Mindfulness Practices for your Enneagram Type

By Casper Oelofsen

Mindfulness is a key development strategy for individuals and leaders in their quest to cope, thrive and compete in a fast-paced, agile world – and yet mindfulness practices, such as meditation, may not come easily to some of us! Casper Oelofsen offers specific strategies to overcome the hurdles experienced when practicing mindfulness techniques, for each Enneagram type.

The very important question raised is: Do you want to focus better on that spreadsheet, in those important meetings or to be more present with the people in your life? Easy! We have heard that meditation is the key to finding an inner focus and calmness which permeates through us into our environment and interactions with others… But if sitting down and focusing on your breath is all it takes to gain this focussed attention and live life more in the moment, then why aren’t more of us doing it?

No matter what your Enneagram type, there are powerful benefits, such as…

  • Type 1 = Experience the bliss of letting go
  • Type 2 = Spending time/energy with Self
  • Type 3 = Realising the benefits of Being
  • Type 4 = Feeling grounded
  • Type 5 = Realising the wisdom of/in a direct experience
  • Type 6 = Experiencing the safety in Feeling/Being
  • Type 7 = Realising the excitement/joy/opportunity in the ordinary
  • Type 8 = Experiencing the strength of not being in control
  • Type 9 = Getting in touch with the harmony within

Based on his own experience and research from over 10 years of mindfulness based interventions in the Corporate World, Casper has found that by understanding what is blocking you from ‘finding your backside in the meditation seat’, allowing you to accept this barrier rather than push against it, takes you to a realisation of ‘I can do this’. In his programmes on Mindful Leadership, Casper uses a combination of the Enneagram and Mindfulness based applications with great success and he has witnessed and measured significant positive changes in the EQ levels of participants.

Casper describes mindfulness as “experiencing the exquisite vividness of this moment, non-judgementally”. What most of us do, however, is unconsciously avoid being present as we’re making sense of the past and planning for the future. Could it be that life feels like it is racing past us because we are not paying attention? Meditation is for the brain what the push-up exercise is for the body. It is the ‘Mother Tool’ of awareness to allow for the ability to pause and reflect. It helps you to ‘anchor’ into the now.

Claudio Naranjo’s reflections on meditation:

Safe way of experiencing no-body or no-thing

Relinquish personality / our type

1st step of experiencing who we really are

Psychotherapy is a meeting point between 2 people with transparency

Meditation is also a meeting point between 2 people:  the real self and the idealised self

Enneagram assist us in meeting the other without losing the self or seeing the self in the other

However, it’s not a one size fits all for all types…

Describing the Enneagram as a self-awareness experience and coupling this with mindfulness practices, Casper brings the art of meditation into the grasp of every Enneagram Type.

“When an individual has an increased ability to respond (rather than react) it becomes much easier to apply the Enneagram wisdom, for example, the lines of integration are easier to access. The wisdom of the Enneagram only gets unlocked when we can “catch” ourselves (re) acting out our auto-pilot Enneagram type behaviours.  Only after we have caught ourselves do we have the ability to have the choice to access other Enneagram lenses and respond accordingly”. 

– Casper Oelofsen

Discovering the hurdles, remedy and allies of each Enneagram Type brings an awareness of where you or your clients may be getting stuck and what strengths you are equipped with to really submerge yourself in mindfulness practice.

The table below highlights the hurdles, remedies and allies for each type.

Enneagram Type 1

One of the remedies is to normalise and welcome critical thoughts….


Remedy (towards the imperfect)


Is this right?  Values… Religion…

Impatience: “Am I doing this right?” 

Over identifying with what's wrong and therefore miss the present

Striving for perfection (which does not exist)

Fear of experiencing hidden anger

Create space for questions and discuss secular aspects

Reminders:  There is no right or wrong breath/way

Normalise and welcome impatience and critical thoughts

Discuss ‘Perfect’ vs ‘Good enough’

Prepare/Warn re the possibility of feeling anger

Breathe in: My next breath as it is.  Breathe out: My need for the right breath.



