by Karin Hallberg
Phillippe became interested in New Life Foundation since it offered many of his interests, but didn’t expect to feel so settled that he has now decided to stay for indefinite time. In addition to enjoying the different activities at New Life, Phillippe has found the Enneagram work to be a very powerful practice for self-development and self-acceptance.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Phillippe, I am from Montreal, Canada and I am 41 years old. I came here two months ago as a resident and I am now a volunteer. I came for a variety of reasons: because I was unhappy with my life back home, I wanted to be outside and do some physical work as well as therapy, I wanted to do natural building, I wanted to do group processes, practice Buddhism and meditation, and I wanted to do the Enneagram. New Life Foundation offered all those things in one place.
For how long are you staying altogether?
Actually I don’t know, that is indefinite for now.
How did you hear about the New Life Foundation?
A friend of mine told me about the place about one and a half years ago. I looked at the website and became “Facebook Friends” with New Life, and I have kept track of what is going on here since then.
What have been your greatest joys and challenges while being at the New Life Foundation?
I would say that community living and people have been both the greatest joys and greatest challenges. Living in a community setting provides a lot of opportunities to socialize, and that is very joyful and fun. At the same time you must get used to sharing close quarters with a lot of people. Of course there will be people which you get along with very well, and others who trigger you, and those people are the challenging part. You can learn a lot by looking at and trying to deal with your responses towards different people. I think one of the greatest benefits of living in this kind of community is keeping track of triggers.
Triggers in the sense that some people make you feel comfortable, angry, challenged etc?
Yes, any trigger, whether it is an event, a person, a personality or something else that triggers something unpleasant in you.
Is there anything special that you have learned here that you will take with you when you leave?
Yes, the Enneagram work, I love Enneagram work! It is a great way to work on a personality in a non-judgmental way, it is at the same time very profound and very gentle, and it doesn’t pathologize one’s personality. I was interested in Enneagram before as well, and I have been very into it since I came here.
What is it that is so special with Enneagram?
In Enneagram you become aware of your personality type and its strengths and weaknesses. So if you find out that what bothers you is normal for your type, it is a great relief to know that it is common for your personality type to face that kind of issues, difficulties or challenges. You can then have more compassion for yourself and be less hard on yourself. I guess that is what I mean by non-pathologizing, to not make personality into pathology. In my experience so far, I haven’t been able to beat myself up for the way I am within Enneagram. Conventional therapy looks at defense mechanisms and problems, and inevitably sooner or later I end up thinking that “I am such a mess”, but not with Enneagram. And it also makes me aware of strengths that I didn’t know I had before.
When you proceed in your life, whether you will be here or somewhere else, what does a New Life look like to you?
Oh I don’t know, because I’m here now and I have no plans to leave for the time being! But my life is not on hold elsewhere, I don’t have an apartment to go back to or anything like that, all my life is here now. I am happy and I am really grateful to be here. It’s a very rich experience.