The following is a synopsis of a typical advanced or second-level course offered by several training companies, most particularly those based on the Lifespring training.
Training begins at 10 AM and lasts well after midnight.
The "homework" on the first night was that all males in the class were to return the next day with "speedo" bathing suits under their street clothes and women were to return with bikini swimsuits under their street clothes. Bear in mind, some of these men and women weren't exactly Fabio and Cher, and several did not complete the assignment. Those that didn't complete the assignment were sent out of the class to buy bathing suits and return or the whole class would not be let back into the room (severe peer pressure). As you can guess, they were later told to take off their street clothes before revealing their most intimate secrets, all the while being yelled-at with "what are you hiding?" etc.
Sharing - 2 hours of sharing
Giver-Taker Game - In this game the participants vote each other as givers or takers depending on how they have shown up so far.
We are all in an arc. The lecture is something about commitment, participation and how the group can only be as good as the? weakest link? (Not sure of the terminology) We talk about what is giving and what is taking, and did some brainstorming on the front boards. The directions for the process are as follows. Each person takes out their notebook and creates two columns titled 'giver' and 'taker' Each person is to go around the arc and judge all the other participants on how they have showed up for them so far in the workshop. The votes are either 'giver' or 'taker'.
The person judging must stand in front of each participant and look them in the eye and say either 'Giver' or 'Taker'. The recipient is to record the vote in their notebook. If the judge hesitates on the vote, it automatically becomes a 'Taker'. A staff person goes around with each judge to make sure the hesitations are recorded correctly. After judging everyone else, then they must vote themselves out loud and record that vote also. If the recipients votes do not add up to the total number of participants in the room, then the difference in votes are counted as 'taker' also.
When everyone is complete - the votes are tallied. Participants then arrange in order of the number of most giver votes to least giver votes and they return to the arc in that order. Everyone gets to see the result. We are lectured about looking around and seeing that we are sitting in the order exactly like we live our lives.
In my Advanced, 14 participants - my buddy had the most 'taker' votes - I think he had 13 of 14. Our experience was that he got 'blasted' for not participating, and then he was told to leave the workshop and take his buddy with him (me) that we were not welcome if we were going to be takers. I stood up and said 'no way' - trainer said 'yep, you're out of here, you can get your money back and just keep on living the life you have been.' I pleaded to the rest of the group to agree with me and they all just sat there. Finally I talked the trainer into letting me stay if I promised that my buddy would straighten up. That was the only processing that occurred during that process that I remember from the small group.
In the larger group (40 participants) I remember that the last 5 people in line all had to individually stand up and be 'processed' by the trainer. Participants were asked what they were hiding, why they thought themselves superior, how by taking to were being controllers in their lives, etc the process was again very, very long.
The next game we played was Giver-Taker. The timing was less than perfect for me. I did not receive a single Giving vote. We had to line up in ranked order and I was on the extreme end. my wife was only 1/4 distance from me. The trainer asked me to explain myself. I can't remember what I said but I know I cried. But I was crying not because I was a Taker. I had made my own commitment to environmental protection a long time ago. I KNEW I was a giver. My wife is a social worker. She committed to lots of education and low pay in order to help people turn their lives around. She was voted a taker as well. We drove home and discussed the issue. We concluded that they did not understand us very well. We also thought that many of the folks in our group who were voted Givers were actually quite shallow and totally lacking in empathy. The next day we started our drive to the training. We started discussing things we had never said out loud. We decided to turn around and go home. I called our group leader when we got home and dropped my bomb. I was surprised (and disappointed) at his lackluster effort to get me back, but who wants the Antichrist in their group? He asked to speak to my wife and basically told her that she was letting me make her desions for her and that she was too stupid to make her own decisions. By saying that, he confirmed our suspicions. My wife, who not only graduated with a 3.97 GPA, but was the first person in her college's history to do so in only 3 years, was stupid? They really had no clue as to who we actually were, so how could they pretend to be helping us achieve our potential?
