Arianna Huffington: How the Insight Seminars Changed My Life

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

How We Can All Be Champions in Our Own Lives

I was inspired to write this blog watching Serena Williams win the Wimbledon Women’s Singles and then a few hours later, she also landed the Women’s Doubles with her sister, Venus. Stunning. I was so impressed and it got me thinking about what REALLY makes someone so successful in their chosen field.

Yes, Serena does have some of the basics like a naturally strong physique. But that on its own hasn’t made her the winner that she is.

So what has? And what can we learn from her?

I would say (as a complete non-tennis aficionado) it is a combination of a few things that are in every one of us. She has just used those same inner resources to create the physical manifestation of a world class tennis player.

Those are the same resources I’m going to talk about that are also the ones that make you a great teacher or artist or engineer gardener or mum or mediator or whatever it is you want to do or be.

The first element is a vision. Whatever you want, you have got to REALLY want it. A clear vision – a clear picture of what you want is essential. Because that’s the thing that will draw you towards it. And in the case of Serena, I would imagine that she REALLY wanted to be a Grand Slam winner from very early on (I’ve heard she was playing tennis from four years old) – otherwise why would she put in the grueling hours of training unless it was in service of something really enticing and attractive?

You’ve got to WANT IT. I am talking as much about states of being as material successes here. If you want to develop a true spiritual path, then being a dilettante about it isn’t going to work!

Like the South Pacific song, “If you don’t have a dream, how’re you gonna have a dream come true.” One of the things we get to do in Insight is to find out what YOU really want, not what your parents or your partner or your social group think you should want. If Serena was only playing tennis because her family wanted her to do it, there is no way she would have had the success she has.

Once you know what you want, you need to commit to it and work with what gets in the way of that. What are the thoughts, beliefs, fears and anxieties that are holding you back? How do you address them? We all still have part of our brain that was forged in the Pleistocene Era when the world was full of scary stuff like sabre-toothed tigers, ice, famine, and flood. We developed the ability to always look for what was wrong. Having that kind of catastrophic brain worked for us back then, but it doesn’t work for us now.

So if Serena was focused on the potential problems in a match rather than keeping her focus in the present she just wouldn’t win!

All of us can learn how to manage our thoughts better and to challenge those fears. We do it in Insight – with compassion for just what it takes to be human.

It is not a linear journey – we are continually learning, growing, sometimes going back to square one but if we want to keep moving forward we will. I love this quote about commitment: from W.H Murray who led the Scottish Himalayan Expedition:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way”.

Coming back to tennis, nothing here is new – in fact, Timothy Gallwey’s 1972 best-seller, “The Inner Game of Tennis” talks about the battle that we all face within ourselves to overcome our doubts and anxiety and that a game of tennis is often won or lost before a ball has even been hit.

Not that any of this is easy. We know that. And that is why I keep putting myself in courses, trainings, counsellings; read books; talk to wise people to keep my inner game as positive as it can be. It is what I am committed to.

Paraphrasing Gallwey, we are so hard on ourselves, thinking willpower and positive thinking can get us part of the way. But nobody can maintain them consistently. I know I can’t! We need to give ourselves a break, be around people who will encourage and support us not push us to try harder. This is what the best tennis coaches do. Can we access our own inner coach (rather than our inner critic) that is always focused on the best of/for us? That is available to every single one of us. On an Insight course, we work specifically on accessing our own inner wisdom and self-compassion, AND that all-important element of simply being present.

Serena wouldn’t stand a chance if she wasn’t able to be fully and completely in the present moment. Just like Eckhart Tolle teaches in his book “The Power of Now”. How often are we fully present? If you are anything like me, definitely not as much as I’d like to be.

This is my invitation to you – come along to an Insight Seminar (the next one is September 29th – October 1st in Central London) and give yourself the opportunity to up your own inner game.

There won’t be strawberries and cream but there will certainly be great techniques and practices, world-class support and encouragement, ways of looking at yourself and your life that you have never experienced before. You’ll learn and you’ll grow and you’ll have three days you will never forget.

Call us on 020 3286 6036 or follow this link to book your tickets online!


Ginny Fraser is a coach and facilitator working with business leaders. She has also been facilitating with Insight since 1995. “Doing Insight was the most significant turning point in my entire life,” she says.

Top Tips for Conscious Communication

Insight Seminars take each individual on an adventure of developing their self-awareness and confidence by sharing the tools and techniques needed for greater levels of success in all areas of life, including better personal & professional relationships and confident communication.

For instance, you will have the opportunity to learn clear and effective communication skills. Here, Juliette Smith, one of our Insight Grads (who, because of doing Insight Seminars, became a Personal and Relationship Coach), shares some of her top tips for confident and conscious communication.

