What is the Enneagram?
A psychological system brought to Stanford University in the 1990s, the Enneagram is an incisive self-awareness tool which identifies the unconscious cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies which underlie virtually everything we do. Taught worldwide to individuals, business leaders, spiritual directors and — at last — to the incarcerated, EPP brings the Enneagram to those whom we feel may need it the most.
Click here to discover more about your Enneagram type.
Our approach is to help incarcerated humans to navigate those unconscious cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns which – we know – underlie virtually everything we do. We use the Enneagram system much like a map of ego structures and consider our teachers helpful guides who support our students in navigating their inner terrain. We do this by reflecting the light we see in people back to themselves illuminating a path they can reliably follow. We empower people to find their way back to their own innate intelligence and wisdom, to re-member their best selves.
We help people to remember what is right about them. All human behavior is an attempt to feel loved. We believe that it is our right to have autonomy, to know our worth, and to feel safe and secure. When our basic human needs and rights have been unmet or worse, violated, there is an intelligence underlying our impulses and reactions. We bring understanding to the motivations which preceded behaviors — compassion for the why before the what, because we cannot change what we do not first understand.
EPP offers group-facilitated programs for incarcerated men and women. Our programs range from introductory 8 to 20-week programs to advanced studies. Drawing on the narrative tradition, our students learn to find their own voice, to articulate newfound self-awareness, and demonstrate life-changing insights. We hold the space for those incarcerated to become conscious of the ways they can begin to hold themselves and live their lives.
EPP is an outstanding beginning to a long-awaited and much-needed movement towards serious human and societal transformation. In working with the incarcerated, arguably one of the most hurting reflections of our society, the positive impact on all of us is far-reaching and life-changing. This project deserves our earnest attention, financial support, and positive human contribution. This inspiring and uplifting use of the Enneagram as a tool for meaningful social change is in every way worthy of this profound psychological and spiritual system around which I have created my life’s work.
I look forward to working with EPP again, and will continue to devote my resources and those of the Enneagram Institute, to supporting this very necessary work. For those of you already involved, thank you! And for those of you thinking about it, I am sure there is a place for you in the greater work of transformation that the Enneagram is part of, and to which those of us in EPP are dedicated.
The heartful humanity of those incarcerated has not been taken away by either whatever they have done or by the prison system. They are still worthwhile, valuable, and loved — capable of a love and courage that will redeem them and make their hearts glow with wisdom and kindness toward themselves and all humanity. Even from behind bars, those incarcerated can live a meaningful and blessed life because they are (and always have been) connected with the best of human nature in the depths of their own Being. I am certain that studying the Enneagram will gradually lead them to these truths.
I have experienced the results of Enneagram Prison Project’s work first hand while visiting inside San Quentin. The insights the “men in blue” came to translated into hope for their future. Seeing how they now have the means to make different decisions and to respond to life gave me hope for humanity. You need to put your money where your heart is to create a meaningful life for others.