Catharsis - This is where the stuff is released.
We had a time when everyone sat in the arc. The lights were brought down very low and I can't remember the lecture. Everyone was to close his or her eyes and yells out. Tell their parents whatever the wanted. Yell and scream and cry and get it all out verbally - the staff was coached to go around the room and get them going. We rubbed their arms and placed our hands on theirs hearts, held them from behind - whispered things in their ears; mommy help me, daddy don't hurt me, please hold me, love me mommy please, please don't ignore me. We (the staff) worked really hard on the people who tried to remain silent . goading them in kind of a loving way.
During their break the staff very carefully arranged all the chairs so that every participant would have their own space for the next process. We were coached on the process and each given a section of participants to coach and watch (watch for signs of them getting out of control, becoming ill or whatever). The lights are very low again - almost cannot see in the room - we covered up the light that was coming in through the cracks in the door.
The participants were told to hold their pillow on their lap and pretend it was mommy - tell mommy you always wanted but never got was trainer says this over and over - coaching the participants to play. Then they are to put pillows on the floor and beat it - screaming whatever you wanted to tell mommy. Staff are quickly walking in their assigned area and are clapping loud and quick and screaming things like: Mommy don't ignore me; mommy love me; mommy hold me; mommy don't lie to me; mommy help me; mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy. The staff are 'working' on the persons that are not fully into it.
Trainer does a 'cool down' then participants are told to take their pillow and sit in the chair. Not sure which order this was in. I think, first they are to pretend to tell mommy (the pillow) what they want to say to her - then switch and you become mommy and the pillow is you - you tell the pillow what you want it to hear (to you from mommy) and hold it and love it.
Then you do the whole process again for daddy.
Our training had a number of different props for the catharsis. If someone had an issue with a dead child, there were baby dolls to represent the child. If someone had an abortion we used a washrag to represent the fetus. If someone had a relative or close friend die, we would find someone in the group who looked like the deceased. The person would then have a conversation with the prop until what they were holding onto was released. People were to beat on their chairs with an open hand.I've seen miracles occur here. Some people would look 20 years younger afterwards.
Secrets - This next process has everyone revealing their deepest darkest secrets.
One process designed to "shift the energy" was casually referred to as "I've got a secret." It was no game show. People were asked to share their deepest, darkest secrets--the ones they felt particularly ashamed of and guilty about. No matter what people revealed, the trainers "forgave them" with God-like omnipotence. And I do mean no matter what. I once heard a woman confess that she had killed her mother in self-defense. She had gotten away with it. The facilitators forgave her, and moved on to the next person's secret, which was probably something like, "I pick my nose." I was studying to be an Insight II trainer at the time. Nothing further was done about the incident.
"Shouldn't we get this woman some psychological help?"
"No, no, no," I was told, "it will all be handled in the training."
The secret process had three important functions: (a) it supplied another round of pressure and release (the pressure of telling your biggest secret, followed by the release of being told "your secret is no big deal") and is expunged from your moral record; (b) it stripped away any remaining shreds of privacy and individuality; and (c) it gave the facilitators even more God-like power. (Peter McWilliams - Insight Advanced Training)
Everyone stays in the room. They are in the arc; the lights are very low again, like down 75%. Everyone closes their eyes, when the trainer taps them on the shoulder they are to yell out their secret. It was very quick and went around the room many times. There was lots of emotion and I can't remember what the music was that was playing. Then the trainer stopped tapping people and told them to raise their hand if they had ever been: · physically abused · abused someone physically · molested anyone · sexually abused · abused someone sexually · been raped · raped someone · had an affair · had an abortion · paid for an abortion · killed anyone · attempted murder · committed murder
And some other questions that I can't recall
Trainer explains contracts. All staff share their contracts with the participants. Get into small groups. One person goes first. The small group stands around the person within 12 or 18 inches of their face and screams at them 'What do you want!" 'What do you want!" over and over again. If the team 'gets it' what the person wants (I am a strong, passionate, honest person) then the person goes to the trainer with the team and tells it to the trainer. If the trainer 'gets it' then the person and team go to the board and write out the contract and sign it. The Rocky theme is playing as they write their contract. If the trainer doesn't get it, then the team goes back and works with the person some more. The trainer tells the staff what she wants to hear from the person and then it is up to the staff to get the person to choose the words that they trainer wants to hear. With the group of 40 - 5 small groups - this process lasted almost 1-½ hours.
