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This conversation is focused on a vastly underused faculty of perception commonly called the Inner Observer. It is actually a spiritual faculty with the potential of accelerating our direct participation in higher states of consciousness, also known as fruits of the spirit.
It seems only natural to observe the patterns of our mind and to hear the self-reports of people who see the world differently. Yet that simple turn of attention that self-reflection requires marks a giant leap in the evolution of consciousness.
The first turn lets us witness our personality structure. We can observe our thoughts as we are thinking and tell them to someone else. We can witness our emotions as they arise and describe them to others. Self-reflection is the bedrock of evolving consciousness. Self-reflection led you to your Enneagram type.
In the vocabulary of spiritual practice we can learn to recognize the patterns passing through our mind – thoughts, emotion, sensations –”objects of attention” that are structured according to type. Yet the “pure knowing” that notes those patterns as they arise makes prayer and meditation possible.
In the language of neuroscience self-reflection joins two different levels of consciousness. The conditioned level of patterns embedded in the neuropathways of our brain, and a reflective state of mind that activates when pre-frontal dominance recedes.
From an evolutionary standpoint we can voluntarily observe the automatic responses that drive our type in a predictable direction. We can learn to recognize and relax embedded cognitive “neuromarkers” such as doubt, flattery, deception and judgment – before they become utterly convincing. These capacities of mind demonstrate our voluntary role in the evolutionary arc of consciousness. For who but ourselves can relax the passions that drive us instead of letting them run?
Helen Palmer is an international bestselling author and a teacher of psychology and intuition. The subject of a PBS documentary Breaking Out of the Box
her books on the Enneagram topic are in 28 translations and form the basis of her work with Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. U.S. and foreign schedules are posted at www.Enneagram.com and www.EnneagramWorldwide.com.