People often assume that if there is a miscommunication, the responsibility lies with the person speaking. But communication involves both the conveying and receiving of a message, so speaker and listener have a joint responsibility for making communication work.

Top Tips for Confident and Conscious Communication

1. Notice your thoughts

Before you even begin to communicate, let go of any judgements and preconceptions. If you have made any assumptions, notice them and let them go too. If you begin a conversation with an open mind, you are more likely to be able to listen, understand and connect.

2. Be Congruent

Ensure what you are saying is congruent with your non-verbal communication. If your words are inconsistent with your body language, tone, energy and emotions, people are likely to be confused by your communication. At the very least the mismatch of words and actions will weaken the strength of the message you are attempting to convey verbally. At worst, you may come across as not being fully honest.

3. Express yourself respectfully without accusation

Telling someone how you feel is very different from attacking them with the feelings. Use “I feel” rather than “you make me feel”.

4. Replace criticism with a request

When you want someone to do something differently, avoid criticism and accusation. Otherwise what you say is likely to result in a defensive response rather than a change in behaviour.

If you want a change, make a clear request (not a demand).

5. Listen!

Good listening skills are essential for good communication.

If, whilst you are listening, you are planning your response, judging what the other person is saying, or your mind is on something else, you’re not truly listening. Listen to how the person is speaking as well as to what they are saying.

6. Use feedback

Tell the speaker what you’ve heard and how you’re interpreting it, so you can check you are hearing and understanding correctly.

7. Empathise

Try seeing things from another’s point of view – even if you don’t agree with them. Imagine what it’s like to be and feel like them.

Putting these skills into practice is made easier by developing a deeper sense of self, which is where an Insight Seminar can help.

Call us on 020 3286 6036 to find out how you could become more confident in how you communicate by participating in our next Insight 1 seminar or join us at our next evening workshop in London. Please click here for more information about next events.


Juliette Smith helps us understand how to communicate more effectively. Juliette has been Relationship Coach for the last 15 years working with hundreds of coaching clients. You can find her on Twitter @CoachJuliette

Arianna Huffington

"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."

Arianna Huffington, Sunday Observer, May 1979

Enjoy the silence within you

Imagine a heavenly island in complete silence. Imagine a day spent with your inner self and no one else; a day where you can hear your inner voice, surrounded by the peaceful silence of a heavenly island. This is a reality, and it is happening today in Bali, with silent celebrations of the Balinese New Year. There are no planes, no cars, no motorcycles, no lights, no fires, no talking, no shops open today. Today is a day for self-reflection.

Bali played a crucial role in my inner awakening, healing, and self-love. Four years ago, I fell in love with this magical place. I felt it with all my cells. The island spirits embraced me to open my heart and to listen to my inner wisdom. During my first time there, at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, I met free souls from around the world and felt a blissful level of energy from the island and the world souls gathered to celebrate themselves.


Bali is my spiritual home, where my husband and I became engaged, where I felt connected to my inner voice. Back in the physical home, I experience deep connection and love with Insight.

Insight is the mission of my heart, where I share the same level of love and joy. My involvement with Insight has helped me practice checking up with what’s happening inside of me with my emotions and desires. Insight is my true home, where I can bravely share who I am and feel supported, accepted and loved.

We are all conscious creators of our own lives and surrounding life of others. In this special day of inner reflection, what is the one moment where you felt most loved, and connected? Recall how you may have felt then and know that these feeling and state of inner connection as always accessible from within you.
I would love to hear about your special moments in the comments below

Love and Namaste,
Gaia Vacheva, Insight Seminars UK Director

Follow Gaia on Facebook and @insightsuk on twitter 


Brian Howell, Psychologist

"Insight is the best course I have ever been on - and the most powerful. I'm on psychologist, a bit of a sceptic, and I'd been on loads of courses. So, when someone told me about Insight I, I thought 'there can't be anything new in it.' Eventually I did go - I was amazed! Not only did I love it, it was new, and I came out so much happier and 'more me'. Definitely recommended. " - B H, Psychologist

Mary Ann Somerville

Mary Ann Somerville - the lead facilitator

Mary Ann is an internationally recognized consultant, speaker, executive coach and facilitator. For thirty years, she's helped clients to:

  • Clarify their vision,
  • Expand their leadership capacity,
  • Communicate authentically,
  • Access the wisdom of their organizations. to:
  • Achieve extraordinary results.

Mary Ann’s extensive skill set includes the Harvard Law School’s research and best practices in ‘Negotiation and Difficult Conversations’. This integrates cutting edge research and applications from neuroscience.