The goal was this: Find an affirmation that sums up all of your positive qualities in as few words as possible. But this is not just a literary effort: you must demonstrate to the entire group that, as you say your affirmation, it unconditionally brings to life all the positive attributes stated in the affirmation. And guess who was the absolute, final authority on whether or not you had "gotten your affirmation?" The trainer, of course.
That evening was spent trying out one affirmation after another waiting for one to "click." You were essentially told to find the Rosetta Stone that would open the combination lock of your heart, and be back in the room by 9:00 a.m., ready to demonstrate its effectiveness to the entire group and, more important, to the trainers.
All day on the third day, one participant after another got up in front of the room and desperately attempted to be joyful if their affirmation mentioned joy, loving if their affirmation mentioned love, and God-like if their affirmation mentioned divine. One by one, they were shot down by the trainers: not joyful enough, not loving enough, not God-like enough. Each was told to "sit down and work on it some more." (However that might be done.)
Here was almost the perfect process for the destruction of whatever self-esteem any of us may have had left: given an impossible task (acting positively enough to meet the trainers' standards of positivity--whatever they were) and given no specific method of getting there. Pressure was further increased when we were told that there "wasn't much time left for this process" and that those who didn't have an affirmation wouldn't be able to continue with the training--an affirmation being essential from this point on.
Throughout the day, whenever anyone had a particularly traumatic experience (roughly every half hour) the lights would go down, Neil Diamond music would come up ("Lonely looking sky, looking sky, lonely looking sky/Lonely looking day, looking day, lonely looking day"), and we would all take part in what is known as cradling. Cradling is when six or so people--three on each side--pick up another horizontal participant and rock him or her ("He ain't heavy/He's my brother..."). This would all go on for about an hour, and all the while off to one side of the training room people were performing like dancing bears for the trainers, who--like state lotteries--allowed just enough people to win (that is, get their affirmation approved) to keep the rest of us on the hook with the notion that yes, indeed, it is possible to get an affirmation.
For me, the torture was particularly excruciating: out of the forty participants, I was the thirty-ninth to have my affirmation approved. This happened after fifteen non-stop hours of attempts, rejections, and contradictory feedback--all negative. ("You're trying too hard." "You're not trying hard enough.")
When my affirmation finally was approved--in other words when I was finally approved--the release from all that pressure was ecstatic. Not since some of my early drug experiences a decade before had I felt so good. Little did I realize, however, that I was having a drug experience.
Whenever the body is under severe psychological pressure and that pressure is suddenly released, the body releases endorphins, nature's own internal whoopee! chemical. If, for example, you were told that there had been a terrible car accident and the person you loved most in the world was involved, that would be severe emotional stress. When told your loved one was perfectly fine, endorphins ho! The more intense the stress and the longer the stress continues, the greater the release of endorphins.
I had had three days of unending psychological duress or stress. Around midnight of the third day, when the pressure was released, I became an endorphin mainliner. It felt like a tranquilizer I once took, purchased on the underground market for a dollar. It reminded me of a cartoon I saw from the 1960s in which an obviously upper middle class couple are floating down a stream in a gondola surrounded by flowers, birds, and butterflies. The husband asks the wife: "What's the name of that tranquilizer we took?" I never did find out the name of the underground tranquilizer I took, but I did find out the name of the tranquilizer used by Insight: endorphins. When they say: "It was inside you all the time," they're not kidding. (Peter McWilliams - Insight Advanced Training)