Swami Beyondananda / Steve Bhaerman (Part 1) – Laugh Yourself Sane, Enlighten Up & Awaken to Cosmic Comic Consciousness with the Wit & Wisdom of This Hilarious Duo

Swami Beyondananda Steve Bhaerman

Ep. 94 (Part 1 of 2) | Author, activist, and humorist Steve Bhaerman (aka Swami Beyondananda) realized the power of humor as well as his talent for making people laugh early on, when his schoolmates would laugh so hard, milk would come out of their nose. Steve’s spiritual and psychological wisdom, his deep love and concern for humanity, and his clever, refreshing humor come together in a perfect triad to create the wise, inspired, and funny political and spiritual commentary that have delighted so many for so long. Steve’s mission is to bring people together to work for the things everybody wants—rather than a tug of war, his vision is of a tug of peace, all pulling in the same direction. He has seen over and over how effective comic relief is at bridging people’s differences; it can even disrupt dualistic thinking to where oneness becomes real and unity is achieved.

Steve’s sidekick, Swami Beyondananda, will make you laugh and his humorous perspective on the great issues of our time (like truth decay) and insights about how we can create a more positive future for ourselves (like self-facing laughter and tantrum yoga) really help to lighten the load. Hope is transmitted through levity and we find we can all laugh at human behavior together. Steve explains that with laughter we release emotions, trauma, and mental structures because truth is being liberated, and that comedy’s role is to deconstruct toxic narratives yet leave people standing. In this conversation, you will experience the power of humor to make even the dire circumstances of today’s world feel a bit lighter—Steve/Swami’s inspired comedy is not only politically astute but palpably heartwarming. Recorded August 10, 2023.

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Shakil Choudhury (Part 2) Deep Diversity: Integrating Psychological, Scientific & Spiritual Contributions for Healing Injustice and Inequity

Shakil Choudhury Deep Diversity

Ep. 90 (Part 2 of 2) | Award-winning educator and activist Shakil Choudhury is the author of the outstanding book Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice, and in this potent conversation we learn a lot we perhaps didn’t know about the psychological, emotional, and neurobiological reasons for our ingrained biases, and the systemic bias in the culture at large. How and why do we discriminate? Many of our biases are hidden in the unconscious, which makes it that much harder to bring them into the light so we can begin to understand what’s going on and find ways to move ourselves and society toward justice and equity. Shakil explains that changing societal norms is at the heart of the battle for racial and social justice, as our habitual cultural behaviors tend to be viewed as legitimate, normal, and natural, when actually they may be outdated, off base, offensive, and unjust. Shakil deftly lines us out with specific steps we can take to recognize and change our own behaviors, as well as actions organizational leaders can take to effect change on a broader level.

Shakil contends that educating people to become diversity and equity literate is the first essential step, and the 360-hour program he has designed to this end has proven very effective. Once people see the data, they cannot help understanding the drivers of racial and social injustice more clearly, which leads to the place where real transformation can happen. Shakil’s extraordinarily insightful and illuminating approach is fueled by many years of contemplative practice, and he leaves us with a vision of what we are fighting for—not just what we are fighting against—based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of Beloved Community. Small groups of dedicated people have managed to successfully nudge societal norms in the direction of justice in the past, and this conversation and Shakil’s book, Deep Diversity, most certainly contribute a compassionate nudge in the right direction. Bit by bit, recognizing that this is a journey, Shakil conveys both the means and the hope that justice will prevail. Recorded April 26, 2023.

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Shakil Choudhury (Part 1) – Deep Diversity: Integrating Psychological, Scientific & Spiritual Contributions for Healing Injustice and Inequity

Shakil Choudhury Deep Diversity

Ep. 89 (Part 1 of 2) | Award-winning educator and activist Shakil Choudhury is the author of the outstanding book Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice, and in this potent conversation we learn a lot we perhaps didn’t know about the psychological, emotional, and neurobiological reasons for our ingrained biases, and the systemic bias in the culture at large. How and why do we discriminate? Many of our biases are hidden in the unconscious, which makes it that much harder to bring them into the light so we can begin to understand what’s going on and find ways to move ourselves and society toward justice and equity. Shakil explains that changing societal norms is at the heart of the battle for racial and social justice, as our habitual cultural behaviors tend to be viewed as legitimate, normal, and natural, when actually they may be outdated, off base, offensive, and unjust. Shakil deftly lines us out with specific steps we can take to recognize and change our own behaviors, as well as actions organizational leaders can take to effect change on a broader level.

