By Natalie Mucker
J-O-S. HE WROTE ON THE WHITE BOARD in purple marker, then spun to face us—a handful of seated strangers—in the small, neat room. He placed a long-fingered hand on his chest. “Yōs,” he smiled, cool but earnest. Tall, fair, prematurely bald with blue eyes and a generous laugh. I immediately liked my Dutch-born teacher.
A secret is explained with science. And PowerPoint presentations. Transcendental Meditation visibly changes a person’s brain waves. “Just look at these MRI images.” It lowers blood pressure. “See the results of this meta-analysis.” It improves creative function and decreases symptoms of depression. Evidence. Evidence. Evidence.
Again, in the small, neat room we sat—just Jos and I—not quite facing one another. No science, today, but a secret: a mantra. He turned his head, our eyes met. He spoke a word of two-syllables. A sound, really. He lifted his eyebrows and nodded once to convey that I was to repeat him—the sound.
I parroted it like a question that tasted funny but not bad. Like Christmas Around the World in grade school—students would wander from classroom to classroom sampling holiday foods from different cultures. An unfamiliar flavor but pleasantly intriguing.
“Good,” Jos said, then repeated it. I took another turn. Him. Me. Back and forth we went.
“Now,” he said, low and calm. “Close your eyes, and continue on your own to repeat the mantra.”
The … Sound.
TheSOUND. THEsound. THE-SOUND!
The secret was not a secret, but a sacred intersection of science and something infinite. Ethereal.
“Now,” Jos said again. “Softer … … Softer, still.”
“Now only in your mind.”
And the sound returned to secret. It does not leave my throat again. Sacred, kept and boundless. The quietest of magic—always within.
About the Author
Natalie Mucker lives and writes in Bellevue, Kentucky. She received her Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. She is fond of animals, humans, yoga, art, kindness, all things food, and traveling—not necessarily in that order. Find her on Instagram @natalie_e_m