About Elliot Killian and the Enneagram
Portrait of Elliot Killian Enneagram Enlightenment Teacher

Elliot Killian is a mystic, spiritual teacher emphasizing the use of the Enneagram not as a personality classification system, but as a tool to realize and actualize the two fundamental urges of every human being:  Self-Actualization and Self-Realization.  

Because the Enneagram provides a core fear and desire for each Enneagram “type”, or more accurately, for the archetypal expressions arising out of each Enneagram point, the Enneagram can be so much more than a system that divides people into stereotypical types, categorizes them, and highlights differencesit can be something that brings people to a place of wholeness; beyond their inner divisions. 

Self-Actualization is the desire component of the Enneagram. It is manifestation;  the creative potential of a human being to actualize their heart’s truest desires and fulfill their life’s greatest purpose.  As exciting as that sounds, chasing desires can become unbalanced and unfulfilling.  The sages throughout the ages have noted this; psychological research now agreeswithout self-awareness, people aren’t particularly great at predicting what will make them truly and lastingly fulfilled. One needs wisdom to know which desires are worth chasing and how to optimally manifest those that are. 

The fear component of the Enneagram provides the portal into that wisdom.  Self-Realization is what remains when the fears of the personality do not.  If one is to Self-Actualize, then they must truly know and heal thyself. To do that, fear must be overcome; otherwise one is just working on manifesting accolades and Lamborghinis to provide what only their true Self can.

A book(s) expanding upon the themes shared on this site is in the process of being written. Although the book is not autobiographical in nature, the following excerpt provides something to that effect for those who are curious: 

As a young man, probably 19 years old or so, I did mushrooms. I didn’t have a bad trip, but I also wouldn’t really call it profound or life altering; it was just, well, really frickin’ cool. What I most remember was just how in the NOW I was. Food tasted better, TV shows seemed funnier, and I found myself staring at a tree blowing in the wind for probably a good forty minutes thinking that it was just about the coolest thing in the world. And then it ended

And for me, while it was “cool man”, the experience ultimately didn’t really change much. I haven’t done mushrooms since. I just went back to my own experience of striving, struggling, and suffering; chasing my own, “if only I had this…then I could be happy” narrative. 

As it turns out, in a few of the proceeding years I became rather unhappy. My “this” didn’t go exactly as planned, and some of the dormant seeds of pain that I’d planted over the years finally started to sprout, seemingly all at once. I was so stressed over a relationship that I stayed up all night ruminating over it; not able to stop my mind for a second. No biggie right? “Everyone has nights they can’t sleep.” Well, at first the stress of the relationship caused me to not sleep, but then the stress of not being able to sleep caused me to not sleep, and then the stress of not sleeping affected my relationship and my health, which then caused me to not sleep some more. In short: my days were hell and my nights offered me no relief or temporary pause. That one night of insomnia turned into nine months. 

So I did what anyone would do, I sought relief of the suffering. My “if only I had this…then I could be happy” narrative turned into “God, if only I didn’t have this…then I would be happy!” 

Not that I believed in God or anything. I grew up Catholic, but thanks to the hyper-rational new atheists any possibility of holding such a deluded belief system was rattled out of me. I was a proud master of logic and reason, and an exercise science and psychology major in college. The solutions to suffering that I sought needed to be proper and come with the stamp of scientific proof. 

I tried to de-stress through magnesium baths, I took herbs, I took sleeping pills; I even got a doctor to prescribe me a cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) device to wear on my head. Some of it had some effect, but none of it to the meaningful degree that I’d hoped for. 

