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Guest Blog Contributor:

Maria Mandarino, LAc, DipAc (NCCAOM), LMT, MSEd, CSD

Maria Mandarino is an Enneagram-informed spiritual director, licensed acupuncturist, bodywork therapist, writer, and educator. She is trained in the Narrative Tradition of the Enneagram. Maria is also certified in the Bach Flower Remedies. She conducts Enneagram-typing interviews, spiritual direction sessions, and Bach Flower Remedy consultations on Zoom or by phone. She specializes in somato-emotional approaches to healing and has more than 20 years of experience in the holistic healing arts. Originally from Long Island, Maria now lives in the Phoenix Valley. In her leisure time, she enjoys reading, knitting, quilting, playing her guitar, and exploring the limitless beauty of the southwest. You may learn more about her work at www.MariaMandarino.com.

Maria Mandarino

Getting Stuck

A spiritual direction client of mine recently expressed his frustration with life events that were forcing him into a state of inaction. He said it made him deeply uncomfortable to not take action. He had spent years working hard on a path he was wholeheartedly ready to implement. He was struggling with having done all the work, having done it well, and yet, through no fault of his own, none of the doors he expected would open were opening. He was stuck. And he didn’t like the feeling at all.

Now, to be fair, no one I know enjoys being stuck. But based upon my client’s Enneagram type, the frustration he experienced around being stuck was beyond what most people would feel.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a personality typing system that offers nine personality types or nine different ways to feel, think about, and experience our world. The Enneagram provides us with profound insights into our deepest selves, our life choices, and our relationships. It explains why different people respond to almost identical situations entirely differently. Consider the Enneagram as our Divine blueprint. Some say it labels us and puts us into a box. My experience, however, is the Enneagram enlightens us, helps us understand our motivations, and holds the great potential to liberate us. And while the Enneagram has become a trending topic in the past year or so, it is actually an ancient wisdom tradition, which dates back to the Sufis. I personally consider the Enneagram to be the most sacred wisdom tool I use in my practice. It even serves as a powerful adjunct in my work as an acupuncturist.

Type 9: The Peacemaker

My client leads with Type 9, which is the Peacemaker. Each type has a lower emotional habit (the Shadow) and a higher emotional expression (the True Self). The higher emotional expression of Type 9 is Right Action. When Type 9 is in alignment with Divinity, they move forward with natural ease. Type 9’s lower emotional habit, however, is Inertia. And when Type 9 is not in alignment, particularly when they are faced with conflict, they will numb out. They will check out and it’s said that Type 9 will “go asleep to themselves.” And so in his forced state of Inertia, I suspected my client was being asked to sit with his Shadow.

Meeting Your Shadow Through the Enneagram

This client has done a lot of inner work and because of that, he identifies easily with the higher expression of his type. Right Action comes with ease. He does not spend much time in the Shadow energy of his type structure, however. And so when life presented him with a situation where Right Action was difficult through no fault of his own, my thought was the Divine was calling him into deeper spiritual work, which always happens in the Shadow. But no one likes being held back in order to spiral up. And therein was his resistance to his situation.

When it’s Time to Invite Inertia to Tea

I am fond of tea, especially when I feel stressed. Tea gives us time to pause. Time to reflect. Time to discern. Time to wait on and enter into a relationship with the Divine.

And so I offered him the suggestion: “Maybe you should invite Inertia to tea.”

Tea with Inertia

We explored what that might look and feel like. I shared that the Divine had brought his plans to a halt – forcing him into Inertia. What better way to use this forced time to offer hospitality to his Shadow – that aspect of the personality that most of us seek to avoid. What better time than now to invite Inertia to tea?

Inviting the True Self to tea is easy. But it takes a spiritual warrior to create a place setting and pour a cup of Darjeeling for the Shadow.

Spiritual Warrior

It takes a spiritual warrior to face our Shadow.

The Enneagram Chart

Following is a list of the nine Enneagram Types and the higher emotional habit and the lower emotional habit for each. When you don’t know your Enneagram type, consider which lower emotional habit you have the strongest aversion to. This may provide a clue.

The Enneagram

The Enneagram


If you don’t know your Enneagram type, there are various online tests, which you can explore. It’s important to note that online tests are not foolproof, however, and are said to be less than 73% accurate. I have worked with clients who have done the formal Enneagram typing interview process with me and they got very different results from online tests. Should you be interested in doing a deeper exploration of your Enneagram, a formal typing interview is highly recommended.