Clarity of focus and attention already developed

Idealistic concern for people and causes beyond them

Self development is good for the world

Enneagram Type 2:

Relationships are key for the Ennea 2, and mindfulness is in relationship to the self….


Remedy (towards self love)


Guilt for spending time on myself

Service comes first:  I need to teach / help others to do this?

Sitting for others

Difficult to sit with own feelings that arise

Anxiety when alone and becoming aware of a deep unmet need of love

Allow permission to spend time with the self

Invite them to assist themselves:  How can I help myself to do this?

Explain how this serves others: Sitting for me…..and therefore to the benefit of others

Experience feelings as feelings of the collective

Breathe in: My own breath.  Breathe out: My own breath

Natural attraction to Love and Kindness

Generosity with care/ time / energy

Meditation is a relationship to the self and others.  Relationships is what life is about

Already gentle and kind hearted

Already very good listeners

Sense of worth comes from the self

Enneagram Type 3:

Welcome (rather than compete against) old habits and explore new ones.


Remedy (towards the journey)


Linear thinking prevents meditation benefits

The goal is NOT to have a goal

Doing is the only form of progress

“Getting it slowly”……is not productive

How can I just be…me… sitting and breathing? (losing the successful self image)

Explain outcomes / benefits of “being”

Explain the limitations of goals (driving in the fog)

Define process as a result

Give regular reminders of patience.  Again and again (with patience)

Welcome (not compete against) old habits and explore new ones

Breathe in:  The automatic breath (I don’t have to do anything). Breathe out:  Doing

They get things started……bum to the seat

Enough energy to accomplish something new

Very adaptable

Optimistic and enthusiastic

Capacity for hard work

They are loyal to the self.  If meditation is what my self needs, I will do it…..

In the Corporate aspect the Enneagram 3 brought the most challenges in getting to realise that mindfulness is not a linear movement or direct experience to increase performance. Feedback from the 3s was that by not being so focussed on the end goal, they could ‘see’ more.

Enneagram Type 4:

A hurdle is that ‘I am my feelings and they change all the time, who am I then?

Casper finds it extremely helpful as a remedy to give ‘The Guest House’ poem by Rumi to Fours.


Remedy (towards stepping back)


I am my feelings. (Who am I then?)

Difficult to observe (and not feel) feelings. 

Continuous self referencing.  Difficult to step back….

A need to always “fall into” deep process. Feeling misunderstood when others can’t go that deep.

Seeking happiness through pain (enjoying the suffering in meditation)

I am Casper, and currently I am experiencing….

Rumi - Guest House poem

Regular guided meditations, with lightness in intervals.  Dyads allow for referencing of others

Experience the ordinariness and yet beauty of the breath

Ask them how “observing” their feelings can also enable self development instead of “feeling” the feelings?

Breathe in: Beauty of the breath. Breathe out: My feelings

Their creativity welcomes something new

Focused on the self

Already intuitive and connected to own and collective unconscious

Attuned to feelings and moods

Well developed emotional resonance

Fulfilled when in the present

Enneagram Type 5:

Observation in mindfulness is not from a distance, you are the experiment. Jump in and analyse afterwards.


Remedy (towards direct experience)


I don’t need this.  I am the king of observation already. 

I have always been mindful (observing). 

I will try this out (experiment first).  No participation though…

I need more information / intellectual security

Confuse disengagement with objectivity

Observation in mindfulness is NOT from a distance

YOU are the experiment.  Jump in and analyse afterwards

Information/Wisdom is hidden in the direct experience of mindfulness

Mindfulness replenishes on so many levels.  However, to charge your batteries you have to be plugged in.

Breathe in: Energy.
Breathe out: Isolation

Attracted to possible wisdom

Seekers of truth

Very perceptive. Natural ability to objectively observe

Fair and non judgmental witnesses

Ability to focus on the essence

Deep appreciation for solitude

Independence is their game

Enneagram Type 6:

“If you are not confused, you don’t know what’s going on.”


Remedy (towards uncertainty)


Am I safe?  Who is in the group and who leads it?

Will I be exposed (what is expected from me)?

