There are moments when life is really intense: when you are integrating a lot of new lessons all at the same time. Often these times come as part of a transition—when something has come to an end (a relationship, job, educational program) or when something new has started (maybe you just had a baby, launched your own biz, or got a hit of clarity about your creative future and decided to jump into a new project.)

The wheels come off the bus, so to speak, and you just have to walk up the mountain.

Maybe you feel ill-prepared for the hike you are on.

Or find that your load is too heavy to carry all by yourself.

Working with a new coaching client this week I was searching for a way to describe the benefits of Enneagram work. As any teacher who loves a personal growth tool will tell you… we risk spending too much time describing the tool rather than explaining how it serves where people are really living, suffering, and hoping and how it can offer insight into those places. Like, today.

So here is my attempt to connect the dots.

When you are in the middle of climbing a mountain and feel the strain of the task at hand– it helps to pause and rest, to take off the backpack, get some bandaids out for your blisters, a long drink of water, and eat a granola bar. And most importantly, take the time to put the pack back on in a way that it doesn’t rub you raw on the assent.

That is a metaphor for what I would describe as part one of Enneagram work: identifying and recognizing your personality pattern, looking for the inner resources, and discovering how to “hold” your personality type in a new way. Finding out your type and beginning to observe when you are “stirred up” but not responding in the habitual way (out of fear, shame or anger) almost immediately begins to make the journey less painful. And even opens the door for you to find pleasure in it.

So if you are climbing a mountain right now… consider how you can resource yourself.

This could be simple: going to be before ten each night, eating lunch outside or in quiet place, sipping your tea in the morning and identifying how you want to feel that day and noticing what people and experiences call up that sensation for you.

This is also the time to up the self care whether via a new yoga class or investing in coaching or other support. However you do it, please be compassionate with yourself around your own growing edges.

(Here I am hiking with a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua– those 27 months were full of steep learning curves!)

Then there are other times in life when you have time and space (or make time and space) to really take off the pack, open it up, spread out all the contents, and identify what you want to keep carrying, what is serving you, and what you need to let go of or replace.

And to discern what is truly life-giving to carry and what is extra weight.

This is a process. I have discovered in working with dozens of people as a guide through the transformational journey that ten sessions is an optimal amount of time to open all that up, look at it clearly, and put the pack back together in a lighter way.

It takes patience, encouragement and work to edit all that down.

But seriously, who doesn’t want to be traveling lighter?

And clean and clear and ready for a new adventure!

It is really worth tending yourself in this way whether through reading high quality books, participating in online programs, joining a retreat or workshop, or working with a supportive person.

My particular passion in this area is to help people fastrack the process — so as to move as efficiently as possible through the “in-between phase.” And to hold their hand along the way. Because it can feel kind of vulnerable to have your pack opened up and all the contents spread around.

I know of course because I have been in that very process. The Enneagram was a lifeline for me as I transitioned from a more normal job (with a salary but also a lot of stress) to starting my own business so that I could have the quality of life I knew I wanted — especially as a mother to three little ones.

My gratitude for the way the Enneagram lead me through that time of transition and left me lighter and cleaner is really the heartbeat of my motivation now as a holistic coach, writer and teacher.

And now over to you… I would love to hear if you are walking up a mountain right now or feel ready to open up the pack and get rid of nonessentials. Leave a comment below or contact me.I have space for one new transformational coaching client in November, and I would love for it to be you!