Shakil contends that educating people to become diversity and equity literate is the first essential step, and the 360-hour program he has designed to this end has proven very effective. Once people see the data, they cannot help understanding the drivers of racial and social injustice more clearly, which leads to the place where real transformation can happen. Shakil’s extraordinarily insightful and illuminating approach is fueled by many years of contemplative practice, and he leaves us with a vision of what we are fighting for—not just what we are fighting against—based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of Beloved Community. Small groups of dedicated people have managed to successfully nudge societal norms in the direction of justice in the past, and this conversation and Shakil’s book, Deep Diversity, most certainly contribute a compassionate nudge in the right direction. Bit by bit, recognizing that this is a journey, Shakil conveys both the means and the hope that justice will prevail. Recorded April 26, 2023.

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Gail Hochachka (Part 2) – The Psychology of Climate Change: Understanding the Causes and Finding Solutions to the Great Challenge of Our Time

Climate change researcher Gail Hochachka

Ep. 88 (Part 2 of 2) | Climate change researcher, sustainable development expert, and activist Gail Hochachka works on the front lines of climate change research, asking—and answering—questions like: How does the way we make meaning, at all our different stages of development, relate to the ways we act on climate change? How can we foster more engagement with climate change? Is climate action scalable? And how are we going to show up for the people who are facing the greatest impacts? So far, in searching for solutions, we have largely neglected tapping into the human dimensions of the problem—the ways we understand climate change, the ways we respond, and the ways we can communicate together and make decisions about how to act. Herein lies the potential to come up with more viable solutions than we have so far, and this is the focus of Gail’s current research.

Climate change is such a hugely complex and also emotional issue, it is understandably hard for anyone to wrap their head around it, Gail tells us, but the good news is that research is showing that taking action—in whatever way seems most appropriate and meaningful to each individual—is scalable, and that there are ways, which Gail outlines, of creating meaningful communication between people who have very different understandings, to where people can actually come to a place of agreement on how to move forward. Gail’s deep understanding of integral theory and stages of psychological development, combined with her extensive experience in sustainable development, gives her a uniquely insightful perspective on ways of confronting the climate challenge. Gail relates that, surprisingly, a positive way to look at climate change has come to light, which is that climate change is actually presenting us with an opportunity—an opportunity to become more conscious about the way we live, to the great benefit of people and planet. Recorded January 18, 2023.

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Gail Hochachka (Part 1) – The Psychology of Climate Change: Understanding the Causes and Finding Solutions to the Great Challenge of Our Time

Climate change researcher Gail Hochachka

Ep. 87 (Part 1 of 2) | Climate change researcher, sustainable development expert, and activist Gail Hochachka works on the front lines of climate change research, asking—and answering—questions like: How does the way we make meaning, at all our different stages of development, relate to the ways we act on climate change? How can we foster more engagement with climate change? Is climate action scalable? And how are we going to show up for the people who are facing the greatest impacts? So far, in searching for solutions, we have largely neglected tapping into the human dimensions of the problem—the ways we understand climate change, the ways we respond, and the ways we can communicate together and make decisions about how to act. Herein lies the potential to come up with more viable solutions than we have so far, and this is the focus of Gail’s current research.

Climate change is such a hugely complex and also emotional issue, it is understandably hard for anyone to wrap their head around it, Gail tells us, but the good news is that research is showing that taking action—in whatever way seems most appropriate and meaningful to each individual—is scalable (the more people who act, the easier it becomes for yet more and more people to act), and that there are ways, which Gail outlines, of creating meaningful communication between people who have very different understandings, to where people can actually come to a place of agreement on how to move forward. Gail’s deep understanding of integral theory and stages of psychological development, combined with her extensive experience in sustainable development, gives her a uniquely insightful perspective on ways of confronting the climate challenge. Gail relates that, surprisingly, a positive way to look at climate change has come to light, which is that climate change is actually presenting us with an opportunity—an opportunity to become more conscious about the way we live, to the great benefit of people and planet. Recorded January 18, 2023.

