Training Authentic Presence

Adults that reason exceptionally well sometimes get stuck in life. Do some of these descriptions resonate with you?

  • Growing up, you have been adapting a lot to others, in search for connection and belonging. Now you want something else, but you’ve lost yourself on the way and you don’t know where to start.
  • You’re living in your head, always thinking. You can see many potential risks in the long term, and it paralyses you.
  • You are very critical towards yourself
  • You are disappointed and frustrated because you believe the world could have been different (and better)
  • You are perceptive and sensitive, and the business and chaos of the world overwhelm you. You’re always searching for silence and rest.
  • You have many friends and acquaintances. Still, you feel isolated.
  • You find it difficult to accept your more “animalistic” parts, like your sexuality and your aggression.
  • You have multiple talents, but you don’t have the time to develop them all, and choosing is difficult.
  • Everybody tells you that you have a good and successful life. Your intuition says something else.
  • You live a short distance from your body.

The challenges above can stop you from choosing and fully living a life that fits you.

Maybe you blame your environment (“They don’t understand me” or “My work is not challenging me enough”). This can lead to resisting the reality as it is, and getting stuck in your frustrations and disappointment. Maybe you blame yourself (“I want too much and am impatient” or “I lack trust in others”). This can easily evolve into exaggerated self-criticism and self-denial. Both ways of thinking may lead to passivity and alienation.

Is it possible to balance on the slim edges between both abysses? Is it possible to transform feelings of social isolation, being different, fear of failure, oversensitivity, and so on, without fundamentally changing your environment?

training l’avant-garde

We believe you can. The challenges above grow out of your physical conditionings and your beliefs about yourself and the world. By reconditioning your body and deconstructing your stories, they may disappear. We support you in this quest with a training in existential skills, including:

  • authentic presence
  • intimate connection with yourself, your body, and others
  • radically honest introspection
  • touching unconscious parts of yourself
  • understanding and transforming fears
  • mental flexibility to question your stories and concepts
  • feel and guide your subtle body
  • learning with and from imagination
  • learning how to love and how to die

Participants are invited to search for an expression of their own way of being human. Using a pluralist approach that places diversity at the center of being together, this training does not consists of theorie and lectures, but is situated in your relation to others, in connection with your own body, and in the intimacy of your subjective experience. Carefully designed exercises help you question your concepts, convictions, assumptions, feelings, self image, conditionings and body experience.

structure of the training

The training consists of four weekends, homework, and a buddy to connect with between the weekends.

Program 2023-2024:

  • 10-12 November 2023
  • 8-10 December 2023
  • 26-28 January 2024
  • 23-25 Februari 2024

Autumn 2024 (to be determined)

  • 20-22 September 2024
  • 11-13 October 2024
  • 8-10 November 2024
  • 6-8 December 2024

A weekend starts Friday at 7:30pm and ends Sunday at 5pm. Optionally, you can have diner on Friday before and Sunday after the training (€ 32,70 incl.9% btw per meal)

amazing location


The training takes place in Samaya conference center (

From their website: “Samaya is a small monastic hotel in the heart of the Netherlands, close to Utrecht. You’ll find a home in an atmosphere of silence, space, and rest, with a team that guarantees a pleasant stay. Our workshop spaces have plenty of sunlight, our guest rooms are comfortable and have their own bathrooms. We serve daily fresh biological meals in our (vegetarian).

By whom?

This training will be facilitated by Dr. Stijn Smeets.

For whom?

  • Adults that reason well and that recognise themselves in some of the challenges above.
  • Professionals that work with cognitively able children, adolescents, and adults that want to develop or deepen their presence and authenticity
  • Parents of cognitively able children that don’t want to transmit their own patterns to their offspring


The training is designed to stimulate deep reflection and transformation. The exercises invite you to be vulnerable, question yourself, redraw your boundaries, laugh and cry, be silent and angry, uncomfortable and peaceful, trusting and confrontating, explosive and understanding, assertive and flexible,… in short, all that is human.

If this is what you search, please contact us by email (here). Together we explore if this training matches with what you want.

There are only 10 spots. Spots are assigned in the order of payment.

come try it out

It is not easy to describe with words how a training looks like that focuses mainly on connection and the body. Therefore we organise a day to give you an experience of it, to have a taste:

  • currently no try-out days planned

These experience days start at 9am and end at 5pm.

  • Lunch, coffee and thee ‘à volonté’: 33,90 euro (incl. btw)
  • Training: 99 euro (excl. btw).

Please transfer the money (132,90 euro) to account number IBAN BE44 7370 5359 2745 with the description “(date) training l’avant-garde”.

It is possible to stay a night before or after the training. You can also add diner before and/or after the training.


You can register for the full training (4 weekends) or for one or more weekends separately. Registrations for the full training will be prioritised.

  • Sleeping, eating, drinking: € 1354 (1-person bedroom, € 338,5 euro per weekend) or € 1096 (2-person bedroom, € 274 euro per weekend), to be payed to Samaya directly at the end of each weekend.
  • Training: € 1600 (€ 400 euro per weekend; excl TAV; TAV is 21%, inclusive is € 484 per weekend, or € 1936 in total). Your spot is secured once your payment has been received. You can transfer the money to account number IBAN BE54 7370 7190 1897 (tav House of the beloved vzw) with description “full training l’avant-garde” or specifying the weekends you will join. Registration is only possible after a zoom call (see above).