As I am working in the beauty industry and as co-founder of The Goddess Collective, testing all kinds of spas and wellness retreats is part of my daily work, as is being exposed to spiritual mantras like "be yourself". What might at first sound like esoteric gibberish is, in fact, true, as I quickly realised after arriving at The Place in Bali.
As soon as the entrance gate of the retreat – designed by star architect Cheong Yew Kuan – closes behind me, I have the feeling that for once I don't have to perform and can breathe a sigh of relief. Which might also be connected to the almost tangible love (no joke!) that seems to flow towards me here. This exclusive retreat was established four years ago by the London psychotherapist Jean-Claude Chalmet. "I wanted to create a retreat for people who are at a crossroads in their lives due to burnout or unprocessed trauma," Chalmet says about The Place. In addition to individual retreats, there is also the option to check in here for 90 days. But even three days are enough to confront my innermost self more intensely than I usually do.
As an example: During the daily Kirtan Kriya (a mantra meditation that releases inner blockages) led by Kundalini yoga teacher Manuela Herreros, the tears begin to flow immediately.
This is completely normal, Manuela reassures me afterwards. As another retreat participant says to me: "We are constantly crying here” – words I would never have expected from a man who is actually a tough CFO. Tears are also the order of the day in the talking therapy with Jean-Claude Chalmet – which annoys me enormously, but is also a sign that my heart is opening up. This is mainly due to Jean-Claude's method of being on equal footing with his counterparts and meeting them with loving honesty. It’s clear that after such an intense session, it’s important to collect oneself. Which is why I am grateful for my room, tastefully furnished in Balinese and European design. I am also grateful for the large dining table in the centre of The Place, where all retreat participants enjoy meals prepared by "Mr. Johnson" – an Indian chef who used to cook for the Saudi Arabian royal family – together with Jean-Claude and Manuela. This makes sense: instead of tears flowing, there is a lot of laughter at this round table. And we laugh while being wholly, truly ourselves.