Transforming the Inner Critic with Brainspotting & IFS

Does your Inner Critic act like a sports reporter critiquing everything you do? If so, you are not alone. Many high-achievers suffer from critical jabs and barbs. The Inner Critic pushes us to succeed. When we’re not perfect, our Inner Child takes a hit.

In this story, you’ll meet Marie. She is a bright, kind, creative woman who doesn’t deserve to be plagued by a harsh taskmaster. You’ll see how she and the Holy Spirit tamed her Inner Critic and turned self-loathing into self-compassion. Come along with us on Marie’s journey to her Authentic Self.

Marie’s Background (in her words)

I originally began seeing Benita Esposito in the summer of 2021 when I was 31 years old. I wanted to heal childhood wounds, create an earned secure attachment style, and tap into my Authentic Self.

My perfectionism, self-loathing, depression, and anxiety were at an all-time high. My Inner Critic scolded me saying, “You should be able to handle difficult situations by yourself. You should be self-sufficient. Grow up and stop whining.”

I felt lonely and insecure inside. When the following thoughts came for me, I spiraled into defeat and depression: “What’s the point? Why should I even be here?”

I knew that much of my emotional pain stemmed from the toxic relationship I had with my biological father during my childhood. His emotional abuse and emotional unavailability made me feel unsafe, and that I wasn’t worth his time or energy. I felt like I had to fend for myself when I visited him on weekends. If I was afraid or hurt, I had to be the one to take care of myself. I learned that my needs would be met with anger and frustration.

I always yearned for belonging. 

I had no idea how much of my identity was wrapped around my dad’s behavior towards me until I began attending sessions with Benita

Now, as an educator and student affairs practitioner, I love creating a sense of belonging for students. I want them to feel seen and heard, especially in my writing consultations with them. I’ve turned my emotional pain into my passion to help students feel cherished so they can become their best selves.

One pivotal session showed me a new lens through which to view myself.

At the outset of our session, I mentioned to Benita that I was still learning to be okay with opening up and sharing how I really felt. I told her that I needed her to help me with tapping more into my Authentic Self in our sessions. I admitted to her that I was learning how to bring down my walls, but I was anxious.

My Mask

It was challenging to be authentic because I regularly displayed a veneer that created distance within myself and with others. I realized that I would not be able to get my core needs met if I continued to operate with my mask.

I requested that Benita ask more probing questions to help me fully show up, such as “How are you REALLY doing?” I agreed that I would practice responding with how I REALLY felt … not just waiting for Benita to ask me … and not just saying that I felt fine with a camouflage smile.

My Fears

I admitted that I was afraid of feeling anxious if I showed up as my Authentic Self.

When I imagined someone asking me, “How are you?” and I said, “I’m tired,” I would feel like I was burdening them rather than sticking to the usual “I’m OK.”

I was so afraid that by sharing how I really felt that I would make the other person do more of the “work” in the conversation.

Reflecting upon my insecurities, my Inner Critic told me, “You’re egotistical if you share too much of yourself. Don’t be self-centered.”

Another part of me was afraid of too much exposure if I shared my Authentic Self. I would feel too vulnerable like, the spotlight was on me.

I didn’t like coming across as weak. If I were weak, then I imagined I wouldn’t be accepted. My father rejected me when I was hurt. I imagined other people would reject me, too. If I was too much, too real, or too vulnerable, I wouldn’t be accepted.

If I wasn’t accepted by others, 
I berated myself.
Self-loathing skyrocketed.

Here’s how Brainspotting helped Marie heal. (written by Benita Esposito)

I used a method called Brainspotting to help Marie heal the emotional pain that resulted in depression, anxiety and feeling like she didn’t belong. Let me explain a little about how Brainspotting works. It’s not like talk therapy.

Dr. David Grand, the originator of Brainspotting, discovered that where we look affects how we feel emotionally and physically.

When we look in a certain direction, emotional wounds can be activated so we can heal them. If we focus on another location, calmness or creativity can be stimulated. The Brainspotting practitioner helps the client determine these visual spots. Brainspotting also helps us tap into the healing power of our spiritual connection.

Much of the processing takes place on a physical and emotional level beyond our awareness. 

Our prefrontal cortex (the conscious part of us) can’t perceive the healing or explain it. 

