Before I got married and had kids, I did a number of seminars with a self-help organization called Insight. I am so glad I did these when I had the opportunity. The work we did was very powerful and I still use some of the tools. I am going to try to recreate what I learned so I can focus on it and get some of these wonderful tools back into my life.
If you have the chance to do a seminar like this, definitely take that chance! The Insight I is remarkably affordable and fits around your schedule. Back when I took it, it was something crazy like $295 (is that possible?) and ran a few evenings and then the full weekend. So I think Wed-Fri it started at 7pm and went until midnight or 1am, and then Saturday and Sunday it was from 8am until midnight. There were easily 100 people in the room including all the volunteers and by the end of it, I loved many of them, liked most of them, and still do. If I knew where they were now, we’d pick up and continue our relationship with such a depth that few relationships ever get to. Luckily, my husband was there with me the whole time so I always carry a piece of the whole experience. We went on to do Insight II, III, and a few other workshops. I and II were best for me but other people have different experiences.
So what did we do? Lots of things! And by the way, most of it is not unique to Insight. I am sure EST and The Forum are wonderful tools for personal growth too, and others I’ve never heard of. I’d love to do one of these again, but now I’m a mom and put my kids first, it still doesn’t feel like the time to take that much time away from my younger daughter. Perhaps soon….
There is always a facilitator and many volunteers. I learned later when I volunteered inside the room (instead of just as a door guard outside for a few hours here and there) that the facilitator meets with the volunteers before the seminar starts and checks in to see how they’re doing. The volunteers get to participate in the processes but at the same time, keep everything running smoothly. For example, during an eyes-closed moving meditation, it is important to keep participants from bumping into each other so volunteers tiptoed around and took the bumps of anyone who was intruding on the space of another participant. And other boring stuff like chair setup. 🙂
The facilitator begins each day by talking for a while and perhaps calling on some participants to see what’s going on for them. Then there are different exercises. One-on-ones with a series of questions and small groups are common themes. It’s important to try to work with as many different people as possible throughout the time you are there. There are also meditations and some things that were more like games or puzzles. I wish I could remember more; I know I am missing some awesome things. Some participants made the mistake of analyzing me, but that ws never their job and I always stopped them. It was mine to figure out what was going on for me during a process.
One of my absolutely favorite things is that during the moving meditation in Insight I, you create a sanctuary for yourself. This was pure magic for me. I love my sanctuary and still go there. I don’t want to share too much but it occurred to me a few years ago that I could change it. I don’t know why I’d never realized this before! I put in a new garden and a hammock and spent some time simply whitewashing the walls one day. And I’ve taken my girls there in my mind. They do whatever I like when we visit. Very relaxing!
Oh yeah, another exercise involves working with everyone in the whole room. Everyone will give feedback to everyone. One of the things I learned from one of these feedback exercises is how powerful I am. I was able to start to own that. I had always seen myself as meek and even somewhat invisible. No one saw me that way. And further, no one thought I should be that way (meek and invisible). Clearly, they all thought it was totally awesome that I was so powerful.
I learned some joy. In fact, I was totally joyous for some time after starting these seminars. It was so valuable to me to find out not only how I was perceived, but that I was perceived in a positive light. The more I owned this, the happier I got, and the happier I got, the more people came to me. And not just in the seminars but in life. I started a new job right when I was first doing the seminars and I felt so totally loved by everyone there and so very confident that of course they’d all love me! What’s not to love?
Listening to others share was amazing for me. I’d never realized that we all have very heavy burdens we carry around. They may not be the same burden but we all have things to overcome and rise above. It made me feel less self-absorbed and more connected to everyone. I loved knowing deeply personal things about people. I felt that strangers were just friends I hadn’t met yet and I was able to walk down city streets making eye contact and smiling at people.
There was a lot of crying. A lot of releasing. Also a lot of energizing exercises that left us too high to safely drive home. The two methods for coming down a bit were to drink water and to touch the earth with bare feet. Even though it was well below freezing, some of us would get singled out at the end of the evening to walk barefoot in the snow. I know I had to at least once.
A core group of us from my Insight II started meeting regularly at various houses. The energy was not as open and thrilling as at the seminars, but it was still so real; we all loved just being in the same room together again. Many of those dear friends came to our wedding and I love seeing their gorgeous photos in my wedding album. One of my wedding gifts was closeup photos of most of the guests so I am blessed with these beautiful photos which capture their souls.
I realize I haven’t said much of anything here about the tools I came away with. That shows how much I can remember. I could talk about Insight for days and perhaps I should. Before we committed to do the first seminar, a lot of people all started talking to me about it at once and they all made it seem like some big secret, which only served to make me suspicious. That is not my intention at all. I do believe I made an agreement to only share what went on in Insight I except for 2 things (but I don’t recall what those 2 things were anymore) and not share too much about the other seminars. That is not because anything bad or weird happens, just that it’s best if it’s a surprise. So I feel really strange in some ways even saying as much as I have about Insight I.
But I can say more stuff. In Insight I, we did some exercises to deal with our mother and father. I really thought I worked through some stuff. I was stunned to be doing mother/father exercises at subsequent Insight workshops and seminars. I finally had to ask. I thought things got fixed and, well, you know, were all better! I was finally made to understand that some things will never be all better. You can put them away for a while, but when you take them out and dust them off, they have more to teach you, if you’re willing to learn. During my one volunteer experience, my new husband shared that I was newly pregnant during the pre-seminar meeting. The facilitator shared with me that when she had her daughter, at each age, it brought up stuff from her own childhood at that same age. This was a helpful piece of information because the very same thing most certainly happened for me and it was helpful to understand what was going on. So yeah, that mother/father stuff keeps coming up for us!
I am going to have to dig a little deeper. That’s it for now! Stay tuned for Part II!