How to Find Magic in the Rules

I was gushing on about the Enneagram and feng shui the other day to a friend. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the past two to three years learning about both and applying the knowledge and practice of each to my life in some pretty uplifting ways.

“It’s funny,” my friend said. “I always see you as a bit rebellious or free-thinking. Someone who doesn’t fit into boxes. It surprises me you like these things that require you to follow so many rules. Why is that?”

“Ah, because the rules set me free,” I explained.

Take feng shui for example; yes, there’s a bagua map that divides your house into neat squares, yes, you’re supposed to use certain colors, shapes, and elements in each section, and, yes, you need to declutter first and maybe get rid of some things you thought you liked or needed. But, for me, feng shui also gives permission to believe that all the things identified on the bagua map matter in our lives: career; travel and helpful people; knowledge and self-cultivation; children and creativity; health and family; wealth and prosperity; fame and reputation; love and marriage. And they matter equally. Each deserves our focus and intention. Each is something we should strive to attract. And paying attention to those things makes us feel lighter, healthier, and more on track with the lives we are meant to live.

To me, the Enneagram is not about putting people into boxes at all. It’s about acknowledging that our soul’s journey is why we’re here. That other people are on their journeys, too, and must be honored. That unlike Myers-Briggs or Strengths Finder or any personality quiz, within the Enneagram, we are never just our number. We respond to different events, actions, people, motivations, setbacks, etc., in a number of ways that come from our core essence. The Enneagram is not a simple thing to unpack, and after more than three years of studying it, I still have much to learn.

Maybe, though, I have come to understand there are no boxes in life to “put us in.” Only the boxes we put ourselves in.

I don’t see “rules” as boxes, and maybe I never have. If the rule of the school assignment was to write the paper in a certain way, but I thought there was a better way, I sometimes wrote it my way and accepted the lesser grade. But the assignment itself did provide a jumping off point for my own creativity to take over, so that was useful.

I don’t typically break some rules, like the rules of traffic, for example, because I know they exist to keep us safe. But I sometimes use my own creativity to work around even those rules (without hurting anyone). I choose a backstreet route to avoid all the traffic lights or stay in a metered parking spot past the allotted time if I’m having a good conversation with a friend. And although I accept the rules outside of my car, there are no rules within my car. I can sing badly to the radio, I can sneak bites of the pumpkin bread I just bought, I can stick my hand out the window to catch the breeze. The traffic may suck sometimes, and there’s no way around that, but I can choose how I respond to it.

Embracing practices like the Enneagram or feng shui lead me back to my essential self. They give me the opportunity to focus on what makes me happy. And provide knowledge that allows me to help other people understand themselves a bit better, if that’s what they want.

It’s so exciting when I “get” something in the Enneagram, like a door has opened. And it raises my energy when I apply some feng shui magic to a corner of my house. Usually, within days, sometimes even hours of focusing on either practice, I experience powerful real-life shifts in my situations, health, attitude, and understanding that defy logic or explanation.

I’ve always believed in magic, but any magician will tell you there are rules to making the magic work. There are tools you rely on and words you say, maybe not because they are necessary, but because they help focus your scattered, fearful, judging mind. The “rules” of magic help you suspend disbelief and give you permission to find the magic in you!

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