That’s why some clients call Brainspotting a mystery.

 

Here’s a brief description of Marie’s process. 
 
I helped Marie choose two spots that were relevant to her issue.

1.     She found a visual RESOURCE spot that helped her feel calm, grounded and safe. I used a teacher’s pointer to mark this spot for her to focus on. This correlated with where she felt most calm and grounded in her body.

2.     She located a visual ACTIVATION spot which provoked her anxiety and self-loathing. Again, I used a teacher’s pointer to mark this spot for her to focus on. This correlated with where she felt most activated in her body.

Marie wore stereo earphones to listen to calming biolateral music engineered by Dr. Grand. The music moves between the ears, stimulating both sides of the brain. This accelerates the healing process.

Marie stared at her chosen spots and allowed thoughts and feelings to surface spontaneously. She watched the thoughts and feelings come and go without judgment … moment after moment.

I told Marie that she could share what she experienced or remain silent. Either way works fine.

Brainspotting accesses the amygdala
where emotions and memories are stored.
The procedure is so effective because it
processes difficult unconscious material
in a way that doesn’t overwhelm us.
The Brainspotting practitioner helps
the client remain in their window of tolerance.

 
We combined Internal Family Dialogue with Brainspotting.
 
We all have parts inside our inner family. For example, we have an Inner Critic, an analytical Adult, a spontaneous fun-loving Free Child, a people-pleaser Adapted Child, a Rebellious Child, and a Nurturing Parent.

Sometimes one part, such as the Inner Critic, dominates the other parts like an abusive husband would belittle his wife. This was at the heart of Marie’s self-loathing.

To heal emotional wounds and coping patterns, we bring love and understanding to each part from the Authentic Self. This is also called the Wise Self or the Spirit-led Self.

We help the inner family communicate with each other and build healthy relationships.

Often, we start with the Inner Critic because its voice is so loud. We acknowledge the critic for the role it has played. The critic unconsciously tries to protect other parts. These are often exiled scared parts who are too afraid to show up.

We want to help the wounded exiled parts come out so we can help them heal.

Other inner family members might be afraid to let the exiles emerge for fear that they will overwhelm the family with their pain. Clients sometimes say, “If I let myself cry, I might cry forever or I might not ever come out of it.”

We ask the exiled parts not to overwhelm the family. 

Most of the time, they will agree. We help them come out a little at a time so the whole family can adjust.

As we help the hurt exiled parts heal, the critic no longer has to work overtime to protect that part. It can relax and step back. It no longer needs to dominate other parts with its heavy-handed orders.

Over time, the parts learn how to build bridges where there were walls before. Marie was learning how to create a healthy inner family where all parts were working together to meet everyone’s needs while receiving guidance from her spirit-led Self and the Holy Spirit.

The Brainspotting Process

The Set-Up

·       Marie put on her headphones and listened to David Grand’s biolateral music, which accelerates the healing process.

·       She identified the issue as self-loathing when people don’t accept her.

·       She located this issue in her body. It was below her heart and felt like a tight pressure. The color was red. We call this the body activation spot. 

·       Marie rated the intensity of the activation of her issue as a level 8 where 10 is high.

·       She did a body scan from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. She looked for the most grounded part of her body. In this case, it was her tummy. We call this the body resource spot.

 

The scene in Marie’s words:

My seven-year-old Inner Child is wrestling with my Inner Critic as they always do.

I notice these thoughts, “You’ll never get it right. You’ll always be alone.”

The wounded Inner Child is losing the match.

Benita: Do you hear a voice sending you those critical messages? Whose voice is it?

Marie: My biological dad fed me those critical messages. He’s trying to silence me. My walls formed when I was seven.

Benita: You introjected messages from your father. You swam in the only fish bowl you had.

Marie: I want to break this vicious cycle.

Marie addressed her father as if he were in the session. “Dad, these messages are not beneficial to me. They never were. I give them back to you. You are their owner.”

I see a giant stack of papers. I’m giving them back to him. I have a sense of relief and release. My shoulders are looser.

There is still emotional pain in my heart center. The wound is still there from all that pollution and garbage.

Marie tunes into another part. “This is the purest part of me … the one who is most symbolic of who I am … before any bad influences occurred. It’s like a breeze … you can feel it but you can’t see it. It’s my spirit. It’s strong, resilient, and wise. It zig-zags, pulling me with it. Now there’s nothingness … a peaceful nothingness.”

