The Enneagram Guide to Waking Up: A book review

The Enneagram Guide to Waking Up

When I heard Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes were coming out with a new book, I put in my pre-order right away. It’s called The Enneagram Guide to Waking Up: Find Your Path, Face Your Shadow, Discover Your True Self (affiliate link). And then I had several other books to get through first, so here we are, months later, and I’ve just finished it. I’m probably not going to be able to do this gem of a book justice because you really just need to experience it yourself, but here we go.

For starters, this is the first Enneagram book where I’ve come across the use of “zombie” to playfully describe our un-awake state. Love that! The journey of personal development is often jarring and difficult, so it’s nice to have a bit of levity along the way. Even the cover is bright – splotches of color that intermingle in a rainbow around the Enneagram symbol. This is a book with extremely important information whose authors don’t take themselves too seriously.

The idea of “waking up” can often seem daunting, even overwhelming, so I love how the authors kindly describe what it will take for each type to begin and continue along this process. Their approach makes spiritual transformation actually seem possible.

The chapters for each Enneagram type are laid out as a journey from that type’s passion (suffering) to their virtue. There’s a short descriptive story to start with that outlines the main attributes of the type, followed by a checklist that’s helpful for those who haven’t settled on their type yet. Chestnut and Paes discuss the first phase of the self-recovery journey and what it looks like for each type, including key patterns to watch for.

They then define the passion of the type and how to observe it and then move on to talk about using the wings of each type as “growth stretches.” That’s a cool concept that you don’t hear about much. Next – gulp – comes the part about recognizing, owning and dealing with your shadow. That’s the second phase of the journey to the true self.

The information may be hard to accept sometimes, but as the authors noted in the introduction, this isn’t about beating yourself up or feeling negative about who you are. Because you aren’t your personality. But you need to see the not-so-great ways you’re showing up in the world so you can stop being a zombie (!) and have the choice to change.

Then comes a short section on the type’s particular brand of pain, the paradox of each type and how to begin to use the arrows (directions of stress and security) for growth. These very practical, accurate and useful suggestions round out the second phase.

Phase Three of this personal growth journey involves embracing the high side of the type. “Waking up” has to do with remembering who you actually are, the you that exists apart from your pain and your zombie mode. The authors go on to discuss what the type’s virtue looks like and how to move toward a greater realization of that virtue.

Each chapter is packed with suggestions for action that aren’t lofty or weird – though they certainly challenge the patterns we’re addicted to. For instance, Type Sevens like me are encouraged to draw on their Eight wing’s ability to prioritize. I actually dog-eared this page, as I had just unsubscribed from multiple enewsletters that, while interesting, were a distraction from my purpose. It’s a great reminder of how the gluttony of Seven causes me to bite off more information and input than I can chew. It makes for a noisy, overfull life if I’m not vigilant. And in terms of my gluttony, the authors recommend looking for common manifestations such as experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out) and positively reframing negative events.

I highly recommend that you get this book. It’s eminently practical and useful for every stage of the psychological and spiritual journey to the authentic self. And there are zombies!



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