The Truth About Fixation

Before I begin, I would like to make clear that all I can say can only point at the truth and cannot actually be the truth. There is only one thing going on and therefore only one truth, so any attempt to break down the human experience into different types, levels of functioning, or consciousness is simply an illusion. Yet it will seem like that is exactly what I will be doing.

In this blog I will try to describe our True nature, which is unchanging, constant, empty and full, nothing and everything, and which is indescribable. I will also try to explain the difference between Enneatype and fixation. Briefly I think of Enneatype as the basic energetic pattern of human expression before it gets fixated. Fixation is the result of feeling incomplete not enough, this causes longing, searching, and all inauthentic or unnatural good and bad behaviors.

The Enneatype is the empty shell of human expression free of longing and searching. The Enneatype can be described as the larger context, which holds within it the potential to fixate or to be completely free. It is kind of the imaginary membrane between fixation and freedom.

Since our True nature is free, and indescribable, it also cannot be understood with the mind. Therefore this article is intended to be experienced, not just read and thought about. So as you read the words, let your mind be as open as possible, let your body be as relaxed as possible. See if each word can start with eyes and mind, gently resonate in the body and lightly allow a free fall beyond any identification with a self that is located anywhere.

Opening to Truth

So here we go. Sitting comfortably with your eyes open, with as little effort as possible allow the mind to be open, let the attention be on nothing in particular. For just a few seconds suspend all thinking……. What did you notice? …..Try this again; for just a few seconds let your attention hold the mind open and still……. What did you notice….. You might have noticed emptiness, stillness, quiet, peace, warmth, etc. if you noticed any labels, judgments, fantasies, images in the mind, these are all thoughts. There is a presence that is before labeling, prior to thoughts. It is always present even when there are thoughts. There is nothing wrong with thoughts, and we don’t need to have a thoughtless mind to know this. Sometimes it is easier to notice this empty alive stillness by allowing attention to notice what is in-between thoughts. So one more time suspend your thoughts for just a few seconds……… There is seeing without labeling, noticing without comment, and attention to nothing in particular. You might say that there is awareness present, or aliveness; yet nothing particular of which to be conscious. For the first part of the exercise our eyes were open and we were sitting looking outward in a relaxed way. Since we were looking outward our attention went outward. Now let’s try something else.

Once again let the mind be open, the body relaxed, suspend thoughts for just a few seconds…….. When you notice the empty alive nothingness gently turn your attention around to look at the emptiness. In other words let consciousness look at itself. What do you notice….. This may allow you to notice that there is really no one there, no person, no one is looking out or in, there is just awareness, empty and alive, open and free. No person, no fixation, no identification as any particular patterning; that is your true self, the unchanging unmoving one. Within this emptiness the person exists, and of course the fixation. But prior to the person and fixation is this emptiness. You may have noticed that when there is just the awareness, the mind and body are relaxed. When the mind begins to think tension occurs, Identity requires thought, so to have a person with a fixation there must be thoughts and therefore beliefs. There is nothing wrong with this; the personal identity arises within empty spaciousness or awareness. All this can occur at the same time, and does. That which is prior to consciousness and the personal identity, as well as fixation all appear as one. When we are only aware of ourselves as being separate fixated individuals there seems to be something wrong which creates rejection or resistance to life as it is; which results in suffering and striving or seeking.

The identification as a separate person is a contraction or tension held in the mind. The fixation is an identity that is more tightly held within the mind. It requires patterning and conditioning. The Difference Between Enneatype and Fixation Let’s take a look at how fixation might be formed. For the most part we believe that we are born with the Enneatype and then as we go through life’s conditioning we become more and more fixated. We feel more and more separate.

In order to understand the difference between Enneatype and fixation we will start once again in the unfixated condition. Let your mind become relaxed and open, and allow the body to be comfortable, now just for a few seconds suspend your thoughts……..Ok, there again is the empty stillness. Now put your attention in the area we call the mind. Look out through your eyes and let your attention begin to notice everything around you, allow thoughts to flow without resistance, without grabbing, or judgment. You may become aware that there can be thoughts and an open empty mind all at the same time. If you can do this in a relaxed open way you can have a taste of the intellect Enneatypes, before they become fixated, these are patterns Five, Six and Seven. Before the mind tightens or contracts there is an openness, and each pattern of mind appears with a different variation on the theme of wisdom.