My pain is level 7.  It’s in my stomach.

My Nurturing Parent touches the places inside of me that are wounded to heal them. There’s a red light around them. It hurts.

Now, there’s less tension. “This is for your good,” she says. “You’ll feel better in time. It’s gonna be OK.”

Marie looked at the resource pointer with one eye which increased the intensity of the processing.

Marie: I feel calm. I am hopeful about moving towards self-acceptance. I feel calm in my core and in my gut.

Benita’s commentary: Marie was developing more body awareness so she could stay grounded and present.

The following internal conversation developed spontaneously.

  • Holy Spirit: You’ll be OK. You will get there. You will overcome.
  • Marie breathed a long exhale.
  • Benita’s commentary: The long exhale means your parasympathetic nervous system is soothing the body.
  • A Bible verse comes to mind: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • Sigh
  • Benita’s commentary: The parasympathetic nervous system is coming online to soothe the body.
  • I feel a peaceful nothingness … no negative thought spirals. It feels great.
  • Sigh.
  • Benita’s commentary: The parasympathetic nervous system is coming online to soothe the body.
  • Level 4
  • Looking at the Resource pointer: You are loved.
  • Looking at the Activation pointer: You are nothing, worthless.
  • Looking at the Resource pointer: It’s OK to be OK inside yourself. I’m still OK even if Dad doesn’t think so.

Marie talked to her father as if he were present.
“Dad, even if you don’t think I am OK, I know I am. It’s OK to be me. I don’t need you to tell me who I am. I don’t need you to silence me. Don’t silence me anymore!  You’ve really hurt me over the years. You’ve caused me to second-guess myself. Now, I’m choosing to put my thoughts and feelings first. You may not have a stronghold on me anymore.”

Benita to Marie: Repeat this statement three times so it soaks into your mind and body: “I’m choosing to put my thoughts and feelings first. You may not have a stronghold on me anymore.”

Marie repeats the sentences three times, each time with more feeling and louder.

Marie: My body feels like a weight has been lifted. I feel lighter and stronger from within. I know who I am.

Marie spoke to her father again in her mind:

“You don’t know who I am. I have come a long way and I am moving forward. I don’t need you and your lies to get in the way.”

Marie: That felt really good. My body feels less heavy. I’m feeling strong and resilient in the innermost core of my being.

Now, I’m not being thrown by all these punches … no more wrestling with my Inner Critic.  I feel bigger and stronger than those thoughts now.

I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Good job, Marie! You did well. Keep relying on me and depending on me so you can see clearly who you are because I’m working through you. You are not who your father said you were.”

Marie repeated three times: “I am not who my father said I am.”

Marie: My body feels so much strength in my core. It’s like an uprising … waves are coming up. I’m ready to take on whatever challenge is ahead of me.

The ending level was a 2 out of 10 after 30 minutes of processing

Marie reported, “My chest is lighter and peaceful. The color is white.”

Debrief

Marie: This was a core transformation. I feel a lightness of Self and my Being is strong. I’ve never felt this way before. I have a new kind of discernment. I no longer feel inclined to embrace what is not authentically me.

I’m looking forward to doing more work like this and helping the Inner Critic. He’s taking a nap now … his first nap ever! He doesn’t have to work so hard now that he knows naps are possible. LOL

Benita to Marie: We addressed the CORE IDENTITY that you formed at age seven (or maybe younger). You made a new core decision about your identity. Your primary attachment is now with the Holy Spirit, which replaces the primary attachment with your dad who peppered you with all the critical demeaning messages. Good job, Marie!

Marie’s Comments

Benita guided me through core identity work. It was such an incredible experience. During our session, I remember thinking that I wish I could feel this weightless blissful nothingness all the time.

I recall after my session looking above me and noticing that I no longer felt the heaviness that used to suffocate my self-esteem and weigh me down. I had a clear mind without being bombarded with self-loathing and negative feedback loops. I felt free, light, and strong all at the same time.

The next day I woke up to a feeling of hope and security, like the sanctuary I had been searching for had been found inside of me.

Brainspotting helps build community inside of my Self. The whispers that flow between each of the family members become more audible to my conscious mind. This internal communication creates the ideal conditions for self-discovery, transformation, and healing.

