When I was a kid, my mom would joke that I was ‘a brain on a stick’ because she saw the way I related to my body. I used to look at activities like sleeping and eating solely as they pertained to function: if sleeping a certain amount and eating a certain diet meant I would be successful or energetic, that’s what I’d do. I never thought about what I wanted to eat; I ate what I was taught was healthy for me, and that was that. My relationship with food wasn’t terrible, but I was hyper aware of how food choices could affect my performance achievements, so I tried my best to always eat healthy food.
In fact, nearly every area of my life was dialed in to that degree. As a child of divorced parents, I wanted to be the ‘good kid’ and comply with whatever they needed from me. I got good grades and aced my exams; I was a great daughter and an all-around responsible kid. I didn’t allow any room for anger, disagreements, or resistance, especially since I had bigger goals to accomplish. So I side-stepped or tamped down whatever emotions or desires were outside of my plans, and I kept moving forward.
When I started having boyfriends and became sexually active, my mom was accepting of it, but my dad wasn’t. So I did what any ‘good’ girl would do: I tucked my sexuality away and hid that part of myself from him. In some ways, I hid it from myself, too.
By the time I was in my early 20s, I was out of college and working in the corporate world. There was a feeling that I thought I would have had by this point, but it wasn’t there, and I didn’t know what else I needed to do to achieve it. I also noticed a pattern I had in romantic relationships around the same time: I had a tendency to contort myself to be whatever I thought my boyfriend at the time wanted me to be. Each relationship was some variation of: “Oh, you like sweet potatoes for breakfast? Then, I like sweet potatoes for breakfast, too.” Because of this, I always struggled to maintain my own interests in my own life whenever I got into a relationship. It was exhausting. I was bored.
Being a chameleon was great for certain types of social situations, and oftentimes it was a useful skill to have at work, because I could talk to almost anyone and feel comfortable. But when it came to romantic relationships, I consistently felt like I couldn’t fully express my thoughts and feelings. My relationships seemed affectionate and happy on the surface, but inevitably there’d be a blowup argument where I’d unleash all of my upset feelings onto a boyfriend at once. It was frustrating, but my parents had modeled that for me growing up, so what other way was there? I didn’t know.
One day, during San Francisco’s SantaCon, I was walking down the street wearing a Santa suit when I noticed some wall art that said, “Wellness meets Orgasm.” It was a sign for Orgasmic Meditation, and, my curiosity piqued, over the next six months, I read every article and story I could get my hands on about Orgasmic Meditation. Eventually I got up the courage to go back to the center and learn the practice.
Once I started to practice regularly, I was able to feel more of my body, though it was subtle at first. It began as a still, small voice within me during an OM that noticed I wanted an adjustment. Once I noticed that desire and expressed it enough times, my ability to hear my desire clearly and express it got stronger and stronger. Through asking for adjustments, I also became aware of my discomfort as a woman around having a desire, asking for it, and then having another desire on its heels—and asking for that, too. Asking for three adjustments in a row during an OM felt like a big deal, and it was.
I knew that in an OM, I could trust what my body was telling me, so I learned to trust what my body was telling me in my daily life, too. I’m not a ‘brain on a stick’ anymore. Now when I go to eat a meal, I decide what to eat based on what I want to eat. I ask myself, “What is my body asking for?” I can hear my body’s answer to that question clear as day. In fact, all of my body signals are louder now because of OM.
Because I was so controlling (both of others and of myself) when I first found this practice, I wanted to be able to OM alone. I didn’t want to have to rely on anyone else. But that’s not how the practice is designed. OM is something that you do in connection. It’s a way to let people in. It’s a practice of letting go, and that was the hardest part for me.
So, while I felt empowered by learning how to notice and offer adjustments in the early years of my practice, now I am learning to surrender to what already is, and enjoy it, whatever the stroke may be. I’m seeing that life can be quite enjoyable when I stop trying to make things the way I think they should be and just appreciate them the way they are.