Leslie Hershberger (Part 1) – The Enneagram as Spiritual Tool: A Map for Deeper Self-Understanding & More Effective Contemplative Practice

Leslie Hershberger Enneagram Contemplative Practice

Enneagram expert, teacher, master facilitator, and transformational coach Leslie Hershberger leads us into the world of the Enneagram, not typology point by point—here Leslie paints a broader, deeper picture of the Enneagram and its uses as a psycho-spiritual tool than is commonly understood. Leslie explains how the Enneagram provides the psychological foundation for each individual to navigate their inner world more skillfully. A wealth of knowledge comes with recognizing the center you orient from—head, heart, or body—and your type’s tendencies, freeing up energy within us to move out of negative patterns into virtuous ones. With the insights the Enneagram provides, we can develop practices tailored to our specific personality structure that help with everyday challenges and vicissitudes, with being more present in our relationships, and with opening to spiritual presence.

Listening to Leslie, one feels the energy of rising awareness as her anecdotes about various different Enneagram types’ ways of relating to themselves, others, and the world ring decisively true, matching our own experience. Leslie’s passion for guiding people who are ready to make “the inward turn” in using the Enneagram as a map is clearly palpable. And though she is a longtime contemplative, Leslie is all about boots-on-the-ground action: meeting people where they are at, providing support and guidance, and reflecting back to all whom she encounters a truly awe-inspiring, Enneagram-informed, and integral understanding. Recorded January 9, 2023.

Please enjoy a 20-minute guided meditation, led by Leslie, at the end of part 2 of this podcast. Leslie originally led this meditation for Roger, John, and the Deep Transformation team right before the podcast was recorded, so they could experience her Enneagram-informed techniques that help us ground, center, and connect with our inner being, somatically and emotionally.

“The Enneagram is a vehicle for spiritual presence—for spiritual experience.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 1

  • Introducing gifted Enneagram teacher, contemplative practitioner, and transformational coach Leslie Hershberger (01:10)
  • How 1’s are driven by the inner critic and the desire to perfect themselves and others (04:11)
  • Given our Enneagram type, we tend to contract in a certain sector of reality—this is a literal, physical contraction (05:15)
  • The Enneagram provides a map of the 9 different tendencies of contracting against life force, against spiritual presence (08:56)
  • Each type has a cognitive habit that sits upon the energy of an emotional habit; this energy is there for spiritual conversion (09:59)
  • The skillful response is inherent in the awareness of the contraction (13:12)
  • Each type has a particular defense mechanism which is the glue that holds our structure together (15:13)
  • Anger, fear, and sadness (the 3 afflictions) are in everyone, but each of us is driven by one of these predominantly, according to our type (19:19)
  • Where the Enneagram fits in the larger field of personality typing and how it shows up in early contemplative traditions (24:44)
  • The Enneagram is a useful, practical, psychological typology—but it’s also a spiritual tool (26:38)
  • The Enneagram types you from your blind spots and the places that are hard to see (28:47)
  • The 3 instinctual subtypes: social, sexual, and self-preservation (29:52)
  • On 6’s: doubt, projection, and amplified hazards (30:56)
  • Teaching people their ego structure using panels of types in the narrative tradition (34:33)
  • The importance of meditation and somatic experiencing and how the type structures are housed in the body (36:29)
  • The vice to virtue conversion for each type: each type has a predominant vice and a predominant virtue (37:00)
  • Our fundamental root dysfunctions give birth to wisdom—our vices contain the energy for us to transform (42:14)
  • How Integral Theory’s teachings on higher states of consciousness and the difference between stages and states complement the teachings of the Enneagram (48:29)
  • Illuminating the essential elements of the psychological structure: “Mysticism and spirituality are not enough…Social action and therapeutic caring are not enough…” Jacob Needleman’s teaching is foundational to Leslie’s integral approach (50:02)
  • Finding one’s core piece of suffering, relaxing into it and giving it some space, then tasting the virtue (52:09)
  • How Leslie discovered Buddhist meditation, the contemplative (well-hidden) arm of Catholicism, and Centering Prayer (53:15)
  • What’s a portal for people with a real allergy to religion? The Enneagream provides a bridge for the inward turn (55:42)

Resources & References – Part 1

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Leslie Hershberger Enneagram Contemplative Practice

Teacher, theologian, spiritual guide, and master facilitator, Leslie Hershberger is the founder of The Three-Centered Enneagram, and offers both corporate and contemplative workshops, retreats, and keynotes throughout the U.S. and in Europe. She designed the online course The Foundations of the Enneagram: The Centers Approach, which is both a deep and a practical way of developing embodied emotional and social intelligence. Leslie integrates the Enneagram, three-centered contemplative practice, and Integral Theory in her work.

Leslie’s core mission is facilitating practice based in all 3 centers: head, heart, and body. She supports others in integrating psychological awareness and opening to wise, embodied spiritual Presence, especially during times of significant transition: social change, religious transition, second half of life, changing bodies, illness, grief, loss and the inevitable relationship challenges with those we care about most. She also supports many “post-church” pastors and people who have experienced a religious deconstruction and are looking for a way forward. Leslie was recently honored by Xavier University with the William and Anna Madges award for distinguished contribution to society.


Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell


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