I know that because of my work with Benita that my life has been transformed, and that I am able to appreciate who I am. I believe the events that took place in my session with Benita gave me the opportunity to redefine myself, and I’ve been reawakened to my true identity.

Benita is an amazing guide. Her discernment and uncanny ability to tune into the spiritual realm is the impetus for miracles. Benita’s gentle yet strong presence, coupled with her intentionality, created the ultimate safe space for me to bring my walls down and discover the deep healing that I sorely needed.

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Contact Information

Benita A. Esposito offers distance counseling and life coaching for Highly Sensitive Introverts via Zoom videoconference. Psychotherapy is open to residents of Georgia and North Carolina. If you live in another state or country, spiritual counseling and life coaching is available.

If you would like to schedule a complimentary 10-minute Discovery Call for counseling or to inquire about an HSP Retreat, please complete the application on the contact form.

Photo credits:  

  • Benita Esposito by K Boyer Photography
  • Brain Synapse by Hal Gatewood, Unsplash
  • Brain by Milad Fakurian, Unsplash

7 Steps to Intuitive Healing

Do you know it is possible to reduce pain by listening to the messages in your emotions?

In this article, “7 Steps to Intuitive Healing,” you’ll see how I helped a client learn to listen intuitively to her body to activate healing. You can do this, too. At first, it helps to have a skilled healer work with you. With practice, you’ll be able to do it on your own. Read more

The Path to Self-Acceptance: A Highly Sensitive Introvert’s Journey

Do you live your life in alignment with your Authentic Self, or do you operate the way you think you should or have to?

When I was young, I didn’t know that I wasn’t being true to my Authentic Self. No one taught me the difference. I didn’t know that I was a highly sensitive introvert.

My coping strategy was to be a Pleaser and a Performer who needed affirmation from people. I also needed internal strokes from my Inner Critic. My Critic set standards that I had to meet, like getting A’s in school and excelling in my career. All the while, I needed to look cute.

Striving filled my days and nights. I was running as fast as I could inside a whirling hamster wheel. I felt stressed, but I thought that was normal. I didn’t know to call it anxiety. I got depressed when I didn’t get the attention I wanted from a man, or when a relationship ended, or when I made a mistake in my career. I rarely felt inner peace.

A counselor told me that my life reminded her of the myth of Sisyphus. Camus’ character spent every day pushing a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down each time.

I was trying to be my best self. I had no idea how to lead my life differently. This struggle lasted through my 40’s.

I was not aware that I didn’t know my Authentic Self.

Striving covered up shame.

My driven behavior served an important unconscious purpose: to cover up the shame of feeling insecure. I would have never been able to tell you that I felt insecure or needy when I was 43. I identified as a high achiever. I could have told you that I felt anxious and depressed sometimes, and that my body ached.

Highly sensitive people with an insecure attachment style often experience this life theme. A retreat for highly sensitive people when I was 45 years old helped me find myself.

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Now, after a lot of therapy and deep introspection, I know my Authentic Self. These are some of the ways I’ve changed:

My Inner Critic has stopped barking orders at my Inner Child to remind her that she is not good enough and that she has to try harder. Self-love has taken root deep in my soul. The stress of having to prove myself has given way to inner peace. My anxious attachment style has transformed into a secure attachment style.

I’m no longer afraid to be different. Some people love me, and some don’t. Some understand me, and some don’t. I love myself. God loves me, and so do many others. I don’t need everyone to like me. When I let go of self-judgment, other’s judgment of me stopped being a big deal.

My worth isn’t determined by my accomplishments, who I know, what I know, or the next step in my career or my love life.

Some people talk about themselves a lot, and they never ask questions to get to know me. I choose to associate with people who reciprocate. It’s important to be seen, known, and cherished. This is part of good self-care.

I meditate for 30 minutes every afternoon because I need to, even if no one else does. I stopped trying to convince other highly sensitive introverts to do the same. I suggest it, but I no longer see myself as their “savior.” I know they are more stressed than they need to be, but people have the right to make their own choices. They will learn from the consequences of their life style choices or not.

I used to worry about missing out on something (FOMO – fear of missing out). Now, if I didn’t attend an event, I make a conscious choice to be content with whatever I am doing. I like being at home in my comfy sanctuary. It’s my introverted nature.

