Ariana Huffington’s article about her experience with Insight Seminars and how it transformed her life. Published in The Sunday Observer, on 20th May, 1979:

Something is abroad in the land. More and more people are beginning to recognise – less and less idly – that there is more in the universe than meets the eye and more in themselves than a frantic and forlorn search for pleasure. And they are looking everywhere for something that will fulfil this new longing.

It was such a longing that took me just over a year ago to New York to take the Insight training. It was not that my life was not working; it was that something in me was convinced that there was more in me and more of me to experience. I had, a few months earlier, finished a book on the title page of which I had put a quotation from Solzhenitsyn’s “First Circle”: “If you wanted to put the world to rights whom would you begin with: yourself or others?” And I wanted to begin living what I had just finished writing.

So I began my searching, exploring, or as one of my more sceptical friends put it, groping. And, overwhelmingly cerebral creature that I was, I started raiding Watkins’ in Cecil Court and coming away loaded one week with the collected works of C. G. Jung, another with Rajneesh and Aurobindo and the third with my two favourite Babas – Sai Baba and Baba Muktananda. In the meantime I had been dutifully meditating for a regulation half hour every morning.

I had indeed taken the first inward step with which the journey of a thousand miles begins, but the journey so far seemed pretty arid and the road ahead too long and dusty. I knew that I was in danger of succumbing to a powerful dose of religion in the head, of becoming yet another theoretician of self-awareness. I was living out of the tragedy of our culture: seeking to live life, to capture and understand it, through the mind alone.

In March of last year, not entirely sure why, I found myself on a plane to New York, about to embark on a fifty hour “experience” called “Insight”. I came out of it on Sunday night feeling more alive than ever before. I was at last living from my being rather than my head. “Everything was the same, but two feet off the ground”. And I knew that this surge of new life was only the beginning. In many ways Insight began when Insight ended and life itself became a series of ever deeper insights.

The best way I could describe Insight, keeping in mind that if it could be adequately described we would not need fifty hours to experience it, is as an opportunity to discover, in ways that lie much beyond the mental, what we are and what our relationship to our world is. We can look at ourselves, perhaps for the first time, on several levels of awareness at once – emotional, physical, mental and spiritual – and explore all these aspects of being alive in ways that move across traditional disciplines, schools of thought and psychological theories. The practical, day to day effect is a deep acceptance of life as a spiral – ascending but with plenty of downturns – and a greater ability to detach ourselves from our life’s melodrama and learn to hear the inner wisdom underneath our own and others’ opinions

How does Insight do it? First of all, Insight doesn’t do it. I, you, we do it. Insight is only a catalyst for us to experience more of us – more love, more joy, more strength, more aliveness. It offers nothing we do not already have. It simply helps us move beyond the layers of illusions, games, mass, beliefs, pain, anger and resentments that block us from experiencing our reality.

But how does it help us do that?

First the format. Insight starts at six o’clock on a Wednesday evening and lasts for three evenings, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and two full days, Saturday and Sunday. There are about 100 people in each training, and you could call the whole process education in the original Latin sense of drawing out rather than in the modern sense of cramming in.   The aim of the various processes is to involve the whole being. So all sorts of methods are used: short lectures providing information and clarification, one-to-one exchanges with others taking the training or with those assisting, guided meditations and various processes that you could call “exercises” or even games, intended to hold mirrors to us and our lives and help us see – and acknowledge – what we want out of life, whatever that may be, and what it is that we do or do not do to bring it about.

There were so many moments during these fifty hours when I found myself literally as well as metaphorically sitting up: “So that’s what I’ve been doing”, or “So that’s how it is and has always been”. Some of these realisations were personal, others were universal. The personal ones involved recognising particular patterns in my life and myself – roles, belief systems, expectations – of which I was totally unaware and which were unconsciously controlling me.

Among the universal realisations there was one which for me summed up Insight and which had an instant thunderbolt effect and has been a continuing and growing influence in my life ever since. Like all the really important realisations it is a paradox: I knew at one and the same time that the most important relationship I will ever have is the relationship with myself and yet that my greatest strength and freedom is my conscious awareness of my oneness with everyone else. And there was – and is – nothing mystical about this feeling of oneness. Its effects are more practical than a hundred of the latest social and political measures put together. After all, our lives today and throughout the century have been dominated by attempts to overcome the most painful of all emotions: the feeling of separateness from others. Politics, sex and the insatiable craving for more and still more acquisitions have been the three favourite ways used. The political attempt that has sought to impose “oneness” through all sorts of collective monstrosities has been without doubt by far the most destructive, and may prove more destructive still.

But what if the feeling of separateness itself is an illusion and all the self-protective devices behind which we have been barricading ourselves self-destructive? What if we are, each one of us, powerful creators – creating, allowing or promoting everything that happens in our lives? What if, contrary to all our belief systems that say nothing of value can happen in less than fifty years of hard slog, something invaluably valuable can and does happen in fifty hours? What if …

I played the what if game for five days. It changed my life without – and this is yet another paradox – outwardly altering my life.

The one thing Insight is not, is yet another “thing” to believe in, to proselytise for or to single out as the one and only way. There are no “one and only ways”. Insight is one of the many ways we can use to come closer to our reality. It is a way that has worked for me and I wanted to let you know that it is now available in London and may work for you.

-Arianna Huffington (Stassinopoulos), Sunday Observer, 20th May 1979