Cliff Jumping and Unlocking Potential in Bali

Cliff Jumping and Unlocking Potential in Bali

This article appears in Volume 25: The
Pioneer Issue

5am, my alarm clock is ringing and someone is knocking on
my villa door. It’s time for my first full day at Chōsen
Experiences. My fellow participants join me for coffee, chia
pudding and a breakfast smoothie. The bright-orange sunrise is
painting palm-tree reflections in the pool and we all admire the
quintessential postcard view of paradise. I drink a glass of cold
brew as I read over my itinerary for the day. Two words – “cliff
jumping” – stand out a little bolder than the rest and I can’t tell
if the swell of anxiety in the pit of my stomach is from the
extra-strong coffee or because I’m terrified of heights.

I am here for a week-long journey that promises to challenge me
physically and mentally while helping me to unlock my full
potential. Founded by Robin Connelly and John Stanton, each Chōsen
Experience includes adventure, fitness, nutrient-dense food,
workshops, experiential learning, mindfulness and much more.
Participants complete in-depth lifestyle questionnaires at the
point of booking before groups of no more than ten meet at luxury
properties in breathtaking locations in
(where I am now),
, Guatemala,
New Zealand
Cape Town

Four-poster beds, infinity pools and manicured gardens are the
norm for the properties in each region, and there’s little to no
single-use plastic used on site. The programming is designed by
leading nutritionists, Olympic athletes and doctors, who ensure
guests are perfectly fuelled, rested and challenged. It’s
essentially an “ideal week” where all the basics are taken care of
so you can focus on the physical and mental challenges presented to

Like most of the group I learned about the experiences from a
friend who is a member of the Chōsen Alumni community, a network of
former participants who live in major cities around the world. The
Alumni come from all walks of life but have one thing in common: a
willingness and desire to continuously improve themselves mentally,
physically, professionally and personally. My friend has joined me
for the week and in addition to the two of us, the group is made up
of a luxury fashion retail director, acclaimed writer and TV
presenter, impact investor, freshly graduated tech major,
successful bakery-chain entrepreneur, the founders John and Robin,
and Chōsen’s phenomenal chef, Josh Davies. We have flown in from
all corners of the world and are ready for a transformational

We make our way in a convoy of cars to some waterfalls for our
cliff-jumping and canyoning adventure. A chilled playlist begins,
conversation flows and connections are made as John and Robin
answer all our questions about the week. Before I know it we’re in
the water, rappelling down waterfalls and sliding over the river.
My cunning plan of keeping my fear of heights a secret is foiled
when an extremely high cliff jump emerges. I go pale, pretend I’m
being polite by letting everyone go ahead of me and try to delay
the inevitable. I then turn to Josh with a million excuses on the
tip of my tongue, who, without a second of hesitation, proceeds to
give me a “leap of faith” pep talk. It works: I jump. The crowd
cheers. So far, so good. Within minutes of hitting the water I’m
climbing back up to the highest point and making myself jump over
and over again. On my final jump something shifts and the fear that
had been holding me back since I was a child is gone. It’s the
first breakthrough of many during the week. In less than 24 hours
two of us have overcome a formerly debilitating fear of heights.
I’m impressed.

Back at the luxurious villa we gather around the table for one
of many delicious, healthy meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are
family-style, wholefood feasts and everyone is encouraged to sit
next to new people at every meal. This is not a weight-loss
retreat, but guests often look and feel leaner when leaving thanks
to the organic, unprocessed food. I have some of the best meals of
my life during the week and everyone is impressed at how well their
food intolerances, allergies and preferences are catered for. My
digestive system has never been happier.

Every day of the week is programmed very carefully and includes
different physical and mental activities. The only permanent daily
items on the agenda are meal times and sunset yoga every evening
before dinner. The instructors are phenomenal and this week include
Olympic-gold swimmer Ryk Neethling, yoga and life coach Rachel
Fearnley, clinical nutritionist Elisa Haggarty and the best local
athletes in Bali. We are pushed to our limits during group workouts
and gently nudged to the edge of our comfort zone, encouraged to
open up and put in the work. The breakthroughs continue as someone
learns how to swim, overcoming a childhood fear of open water.

John and Robin are former clean-tech venture capitalists who
originally created Chōsen Experiences to balance their stressful
work lives. Their original concept continues to develop and
improve, and new aspects are regularly incorporated. This idea of
continuous learning is one of my biggest takeaways from the week.
Experts take part in activities and workshops alongside us and we
have endless opportunities to learn from them. I decide to give up
processed food and sugar for 30 days after a chat with Elisa, my
freestyle becomes more efficient after a one-on-one, ten-minute
lesson with Ryk, and I learn about the power of breath from Rachel.
I feel like a child again, absorbing new experiences like a

I should be exhausted from the workouts, adventures and
workshops, but instead I have more energy than I’ve had in years.
Downtime is taken seriously and there are dedicated chill-out times
scattered throughout the week. Massages, physiotherapy and
chiropractor sessions are all part of the process and the daily yin
yoga is purposefully designed to lower cortisol levels. Bedtimes
are early and eight hours of sleep are encouraged. We rise with the
sun and start winding down at sunset so that by the time we’ve
finished our post-dinner herbal tea the only thing we’re craving is
a night in our mosquito net-enveloped bed.

My second breakthrough happens during a goal-setting workshop
led by John. We’re asked to write down some goals, then choose one
and break it down into bite-sized, actionable steps that we can
take over the next three, six and nine months. My goal is
career-orientated and entails quitting my current job, getting a
position in the best lifestyle-publishing house in my region and
setting up my own business. It seems impossible when I first write
it down, but gradually over the hour the impossible begins to seem
less so. There’s something about writing it down and saying it out
loud that makes it much more tangible and less of a dream. I
discover I’m brave enough to resign from my job, experienced enough
to get the job I desire and determined enough to launch my own
wellness retreat booking portal, Compare Retreats. In short, I
begin to believe in myself and replace self-doubt with a sense of

This combination of physical, mental and spiritual rituals is
nothing short of extraordinary. We’re all full of energy and raring
to get to work on our individual goals. On our last night we gather
around a fire on the beach at sunset and burn pieces of paper
inscribed with things that we want to let go of. It’s cathartic and
we all enjoy a moment of collective silence staring into the fire,
knowing we can accomplish any challenge we choose.

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