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A. H. Almaas (Part 2) – Nondual Love: Awakening to the Fundamental Benevolence of Reality

A. H. Almaas (Hameed Ali) Nondual Love

Ep. 86 (Part 2 of 2) | Hameed Ali (A. H. Almaas), founder of the contemporary spiritual path the Diamond Approach, beloved teacher, and author of many outstanding spiritual classics, has written a trilogy on the subject of love, and in this conversation the focus is on the recently published second book, Nondual Love. Hameed explains that most wisdom traditions target various ultimates: pure emptiness, pure consciousness, nondual awareness, being, non-being—each of which is sufficient for liberation, but fails to include the qualities of nondual love: goodness, sweetness, abundance, benevolence. Hameed brings these dimensions of love to the table, asking what does divine love feel like, look like, what is it made of?

Listening to Hameed is a beautiful, rich experience, due to his extraordinary lucidity, gentle humor, and the profound understanding and assurance that pervade his words from his long experience swimming in the waters of which he speaks. He tells us we all have the potential to experience nondual love, although there are significant obstacles along the path that are inherent to being human. Hameed describes the different stages of opening to nondual love, from the first glimmerings of “unearthly sweetness” to the realization that we ourselves are love. And he outlines the nature of the barriers we face, like the beast of anger and hatred that arises in us when we perceive that reality has abandoned us. Hameed explains that by re-establishing basic trust, and feeling the presence of benevolent love, we can regain the sense that things will be okay and unfold ultimately for the good. Recorded April 12, 2023.

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A. H. Almaas (Part 1) – Nondual Love: Awakening to the Fundamental Benevolence of Reality

A. H. Almaas (Hameed Ali) Nondual Love

Ep. 85 (Part 1 of 2) | Hameed Ali (A. H. Almaas), founder of the contemporary spiritual path the Diamond Approach and author of many outstanding spiritual classics, has written a trilogy on the subject of love, and in this conversation the focus is on the second book, Nondual Love. Hameed explains that most wisdom traditions target various ultimates: pure emptiness, pure consciousness, nondual awareness, being, non-being—each of which is sufficient for liberation, but fails to include the qualities of nondual love: goodness, sweetness, abundance, benevolence. Hameed brings these dimensions of love to the table, asking what does divine love feel like, look like, what is it made of?

Listening to Hameed is a beautiful, rich experience, due to his extraordinary lucidity, gentle humor, and the profound understanding and assurance that pervade his words from his long experience swimming in the waters of which he speaks. He tells us we all have the potential to experience nondual love, although there are significant obstacles along the path that are inherent to being human. Hameed describes the different stages of opening to nondual love, from the first glimmerings of “unearthly sweetness” to the realization that we ourselves are love. And he outlines the nature of the barriers we face, like the beast of anger and hatred that arises in us when we perceive that reality has abandoned us. Hameed explains that re-establishing basic trust, feeling the presence of benevolent love, we can regain the sense that things will be okay and unfold ultimately for the good. Recorded April 12, 2023.

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Lama Surya Das (Part 2) – The Essence of Awakening: Who Are We Really—and How Can We Find Out?

Lama Surya Das Essence of Awakening

Ep. 84 (Part 2 of 2) | Lama Surya Das, beloved meditation teacher, scholar, pioneer of bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West, and author of the bestseller Awakening the Buddha Within among many more, shares bright gems of wisdom from his extensive experience practicing Dzogchen, his long immersion in meditation retreats, and studying in person with the great spiritual teachers of Asia. Lama Surya is dedicated to getting the word out, and to young people especially, that the timeless teachings of the great masters are every bit as important and transformative in today’s modern world as they ever were. One doesn’t need to go on retreat to come to a place of wonder, understanding, and appreciation for life; Lama Surya assures us that daily practice of attentive awareness on the path of “awakefulness” is doable and effective in today’s world. This is the path that leads to self-knowledge, and we just need to explore and investigate to discover for ourselves that realization of the Great Perfection, of oneness, is never far away.

Lama Surya embellishes his teachings with humorous tales of his early explorations with psychedelics, his spiritual adventures in India, how he came to undertaking not one but two 3-year silent retreats in the great Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen, and coming home afterwards with a mission for transmission. He talks about divine love and how amazing and influential it was to hang out with spiritual teachers who actually practice unconditional love, here and now. Lama Surya Das’ own deep caring and compassion shine through his words, and his well-known “jolly lama” humor often elicits laughter from Roger and John. “There are a lot of lanes on the highway of awakening, you just want to watch you don’t go off into the ditch.” His authentic, endearing humility shines through as well. He is certain that “if I can do it, you can do it, anyone can do it.” Recorded September 7, 2022.