Lack of certainty. How do I know this will work for me?

Constant need for more information (more certainty)

Very busy mind / racing thoughts

Container building is extra important. Group information and leader resume is crucial, beforehand (make use of emails / course material)

Share the planned process / agenda / flow beforehand (no surprises)

Get them to trust that even if this does not work, they will be ok.

If you are not confused you don’t know what is going on….

Normalise busy mind / racing thoughts

Breathe in: Trusting the in breath
Breathe out: Fear of no next breath

Committed to commitments.  Loyal to Sit & Repeat

Already trust their own inner world

Respect for ritual (law and order)

Adventurous explorers

Cautious and realistic.  Start slow….

Deep need to be in present

Enneagram Type 7:

This will remain new. Every sitting is different, feelings don’t have rank, all feelings are good.


Remedy (towards boredom (feelings))


False starts. This is so exciting (because it’s new), lets start!

Now that we have meditated, what is next?  Not willing to do the hard yards.

Ouch… Feelings other than joy just surfaced - I am out!

Only trust excitement.  Boredom…is this it?...Let’s move on

Wow, there are so many opportunities with this.  Jump to the next.

They get swamped by their stories and miss the realness of meditation

This will remain new.  Every sitting is different

Feelings don’t have rank.  All feelings are good

Boredom is a sign of something new…stay with it

Help them focus….back to the breath…..back to the current opportunity

Breathe in: The new breath.  Breathe out: Releasing the old breath

Keen for new opportunities / gifts

Ample creativity

Visionary. Easy buy in to benefits

Advocates of growth

Childlike responsiveness to the NOW

Already intuitive

Enneagram Type 8:

They can cut through the noise and get to the real thing


Remedy (vulnerability is strength)


I can do this, my way though.

Lets get on with this and don’t waste time

Frustration of no control.  We are not getting anywhere

Huge discomfort with arising vulnerability

Physical discomfort and pain with sitting

Make sure they know this is NOT easy.  Prepare them for pain and vulnerability beforehand

The body breathes itself, even without our control

Redefine vulnerability as a strength

Normalise (and welcome) pain and discomfort

No pain, no gain 

Breathe in: Strength
Breathe out: Control

Already self confident.  I can do this

Healthy self image.   I can face me

Comfortable with directness / honesty

They can cut through the noise and get to the real thing (the breath)

Energised by challenges

Natural enthusiasm

Enneagram Type 9:

Easy to sit, but slow/distracted to get there


Remedy (just do it)


If I can only get to the sitting… slow to sit

Distraction in and around sittings

Once they sit… peaceful… too easy, ”fall asleep”

Unreflective and diffuse activity for yourself

Need to run from possible inner disharmony

Create Routine & Ritual  (Rinse & Repeat)

Get your left brain in charge to get your bum on the seat

Emphasize/Start with intention of sitting

Get a sitting buddy… peer pressure

Normalise and welcome disharmony

Breathe in: Breathing action of the body.
Breathe out: Numbness

Value peace and tranquillity

Intuitive sense for harmony… when things fit together

Ability to let things unfold in their own way (let the body breathe itself)

Open listeners with limited judgements (essence of meditation)

Down to earth and no need to impress

More about the presenter

Casper Oelofsen

holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economic Science (University of Stellenbosch). He is completing his post graduate course in Mindfulness based applications (Faculty of Medicine at the University of Stellenbosch). He completed the Coaching to Excellence course at UCT Graduate School of Business, a course in Process Work facilitation for Transformational Leaders (University of Portland in association with USB) Casper is one of the founding members of Mindful Leadership. 

Casper is a registered member of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa), a member of the Neuroleadership Institute based in Sydney Australia, a member of the Institute for Mindfulness in South Africa (IMISA) and a member of The International Regulator of Coaching (ICRM).

To get in touch, please visit the website at contact Casper directly at

This article is based on a presentation from the South African Enneagram Conference 2014, on “The relationship between Enneagram Types and Mindfulness based practices” by Casper Oelofsen. The original presentation review was written by Cherise Nortje in collaboration with Casper Oelofsen.