I wear the same clothes several days in a row if they are clean. I don’t have to do as much laundry. I’ve bucked my societal programming. I like being efficient.

I wear aqua most days because I love it. It’s my color.

I hate noisy restaurants and prefer to eat outside whenever possible. I no longer feel guilty when I tell my dinner partner that it’s time to leave a noisy restaurant. I don’t let myself get so stressed. It’s part of good self-care. I choose to associate with people who understand the needs of a highly sensitive introvert.

I won’t attend a concert just because my friends invite me. I want to know the artist and their music before I decide to spend two hours of my precious time at a concert. I don’t mind saying “no thanks.”

If you want to experience this kind of self-acceptance, I applaud your decision.

I’ll support you to become your own best friend. I’ll help you be true to yourself even if others judge you, reject you, make fun of you, or call you too sensitive, or too picky.

As self-love percolates deep inside of you, you’ll find yourself choosing friends who cherish you. You’ll create a kindred tribe. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are highly sensitive people.

You’ll find kindred spirits at our Highly Sensitive Person Retreats. They are the best place to make rapid progress on your Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self.

 

Contact Information

If you would like help to become your Authentic Self, I’m happy to assist you. As a highly sensitive person myself, I can easily understand you, your challenges, and your beautiful gifts. Zoom videoconferences are available worldwide.

Please complete the application on the Contact Page. This is the first step to see if we are a good fit.

Feel free to ask about life coaching, spiritual counseling, and intensive retreats for Highly Sensitive Introverts.

Benita A. Esposito, MA is the author of the bestseller, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self available on Amazon.

Click here to read more about Benita Esposito’s personal story.

 

The Problem with Perfectionism and Pleasing for HSPs

High-achieving Highly Sensitive People value excellence. They are tender souls who do their best to create healthy loving relationships. They want to make the world a better place. The problem is: they may lose themselves while helping others. Read more

Authentic Power: A Solution to Workplace Stress for HSPs

Do you feel stressed because you have too much work to do? You’re not alone. Several of my high achieving highly sensitive clients have complained about stress due to work demands — especially during the Holidays. Exhaustion compromises their immune systems. Insomnia visits too frequently. Burnout hovers over the horizon like smog on a hot summer day in Atlanta. Read more

Highly Sensitive Person Retreat for Women * Breathwork

Breathwork is my most effective tool

for rapid transformation.

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  • Have you ever been told you are too sensitive, just get over it?
  • Do you have intense emotions that fire rapidly and last longer than others?
  • Are you an empath? Do you absorb other people’s emotions and after a while you feel drained? Or, maybe your body feels tension or pain when you are around people who are upset. 
  • Do you become overwhelmed by conflict and aggressive people?
  • Do you feel distressed when others don’t understand you?
  • Does anxiety increase when you have too much to do in too little time?
  • Do noisy crowds irritate you?
  • Does meaningless social chit-chat bore you?

If so, you might be a highly sensitive introvert.  Take the quiz.

If you are an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert HSP, you are welcome.  You will feel understood and validated for your unique mix of HSP traits.
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2024  Breathwork Retreats for Highly Sensitive Women

1. Spring: May 18-19.

2. Fall: September 27-29. Register by Aug. 28. The early bird discount ends: Aug. 27.

Attend more than one retreat. They’re always different.

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Where:

Young Harris,

Georgia,

USA

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Who Should Attend

This HSP Breathwork Retreat is not for beginners. Most people have had several sessions with Benita Esposito. If you are working with another therapist, you can use this retreat as an adjunct to your current therapy. You must have a minimum of three private sessions with Benita Esposito before you may attend this retreat. Participants must be willing and able to feel deep emotions so they can heal the root of unconscious material. When you’re ready for deep dive work, this is a safe place for Highly Sensitive Introvert Women to let go of old limiting patterns. This HSP Retreat will help you experience inner peace. You’ll become your own best friend. Self-confidence will grow. You’ll be more creative, and you’ll be able to express your unique gifts more fully.

** If you are allergic to cats, please discuss this to determine if this is a suitable environment for you. 

Breathwork helps you get in touch with emotional pain that needs to be healed. You are able to put the pain in a place where it can’t hurt you. If you want to be the real You and enjoy life … take the time, spend the money, make the effort to attend. It is a life changing event that you can’t afford to miss.  ~E.K. 