We think of each triad as having one Enneatype that sits in the middle of the others, and when unfixated is a stable expression of the dominant energetic pattern of the emotion of the triad; another Enneatype that is the internal expression, and the third Enneatype that is the outward expression of that energetic pattern. Emotions at their basic level are just energetic patterns. Before the Enneatype gets fixated the expression of emotion is appropriate and free.

The Enneagram’s Intellect Triad

Wisdom is the expression of intellect types when they are free, when they are fixated the thoughts in the mind become fear based. The emotion that goes with the intellect points is fear. Six is the Enneatype that sits in the middle, and when fixated is in avoidance of fear; uncertainty, not knowing, and feeling weak are also avoided because these experiences feel scary. People with this pattern try to think of every possible scary or dangerous thing in order to plan how to avoid these possibilities. Yet when the six is unfixated it exhibits a stable spacious open minded wisdom. Five is the Enneatype that internalizes fear when it is fixated; people with this pattern retreat into their minds to avoid life, which seems overwhelming to them. When Five is unfixated it is quiet peaceful wisdom. Seven, is the fixation that is the externalized expression of fear when it is fixated; people with this fixation run from one exciting event to the next afraid of missing out. When Seven is unfixated it is serene bliss.

The Enneagram’s Heart Triad

Now let’s shift our attention from the mind to the heart area. Allow the mind to remain open and relaxed while your attention resides in the heart area. Feel into your heart and look out at the world with your attention lightly resting in this area. You may get a sense of warmth or causeless love, impersonal love or kindness. Notice that your emotions can flow through this space at the same time. There can be causeless love and personal emotions all at the same time. This may give you the taste of the heart triad Two, Three, and Four; before they become fixated. When the heart is blocked, or tight love cannot be felt or given freely. The emotions that are felt are self hatred, shame and sadness. The middle Enneatype in the heart area is Three, when people with this pattern are fixated they avoid all emotion, especially shame,self hatred, insecurity, vulnerability, and personal loving attachment. When Enneatype Three is unfixated it is the stable or balanced open expression of human love and emotions. Enneatype Four is the internalization of human emotions, when people with this pattern are fixated they suck in all emotions and personalize them. When Four is unfixated, radiance seems to emanate from deep within. Two is the Enneatype that externalizes emotion, when fixated, people with this pattern project their emotions onto others; pretending to care altruistically only about others, while pretending to have no needs of their own. When Two is unfixated it expresses compassion and impersonal caring for all beings.

The Enneagram’s Gut Triad

One more shift, from the heart to the body. Once again let the mind be relaxed and open, and place the attention in the gut. Just let it sink deeply into the gut and then gently allow the attention to expand to include the sensation of aliveness that can be felt in the body. With this aliveness you may notice that there are also other physical sensations, maybe some tightness, aches, etc. there can be the energetic sense of aliveness at the same time as aches and pains or other bodily sensations. When the gut tried Nine, Eight, and One, are unfixated the awareness of aliveness is unlimited and boundless; it doesn’t seem to be contained in the body, and yet other physical sensation can be there at the same time. When the gut area is open and free we live life instinctually in a spontaneous flow. When this area is blocked or tight we deal with issues of anger and right and wrong. The middle Enneatype for the gut points is Nine; when the gut is open and free Nine is the stable expression of grounded being. When Nine is fixated, people with this pattern are in avoidance of intense feelings or sensations, especially anger which has the most energy of all the emotions. Fixated Nine is actually in avoidance of being fully alive. One is the Enneatype of the internalized energy of anger. When it is unfixated it is the expression of grounded purity, all inclusive perfection. When people with the One pattern are fixated they separate everything into the duality of right and wrong, good and bad. In their search for relative purity they try to exclude all that seems flawed. Eight is the Enneatype of the externalized expression of anger. When it is unfixated it’s expression is grounded power. When people with this pattern are fixated they use their strength to punish or destroy all that is flawed.

