The following dialogue will give you a glimpse of typical concerns people experience as they decide to attend a Retreat. I refer to myself as ‘BE’ in the dialogue. These photographs are pictures from our annual Labor Day retreat at the Beach, Florida panhandle.
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Client: What will happen at the retreat?
BE: Every retreat is different because they evolve organically based on the needs of the participants. You begin by completing a questionnaire to help you define your goals. Instead of expecting me to lead you through a specific set of exercises, you are an active co-creator along with the other participants. We stay focused on excavating Your Authentic Self, and transforming patterns that have prevented you from living a truly fulfilling life. You’ll learn tools to successfully attain your goals. You will define your core values, your uniqueness, and draw a picture of the life that would be most fulfilling for you. As you proceed toward creating the life of your dreams, it’s natural for fears and doubts to arise. You’ll learn how to eliminate resistance so you continually move to a higher level of excellence … who God made you to be … Your Authentic Self.
This is a retreat where deep emotional processing is done. There’s nothing superficial about it. Think of the word “deep,” deeper than you’ve ever gone. That’s where we’re going. We also have lots of fun and there’s plenty of lightness. We have time to meditate and take naps and rejuvenate. We have time to play. Think of the words “inner peace.” Think of the words “balance and healthy living.” I support you to do that at the retreat so you can implement it in your daily schedule when you return home.
Client: I’m nervous. I’ve never done anything like this before.
BE: That’s normal. I’ve done tons of retreats, and sometimes I still get nervous. When we move out of our known reality, our ego gets scared. It doesn’t want to let go of its comfort zone. That’s understandable. But our spirit, our Authentic Self, calls us forward. One time I attended a 5-day retreat and I was so nervous I had diarrhea the day before and the whole first day of the retreat. I told one of the support staff and she said, “Oh, we’ve all had that. You learn how to deal with it and continue to participate.” I found the bathrooms quickly. In our retreat, it’s important to bring with you whatever feelings you have. There’s no judgement. That’s one of rules of the retreat. It’s OK to feel how you feel and still show up and be real.
BE: I accept you where you are. I will support you to understand the pattern fully so you can change it. I’ll support you to develop your self-esteem. I’ll be a catalyst for you to develop the courage and take the risks to fully show up as your Authentic Self, not the mask you’ve grown to believe is the real you.
Client: I wonder, “Who am I really behind all this programming?”
BE: You are growing and you have come a long way. One of the major issues I dealt with when I was doing heavy-duty transformational work was comparing myself to others, or comparing myself to an ideal standard that I should be functioning at. I came to realize that the act of comparing myself created painful suffering over and over again. I didn’t love myself very much, although I thought I did. I wasn’t good at self-forgiveness. This is an example of an issue that might come up at the retreat.
Client: I’m concerned my spouse won’t want me to attend the retreat. He will say that what I need isn’t important.
BE: Ask yourself these questions. Do you deserve a safe place to heal? Do you deserve to be with like-minded people? How important is it to uncover and express your Authentic Self? Are you worth it? This is a self-esteem issue.
Client: This retreat is something I need to do for myself. I will say to him, “I know you may not agree with it. I’ve already got time off work. I hope you can understand.’” Then he’ll ask about the money for the retreat, and I’ll say “I’ve got it covered.”
BE: Great answer.
Client: I don’t know if I’ll like my Authentic Self.
BE: Your programmed self, or your ego we could call it, may feel awkward and scared, like a fish flopping around on the shore. Ask this: “Who is the ‘I’ who won’t like my Authentic Self? Who have I identified with? What is my programming for survival?” That is not the real you. I suggest you do this exercise with every challenge you come upon. Ask yourself “What would a woman say or do who has high self-esteem? Begin each morning with this contemplation. How does God see me? What does God want to do?
Client: Do you have any ground rules?
BE: Yes, I do. These guidelines promote maximum growth ad healing for everyone.
- Speak for yourself. Keep it personal and specific. This creates maximum connection with yourself and emotional intimacy with the group.
- Take responsibility for yourself, your feelings, your thoughts, and your desires and communicate them.
- Check out your interpretations about others. You might be right or wrong. Listen to what they say.
- No withholds. Withholds dampen your ability to be fully present with yourself and the group. Be transparent. Express your needs.