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Highly Sensitive Person Retreat Goals

The retreat process evolves organically according to the goals of each participant. Each participant will complete a form two weeks in advance stating their goals for the retreat. Retreats are not pre-scripted. Each retreat is different and tailored to the participants.

We  co-create activities so everyone is involved in the healing activities. You might be coached individually while the rest of the group learns vicariously. We might role-play to build competency with assertiveness and conflict management skills. If you want hands-on healing, I will do that to promote deeper change. We might hike through a forest along the lake and find a place to meet outdoors.

  1. I’ll help you understand the highly sensitive person trait so you can increase your self-awareness and self-worth. For example, being an empath is a blessing, but it can leave you emotionally reactive and exhausted.
  2. You’ll grow in your ability to know your true identity as a highly sensitive person and have the courage to express your Authentic Self even when others judge you.
  3. You’ll receive expert guidance to do deep emotional healing to reduce anxiety, depression and eliminate self-defeating patterns.
  4. You’ll enjoy more fulfilling healthy personal and professional relationships.
  5. You’ll be able to create a more fulfilling career so that your work is an expression of your soul.
  6. You’ll receive encouragement to create a balance between taking good care of yourself and helping others. You are worth it. Your body will thank you.
  7. You’ll learn to create win-win solutions so everyone has a sense of belonging.

Benita has incredible energy. She gives off unconditional love and is one of the most authentic people I have ever met.  She is committed to over-delivering and helping us attain extraordinary results. I’d recommend her to everyone! ~M.B.

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Benita Esposito. Credit: Alysia Hargus Photography

Benita A. Esposito, HSP Retreat Facilitator

The teachers you choose can make a huge impact on your life. That’s why you should get to know them as much as possible before you enroll in their work. I’m dedicated to accelerating your progress on your Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self. It’s my life calling to be a servant leader. I particularly love counseling and coaching highly sensitive people because I am one.

Click here to read my short personal story about being a Highly Sensitive Person.

You might want to read my book — it’s a memoir and teaching stories about my trials and triumphs as an HSP. The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self.  Hopefully, it will serve as a model that will show you how to heal and take the risks to be your authentic self. It’s available as an ebook, a paperback, and an audiobook, available on Amazon and other bookstores. You can also visit Audible.com or your iTunes app for the audiobook.

Click here to watch my book video.

As a Highly Sensitive Person, you also might like my guided meditation: A Journey into Wholeness: Access Divine Guidance for Success, Prosperity and Health.  Click here.
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Nearly 4 years ago I was attacked and I almost died. While the memory eventually faded and life went back to “normal,” I had lost my innocence. I could never really be the person I was before the attack. After the Breathwork session, one of the things that Benita and the rest of the group said to me after the breathwork was that I looked more innocent. What a gift. That was the very part of me that I had lost and all of the fun of being innocent.  I was able to not only heal this one trauma, but also many other smaller events. After the breathwork, I was free from all of the baggage that had been weighing me down, free to rekindle my energy, power and enthusiasm for life. I am still noticing changes in my attitudes and behaviors that bring tears of joy as I realize how much of myself I had lost over the years and how wonderful it is to have me back. I can’t thank you enough for this life changing experience. ~ E.G.

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Gifts and Challenges of the Highly Sensitive Person

Read about this on the main retreat page.

 

Activities for the Highly Sensitive Person Retreat

This is a psycho-spiritual healing format nested in a grace-filled inclusive Christian theology. There’s no judgmental piousness here.

We use a variety of transformation tools: Breathwork, Brainspotting, role playing, inner voice dialogue, guided meditation, and more.

There will probably be some seasoned clients in your retreat, so they will help you learn the ropes.

  1. The first step is to help the group bond so everyone feels safe and supported. We’ll do some ice-breaker get-acquainted activities.
  2. We’ll do guided meditations with soothing music.
  3. There will be one-to-one coaching while the group learns vicariously followed by Q&A. Some people feel safer by watching others before they feel comfortable being coached in front of the group.
  4. We’ll do group activities to accelerate healing and growth of the collective.
  5. Breathwork is the most powerful part of the in-person retreats.

