Dave Smith will be the Meditation Presenter for Wanderlust 108 in Seattle – providing us with a moment of calm in the center of the festivities and excitement of the walk/run and yoga festival. Wanderlust 108 will take place on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Since the initial announcement, over 1,400 yogis have registered to partake and enjoy the triathlon of run/walk, yoga and meditation. A variety of acroyoga, slack-lining, and hooping activities will also be present for attendees! Dave Smith will lead us in Part 3 of the Wanderlust 108 triathlon event – the meditation.
Meditation’s power to change and reframe one’s life is well-documented. Dave has extensive experience bringing meditation to people from all walks of life. Dave has brought meditative intervention into jails, prisons, juvenile detention centers and addiction centers.
Dave Smith is a Buddhist meditation teacher, an addiction treatment specialist, an experienced speaker and a published author. He got his Buddhist training from the Barre for Buddhist Studies. As a long time Buddhist and recovering addict, Dave has worked with recovering addicts for over 8 years. He has operated intensive programs and trainings for the Mind Body Awareness Project in Nashville. He is program director for the Against the Stream Nashville Meditation Center and teaches over 300 meditation classes and workshops each year! He also speaks at national Addiction and Behavioral Health conferences. Dave just recently relocated to Los Angeles, California.
We had an opportunity to interview Dave Smith and learn more about his transformative and powerful work.
1.) What were significant factors that prompted your multi-faceted career of service in meditation instruction for people in need?
My early life and teen years were very hard for me. I experienced some significant loss that caused a lot of confusion and suffering for me internally. I had no capacity to hold emotions and felt very isolated and alone in my experience. At the age of 18, I was taught a mindfulness practice and was also introduced to Buddhism. The practice of mindfulness intertwined with the philosophy of buddhism gave me a framework for life that not only made sense, but also provided tools for self empowerment and strategies to overcome suffering.
2.) Please tell us about how you developed and expanded meditation intervention programs in prisons, jails and youth detention centers.
Our culture has failed people in many ways. We punish addicts, we don’t address trauma,
we over medicate and we preach consumerism and external gratification. This reality has had
such a negative impact on the lives of so many people. As someone who has been able to
overcome much of my own suffering and also my addiction, I feel motivated and empowered
to serve people in any way I can. Meditative interventions don’t require any gear, media,
or material resources. I can walk into a prison system and direct people into their inner
lives immediately. Meditation is portable. Meditation is practical and available in every moment. I believe when people understand that the inner life can be understood and cared for, that mindfulness and compassion are skills and qualities that can be cultivated and people begin to heal themselves through their own effort and willingness. The practice of mindfulness becomes a tool for self liberation.
3.) Seattle’s Wanderlust 108 has over 1,400 participants registered. How do you create and maintain a peaceful, meaningful experience amid the festivities?
Whether or not people experience a peaceful or meaningful experience is something that I can not predict nor control. Which is the essence of the practice itself.
My intention is to come to the stage with some authenticity and vulnerability about my personal
experience with suffering and freedom from suffering. I prefer to de-mystify the meditative process
and allow people to find a way to become intimate with themselves, which includes all the joy and
all the sorrow they have come to know. To establish a present time, kind and curious awareness
about what it means to be “alive”. How do we find meaning and presence with the challenges we
face? How can we embrace the totality of our experience? Embracing our humanity and not get
sidetracked into using spirituality as another means to avoid, change or control that which is
unwanted. My aim is create as authentic of a space I can where our truth can arise and be met.
4.) What are some challenging or unexpected adventures you’ve had while traveling to give workshops and trainings?
The challenge is always the same. How can I capture the attention of the people sitting in front
of me? How can I hold space long enough for people to get a taste of the inner life? In my attempt
to train attention in this ADD world, I always face this type of challenge. One that I embrace and respect.
I find coming from a place of truth and authenticity works best and at times is a challenged because it puts me in the center of my own vulnerability and that doesn’t always come easy. I try to trust that process and have come to a core belief that we all seek these qualities and that on one level or another, authenticity is highly contagious. And that is a beautiful thing. For me, Wanderlust itself is an amazing adventure. I spent years teaching mindfulness in incarcerated environments in the deep south.
To arrive on a big sound stage in front of thousands of people practice yoga has truly been a blast
and a blessing. It is true testament that the landscape of our culture is changing in ways that feels
very inspiring and hopeful.
5.) What advice can you share for people who want to benefit from meditation but who find themselves a bit overloaded with so many techniques and philosophies?
Keep it simple. Meditation is ordinary and is really nothing special in an of itself. I subscribe to the idea that all human misery stems from the fact the we can’t sit quietly in a room by ourselves. We practice until the mind becomes a friendly companion. The key is to sit everyday, make the time and commit. Mindfulness of breathing is always a good place to start. Bring your attention to the sensations of the in and out breath, when the mind wanders, bring it back, over and over and over….
Many thanks to Dave Smith for taking time from his schedule to let us know more about his experiences and truths which led him on his path. Seattle’s Wanderlust 108 is May 22, 2016 at Marymoor Park. Over 1,400 people have registered! Come join in on the fun and learning, meet new friends and catch up with long time friends!
Be sure to say hello to me, Cathy!
[Photo by Alexandra Nurthen]
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