Ms. Somerville is an expert in the design and facilitation of dynamic interactive learning initiatives. She uses this to assist Fortune 500 companies throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Her passion is to increase the success and well-being of organizations. She elevates the conversation and taps into the unique resources of leaders and teams to create organic, organizational momentum.

Mary Ann holds a:

  • B.A. in Psychology,
  • Masters in Theology,
  • Master Coaching Certification from the Behavioral Coaching Institute, ICC. 

She is a member of the Creating We Institute. This is a thought leadership collective that provides research and education for leaders and executive teams and the Neuro-Business Group.

Visit her website for more information.

Joey is committed to helping people and workforces find direction, stay on course, meet goals, find fulfillment, and experience more happiness and awareness.

Joe Hubbard, Insight CEO

Joe Hubbard, Insight Seminars CEO and Facilitator

Joe Hubbard is the Global CEO and a senior facilitator of Insight Seminars. He has dedicated the last 25 years to facilitating motivational, life and work altering seminars. His strategic planning and facilitation work for thousands of people and firms worldwide includes:

  • The general public,
  • Sports teams,
  • Large corporations, and
  • High-risk individuals.

Joe is committed to helping people and workforces:

  • Find direction,
  • Stay the course,
  • Realize goals,
  • Find fulfillment and
  • instill happiness and insight.

Raised on the inner city streets of Los Angeles, Joe rose above the pervasive challenges to attend both UCLA and UCSD. He then began his career as a motivational speaker and performance enhancement coach.

An avid sports fan and athlete himself, for over 14 years. Joe has worked as a motivational consultant and coach to football teams like:

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • USC
  • UNLV

As a Partner and Executive Consultant for McGhee Productivity, Joe provides consulting and educational services to businesses that increase:

  • Productivity,
  • Communication, and
  • Quality of life.

At the beginning of his career, Joe was National Sales Manager for Time Design, the original Time Management Company from the early eighties.

Joe currently serves as a member of Insight Seminars' Board of Directors. He volunteers his time. Additionally, he is an Insight Senior Facilitator and plays a major role in Insight’s Business Division. This division focuses on enhancing:

  • Personal effectiveness,
  • Motivation,
  • Corporate transformation and strategic success, through:
  • Re-engaging and empowering people to
    • Better serve themselves,
    • Their clients,
    • Their company.

He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of EduCare Foundation. Its mission is to inspire and empower young people to become responsible citizens, compassionate leaders, and to live their dreams.

Ruth Rochelle was a participant at the first UK Insight Seminar in 1979, organised by Arianna Huffington. She's facilitated Insight seminars for over 20 years.

Ruth Rochelle

Ruth Rochelle: Insight Seminars Facilitator

Ruth has been part of Insight Seminars since the first UK seminar over 4 decades ago. She's facilitated Insight seminars around the world for over 20 years.

She was born in London, studied Architecture at university, loves movies, walking her dog and warm weather. Ruth has worked in the field of motivation, communication and personal development since 1980. She headed up Insight UK for five years, before presenting Insight’s personal development seminars.

In 1988, alongside her Insight work, she set up "Creation", her consulting and coaching business. Creation delivers programmes to senior communication industry executives that enhance their:

  • Communication,
  • Team-building,
  • Motivation,
  • Leadership,
  • Change management, and
  • Personal development.

Ruth places a high value on:

  • Personal fulfilment,
  • Relationships that work, and
  • Mastery.

She encourages her clients to work in an atmosphere of integrity and openness. She assists them to

  1. Be honest about their ‘limiting thinking’,
  2. Take the necessary risks to step beyond their ‘comfort zones’ and
  3. Achieve the business and personal results they truly desire.

She loves to liberate talent!

An accredited coach, she works with global organisations, e.g. Mondelez (Kraft), BP, the NHS, and the education sector. She also ran the UK Insight business for six years. Ginny has a Bachelors degree in Communication.

Ginny Fraser

Ginny Fraser - Insight Seminars Facilitator

Ginny Fraser has facilitated Insight seminars since 1990. An accredited coach, she works with global organisations, e.g. Mondelez (Kraft), BP, the NHS, and the education sector. She also ran the UK Insight business for six years.

Ginny has a Bachelors degree in Communication.

After successfully dealing with a cancer diagnosis she coaches and writes about alternative approaches to health, particularly cancer, addressing the:

  • Emotional impact,
  • Importance of attitude, and
  • Letting go of self-judgment.

She is also the published author of A Mother in my Heart. This self-help book looks at healing the issues involved with involuntary childlessness.

She feels strongly about our ability to have authority over our attitude to the events of our lives. This theme runs through all her work.

She lives in a village in the English countryside and enjoys adventurous travel and eating dinner with friends.