Stuck again, I figured that I could try this upcoming, weekend long meditation retreat at my college as a last resort. It was permissible; meditation was still scientific to me. I wasn’t going in expecting some mantra to magically open my crown chakra. As part of my upper level psychology studies I’d actually done a project on the role of meditation in reducing criminal recidivism (the likelihood that a convicted criminal would reoffend). It turned out that meditation—something that I previously thought amounted to little more than hippies singing “Imagine” by a fire pit—could actually decrease the stress hormone cortisol, grow gray matter in the brain, and regulate all kinds of other bodily systems. Heck, I discovered that right at my own college, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was one of the world’s leading meditation research labs: The Center for Healthy Minds founded by renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, Ph.D! 

While I was convinced that meditation would be good in theory, in practice…I found it to be rather daunting.  It certainly wasn’t as easy as just taking a pill; in fact, it was extremely uncomfortable. For the whole time that this suffering had been going on, I hadn’t had any relief from my non-stop thought process. Trying to focus on my breath rather than my thoughts seemed akin to walking on a loose tightrope—it only took a second before I’d lose focus and have to start all over again. If I hadn’t been part of a group, I may well have given up on meditation right then and there. But no one wants to be a quitter, so the peer-pressure of seeing it through to the end got me through most of the weekend.   

As the last meditation of the weekend was about to begin, I was there physically; but mentally, I’d checked out. I was already stressed, and I wasn’t keen on adding the frustration of not being good at this meditation thing to my growing list of life grievances. So I meditated, but unlike before, I just didn’t try so damn hard to meditate. I said, “you know what, instead of trying to stop my thoughts, I’m just going to go through the motions and breathe–letting my thoughts do what they want to do.” While surrender may be a high spiritual principle, I would describe what I did more along the lines of just giving up. But the thing is…it still kind of worked. 

The breathing exercises lasted for about thirty minutes, and while I wasn’t blissful by the end of it, I was kind of peaceful–although my back was a little sore from sitting on the floor for so long.

Anyhow, as the breathing exercises ended we were instructed to lie down on the ground (savasana, “corpse pose” in yogic terminology), and just be with whatever we were experiencing. This instruction seemed rather vague; “how am I supposed to do that?” I thought, yet It didn’t take long for this vague recommendation of  “be with whatever you’re experiencing” to turn into, “holy shit, whatever I’m experiencing now is like nothing I’ve ever experienced!”

Within about thirty seconds I just started laughing uncontrollably; somehow peace had managed to turn into joy. About thirty seconds later, I was so joyful that my body didn’t know what to do with itself. I started shaking in ways that, frankly, to an observer, would look like an epileptic seizure. It was controllable, but I felt no urge to control it. Why would I want to get in the way of joy turning into bliss? Trying to stop thoughts was out of the question; there was such a compelling aliveness pulsating through my body—thoughts simply seemed irrelevant. The conditions of my “If only I had this….then I could be happy” hadn’t been met, nor had my “God, if only I didn’t have this…then I would be happy” been resolved; yet there I was, in perfect contentment

And then it ended; like the mushroom experience had before. 

But something was different. Like the mushroom experience, I had been totally in the NOW, totally content with life as it was; but, unlike the mushroom experience, this happened without chemical aid. While I wasn’t enlightened, or even awakened, the meditation experience left me with something that the mushroom experience did not: an intense curiosity and a burning desire to return to that state. Before the experience, I thought the same of Eastern religion as I did of the Western religion that I grew up with; I wrote it off. The West had their delusion, Jesus and Heaven, and the East had theirs: Buddha and Enlightenment. But now, I was left to wonder… 

“What if you could bring that absolute peace, joy, and contentment with you wherever you went? What if you could reverse engineer yourself back to that state, and slowly but surely, become once again blissful and free of suffering? Could that be permanent, or hell, even semi-permanent? Is Enlightenment, Christ Consciousness, Self-Realization, or whatever various spiritual paths call it really a delusion, or is that our natural stateless state, our unconditioned condition? Rather than spiritual truth being delusional, what if it is merely our delusions that prevent us from realizing it?”

I’ve put a lot of life energy into resolving those questions from that day forward; this book is my answer.

Elliot Killian

-upcoming book on the Enneagram