New Equations History
Being able to relate to other people and to the earth with knowledge from all nine Spiritual Portals creates a new state of being, a new consciousness, and gives us as human beings a way to relate to each other as One.
— Siska Tovey and Alan Sheets
Siska Tovey and Alan Sheets
Cofounders of New Equations
The story behind the development of New Equations® is one of human spirituality and the ways in which it is visible and expressed through the body. It grew from the pioneering research and discoveries made in 1994 by Siska Tovey and Alan Sheets of the nine Soultypes®, Soultyping®, and the Postures of Strength®.
Siska and Alan are the cofounders of New Equations, New Equations Music, and the New Equations Advanced Training Organization. They offer programs, practices, and music, that give you the opportunity to learn how to use the wisdom of your soul and your Soultype in such a way that you may become more deeply aligned with your own spirituality and physicality. Siska and Alan have been continuously developing New Equations and making their discoveries available to the world.
This New Equations History provides an overview of many of their discoveries through 2015. For those who would like to take a look at the ways in which Siska and Alan’s research evolved, their early books from 1997, 2001, and 2005, are now available in the New Equations bookstore.
Siska Tovey working
at the Self Care Center
In the late 1980’s, Siska and Alan opened the Self Care Center, a physical therapy clinic in a small town north of San Francisco, California, USA. Siska was certified in Aston-Patterning® and Alan was certified in the Feldenkrais Method®. Their particular focus was to use only gentle and non-invasive treatment approaches, and they found that Aston-Patterning and the Feldenkrais Method worked beautifully together to create healing using no force. At the same time, Siska and Alan were continually exploring ways to further enhance the healing process for their clients. This included bringing into their practice physical therapists who offered other modalities, such as biofeedback and breathing techniques.
Alan Sheets working
at the Self Care Center
They also looked into psychological and philosophical approaches to assist them with the healing process. In 1990, they read Enneagram–Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life, by Helen Palmer. Her book presented a psychological model of nine personality types developed around a nine-pointed geometric figure inside a circle called the enneagram. Each personality type was assigned a number that correlated with a point on the enneagram. Personality and relationships between the types were shaped and influenced by the ways in which the lines of the diagram connected.
Palmer’s model of nine personality types focused on human weakness, neurotic behavior, and what a person might do to resolve the unique, type-specific problems they faced in life. The way a person determined their enneagram type was through self-assessment or by working with an enneagram teacher, such as Palmer.
Enneagram symbol with points numbered
Siska and Alan delved into the history of the enneagram to see if they could find its origins and learn more. They found that Palmer had been a student of Claudio Naranjo for many years. Naranjo was a psychiatrist who developed a psychological model of personality that identified nine neurotic expressions of behavior correlated with the enneagram diagram. Looking farther back, Siska and Alan learned that Naranjo had been introduced to the enneagram by Oscar Ichazo, founder of the Arica Institute, who had also associated various personality characteristics with the diagram.
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff
They learned that another person, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a mystic and spiritual teacher, was reported to be the first person to introduce to the Western world a model of human behavior correlated with the enneagram symbol. Gurdjieff is said to have traveled the world looking for spiritual truth. He brought back from his travels an understanding of the nature of reality he named the Fourth Way, which he shared with his students. Siska and Alan could not trace the source of Gurdjieff’s knowledge as it is not known with certainty where he got his information.
Alan Sheets with study group – 1994
By the summer of 1993, Siska and Alan had read most of what they could find about the different enneagram systems that people had developed. They both felt that something was missing. Since they did not know what it was, they decided to hold informal study groups at their home and do research to try to find out what was missing. Their groups were open to anyone who was interested, and although there were many people who often attended on a regular basis, Siska and Alan never knew in advance who would show up at a gathering.
Their careers as Feldenkrais and Aston-Patterning practitioners had taught Siska and Alan that their clients were more able to heal, change, and grow, when they focused on what was working well. They applied this understanding to their research, which made their approach unique and different because they focused only on a person’s natural and inherent strengths instead of dysfunctional behaviors. To explore these strengths, Siska and Alan interviewed many people, both privately and in their study groups. They centered their research around helping each person express their positive nature. This positive way of being was never forceful. Their unique approach led Siska and Alan to make deeper connections and bring forth new insights about human nature.
A New Strengths-Based Typing Paradigm
As a result of their research, Siska and Alan were able to develop a new nine-type paradigm that included a new typing process, as well. This new paradigm was instrumental in bringing them clarity.
Each of the nine types they identified seemed to embody a particular strength that was a gift for humanity. It appeared that the gift each type had to offer was something that would strengthen humanity’s creativity and expansion.To find out more about these nine special gifts, go to our Nine Soultypes page.
Siska and Alan’s research showed them that an individual’s strength and creativity would come forward when he or she was supported in a purely positive way. So, when Siska and Alan held interviews to type someone, they focused only on that person’s wisdom, strengths, and the ways in which they expressed gentleness and compassion toward others.
Over time, they worked with many people who had been typed by teachers of other enneagram models, such as Palmer’s, and discovered that most of the time their way of typing did not match Alan and Siska’s new typing paradigm.
People felt supported by the new paradigm and enjoyed bringing their families and friends to be typed and engage in the research process.
Siska and Alan began to document their research findings.
