Painful Emotions and Creating Real Change

September 19, 2022   |   6 Comments

Dear Open Heart Project,

The recent series of videos about working with strong emotions struck a chord with so many of you. Understandably! There are so many painful situations on planet earth right now. At the same time, there is so much possibility.

The great writer and thinker Catherine MacCoun, author of my favorite book in recent memory, On Becoming an Alchemist, points out that the alchemical process of turning a base substance into gold begins with introducing the base substance into a state of volatility.

Whether literally or metaphorically, that which we wish to change has to first begin to fall apart.

For the ancient alchemists that may have meant liquifying one metal to turn it into another (whether this was ever accomplished is unknown). For those of us who wish to change anything from unhappiness in our personal lives to calcified social systems, we need the courage to fall apart.

Our painful emotions, anger, grasping, shame, jealousy, anxiety, distrust, hatred, and despair could be indicators of volatility. In no way am I suggesting that this should feel good. IT DOES NOT. We could feel anything from lousy to broken and we need to give ourselves (and others) plenty of room to heal and rebalance. But if we want to explore the journey from being trapped to being liberated, some examination of the volatile state can be useful.

The enneagram (a system that describes nine ways of being) plots nine alchemical journeys, nine ways to transform the base substances of anger, grasping, and so on into powerful qualities of wisdom, compassion, and power.

One of these ways is yours.

The enneagram is far more than a personality parlor game or even a psychological instrument for self-improvement. It is a spiritual system that points the way to liberation.

I’ve spent the last three years wrestling with thoughts about the enneagram and Buddhism with the hope of writing a book about it all.There were weeks and months when I thought I was simply not up to it. However, last week, The Buddhist Enneagram: Nine Paths to Warriorship, was published. The publisher is…us. The Open Heart Project. We created an in-house publishing division about four years ago so that we could offer books to you without any gatekeepers.

Please check out the book when you can. All the details are here. And, if you are inspired to do so, please leave an honest review with the online bookseller of your choice. In the absence of the marketing machines of a big publisher, these reviews mean everything–they are what creates awareness.

Thoughts? I always love to hear from you. Please leave any comments, questions, or feedback in comments.

Next week, we’ll resume with meditation videos!

With love, Susan

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  • Posted by:  Nao

    Few years ago I really got into Enneagram, my therapist had helped me find my type. After a while I moved onto other types of therapies and practices. But no matter how many “self-improvement programs” and meditation techniques I tried, I kept coming back to the same old issues and negative self-talk. I began reading Susan’s “The Buddhist Enneagram: Nine Paths to Warriorship”, and it finally dawned on me that this is a path I simply cannot bypass! I will never get away from “me”, but according to Susan this is great news. I decided to take her word for it and dive back into Enneagram. I am now hopeful that I am on the right path and there is no more need to try to change who I am. Perhaps I can even fall in love with myself.
    And this book is more fun than other Enneagrams I tried to read and gave up.
    Thank you for writing this book, Susan!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Nao, you are so welcome! It is a joy to read your words. Many thanks for sharing your responses and I wish you well in your explorations… With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Sharon

    I just got the book and am hoping it’s my “keep knocking, third time’s the charm” experience. I’ve tried to learn about and make good use of what the enneagram has to offer (including your own online course a year or so ago) but it just hasn’t fallen together for me. As a great fan of your ability to put into writing things I’ve wrestled with/wondered about/intuited, I’m looking forward to some gates swinging open as I read and digest what you’ve put together here. Thank you for your always honest and true efforts!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I hope so too! Keep me posted. And many thanks for your kind words. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Elizabeth Chapman

    Hi Susan — I have begun to dig into your Enneagram book and am excited and also love the way that you write! One thing that I keep running into in trying to determine my sub-type and type is my trauma. I don’t know if it’s my imagination or if it’s true, but I keep having this question come up — is this really me or is it my trauma? Does childhood trauma affect the enneagram type or our ability to locate ourselves within it? Thank you!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Thank you,, Elizabeth. I wish I had a good answer about childhood trauma and type or subtype. All I can suggest is patience. At some point, something will just right true. Thanks for hanging in there to explore it all. With love, Susan

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