Leslie Hershberger, M.A.
Teacher, Facilitator, Writer, Mother
“Standing on the edge of unknowing, open to grace … except when I’m not.”
I’ve always sought meaning, looking for ways to understand myself, others and our world. I’ve earned a B.S. in Education, an M.A. in Theology, and a Certificate in Integral Theory. I’m also a Certified Teacher in the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition. My work is informed by many traditions and my own inquiry. This deep study along with some significant life events created a seismic shift inside of me which transformed my way of being in the world.
Some call a life change a crisis. I call it an inevitable passage.
In this passage, change is the one constant. If we’re going to adapt to change, we’d have to examine limiting thoughts and habits which resist change. In other words, we have to get closer to our story. What are its patterns? Who are the main characters? How does personality type, family, relationships, culture, body type and age influence the story?
Whether I’m working with individuals, groups or online communities, we peel back the layers of the conventional, Dominant Story that has defined our view. We bring it closer and befriend it. Awareness and acceptance of the story transforms and we are able to live into a more expansive Alternative Story which not only transcends the Dominant Story, but also includes its wisdom.
The two greatest paths of inner inquiry I’ve found are the Enneagram and Contemplative Living.
They intertwine beautifully. Contemplative living invites you to breathe, pause and pay attention to your life. You are warmly welcomed into your own experience in a grounded, steady way. You are invited to hold your new insights with humor and some kindness.
The Enneagram awakens us to patterns in our personality — the way we deal with conflict, the way we communicate, the way we prefer to receive or give feedback and it reveals the manner in which we enter relationship. Ultimately, it reveals how we lock ourselves into limited beliefs and avoid the full reality of the present moment.
In both paths, our personal narrative serves as a gateway to something larger.
Psychology claims, I am my story. A therapist helps you to understand who you’ve been and who you’re becoming.
Spirituality claims, I am beyond my story. A good spiritual companion helps you to let go into something larger than yourself.
I offer an integration of the two. How?
Online Contemplative course which explores the teachings of Jesus through a lens which opens you to a deeper, more expansive understanding of faith which is rooted in the ancient wisdom traditions and the contemporary teaching of philosopher, Ken Wilber
I came to the Enneagram through the back door, seeking ways to understand and protect my 3 children. I was anxious about what the future might hold for them. When I discovered the Enneagram — and how delightfully different we all are — it was a huge relief. I finally understood that each of my children have their own ways of being, and so had mirrored aspects of myself I had rejected or didn’t yet know. I was able to let go and let them walk their unique paths with greater understanding and connection.
I came to meditation to calm my fear and heal my chronic sinus infections. I’d read an article that meditation can help sinus infections. Interestingly, these sinus infections were becoming more problematic at a time in my life when I was overwhelmed by the shifting sands of my life. It was only when I began a contemplative practice that I developed a capacity to soften my tendency to worry. When things are difficult, we often feel we must fix them “out there.” From my experience, genuine transformation begins by turning within and working with the thoughts, emotions and bodily reactions that are revealing themselves in any given moment.
I came to love religion thanks to a group who supported my family as we grieved a sister and a baby. I learned the tremendous, essential importance of communal support and surrendering to something greater than myself.
I came to a love of spirituality when the container of my religion could no longer hold my expanding worldview. As a graduate student of Theology, what I learned about Christianity and other religious and spiritual traditions shook my roots. I’d opened to so many new ideas, I wondered about my shifting religious identity. After years of inquiry and study, my spiritual practice is grounded in the wisdom of my roots while informed and fleshed out through the practices of many other traditions.
I came to Ken Wilber’s Integral theory for an elegantly rendered map that helped me make meaning of all these disparate interests, worldviews, and practices. Each time I’m sure I’ve figured it all out, life pokes holes in my certainty and I realize my constructed worldview is only one of many. Isn’t that how it often is? When we understand others’ beliefs, however different from ours, we expand our view which often engenders understanding and compassion for different paths.
My teaching began with small groups in living rooms. It’s grown into online communities, workshops, and extended courses. Yet my intentions remain the same: a dedication to depth of practice, an honoring of both inner contemplation and compassionate action, all held within an intimate community dedicated to supporting one another.
I am a teacher, facilitator and guide committed to guiding you through the shifting sands of your own story.
I work with you and your personality type so you can “start where you are” as you deepen self-awareness, deepen understanding of others and begin a contemplative practice. It’s time to let go of any notions that spiritual teachers or religious leaders are ideal humans who live in a perpetual state of enlightenment. We’ve seen too much. Teachers, therapists and leaders worth their salt recognize their limitations and acknowledge they’re mucking through life’s gifts and challenges. The best ones I’ve encountered see their life as a spiritual practice and have a commitment to daily time for quiet and meditation. Why?
A regular, intentional practice slows us down, helps us see ourselves more honestly and clearly so we can help others see themselves and their relationships with more clarity. Clarity tends to breed humility as those big and small self-delusions are revealed. It helps people navigate turbulent waters because we swim them ourselves. Meditation connects us to something larger than our small, limited selves. Some call this connection Spirit. Others call it God or the greater Reality or the Life Force. Whatever you call it, it’s a recognition we are part of a much larger dance.
I’d like to walk part of your path with you.
Love is always around. Faith never went away. There’s always hope waiting to be seen. – Helen Palmer