Training authentic presence

A training in being different together

Do you crave a deeper and more authentic connection with yourself, your friends, and family, but are unsure how to achieve this? Do you sometimes censor parts of yourself in significant relationships? Have you ever experienced a relationship or yourself as inauthentic, hidden, masked, or superficial?

Welcome seekers of deep connection! This training will provide you with the basic tools to deepen your connections and engage authentically and with full honestly with the people you care about. No experience is required. Just come as you are.

Training authentic presence

From a young age, we learn not to fully show ourselves. What is not polite, cautious, benevolent, hardworking, and calm often doesn’t get the space it needs. We internalize the values of our parents, teachers, and society, limiting what we are allowed to think, feel, do, and who we can be. By de-conditioning your body and questioning your stories about yourself and the world, we deconstruct these invisible chains, free our bodies, and deepen our connection with ourselves and others. This training supports you in practicing existential skills such as:

  • Intimately connecting with yourself, your body, and others.
  • Radically honest introspection.
  • Touching unconscious parts of yourself.
  • Understanding and transforming your fears.
  • Mental flexibility to question your own concepts and stories.
  • Mastering your subtle body.
  • Learning with (and from) imagination.
  • Learning to love and die.
  • Being authentically present.

Participants are invited to explore their unique expression of what it means to be human. This requires a pluralistic approach where diversity takes center stage. Therefore, the training does not consist of lectures and theories but takes place in relation to others, in connection with your body, and in the intimacy of your subjective experience. You are invited to participate in carefully selected exercises that make your existing concepts, beliefs, feelings, self-image, body experience, and conditioning visible and question them.

Structure and Dates of the Training

The training consists of 4 weekends, homework, and a buddy for exchange during the intervals between weekends. Some training sessions are accessible to everyone, while others are held in collaboration with l’avant-garde. You can find more information on their website.

The dates are as follows:

Winter journey l’avant-garde 2023-2024 (at Samaya, closed group via l’avant-garde):

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

Fall journey l’avant-garde 2024 (at Samaya closed group via l’avant-garde):

  • November 22-24, 2024
  • December 13-15, 2024
  • January 24-26, 2025
  • February 28 – March 2, 2025

Spring journey 2025 (at House of the Beloved, accessible to everyone)):

  • January 10-12, 2025
  • February 14-16, 2025
  • March 21-23, 2025
  • April 25-27, 2025

A weekend starts on Friday at 7:30 PM and ends on Sunday at 5:00 PM. You can optionally have dinner on Friday before the training and/or on Sunday after the training (€ 32.70 incl. 9% VAT per meal at your own expense).


Some training journeys take place at the Samaya conference center (

“Samaya Conference Center is a small-scale monastery hotel located in the heart of the Netherlands, near Utrecht, in a green spot between the Betuwe and against the Utrechtse Heuvelrug where it is still truly quiet. Come home to an atmosphere of space and tranquility with a team that ensures a carefree stay. For (training) groups and individual guests, we offer a welcoming stay or retreat where the 4 hectares of English landscape garden will be an integral part of your experience.”

“Our rooms with plenty of daylight all have their own private outdoor space, allowing activities to quickly move partly ‘outside.’ Our guest rooms are comfortably furnished and have private sanitary facilities. Our (vegetarian) restaurant serves fresh organic meals daily for our staying guests.”


This training is facilitated by Dr. Stijn Smeets, assisted other guest facilitators.


The training is focused on profound reflection and transformation. The exercises invite you to vulnerability, self-inquiry, pushing your boundaries, laughter and tears, silence and anger, discomfort and rest, trust and confrontation, outbursts, and relativism, assertiveness, and flexibility—in short, everything that is human.

If this is what you are looking for, come to an experiential day or schedule yourself for an introductory conversation via this link. Together we will explore whether this training aligns with what you are seeking. Additional questions can always be emailed.

There are only 10 places available, and spots are allocated in the order of payment.


It is not easy to express in words what a training looks like that primarily arises from connection and the body. Therefore, we organize several days & weekends in which we work with authentic presence, and you can have a taste of the training. Below you find the upcoming dates. Click here for more information.

  • April 12-14, 2024
  • May 11, 2024
  • June 8, 2024

training cost 

You can enroll in the full training (4 weekends) or for one or more weekends. Priority is given to participants who enroll for the entire training. If there are still places available, they can be supplemented with individual registrations.

  • Training: € 1600 (€ 400 per weekend; excluding VAT; VAT is 21%, including is € 484 per weekend, or € 1936 in total). Your spot is reserved once you have paid the full amount. You can transfer the amount to account number IBAN BE54 7370 7190 1897 (to House of the Beloved vzw) with mention of your name and “training l’avant-garde.” You can enroll only after participating in an experiential day (and a brief conversation about your participation) or an introductory meeting via zoom (see registration above).

The expenses for meals and lodging vary based on the venue:

  • SAMAYA: Accommodation, meals, coffee, and tea at will: € 1354 (single room, € 338.5 per weekend) or € 1096 (double room, € 274 per weekend). You pay this amount directly to the Samaya conference center at the end of the weekend.
  • House of the Beloved: You can arrange overnight stay yourself in the vicinity (e.g., B&B or hotel). For meals, tea at will, and the space, you pay € 600 (€ 150 per weekend, including VAT).