During the retreat, I felt loved even when I was coming apart at the seams. In that messy vulnerable place, I felt Benita’s commitment to my healing and wholeness, and I felt my partner’s commitment. Their love enabled me to love myself in my darkest hour. Nothing has ever been so life-changing for me. ~J.H.

Breathwork 

Breathwork is the most transformational healing processes used in this HSP Retreat. This type of Breathwork is not simply breathing deeper. It’s similar to Dr. Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork, but different. This type of Breathwork accesses the deep inner recesses of your unconscious subcortical brain and your spirit so you’re likely to experience impressive results. As a Christian spiritual counselor, I invoke the healing power of Jesus. In case you are concerned, you won’t experience any legalistic judgmentalism here.

We work directly with the body-mind-spirit to access unconscious emotional memory, sometimes as far back as in-utero and infancy. We want to heal the very beginning of life-long patterns to get you freed up to be who you really are, your Authentic Self.

 

When I arrived at your home, you were so welcoming, which was very comforting. The intention-setting and prayer you shared were confirmation that I was where I needed to be. The Breathwork session yielded more than I could have expected. Seeing my promiscuity and assault was painful, but I am now able to be more compassionate with myself. My father expressed his love for me with sincerity in his eyes. The love of God surrounded me and let me know all was well. That was an amazing experience. As part of my meditation today, I did the self-reparenting assignment you gave me. It was much more effective than it would have been if I’d done it before Breathwork, which shows the long-lasting impact of Breathwork. Thank you for your obedience to the Holy Spirit, your heart and the work you do.  ~L.S.

Prerequisites for the in-person Highly Sensitive Person Retreats

Please read the articles below about Breathwork. Also, please watch Dr. Stan Grof’s videos before applying for the two-day HSP Breathwork Retreat. Allow four hours. There are 2.5 hours of videos. 

  1. Breathwork Description
  2. Breathwork Q&A
  3. Breathwork Testimonials
  4. * Breathwork Stan Grof

A Bird’s Eye View of Spiritual Counseling with Benita Esposito

These articles and client anecdotes illustrate breathwork and other practices used in HSP Retreats. Click on each title below. Please read at least five client anecdotes before you apply for this retreat.

  1. Healing Grief: Breathwork Opens the Heart and Mends Relationships
  2. Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self ~ Overview
  3. How I Discovered I Am an Intuitive Empath
  4. Healing from an Abusive Marriage: Devon’s Story
  5. Spiritual Healing for the Inner Child: The Power of Inner Dialogue
  6. Empaths Feel the Weight of the World Crisis
  7. Healing for Lonely Abandoned Hearts
  8. How I Healed Chronic Pain Without Drugs
  9. My Journey Toward Wholeness, Remaining a Square in a Triangle World
  10. Healing Trauma with Breathwork: Abortion and Open Heart Surgery
  11. Attachment Styles and Highly Sensitive People. What predicts healthy romance?
  12. Healing Hurtful Relationship Patterns with Breathwork
  13. Turning Fear into a Friend: A Breathwork Story

I have attended several in-person breathwork retreats with Benita, done breathwork by myself at home, and attended an online retreat where I did breathwork. All three experiences were different and all have their own merit. In my online breathwork experience, even though I was alone at home during the retreat, I still felt connected and safe within the group. I was able to still experience deep shifts within me.  -Cassey, Vancouver, Canada

Credit: Benita A Esposito

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Venue for in-person Highly Sensitive Person Retreats:

Young Harris, Georgia, USA

Overlooking Lake Chatuge and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Two hours from Atlanta, Chattanooga and Asheville

Schedule for in-person HSP Retreats

Friday evening: 7-8:30pm Introductions

Saturday and Sunday:

Group session 9:30am – 11:30pm (Eastern)

Lunch Break  11:30 – 12:30pm

Group session  12:30 – 2:30pm

Break 2:30-3:30pm

Group session 3:30-5:30pm

Please arrive early for the beginning of each session. Please be flexible on the ending time because we may need to accommodate the needs of the group.

Suggestions: take off work the day after the retreat so you can rest. These retreats can be demanding.

