We are on a Mission
The Enneagram Prison Project is on a mission to understand why we do what we do, using the Enneagram to inspire transformation on both sides of the bars through self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-compassion; we do the work together.
Freeing people – all over the world – from the prisons of our own making.
WE ARE TRANSPARENT
Transparency means operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed, and includes an openness and accountability with all of one’s communication and actions.
WE DO THE WORK TOGETHER
To those of us at EPP, “Doing the Work” means getting present to reality as it actually is. It was Gurdjieff who said, “It is not just difficult to do the work alone, it is impossible.” Because we cannot see ourselves clearly, we need one another. We know to get present by “pausing,” by standing still. We value this pause because we know that we cannot always sense things accurately when we are in motion, when our thoughts are frantic, or when our feelings are running us. Stopping just allows us the space to get curious about our own perceptions, to ask hard questions of ourselves and each other. Doing this with presence allows us to become available to the operating systems of our heads, hearts, and bodies, and to remember that we are divinely supported on this earth and practically supported in and out of the classroom. It is in this space that we find we have a choice where, if we can meet ourselves with compassion, we find that we are free to choose our responses with a kind of love that our conditioned, automatic selves simply cannot. We teach “Doing the Work” in jails and prisons because we know that “We are all in a prison of our own making” and because we believe it is the key to all of our freedom.
WE ARE FLEXIBLE
The Enneagram systematically puts human behavior into a “map” of ego structures that is so profound we can often predict how different Enneagram types will respond to the world. With that being said, however, there is a lot that is unpredictable when it comes to working within the field of corrections. This is true for those incarcerated, of course, but also for those of us who go behind the walls and emerge back “on the outs” again each day. And so, in EPP we bring flexibility with us wherever we go. We are not “unbending” in our ideals, our classroom lesson plans, or in our responses to people. We allow what is needed to come through us despite what we might have expected, been promised, or hoped for. We are flexible because we trust that whatever happens is happening for the unfolding of all of our highest potential.
To those of us at EPP, trust means to believe in the reliability of someone or something. EPP folks trust in one another, we trust in the benevolence of the universe, we trust in the inherent goodness of people, and ultimately we are learning to trust in ourselves.
WE HAVE INTEGRITY
We understand the importance of doing what we say we are going to do. Many of us carry tremendous disappointments from unfulfilled promises that left us heartbroken, distrusting of others, and with an uncertainty about how to trust ourselves. We at EPP have done enough internal work individually so that we can walk our talk, we can be taken at our word; if we say we will do something, we will do everything we can to make it so. And, when we cannot fulfill our promises, we endeavour to make amends.
WE ARE COMPASSIONATE
We deeply value “unconditional positive regard” — the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does — a concept developed by the humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers. Our way of “holding” people—allowing them to be as they are and loving them as they are – requires seeing the behavior as separate from the person. Personality is not personal. This is an essential part of healthy development, and EPP believes this compassionate, non-judgmental stance with each other is what allows dysfunctional patterns and beliefs to shift and even to fall away completely. We believe that people possess within themselves enormous resources for self-understanding, for altering self-concepts and attitudes, and for taking emotional responsibility. But it is only when we feel accepted—by ourselves—that we can allow new ways of being to emerge. We come to this work with mercy, seeing people in their highest potential so that they can step into that possibility themselves when they are ready.
WE ARE GRATEFUL
It is impossible to be receptive to what is with a closed heart, and so we cultivate an attitude of gratitude. This stance of appreciation for what is has allowed EPP to find a way to offer our programs in places where we were least expected. The privilege of bearing witness to people who are waking up to their inherent goodness is an inspiring experience for which we are truly grateful.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility & Belonging
Enneagram Prison Project is a compassionate community of people from all backgrounds using the Enneagram to more consciously love ourselves and one another. We believe that people are inherently good and seek to understand what is emotionally driving each of us to think, feel, and behave in the ways that we do. In this way, we intend to meet our diversity with understanding so that we can create, work, and lead in ways that leave each of us knowing, feeling, and sensing that we belong.
One of EPP’s greatest assets is our diversity. We are a community whose breadth of social and ethnic backgrounds, life experiences, sexual orientation, cultures, ages, and races, grow and stretch our self-concepts and communal identity at every interaction. We are moving beyond the binary to normalize diversity as we become a community where difference is not just respected, but expected and celebrated.
EPP is a space represented by and for everyone, both inside of physical prisons and outside of them. We appreciate how our lived histories distinguish us from one another and inform the unconscious biases that frame how we perceive the world. While striving to undo the agony, trauma, and heartache of systemic discrimination and racism, we seek first to understand. We also know that “the work” of being true to ourselves is the shared work of what it means to be human. We aspire to meet people where they are and endeavor to catch our assumptions of sameness. We do this by remembering that while we are one human race, there are layers upon layers of different lived experiences that vary greatly.
The Enneagram has always been meant for everyone, yet everyone has not had equal access to it. In our current world, we are using principles of equity to move us toward a culture of equality. We recognize that we are a long way from equality within the traditional systems that were designed to oppress, and in which we have too long participated. We acknowledge that there are different levels of support required to ensure equality, and strive to recognize and dismantle dysfunctional systems as we construct new ones with consciousness and right action.
EPP is democratizing the Enneagram by bringing it into places of great suffering and intentionally removing barriers to participating in our public and in-custody offerings. We aspire to “transcend and include hierarchies and consensus” while opting for sociocratic processes and collective decision making. We center the voices of incarcerated and BIPOC+ (Black, indigenous people, and people of color) folx, and create relationships where they have genuine, and authentic representation; and offer clear pathways to leadership roles at every level including our Board of Directors and Faculty. We do this through our public facing programs, which use a donation-based tuition model, and through our Ambassador In Mentorship (AIM) and Guide Training Program (GTP).
We value inclusion by choosing all-embracing language. We invite our community of volunteers, board members, public and in-custody students, guides, and ambassadors to live into our value of “we do the work together.” We believe that a culture of freedom is one where everyone is invited to participate and speak their truth; where everyone is heard and feels heard, where everyone is seen and feels seen.
EPP deeply values a culture where belonging is a given. We know that to sense our belonging anywhere, we must first discover how we truly belong to ourselves. To that end, we invite and equip everyone in our compassionate community to remember that we are already whole by using the Enneagram the way it was intended – to wake up and remember “what is right” about us. We insist that people take one hundred percent emotional responsibility for themselves by using the Enneagram as a tool for self-empowerment. EPP understands that people hurt in relationship and we lean on one another in our community as an agency of healing. To safeguard against economic, racial, and social inequities, we insist on doing our own part by witnessing ourselves and one another with honesty about our own culpability in oppression. We do this by creating safe spaces to do the tender work of self-inquiry, self-compassion, forgiveness, and change.
We believe that first understanding our own implicit and explicit biases inherent in personality, race, gender, or ethnicity is an essential, foundational step to recognizing our habits of cutting ourselves off and “othering” – the opposite of belonging. We aspire to be a conscious organization where people can bring their whole selves to work and aim to empower and trust people to sense and respond from their innate intelligence while moving freely in and out of circles governing EPP. We know that when each member of our EPP community feels connected to both their purpose and the evolutionary purpose of the organization as a whole, everyone benefits and thrives.
“A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living.”Rudolf Steiner