Enneagram and Chinese medicine in the light of neuroscience.

I first encountered the two great strands of knowledge that lie at the core of EnneaMediCina between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s. Curiosity, propelled by an existential unease that was searching for answers, took me down a train of thought that has met increasingly with validation in the fields of neuroscience and psychosomatics.

The languages of the Enneagram system and Chinese medicine are quite different — how could they not be? One comes from the Western tradition and the other is based on an ancient Chinese medical-philosophical culture. ‘But if the Whole has a common matrix’, I kept saying to myself, ‘Then it is just a question of finding the common thread’. This conviction – together with years of study, reflection and finding links between the various components – resulted in EnneaMediCina: a universal message that resides in the body, soul and spirit of humankind.

I asked myself why some people’s reaction to a given event can lead to years of physical and psychological distress while others exposed to the same stimuli suffer no consequences. In psychology, differing reactions have long been explained as the result of the interaction between specific genotypes and phenotypes. In Chinese medicine, a human is also considered a combination of ‘something’ that – although not defined as genetic – includes a couple’s energy at the moment they conceive a new being. Other factors are the movements and energy of the stars, and the circumstances that brought the couple together at that moment – does their union take place in time of peace or war; is it an act of love or an act of aggression?

This initial substratum breathes life into what we call ‘personality’.

Both epigenetics and PNE have proved for some time that childhood experiences form the beliefs, thoughts and feelings that map out a life trajectory. If children are given a loving and protective environment that nurtures their growing personalities, they will be able to face difficulties with optimism and confidence. As proven scientifically by PNE, this kind of environment stimulates hormones that promote well-being rather than stress and discomfort; it is the quality of our thoughts, and belief in our own potential, that helps us to stay healthy. According to PNE, emotions are biochemical; they transform into cascades of molecular messages, and these messages reach the various parts of the body, including the immune system. In fact, in the most recent experiments, the brain can be considered a container full of hormones, and the psyche the regulator of neurotransmitters that establish a continuous dialogue between the nervous system, endocrine system and immune system.

Recent studies have found that suppressed emotions expand in the body, affecting its various systems. This had already been established thousands of years ago in Chinese medicine in which – along with a balanced diet, correct breathing, and a functioning system of defence against external and internal pathogens – the harmonious flow of the ‘five emotions and seven feelings’ is essential for good health.

When an imbalance occurs, the organ and the viscera connected to the element (the structure most characterising of the particular Enneagram type) will be first to signal the disharmony and suffer a disorder. If the problem finds no solution, the entire psychophysical structure will eventually be affected.

It is now clear even to Western medicine that unity of mind and body underlies the treating and curing of illness and that harmonising the five emotions and seven feelings are intimately connected to what PNE calls ‘the healing of psychological scars linked to constricting beliefs and states of mind’.

Contrary to previously held belief, epigenetics does not consider the genetic make-up of an organism to be a permanent obstacle to change. We can decide to modify our trajectory by activating what is now known as ‘neuroplasticity’ – in other words, the brain’s capacity to change beliefs that hold us back and limit our worlds. It seems to be ever more a statement of fact that DNA can be influenced and reprogrammed through words and energy waves – a concept embraced by Eastern therapies right from the start! EnneaMediCina calls it ‘following the direction of arrows that go against the flow’ – that is, activating atypical response strategies and utilising the resources of other Enneagrams in order to ‘close the circle’ of one’s own unification.

Chinese medicine and modern science are in agreement about the role of emotions in building a bridge between the conscious mind and the body. Temperament and personality, residing in various facets symbolised by the nine basic types of Enneagram, are united under EnneaMediCina with the fundamental laws of Chinese medicine to broaden the vision of humankind on a quest for global and conscious well-being.

Which of the Enneagrams characterises me best? What are the mental and physical problems that characterise that Enneagram? Which psycho-spiritual dynamics form its matrix?

A reader of this book, who begins with these fundamental questions and identifies their predominant type, will be able to verify both the physical problems that attach to it and the psycho-spiritual dynamics therein. Only by breaking bonds with our unconscious dynamics can we be free of burden.

Taking as an example Enneagram type 9, which is characterised by ‘decision-making ability, self-realisation and passage to other levels of consciousness’, we will see that in a non-evolved stage the emotion that characterises type 9 is ‘unrecognised and unexpressed anger’. Type 9 belongs to the Instinctive Triad, to the reptilian brain – which means it relates to survival, reproduction and the control of territory. If the anger problems remain unresolved, type 9 may exhibit signs of physical and mental imbalance, as follows.

Body: digestive problems, weak tendons and joints, testicular and prostate disorders, inflammation of female genitals, irregularities of the menstrual cycle, tremors, spasms, tics, blockage of the diaphragm and pelvis, paresthesia, problems with eyesight, arthritis, obesity, psoriasis…

Psyche: excessive dreaming, ravings, exaltations, emotion and energy swings, depression, instability, the urge to cry, shyness.

To escape the dynamics of these problems using EnneaMediCina, the reader may decide to follow a path leading to awareness of their ‘other’ potential (that is, neuroplasticity, as previously mentioned), eliciting models of response to the internal–external forces according to the laws that link them to other Enneagram types.

To activate the new path, type 9 can turn to type 3, whose dynamics tend towards the future and success. This will help a type 9 leave behind the ‘passivity’ of the comfort zone that blocks action.

From this first step, all the others will follow. In the words of one of my Masters, ‘This practice can change your destiny…’

Published in the Bulletin of Information A.I.E. n. 3/2015