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Lama Surya Das (Part 1) – The Essence of Awakening: Who Are We Really—and How Can We Find Out?

Lama Surya Das Essence of Awakening

Ep. 83 (Part 1 of 2) | Lama Surya Das, beloved meditation teacher, scholar, pioneer of bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West, and author of the bestseller Awakening the Buddha Within among many more, shares bright gems of wisdom from his extensive experience practicing Dzogchen, his long immersion in meditation retreats, and studying in person with the great spiritual teachers of Asia. Lama Surya is dedicated to getting the word out, and to young people especially, that the timeless teachings of the great masters are every bit as important and transformative in today’s modern world as they ever were. One doesn’t need to go on retreat to come to a place of wonder, understanding, and appreciation for life; Lama Surya assures us that daily practice of attentive awareness on the path of “awakefulness” is doable and effective in today’s world. This is the path that leads to self-knowledge, and we just need to explore and investigate to discover for ourselves that realization of the Great Perfection, of oneness, is never far away.

Lama Surya embellishes his teachings with humorous tales of his early explorations with psychedelics, his spiritual adventures in India, how he came to undertaking not one but two 3-year silent retreats in the great Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen, and coming home afterwards with a mission for transmission. He talks about divine love and how amazing and influential it was to hang out with spiritual teachers who actually practice unconditional love, here and now. Lama Surya Das’ own deep caring and compassion shine through his words, and his well-known “jolly lama” humor often elicits laughter from Roger and John. “There are a lot of lanes on the highway of awakening, you just want to watch you don’t go off into the ditch.” His authentic, endearing humility shines through as well. He is certain that “if I can do it, you can do it, anyone can do it.” Recorded September 7, 2022.

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Mark Fischler (Part 2) – Building a Just World: How Our Laws Express Our Collective Values, and the Challenge of Uplifting Our Values, Law, and Society

Mark Fischler collective values

Ep. 82 (Part 2 of 2) | Constitutional law expert and criminal justice professor Mark Fischler has a thirst for justice and a gift for teaching. With cogency and passion, Mark explains that law is not the absolute that we perhaps thought, but an ever changing reflection of the values we hold as a society. Law is a developmental process, and will benefit from our own dedication to inner moral development. Mark shows how the law can (and has) become ever more inclusive, with the potential to serve and uphold the dignity of all peoples, all beings. Because of its abstract clauses, there is room in the Constitution to interpret the law in ways that are attuned with our pluralistic society. Mark calls on us to come together and decide what we value as a people—there is no mandate in democracy that all decision making power must reside in the hands of the Supreme Court, which has only had the sort of unilateral power it enjoys today since the 1950s.

This is no dry, legalistic conversation, but a truly illuminating vision of the potential of the law to embody justice, inclusivity, compassion. It is also a solid overview of where we have come from and where we are now, referencing many landmark rulings of the Supreme Court. Finally, this is spiritually inspiring as well—Mark tells the story of the transformational epiphany he had as a young man that led to his career as a public defender, onto the spiritual path, and eventually to become a well-respected, award-winning professor of criminal justice. Mark’s perspective on the law is far ranging, embracing human rights, animal rights, the rights of all beings. It comes from a place of deep care and compassion: “What is the happiness that the Declaration of Independence talks about, what is suffering?” Be inspired by Mark’s wise and knowledgeable teachings and the potential of the law to create a just society for all. Recorded January 4, 2023.

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Mark Fischler (Part 1) – Building a Just World: How Our Laws Express Our Collective Values, and the Challenge of Uplifting Our Values, Law, and Society

Mark Fischler Building a Just World

Ep. 81 (Part 1 of 2) | Constitutional law expert and criminal justice professor Mark Fischler has a thirst for justice and a gift for teaching. With cogency and passion, Mark explains that law is not the absolute that we perhaps thought, but an ever changing reflection of the values we hold as a society. Law is a developmental process, and will benefit from our own dedication to inner moral development. Mark shows how the law can (and has) become ever more inclusive, with the potential to serve and uphold the dignity of all peoples, all beings. Because of its abstract clauses, there is room in the Constitution to interpret the law in ways that are attuned with our pluralistic society. Mark calls on us to come together and decide what we value as a people—there is no mandate in democracy that all decision making power must reside in the hands of the Supreme Court, which has only had the sort of unilateral power it enjoys today since the 1950s.

