Though I deem them somewhat vain, I’ve been fascinated by personality tests since taking an online Myer’s Briggs test earlier this year. Then over the weekend I explored the Enneagram personality test. I spent hours of my weekend reading about and listening to podcasts trying to describe who I am and what motivates me. Was I actually learning something or just navel gazing? I do think I came up with an excuse not to meditate. Turns out meditation doesn’t suit my personality.
Nothing I learned came as a surprise. In the Enneagram world I’m a One: the Perfectionist (or more endearingly the Reformer). What does that mean? Apparently, I have pretty strong ethics and want to make the world a better place. In my attempt to achieve these goals I keep myself busy, am OCD (or maybe we can call this organized), can be very critical, set high ideals for myself and others, and I may never learn to meditate—the very gift that might most help me improve the world.
As a “Perfectionist” I create lists like they are going out of style. Each night I sit down and write a to-do list that is impossible to achieve in a day. You couldn’t complete a third of my list in a day, but each night I knowingly prepare myself for failure before I begin. I sleep with a notepad by my bed to record additional ideas that bombard my brain. If I wake up and can’t write a thought down, I can’t fall asleep.
Enneagram Ones are apparently the OCD number. They see where everything is wrong and how it can be improved. Everything is out of place if it’s not where they irrationally deem it should be. I’m much happier when my home is in order. I’m constantly trying to organize a very chaotic world. On laundry day if after everything is put away I discover a filthy sock that missed the wash cycle it will nag at me. I have to work to tell myself that soon more dirty clothes will be in the bin and the single sock won’t seem so catastrophic. I remind myself that I do laundry weekly so the world won’t be out of place forever. Most people pick up the sock and toss it in the bin or don’t even notice it. Errant socks are so obvious to me I went years before I realized this wasn’t a worry most people concerned themselves with.
Presuming everyone thinks like you may be a trait of an Enneagram One. I am fully aware not everyone thinks like me or like anyone else for that matter. Still, sometimes it takes me a moment to remember that truth.
In addition to insanity over socks, stillness is a struggle. One of the podcasts I listened to had a guest that was asked, “What is the one thing you would recommend to Ones?” She responded that they should try to sit still for five minutes. Make sure they bring a phone or pad in order to take notes when they want to add to their list because if they get an idea they can’t write down they will not be able to sit. She said to allow yourself to jot your notes down, but just try to be still between epiphanies. I laughed out loud. In all honesty, part of me is very interested to meet a person who doesn’t struggle with stillness (unless I’m just falling into the trap of thinking everyone thinks like me).
Excuse Not to Meditate
This is the very reason I cannot meditate. There is an endless world of socks, to-do’s, and ideas of how to make the world a better place. In yoga I always feel squirmy when I know I’m supposed to settle into a pose. It’s not just that I find a pose uncomfortable. Being still is burdensome. I want to wiggle. I want to get into a position and then explore what it feels like to move in that pose. Rest and relaxation do not suit my nature, but I need them.
It’s no wonder I wrote a book called Keep Moving. But is meditation really for everyone? Maybe Ones need to be in subtle motion to fully meditate? I find walking, swimming, and Pilates all meditative at times. When I’m still my brain feels like a shaken snow globe. When I’m in motion I feel the snow begin to settle. Or perhaps that is just an excuse.
Pilates & Meditation
Even Joe Pilates advocated for stillness and mediation. When I went to the Pilate Source training at Jacob’s Pillow earlier this year, I learned that sometimes between each exercise Joe would cue stillness encouraging the body to go from a place of activation to a place of ease in a moment. He also had guided mediations he would take people through positioning them in a way that is even more comfortable than Shavasana in Yoga. Instead of resting with arms and legs straight on the floor, you place your arms behind your head and the soles of your feet together with your knees out, but propped up on an object like a foam roller. Even in a position I’m comfortable, I want to focus on mini-movements.
Maybe stillness is overrated? Afterall, as living creatures with breaths and heartbeats, we are never still. Movement is part of life. Movement signifies life.
Please weigh in? I’m confident there is no right answer here…most likely you are probably thinking the same thing. No, truly…is there a place for stillness? Can meditation involve movement? Do you find stillness easy or at least comfortable? If it is not to-do list land, what crazy town does your brain travel to when you try to be still? Is there anyone out there who finds meditation easy? And how do you feel about dirty socks?
If I’m going to meditate it seems easier with sea turtles. This blog will take you to a video I took showing me swimming with sea turtles.
Or watch me start to walk a labyrinth and then start to race around the labyrinth. This meditation thing has been a problem for years!
Doodling is movement and I do find that meditative. Click here to read about the Zentangle class the team at PE took.
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