A Surprising New Direction
Dancing on enneagram diagram from ‘Meetings With Remarkable Men’
In August of 1994, Siska and Alan attended the 1st International Enneagram Conference, held at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Here they saw several dance scenes taken from Meetings with Remarkable Men, a movie about Gurdjieff and his travels. The complex and beautiful dances captured their attention. In one of them, the performers danced along several lines of the enneagram diagram that were painted on the floor. These dances pointed Siska and Alan in a new direction: they wondered if there might be a correlation between the body, movement, and their new strengths-based paradigm.
Something No One Seems To Know About
Siska and Alan purchased a copy of Meetings With Remarkable Men and watched the dances again before their next study group. Feeling curious about exploring movement with the group, they made the decision to show the dances and then experiment with a physical exercise. Everyone had been typed beforehand using Siska and Alan’s new typing paradigm.
It was important to them that they continue their approach of using no force in everything related to their research. Alan holds a black belt in Aikido, so they decided that he would use a martial arts warm-up exercise with the participants that night. This exercise would require participants to use less muscular force to gain strength. Only one person in the group was familiar with this process due to her previous martial art training.
Alan began by putting his hand on a participant’s chest and he asked her to walk forward while he gave her a small amount of resistance. Because of Alan’s Aikido training, he was able to create resistance using non-forceful energy instead of muscular strength. One at a time, the study group participants tried to walk forward. Siska and Alan noticed that they struggled to walk in a variety of ways. When the last person in the study group that evening tried to walk, the only part of her body that moved forward was her lower body. This looked unusual to Siska and Alan because she walked her lower body so far forward, and arched her back so much, that if she had continued she would have fallen over backwards. One other person in the study group had responded in a similar way, and they had each been typed as a 4 by Siska and Alan.
Siska and Alan wondered about what they were seeing. Could it be a bodily response unique to type 4? Might there be a physical component to each of the nine types?
Siska and Alan looked back over their own life experiences and saw that nothing they had ever seen, read, or heard about, identified this kind of difference in the way people use their bodies.
The next day, Alan went to the library to see if he could find something there that described physical responses of this kind, but found nothing. Siska and Alan realized that they might have discovered something new, something no one else knew anything about. What they had witnessed during their study group indicated that each of the nine types in their strength-based system might have a unique body-based response.
Three weeks later at the next study group, Siska and Alan decided to try a different exercise. The two of them met hand-to-hand while Alan slowly increased the intensity of his push until he was pushing with a lot of energy. Suddenly a burst of energy came from Siska that caused Alan to be thrown back ten feet (three meters). People in the group gasped with surprise. They all knew that Siska had no training in a martial art, so her energetic response had to have come from something else.
Siska and Alan both felt a deep, pure, and strong connection happening, as well as peacefulness filling their bodies. Their experience was mysterious to them and they were intrigued. They did the exercise together two more times with the same results.
Everyone in the study group wanted to try the exercise. Alan met with each person using the same non-forceful and slow steady push that gradually increased in intensity. As with Siska, a strong burst of energy came from each person. Study group participants felt enlivened by their experiences and speechless. Each person’s energy had a different quality to it, but in every case Alan was propelled backwards.
Siska and Alan were in awe of what appeared to be a powerful energy that is accessible through the human body.
Postures of Strength
At the following study groups, Siska and Alan continued their research. Alan repeatedly pushed a little, either on a participant’s hands or chest, as he increased the intensity. They observed each participant’s reactions and movements, and provided guidance to help them find a way to disengage their normal muscular responses. Everyone found a way to become stronger without using muscular strength, and stay with the process. The more they let their body lead, the easier it became.
Siska and Alan observed that although people appeared to adjust their bodies into different physical positions in response to Alan’s push, people who were the same type responded by adjusting into a similar position.
Siska and Alan noticed that each person’s energy seemed to become increasingly strong and concentrated in a particular area of their body, and the location varied depending on the person’s type. They found that energy for types 1-7-5 became strong and centralized in the head, whereas for 3-6-9 it was the ribcage, and for 8-4-2 the energy was strongest in the abdomen.
One of the things that stood out for Siska and Alan was that the less people used muscular effort or force, the stronger and more present they became. They seemed to shine from within.
Over the next several weeks Siska and Alan worked with many people. They observed responses and saw physical postures emerging as each person became stronger and stronger.
A distinct feature of these postures was that a person could do and hold their ground in only one of them. Their body would not know how to do any of the other eight—those felt foreign, unnatural, and impossible to do. Yet, each person seemed to be able to become infinitely and effortlessly strong in their own posture, even though they were not using muscular effort.
By December of 1994, Siska and Alan had found nine distinct and unique postures. They named these the Postures of Strength. Except for minor adjustments, the Postures of Strength are the same today as they were then.
Siska and Alan included this physical component in their typing system: they would work with a person to find their Posture of Strength as the means to identify the type. Not only did this approach bypass the mental typing process, but people would also feel within themselves a non-forceful energy that was giving them strength.
As you continue to read through the New Equations History, you will see that what Siska and Alan had discovered was so unique and new that it took many years for another person to learn to type.
Siska and Alan continued their research to gain greater understanding. To date, they have not found any historical record of humanity’s Postures of Strength.
Enneagram of the Body
Siska and Alan named their work Enneagram of the Body because of its connection to the nine numbers associated with the enneagram diagram, and because their discovery showed responses that were not only energetic, but also body-based.
In May of 1995, Siska and Alan began to teach and held their first public workshop to share their discoveries. They were also interviewed about their research for articles that were published in the Enneagram Monthly newspaper. Siska and Alan took photos of a student in the Postures of Strength to include with the articles. Siska later drew the numbered Postures of Strength figures that you see positioned in the circle logo.