- Handle conflicts as they arise. I will support you to practice healthy communication and conflict management skills.
- Explore what is needed for you to develop trust in yourself and with others.
- Don’t project onto others, or when you do, look at it and learn from it. I’ll help you with this. When you get emotionally triggered by someone else, it often means that you have unresolved issues. This is a great opportunity to dive deeper and heal.
- Give me the reader’s digest version. Get to the heart of what you want to say. Remember, we want to go deep, not stay on the surface.
- Be on time for the beginning of group sessions. I’m pretty strict about this. Allow flexibility on the ending time to accommodate the needs of the group.
- You are in charge of taking care of yourself and asking for what you need. For example, if you need to go lie down and rest, do so. If you can lie down while the group activities are taking place, you can still be present and participate in a milder way. There will be a long break in the afternoon.
- If you don’t want to participate in an exercise, don’t. Tell me where you will be. We will agree when you will return to the group. I want to make sure you are safe emotionally and physically.
- Observe your behavior patterns in the retreat. The retreat is a microcosm of your macrocosm. It’s your life wherever you go. We are all adults and we all agree to be responsible for our own feelings. We can usually resolve conflicts with win-win solutions. Try it. I know you’ll like it.
- Speak from your heart, not just your head. Your head is important; we want it fully engaged. We also want you fully present in your body and spirit. We’ll be doing a lot of body-based work. Your body is sacred.
- Listen. Be open to my coaching. Be open to other’s feedback. Receive. I will dive as deep as you are willing to go. I will match your commitment level. You get to choose. The more you ask, the more you will receive.
- Don’t give unsolicited advice. Talk about your own experience that arises in the face of another’s discomfort. Stop care-taking others in unhealthy ways. The retreat is a really good place to practice.
- If you don’t want to be coached at any given moment, say so. I’ll back off. Be direct and clear. I will respect your wishes.
- Eat healthy. Drink lots of pure water. Rest. Go to bed when you need to.
- Be kind to yourself and kind to others while being honest and transparent. Intend to develop enough trust in the group so everyone feels safe to reveal themselves, warts and all. I’ll help you learn how to do this.
- Stay focused these questions: “Who am I really in my Authentic Self? What’s my divine blueprint? Am I living it? What would be my most truly fulfilling life? How much am I willing to commit to creating it? How do I stop myself? What do I need to learn about myself?” Asking the questions will catapult you in the direction of wisdom, vitality and creativity. The more you use a precise laser beam focus, the more you will accomplish. Having said that, don’t be attached to how you will get there. Some of your ways may be limiting. Trust me to guide you please. I will be listening to your Authentic Self and to God. I will design exercises for you to access your Authentic Self and develop a deeper relationship with God, your source of well-being.
- Remember, I love you and so does God. We practice grace.
These are only some of the issues that participants face as they decide to enter a retreat. Questions are normal and I am happy to address them.
I am like an orchestra leader, helping each person play their instrument well and weaving it together with the entire group so the concerto can be played beautifully. The concerto, in this case, is your life and how you interact with the group at the retreat.
As more and more of us do this kind of healing transformational work, we uplift our families, our communities and our world.
The Retreat Invitation
If you would like to speak with me about the possibility of attending our next retreat, please click the Contact Page. Tell me 3 good times for you to talk. Please leave your name, phone number and email address. This is a complementary phone interview to determine if this retreat is a good match for you. If it isn’t, I’ll do my best to recommend other supportive formats for you.
Facilitator: Benita A. Esposito, MA
Licensed Professional Counselor
The Esposito Institute, Inc.
- 48 Haralson Place, Suite 3, Blairsville, GA 30512
- 5885 Glenridge Drive, Suite 130, Atlanta, GA 30328
Click here to contact Benita to inquire about private sessions or retreats.
Psychotherapy Website: www.Flourishing-Lives.com
Life Coaching: www.SensitiveIntrovert.com
Specialties: Marriage counseling, personal development, divorce, emotional roots of disease, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, grief, bipolar disorders and success skills. Combining intuition and evidence-based practices, Benita gets to the bottom line quickly to help clients create flourishing personal and professional lives. Psychotherapy is available in Blairsville and Atlanta. Life coaching for high achievers is available worldwide via telephone and skype. In this retreat, Benita functions as an ordained minister with AIWP, applying hands-on-healing as appropriate and invited.