This is no dry, legalistic conversation, but a truly illuminating vision of the potential of the law to embody justice, inclusivity, compassion. It is also a solid overview of where we have come from and where we are now, referencing many landmark rulings of the Supreme Court. Finally, this is spiritually inspiring as well—Mark tells the story of the transformational epiphany he had as a young man that led to his career as a public defender, onto the spiritual path, and eventually to become a well-respected, award-winning professor of criminal justice. Mark’s perspective on the law is far ranging, embracing human rights, animal rights, the rights of all beings. It comes from a place of deep care and compassion: “What is the happiness that the Declaration of Independence talks about, what is suffering?” Be inspired by Mark’s wise and knowledgable teachings and the potential of the law to create a just society for all. Recorded January 4, 2023.

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Greg Thomas (Part 2) – From Race to Culture to Cosmos: Using the Dance of Our Differences to Wise Up, Harmonize, and Actualize

Greg Thomas Jazz Leadership

Ep. 78 (Part 2 of 2) | Greg Thomas, brilliant cultural analyst, educator, musician, speaker, and co-founder of the Jazz Leadership Project, is passionate about the power of culture to transform us as individuals and collectively. Where race is concerned, Greg presents an illuminating, multiperspectival view of the many layered issues around racism in this country. Early on, Greg developed a systemic perspective on how everything fits together, and realized that the issues that plague us are not just about race or racism, but the overarching systemic racial worldview. Greg offers that the way out of this morass lies in adopting a cultural lens to replace the racial lens. And Greg points out that when we further embrace a cultural worldview in a participatory way, it opens up all the doors and windows: creating room for individuals to shine, for groups to experience group flow, for all of us to enjoy beauty and appreciation—the way soloist, band, and audience come together in a shared musical experience.

When Greg talks about the power of culture, sharing illustrative anecdotes about blues masters, blues philosophy, and great moments in jazz history, it becomes clear just how effective culture is at dissolving boundaries and heightening connection, and how music (in this case) allows us to transcend our differences, our daily burdens, and experience unbounded joy. This is a lively, impactful, and poignant dialogue, with wisdom ranging from the deeply spiritual, the psychological/developmental, to the political and universal. Recorded January 25, 2023.

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Greg Thomas (Part 1) – From Race to Culture to Cosmos: Using the Dance of Our Differences to Wise Up, Harmonize, and Actualize

Greg Thomas Race Culture Cosmos

Ep. 77 (Part 1 of 2) | Greg Thomas, brilliant cultural analyst, educator, musician, speaker, and co-founder of the Jazz Leadership Project, presents a beautifully illuminating, multiperspectival view of the many layered issues around racism in this country that goes way beyond conventional ideas around racism. Early on, Greg developed a systemic perspective on how everything fits together, realizing that the issues that plague us are not just about race or racism, but the overarching systemic racial worldview. Greg offers that the way out of this morass lies in adopting a cultural lens to replace the racial lens, and Greg points out that when we embrace a cultural worldview in a participatory way, it opens up all the doors and windows: creating room for individuals to shine, for groups to experience group flow, for all of us to enjoy beauty and appreciation—the way a soloist, the band, and the audience come together in a shared musical experience.

When Greg talks about the power of culture, sharing anecdotes about blues masters, blues philosophy, and great moments in jazz history, it becomes clear just how effective culture is at dissolving boundaries and heightening connection, and how music (in this case) allows us to transcend our differences, our daily burdens, and experience unbounded joy. This is a lively, impactful, and poignant dialogue, with wisdom ranging from the deeply spiritual, the psychological/developmental, to the political and universal. Recorded January 25, 2023.

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Leslie Hershberger (Part 2) – The Enneagram as Spiritual Tool: A Map for Deeper Self-Understanding & More Effective Contemplative Practice

Leslie Hershberger Enneagram Spiritual Tool

Ep. 76 (Part 2 of 2) | 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.

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

Leslie Hershberger Enneagram Contemplative Practice

Ep. 75 (Part 1 of 2) | 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.

Read More