It is spring.

He says, sit there. Make yourself comfortable.

I say, thank you.

He nods, and places himself nearby. He gazes at me kindly, and I am almost too embarrassed by his generosity. He's agreed to meet me for an additional session beyond the weekend gatherings, free of charge. Some of this stuff seems so raw to me, moreso than from what I can tell is happening with the other students. I don't think I've ever been considered, nor do I consider myself, a fragile person. And yet this wellspring is bubbling up out of this unknown abyss, way down in my belly, all the way to the bottoms of my feet. Speaking of which, I just noticed: my sock feet are warm on this chilly day - his floors are heated. How decadent! How appreciated.

We spend some time meditating, which always takes me a long time. Nearly every time I close my eyes I feel thrown back, a nearly physical tremor in my center of gravity. Several minutes of breathing deeply and concentrating on some object in the room are needed before my head clears, the hum subsides, and I feel present in my body.

What do you see?

I see nothing. Darkness. It's plain cloth, the weave too fine to discern.

What do you feel?

I feel sadness.

Where is the sadness coming from?

... I can't even speak, so I place my hand on my forehead, my shoulder, my heart.

I want you to take this sadness and pull it away, like it's a plastic film covering you and preventing you from feeling the present moment. Pull it away, and feel the air moving over your skin, your clothes. This film is grey, an unwashed window into your soul.

... I am thinking hard, so I only say, Yes. I take another breath, and I pretend there is a film covering me, plastic wrap for the lost girl sitting across from a man in a dashiki and TeVas, his white teeth gleaming just like on his CD cover.

I tell him I want to understand why I feel so much sadness now, why, when I have such a good life, do I feel as though I've forgotten something terribly important? Will I need to regress, search back, find the key to this moment through the echoes coming through my dreams and nightmares?

No no, he says, quickly and warmly, there is no need. You only need Now.

As if to give me a moment to deal with this revelation, he turns and lights a stick of incense. To my utter relief, it's not patchouli. It's some sort of vanilla variant. Clove, too? Anyway.

He says to me, all that matters is you here now this place this time. What do you value most about this time in your life?

Ethan, I say.

He smiles, it is a good name, he says. Strong and vulnerable at the same time.

I look up, surprised. I'd never really thought about his name before, but yes, it seems that way. A dichotomy. Yes.

The sadness engulfs me, and I quickly breath it out in order to keep him from worrying. To my surprise, he notices.

The sadness is back? Tell the sadness to go away. Embrace who you are here, Dina. Relinquish this emotion to the wind and the leaves and the stars and the water. They will take back all that you offer, and leave you free to be at peace with yourself and the world around you. Consider the elements to be a big recycling bin for your sadness and worry. Peace good.

I remember that very first session with the man. How could I not? The minute you stepped into his house, you could tell that he was attempting to banish all traces of Midwestern sensibility and architecture. Insulated triple pane windows shrouded in tie-dye and batik - it's that ocean-like blue of which he seems so fond. The formica and linoleum kitchen a chaotic ensemble of throw rugs and ... you know, I think there was even a cauldron in there somewhere. The trappings are obvious to me now, and I suppose I could see the artifice even back then, but overall the effect seemed really lovely and true. It's a faux hippie aligned chakra gestalt, really, and I can tell he's quite adept, has made this his calling, his livelihood, his routine. Each carefully-placed mortar and pestle, each small vial of jasmine and bergamot and ylang ylang essential oils, the dried leis and smudge sticks, each little medallion or coin or dreamcatcher, strewn about a bit too casually on hand-painted shelves and on the floor with all the mandala-patterned cushions.

I don't care, though. There is something very compelling about this man's words and thoughts - despite the dime-store new age revolution on each windowsill and light fixture, he's got an intensity and light that is palpable. He truly believes what he says, and his ideas do speak to me, provide me with some respite from the feeling I've been getting lately that something's not quite right.