still and to develop self-observation skills.

Meditation expands the space between each thing you notice and each action you take.

Ram Dass

There are many different ways to meditate. The best way to begin is by finding a method that isn’t overly difficult. Expecting to be able to sit or kneel in meditation and immediately clear your mind is unrealistic—and it isn’t even the point of meditation. You can’t stop the stream of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that come and go. But you can learn to observe how they arise and fall away. You can stop getting hooked by them. Or, as Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Meditation Sticker

Meditation Sticker (Photo credit: Sanne Schijn)

One approach to finding a way to meditate that works for you is to look to the Center of Intelligence that is your Home center: Doing, Thinking, or Feeling.

Doing center types may find one of these active practices more appealing:

  • Aikido
  • T’ai chi
  • Walking
  • Kung Fu
  • Hatha Yoga

Thinking center types may prefer some type of insight meditation:

  • Vipassana
  • Mindfulness
  • Visualization
  • Contemplation
  • One-pointedness of mind

Feeling center types may appreciate a practice that includes an emotional aspect:

  • Sufi dancing
  • Singing
  • Chanting
  • Prayer

This is just meant to suggest a starting point. In addition to helping develop self-observation skills, meditation has many health benefits, so no matter how you go about it, meditating is a good habit to cultivate.

Something for Everyone

Here are two meditation practices anyone can do:

  • Choose a mantra (a word or phrase that has meaning for you) and repeat it over and over while you are working driving, talking, etc. Say it out loud if you like—and are alone—or repeat it silently.
  • Focus on following your breath in and out, in and out. If you lose track, just refocus on your breathing.

You can do either of these practices no matter where you are. They can help you stay grounded, centered, and present instead of carried away by whatever is going on in the moment.

Meditation…A Thoughtless Act

And here is a tongue-in-cheek piece from the October 1999 issue of Enneagram Monthly on tips to improve each type’s meditation. The author is anonymous.

  1. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take a better breath than that.
  2. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Help your neighbor take a breath.
  3. Close your eyes. Straighten your hair. Adjust your collar. Smooth the creases in your dress.
  4. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a sigh.
  5. Close your eyes. Go inside. Stay inside.
  6. Close your eyes. It’s OK; close your eyes. Close both eyes.
  7. Close your eyes. Go inside. Imagine you are at the beach. Now in the mountains. Now in the desert. Now at a party.
  8. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a goddamn breath!
  9. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take your neighbor’s breath.

It’s best to approach meditation lightly, rather than with dogged determination.

Anxiety Redux: Zebras & Roller Coasters

American biologist and author Robert Sapolsky.

American biologist and author Robert Sapolsky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since writing my post on The Limits of Anxiety last week, I had an opportunity to watch the 2008 National Geographic documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer (on my computer, thanks to Open Culture). The program features Stanford biologist Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.

Sure, just about everyone knows that being in a continually heightened state of anxiety can lead to physical stress symptoms, some of which can be quite severe. But this is another case when knowing something—as in having good information that we believe to be accurate—and being able to do something about it is much easier said than done.

Knowing (Thinking center) is only the first step. The next step is accepting on an emotional level that what we know matters to us personally (Feeling center). The third step is taking action (Doing center).

Although the three Thinking types may be more prone to experiencing anxiety because of the nature of their personalities or temperament, anyone can be afflicted with chronic or prolonged anxiety. Given the problems we face on a personal, local, and even global level, maybe the surprise is that everyone isn’t totally paralyzed by anxiety. So kudos if you’re not!

However, anxiety and stress are insidious, and I think we all live with unrelieved stress to one degree or another. Chalk some of that up to the fact that—unlike zebras—we can imagine things that don’t yet exist. We can—and do—anticipate the future, envisioning many different potential scenarios and outcomes. Those are great abilities to have in terms of being creative or in brainstorming or in planning ahead. But they also make us vulnerable to conjuring up negative possibilities and then convincing ourselves those things are likely to happen.

Anxiety can become a way of life that ultimately makes it more difficult for us to think clearly or react appropriately to the circumstances or events in our lives. So we need to be able to recognize when we get on the anxiety roller coaster and find a way to interrupt the ride. Actually a ride on a real roller coaster might be the perfect interruption.

In the meantime, please watch the video.

You might also like How to Avoid Stress.

The Limits of Anxiety

Sure, everyone feels anxious at one time or another. There are situations and people and behaviors we’re quite right to feel uneasy or apprehensive about for all kinds of reasons. But the three Thinking center types know and live with anxiety on a different, more fundamental, level since anxiety (fear without a focal point) is their primary issue. Types 5, 6, and 7 each have a different focus for their anxiety (they fear different things) and deal with it differently, but all of them live with it to one extent or another.

Fear is a reaction to a perceived threat. It signals us that we’re in danger so we can react to the threat and save ourselves. If we succeed in saving ourselves, we’re no longer afraid because the threat is over. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a chronic state of worry. There’s no specific action we can take to resolve it because there’s no clearly identifiable threat. It’s kind of an anti-survival mechanism because over the long haul it can have deadly consequences. Continue reading

Songs for the Road: Thinking Center

My previous two posts summarized the three Doing center types and the three Feeling center types and suggested traveling songs for each of those six types. To complete the road song set, let’s review the three Thinking center types. People who rely primarily on this center don’t necessarily have higher IQs than those who rely on the other centers. They just trust their mental faculties—their ability to reason—more than they trust their feelings or their gut instincts.

This humorous (or not) excerpt from The Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel shows the difference between emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence:

A frustrated wife looked at her confused husband and said, “You never understand what I am talking about. All you know is what you have learned in books. You couldn’t read my face if your life depended on it!” To this challenge, the man responded, “I can tell from what you say that you’re probably not happy with me. But, you know, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who are too needy, and those who aren’t.”

The Thinking center—also referred to as the Head, Intellectual, or Mental center—consists of Types 5, 7, and 6. This center is concerned with personal power, self-definition, logic, rationality, planning, intelligence, and will. Continue reading