The Three Centers of Intelligence

May 11, 2023 | By TNE

green background with 3 enneagram diagrams and the text

In Western psychology and education, the mind has been elevated to prominence as “the” center of intelligence. Yet there is also an intelligence of the heart (emotional intelligence) and an intelligence of the body (sensations and instincts). The Enneagram acknowledges all three centers – head, heart and body – and recognizes that each one requires ongoing cultivation. And while everyone relies to some degree on all three centers, each of the Enneagram types relies more heavily on one of them.


purple background and cropped enneagram symbol showing the Body Center of Intelligence

Body Center: Types 8, 9, and 1

If you are a Body Center type, you tend to filter the world through an intelligence of kinesthetic or physical sensations and gut instincts. You use personal position and power to make life be the way it should be. You devise strategies that assure your place in the world and minimize discomfort.

Keys: Worth, Congruence, Protection, Comfort, Harmony and Belonging


Gold background with cropped enneagram symbol showing the Heart Center of Intelligence

Heart Center: Types 2, 3, and 4

If you are a Heart Center type, you tend to perceive the world through the filter of emotional intelligence. You are attuned to the mood and feeling state in others to meet your needs for contact and approval. You depend more than other types upon the recognition of others to support your self-esteem and fulfill your desire for love and connection. To assure that you receive that approval and recognition, you create an image of yourself that will get others to accept you and see you as special.

Keys: Love, Connection, Affection, Bonding, Image and Approval


teal background with cropped enneagram symbol showing the Head Center of intelligence

Head Center: Types 5, 6 and 7

If you are a Head Center type, you tend to filter the world through the mental faculties. The goals of this strategy are to minimize anxiety, to manage potentially painful situations and to gain a sense of certainty through the mental processes of analyzing, envisioning, imagining and planning.

Keys: Security, Safety, Certainty, Assurance, Predictability and Opportunity


Want to learn more?

You can learn more about the Three Centers of Intelligence and explore the nine Enneagram types here. Or join us at an upcoming Enneagram Intensive Part 1 program for a deep, transformative experience of practice integrating the head, heart and body centers of intelligence.

Centers of Intelligence Teaching the Enneagram The Enneagram The Narrative Tradition


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