I attended the three-day basic course, a one-week PSI seven at the California ranch, and their 90-day workshop. I have a strongly ambivalent report to make about this extraordinary self-improvement organization.
The three-day introductory seminar was mind-blowing and life-changing. It consisted of a series of lectures and experiential exercises that challenge you to see your life and its results as inevitable manifestations of self-defeating patterns or programs developed to cope with life. It challenged us to admit what we want, and then set four goals to go after (creative, physical, relationship, material). It made me realize what I want and need and how resistance and my own way of thinking were the main obstacles blocking me from having a full, satisfying life.
It stressed the unity of mankind. We gazed into the eyes of a partner at the seminar for an extended time after pouring ourselves out, coming to realize we were one, both the same, both filled with the same great pain and longing. Although we were both happily married, I fell in love with her that day. (No, we didn't have a fling; both of us were married!).
Then there was this mind-blowing game showing us precisely how we were doing our lives and the tragic results. That weekend seminar put me back in touch with the greatness of my humanity. Then came Sunday morning, and the pressure began to sign up for the next PSI Seven class; and a video about climbing atop a telephone pole symbolizing life's obstacles and leaping to a trapeze bar which represented getting our goal; and handing over another $4,500 or whatever it was to go to the Ranch to reinforce and put to the test everything from the weekend seminar; how $4,500 or whatever was a mere road bump, an opportunity to let go of the resistance that had been plaguing me forever and was after all the root cause of all life failures. Call the folks, put it on the credit card, whatever it takes.
The whole energy in the room changed half way through Sunday morning. I admit I was resisting; $4,500 took me two months to earn AND I WANTED TO PUT INTO ACTION FIRST ALL THESE LIFE-TRANSFORMING LESSONS. But there they were on Sunday afternoon, pressuring us to take it to the next level, explaining how this first weekend was not in and of itself enough to change our world. (For $10,000 we could go through the whole series of seminars at a discount, but only if we signed up and paid in full this weekend.) I did not sign up on Sunday but was I ever excited about transforming my life.
They had cleverly made us promise to attend a half-hour follow-up appointment, either Monday or Tuesday evening. To omit this meeting would mean we were not in integrity with our promise to attend it. So I showed up, and met in a room with with a closing specialist, the Principal of a prestigious private school in her day job, who was not going to take no for an answer. Perhaps this was her way of giving back to PSI.
In the end I resentfully cleaned out my savings account and handed it over, and she sent my net worth to California to increase the wealth of the widow Wilhite. Turning over my savings account under pressure created resentment and anxiety that I carried with me to the Ranch. In the back of my mind I recognized that this reaction was only a program, that the very act of attending PSI Seven was an opportunity to rid myself of resistance. I vividly remember three things about PSI Seven.
A beautiful young women from Phoenix decided to make a project of me and give me unconditional support the whole time, no matter what. She was committed and this ennobled me to do my best. We did an exercise where my classmates ranked me exactly in the middle of the class on the characteristic of being a giver. Boy did they ever get that wrong, but that is how I was coming off to everyone at the Ranch.
Third, I was resentful the whole time about spending my savings on this week-long extravagance before giving myself a chance to exercise what I had learned in the weekend Basic course. The resentment didn't go away over the course of the week; it waxed. About a year later I got married and decided to do the 90-day PSI workshop. We had a team of about 30 and it was an opportunity to put into practice in the real-world laboratory everything we learned from Basic and Seven.
We each set three or four personal goals that were given cursory lip service at the frequent team meetings. For instance for two of his goals one classmate decided to sell a parcel of property and then buy a battery for his boat; another decided to increase the size of the diamond for his fiance's engagement ring; a couple flew to Italy to see the museums; one doctor cut back office hours to spend more time with his family; one writer sent a manuscript to a publisher and an aspiring artist completed a number of paintings. Everyone checked in with progress towards their personal goals at twice-weekly team meetings, to great applause no matter how big or small. It soon became apparent that the real purpose of the 90-day workshop was to recruit people to attend the weekend Basic course.
Everyone in the class had to enroll at least two people. This was the goal that mattered. I was lucky that my mother and wife were in town, otherwise I would not have enrolled a single person, even though I threw myself into this effort with everything I had. To recruit new members, each team member held two or more "coffees," and their team buddy was supposed to support them by helping organize and throw it.
We were encouraged to bring guests to as many of these coffees as we could. There were daily calls to the team Coaches; if we were late by a minute we had to give an hour of community service somewhere in the city. I worked my infractions off at a shelter for women and children. We were fined $1 for using the word 'won't' and $5 for 'can't,' self-reported for total infractions throughout the week.
We could staff the Basic if we wanted. At the end of the 90-day workshop, we were supposed to attend an all-day graduation party at a hotel, rent a tux, and participate in 16 hours of high-energy festivities to celebrate our successes. By this time I was totally exhausted and decided not to spend any more time, energy, or money on PSI. I was resentful again, this time about giving so much to recruit new members at the cost of meeting my personal goals.
And I was resentful of the greediness of this organization. I had had it with PSI. When I woke up on Sunday morning I decided not to attend the all-day party. I recommend the Basic seminar.
It is a powerful experience that could change your entire world. I recommend throwing yourself into everything you learned in the seminar. However on Sunday morning, when the whole energy in the room shifts and you feel distinctly manipulated and pressured, listen to your instinct. Then go to PSI Seven if and when you are ready to go to the next level.
After all, we are enough, right now. Accept your greatness.
Product or Service Mentioned: Psi Seminars Seminar.
Reason of review: High-pressure salesmanship.
Preferred solution: Stop being greedy.
I liked: Basic.
I didn't like: High-pressure to attend seven.