Inspire Envisioning

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Ayurveda and the Enneagram: From Research to Publication

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In 2014, Kacie Berghoef and I were learning about Ayurveda as a personal health practice, and we decided to present on this topic at two Enneagram conferences. Attendees at our first presentation were intrigued by our proposal that there might be connections between Enneagram type and Ayurvedic dosha, or psycho-physical constitution, and they invariably asked one thing: “Has there been any research on this?” There hadn’t, so for our next presentation, we did some.

Drawing on an Ayurvedic dosha assessment from a book we owned, we created an eight-question quiz that addressed psychological and physiological aspects of constitution. The aim was for it to be fun and not too overwhelming. We used SurveyMonkey, put the quiz online, and e-mailed each responder with a description and recipes tailored to their Ayurvedic dosha. We included preliminary results and quiz-taking in our next talk, to participants’ delight.

Over the next several months, we worked on this exploratory pilot study and a statistician, James Farnham, helped us analyze the results. Our survey had 232 usable responses, with some of them tied between two doshas. Suspecting there might be a difference between them, we looked at overall type-dosha correlations as well as each Enneagram type’s correlations with the psychological aspects of dosha.     

I’ve had a lot of questions about our Ayurvedic research over the years, and I’m gratified to share with you that it has finally found a home. This month, the Conscious Living Center has published our complete study on their website. You can read the full write-up of our process and results here.

Why did we embark on this journey in the first place? Here’s what our research article has to say:

“Maintaining a regular, structured practice that fosters mindfulness is helpful for using the Enneagram’s insights effectively. A good practice builds up the capacity to observe oneself, in order to see one’s automatic type habits at play and choose to engage differently. Ayurveda is one such practice that draws on the body center’s intelligence.”

If you’re interested in the intersection of these two systems, check our article out and see what correlations our surveys came up with. While the results are preliminary rather than scientifically rigorous, my takeaway from this process is that systems of learning can intersect in revealing and beautiful ways.

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