Going Against the Stream with Dave Smith – an Interview

By Karen Spiak

Dave Smith, Against The StreamWe are excited to welcome again Dave Smith, a Buddhist meditation teacher, addiction treatment specialist, and published author from the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, based in the US.
This is his second annual retreat at New Life and it is great to have him back! After the huge success of last year’s retreat, we wanted to catch up with him and ask him some questions.

How does this retreat differ from your first one last year? 

“The main difference is this retreat is a few days longer. This is a 7 day retreat and I think people have a richer experience with a longer retreat. Other than that the retreats are identical. We’re going through the four foundations of mindfulness, the four heart practices and the four noble truths.”

Why did you choose to come back to New Life? 

“Last year was the first retreat I taught by myself and I had such a great experience doing it. New Life is a unique place; it is not a retreat center, it is a mindfulness and wellness community recovery center that doesn’t specialize in just addiction. It is easy to do a retreat here because there is already an infrastructure in place; there are places for people to stay and food is provided along with a pool and steam bath. Not everybody here is in silence so it is a little bit more integrated. It is a nice combination of silence, practice, and integration. It works well here.”

How did last years retreat affect you or impact this past year?

“The big take-away for me last year was the confidence I got from being able to hold down a retreat on my own and the impact it seemed to have on the people sitting the retreat. I learned to really just trust the retreat structure; you create the container, the schedule, provide people some instructions and everything seems to work itself out.”

What is the most important reason for people to join a retreat?

“There is a lot of reasons why one would join a retreat but I think the key piece is mindfulness. The word mindfulness has become such a popular and almost everyday term on a global level. It has entered the modern lexicon and the modern world and in doing so has gotten kind of watered down. A bit like McMindfulness, a quick fix, a fast food mentality. 

For those who really want to integrate mindfulness into their lives in a very meaningful way, it is difficult if not impossible to do so without having some retreat experience. If you want to truly utilize mindfulness, your best ally is sitting some retreats. What happens for you experientially on a retreat is something that can’t happen to you sitting at home for 20 minutes a day. I think that people should be sitting at least one retreat a year doing intensive practice. It gives you such a big jump start.”

What is the greatest benefit you receive from leading a retreat?

“It reminds me how important it is to sit retreats. It gives me a tremendous sense of confidence and faith in the dharma and in the philosophical structure and ethics of Buddhism. To watch people go through the retreat experience as a teacher, to be able to witness in real time what a retreat does for 30 people over the course of 7 days, you establish an unshakeable faith. It becomes so obvious that this is something that is really good for people to do. If you are interested in mindfulness and think it is important, you should sit a retreat and sit a retreat soon!”

Thanks so much Dave, it is always a pleasure to speak with you. We look forward to your next visit here at New Life. To learn more about the work Dave is doing in the world visit:




To learn more about upcoming retreats at New Life, visit our website.

Hope to see you soon!

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