Brother Hue Chuyen, a Buddhist monk from Germany, sits in a circle of 22 Andover people. He asks how many of them have never meditated before, and six raise their hands.
"Those of you who have never meditated before, I ask you to close your eyes and take three deep breaths," he says.
They do as they're told, closing their eyes and breathing in unison. He smiles as they open their eyes and look back at him.
"Alright. Now everyone has meditated," he says, grinning. "Not so bad?"
A few people laugh. One woman in the circle is Hue Chuyen's art teacher from kindergarten. The monk grew up in Andover, when his name was Seth Krentcil, and the teacher tells him after the session that she remembers him as a child in Andover over 20 years ago.
Krentcil, now known by his religious name Hue Chuyen, returned home last week to visit friends and family, and during his vacation he held a meditation session in the second floor of Old Town Hall. He said he felt an uneasiness in where his life was going when he lived in Andover. After graduating from the University of Hartford just over six years ago, he traveled to Germany to become a Buddhist monk.
If you were to ask him today what the difference is between his original home on Elm Street and where he is now, he'd tell you that he doesn't know. Life in America and life at the monastery almost can't be compared.
The most crucial difference that he is aware of is in him.
"My life only became what I expected it to be when I stopped hoping it would become what I wanted it to be," he said. "Living in Andover is what brought me to this path. I never found my place. I went to school, and nothing made sense.