By Joyce Plaza
President, Board of Directors
The Narrative Enneagram
I recently read a news analysis in the New York Times titled “Why Zoom Is Terrible.” Author Kate Murphy’s message asserts that video meeting applications, although necessary today, can make you feel awkward, and that video conferencing makes you feel isolated and anxious. She argues that images are blotchy and blurred, audio is out-of-sync with the video, and “video chats have been shown to inhibit ‘trust’ because we can’t look one another in the eye.”
But I have had very, very different experiences with The Narrative Enneagram’s free weekly Zoom Gatherings for members. During these weekly meetings with Terry Saracino, TNE Core Faculty member, and Evangeline Welch, TNE marketing director and webmaster, I experienced a living, spiritual and comforting video connection.
For example, on Tuesday, April 26, Terry led about 60 attendees, all visible onscreen, in a brief centering meditation. She then introduced the loving kindness inner practice, which she explained is about well wishing, an attitude of kindness, which is the natural quality of the heart. She emphasized that the process starts with presence and coming inside and, from there, experiencing loving kindness to ourselves, to others and to all beings.
As a result, my anxiety calmed down, a very real felt sense; I experienced joy in my heart and realized that this gathering really works!
Evangeline then placed everyone into Zoom breakout rooms with 2-4 attendees each to allow time for personal sharing and reflection. During the 20-minute session, I found it very easy to share my experience with someone I hadn’t known a few minutes before. There was trust. There was connection. This is the beauty of the Narrative Enneagram teaching and community.
My breakout partner happened to be the same type as my sister. It was a great reminder to me, and something I hadn’t thought of, to consider what my sister may need right now and how I could connect with her.
The following Tuesday, May 5, Terry again led a centering practice. This time she asked, “Where are we now? What’s up for you?” – referring to our different personal experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. She encouraged us to sense our bodies, feel our emotions, and notice our thoughts. In the small group breakout session, I again met with people I didn’t know. But it didn’t matter. Members of the Narrative Enneagram Community share common values, a descriptive language, and a common spirit and goal to become more conscious in the world. It was very simple to trust, feel emotionally and sense somatically.
On Thursday, May 21, my breakout group marveled at the connection and beauty of our experience. We could share our individual experiences even though we were geographically located in very different parts of the United States (New Hampshire, Wyoming and Pennsylvania), maintaining different levels of sheltering in place, and were different Enneagram types. Our conversation flowed easily, was meaningful, and created a sense of calm and gratitude for the experience.
Just like the quote from Jack Riemer’s touching and timely article in the Houston Chronicle titled “Perlman makes his music the hard way,” we discovered that “Sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” TNE members made music together, in our hearts, even on Zoom. One participant from New Hampshire summed it up perfectly, “It’s a f_ _ _ _ _ _ miracle.”