The Enneagram as a Spiritual Tool

Leslie Hershberger Audio, Cognitive, Deep Transformation, Free, Intrapersonal, Self-Identity, Spirituality

A Map for Deeper Self-Understanding & More Effective Contemplative Practice

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

Enneagram expert, teacher, master facilitator, and transformational coach Leslie Hershberger leads us into the world of the Enneagram, painting 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.

Topics & Timestamps: 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)

Topics & Timestamps: Part 2

  • Truth decay: when insights decay into dogma, practices devolve into ritual (01:34)
  • Leslie’s disappointment with the dilution of the value of the Enneagram in popular culture and the common tendency to over identify with one’s type (05:39)
  • Building in practices for making the inward turn when our type gets triggered  (07:34)
  • How everyone interprets the Enneagram according to their stage of development: language matters (09:58)
  • How knowledge of the 3 centers (head, heart, body) enables us to understand different perspectives and be more present with others (13:23)
  • Recommended books for people new to the Enneagram: The Complete Enneagram by Dr. Beatrice Chestnut, The Essential Enneagram by Dr. David Daniels, and more (see resources below) (16:39)
  • Is there any research on the Enneagram? (18:06)
  • Looking at the Enneagram from the centers perspective is a good portal of entry, and the differences between heart, head, and body types (19:23)
  • Back to research: more research could refine the value of the Enneagram (25:00)
  • Working with your core vice within a contemplative practice is when things really start to cook (33:48)
  • How does your type change over time with an ongoing contemplative practice? The challenge of embodying a healthy type structure 24/7 (36:02)
  • The reality is we all have limits (38:27)
  • The importance of understanding the centers approach to the Enneagram and understanding that our psychological structure is housed in the body (47:12)
  • What do women want from men? A heart connection and kindness (49:21)
  • 20-minute guided meditation led by Leslie to help us ground, center, and connect with our inner being, somatically and emotionally (55:56)

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos
Image created via MidJourney

Presented by iAwake Technologies’ innovative, sound-tech infused NeuroFlow.

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Ways to use these meditations:

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  • Listen to all seven meditations for a full body, mind, and spirit alignment.
  • Use these meditations when you need some time to relax, focus on your breathing, and tune into your inner wisdom.

Check out the free sample:

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About the Deep Transformation series

We are clearly in a new era, facing world-threatening challenges and graced with barely conceivable opportunities. In this mind-boggling new world, we all face two crucial questions:

  • First, the ever-present conundrum of how to best live fully, deeply, wisely, and well.
    Second, the new question unique to our times, how to best understand and heal our endangered world.
  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear responses to these questions from some of the great consciousness pioneers—the outstanding thinkers, sages, scientists, and activists—of our time? These are the people and conversations that Deep Transformation offers.

Deep Transformation: Self-Society-Spirit draws on diverse ideas from around the world. It goes beyond traditional positions and polarities—beyond left and right, material and spiritual—to seek syntheses of deep wisdom and practical know-how that integrate the best of all positions.

Click here to learn more about Deep Transformation!

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Leslie Hershberger

About Leslie Hershberger

Leslie Hershberger is a natural teacher, facilitator and writer who integrates the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition, three centered contemplative practice and Integral theory to help people and groups understand themselves, others and the world through a deeper, more expansive lens.

John Dupuy

About John Dupuy

John Dupuy is co-founder and CEO of iAwake Technologies, a company that creates cutting-edge, high-tech brainwave entrainment soundtracks that support the healing of emotional/shadow issues, deepen meditation, mental focus, creativity, and flow states, and enhance a daily integral transformative practice. John has been working personally and professionally with brainwave entrainment technology since 2004, and travels internationally to teach and inspire on the subjects of Integral Transformative Practice and Integral Recovery®. John is also the author of Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction (SUNY Press, 2013), winner of the 2013 USA Best Book Award, and co-host of the popular Journey of Integral Recovery podcast. John also hosts the online series Spiritual Tech Talks 2.0, in which he converses with leaders, pioneers, and inventors on the current wave of emerging spiritual technologies.

Roger Walsh

About Roger Walsh

Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., has spent nearly a quarter century researching and practicing in the world's great spiritual traditions. His critically acclaimed book, Essential Spirituality, is a summary of that wisdom, outlining the seven spiritual practices common to the world's major religions.