Here is a way to understand the process of becoming fixated, it is just a story but it might be helpful. Before we are born we are the empty free potential of life. We are born with the free unfixated Enneatype. There are no thoughts, no beliefs, the idea of a personal separate self has not developed, and therefore none of the traits of fixation are present, just the simple unsophisticated free qualities of the Enneatype. The conditioning of being alive creates tension or tightness, thoughts and beliefs; which in turn create the sense of being a separate person. As soon as we have the identity of being a separate person we are fixated. In order to have a fixation we must believe we are separate people.

The separate personal self is just thoughts held in the mind which create tension in the body and emotions in the heart. When we identify ourselves with this process we perceive ourselves as separate. The separate identity becomes the fixation and forms beliefs about the self and the world; from these beliefs comes all the behaviors, reactions, and dynamics. The more the individual self is conditioned the tighter the beliefs are held and therefore the denser or more neurotic the fixation.

The separate self is a thought and physical contraction. Fixation is what manifests when there is the belief and perception of being a separate individual person. We are taught to see ourselves as separate from the time we were small children. This was not wrong or a mistake, it is just part of the experience of being human. The unfixated condition is relaxed, open and empty, the perception of being separate is gone, there is a knowing that there are no separate people, therefore no fixations. There is just one thing going on and even less than that. We are all appearances occurring in emptiness made of emptiness, no substance. We are dream forms living in a dream world, made of emptiness, the emptiness itself is our true nature. It is not a dull dry emptiness; it is alive and pregnant with the potential for all of existence.

Many of us spend most of our lives trying to either fix the fixation or become better at it. Even people who have never heard of the Enneagram are engaged in this process, they may do it through psychotherapy, spiritual practices, or seeking material wealth and success. This seeking is also a cause of suffering. Every fixation does this; every fixation holds the belief that there is something wrong, either with themselves or with the world. The fixation is the natural expression of being a separate person. The only one trying to get rid of or fix the fixation is the person that believes they are separate and fixated.

It might seem that there is nothing one can do to facilitate this understanding, and in some ways that is true. However it is also true that when we are ready we are drawn to various methods, practices, ideas, which can help with the process of letting go. Some people are attracted to the Enneagram and begin to learn about their fixation. Some people after working with various approaches to fixing or releasing or perfecting the fixation begin to realize that working in this way is endless and futile. Probably the most beneficial part of working in this way is finally reaching a point of hopelessness where we begin to surrender.

Surrender is another way of describing relaxing, or letting go. It is in the deepest letting go that we come to discover the emptiness that informs all beings and is our true nature. This involves a complete total surrender, seeing through all beliefs, knowing nothing; from the smallest simplest beliefs to the most complex beliefs. When the mind relaxes this deeply, the heart and the body also relax. Nothing is known, nothing is understood, just the not knowing, the sense of mystery is left.

This can be a different process for every fixation. Every fixation has its own deep story that it is trying to resolve, and when we realize that no matter what we do the story remains, there is usually a feeling of disillusionment, and despair. At this point it can feel like our whole sense of self is breaking down, that we cannot survive this disintegration. Everything we believed in is gone, we are not who we thought we were, and the world is not what thought it was. And in fact we can’t survive this disintegration. Actually what is beginning to occur is that the sense of being a separate person is breaking down. Fixation is releasing and what remains is the condition of Empty Awareness. The fixation hasn’t been fixed or perfected, but we no longer have the need to keep working on it. We have found what we were searching for. So the searching stops. When the searching stops the neurotic aspects of the fixation begin to wind down. It is the searching that creates most of our worst behaviors. As I said at the beginning, we search in different ways, some of us spiritually some materially. This is also the end of suffering. It is the surrendering of the personal separate self that allows the fixation to finally relax. This allows identification as anything to fall open. Everything is included: the Aware Stillness, the personal expression, whatever aspects of fixation that are still being expressed. It is all recognized as What Is. Just One thing going on, all is included. Nothing is outside. Life is lived by no one. •