Before the Retreat, my lack of ability to tell my truth to other people caused me a lot of anxiety. I had a hard time making decisions and sticking to them. I wanted my Authentic Self to show up. During Breathwork, I released a lot of anger, and I reclaimed three different parts of myself that had been missing since I was a little girl. Now it is easier for me to communicate my true feelings and thoughts. I can make decisions and I stick to them without suffering about communicating my decisions. I just come right out and say what is on my mind.  I regained my personal power. Thank you! ~R.T.

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Tuition for the 2-day HSP Retreat for Women:  $695.00

There is a maximum of six people for the in-person retreats, so register early.

Contact me for payment instructions. Your application must be pre-approved.

Early Bird Discount: The $25 discount ends August 5  for the Fall HSP Retreat.

Note: Registration closes August 28 for the Fall HSP Retreat

Click here for a list of lodging and restaurants. There are 2 bedrooms available at my home @ $79 per night.

My Breathwork experience was wonderful! As you instructed us to breathe deeper and faster, I kept breathing and breathing and nothing was happening except my stomach muscles were getting sore from breathing so hard. I began to think, “Why would anyone want to do this?” Then in an instant, I was in a spiritual state and suddenly things about my life that had been very confusing became crystal clear. I was able to ask questions and receive answers. It was such a profound experience that a river of tears began to flow. That’s unusual for me, being a man. I was unaware that I had been holding anger towards myself for past mistakes. Before, I was able to forgive everyone except myself. Now I can do that. Forgiveness is strong medicine. I would gladly do Breathwork again. Our lives are only reflections of what we are inside. Through Breathwork we can discover the things we are holding onto inside that need changing. ~T.M.

How to apply for this Highly Sensitive Person Retreat

If you are a new client: You must attend a minimum of three private sessions with Benita Esposito before the registration deadline. We need to get to know each other and build a trusting relationship. We will be able to make a more informed decision as to whether this retreat is the best place for you. This is an intensive retreat, therefore, additional sessions could be required. Schedule your private sessions as soon as possible. My schedule is very full. The private session fee is in addition to the retreat tuition. You will receive expert spiritual counseling in these preliminary sessions.  

Your next step: Please complete the questionnaire on the Contact Page so we can begin to get to know each other.

If you are a current client: Please email me with your request to participate in this retreat.

Click here to read the complete list of testimonials for HSPs.

About Your Facilitator: Benita A. Esposito

Click here to read Benita Esposito’s credentials and story.

Benita Esposito. Credit: Alysia Hargus Photography

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Refund Policy

All refund requests must be made via email. Complete the contact form.

• 30 or more days before the retreat, there will be a full refund minus a $50 processing fee.

• No refunds 0 – 29 days before the retreat, but you may apply your fee to private sessions or another retreat within one year, minus a $50 fee.

The Breathwork retreat helped me tremendously as well as the work with you individually. I now recognize when my body is sending me signals, and I pay attention to it. I am learning to put my hands on the pain and be patient with it. I have come to recognize how hard I am on myself, and that it is difficult for me to be still. However, I know that recognizing this is the first step to getting better. ~J.J.

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Your Authentic Life. Anything Else is a Compromise.

Self-care for High-achieving HSPs: Morgan’s story

I share stories about high-achieving Highly Sensitive People on the Hero’s Journey hoping they will inspire you to create a truly fulfilling life rooted in your Authentic Self. If you are not fulfilled, it may be because you conformed to what your family, your culture, or an outdated version of yourself thought was best for you. Read more

Unbridled: Finding My Innermost Self

The following story took place at my Deep Emotional Healing Breathwork Retreat last month. My client attended individual sessions for about one year for issues related to self-esteem, career, trauma and relationships. She’d been making steady progress, and the groundwork had been laid for a giant leap. You’ll hear the story from my client’s point of view. May it inspire your hero’s journey to your Authentic Self.

Read more

Spiritual Intimacy Heals Abuse: Tiana’s Story

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OVERVIEW

In the following story, you’ll see a therapy session unfold as we celebrate the progress of a highly sensitive woman who broke away from an abusive relationship. Tiana is a bright, creative and compassionate woman in her mid-fifties. You’d be fortunate to count her among your friends. Like most highly sensitive people, she is kind and thoughtful.  Read more

Healing Toxic Shame

When you make a mistake and someone is disappointed in you, do you feel like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs? When dogs experience shame, their bodies automatically respond with this behavior.  Read more