I grew up in Azerbaijan, a very small country in southeastern Europe. I don’t remember my life there well, but I do remember being always in motion. My mother tells me that when I was three, I tried to start my first business, selling things to our neighbors. When I was five, I jumped off the roof of our house without a scratch. By the time I was seven, all I wanted to do was climb and explore. I remember I had such a fearless life.
All that changed when I was eight. Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia had just concluded a war, and there were discarded military vehicles and weapons strewn all over our village and the nearby hills. One day, I found a small bomb, and without thinking, took it to where some older boys had built a bonfire, and threw it in. It’s a miracle we weren’t all killed or at least maimed. My parents had already been looking to leave, but that incident was the final straw. They packed up reckless young me, and we eventually made our way to America.
Moving from the only home I’d ever known to be a refugee in California took something out of me. I lost a lot of confidence. I didn’t lose my curiosity, though, and as I grew up, it evolved into a real curiosity about women. When I was 12, this 17-year-old girl kept flirting with me, and making what I now realize were sexual come-ons. Maybe it was for the best that I was too scared to pursue anything, but I spent years thinking about what might have been. I never told anyone, least of all anyone in my family. My parents worked very, very hard to make sure we had a good life in America, but they were largely clueless about how American society worked, and they certainly didn’t want to talk about sex or relationships. I had to figure all that out on my own.
By the time I went to college, I was still very shy with women. I remember trying to ask a girl out and making a bit of a mess of it. I ended up giving her my number, and forgetting to get hers in return, and of course, she didn’t call. I was trying to be bold, but it didn’t work. I took it hard. Rejections stayed with me for a long time. Honestly, I felt that one rejection for over a year. It wasn’t like I obsessed on it every day, but the memory of that awful awkward moment stuck with me a very long time.
I was still in college when I found OM. I read about it in a book, the title of which I can’t remember, and then looked it up on the Internet. I ended up attending a workshop, which was really interesting. I remember talking about it with a female friend the next day, and she was fascinated. Out of nowhere, I blurted out an ask: “Would you like to try it with me?” I couldn’t believe it. She said “Yes!”
We went to her place and looked up the videos that were online. I was a little nervous. It’s not often you ask a friend, “Hey would you undress from the waist down? May I stroke the upper left quadrant of your clitoris?” She was calm about it, and her calm put me at ease, and it went much more smoothly than I could have imagined. The video had piqued her interest. It was an amazing experience, but I felt a little bit conflicted afterwards. I began to sense that she wanted more than OMs with me; she was looking for a relationship. I didn’t feel that way about her, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I wondered if that was the way OM would always be – someone would “catch feelings” and there would be awkwardness.
I’m glad I kept OMing with other people. As I began to practice with more experienced people, I realized that it was possible to keep everything in the particular container of the OM itself. I didn’t have to “take care” of these women’s emotions, and I didn’t have to worry about whether they would take care of mine. The whole anxiety about getting rejected, or having to reject someone myself, began to diminish the more I OMed.
I said at the top that I was a very adventurous kid, and that a lot of that went away after we moved to the States. The fear of doing something wrong, or getting turned down, limited me. Now, I’m not jumping off buildings or picking up explosives anymore, but I am open to taking risks. The container of OM brought me back to that childhood playfulness and it took away so much of my guilt and anxiety.
Before OM, I tended to be a linear person. What I mean by that is, if we had a plan for the day, I was determined to follow every aspect of it. We would stick to the schedule no matter what. I remember last year, a friend and I were on a road trip. We were headed to the mountains, and we had a plan. On the way, we saw an amusement park just off the highway. The old me would have thought, Damn, I wish I had known that was there, I would have put it in the plan. The me who had been in OM for a while took the next exit. I told my friend we were stopping, and he was amazed – he knew what I used to be like. We had the best time for a few hours, just letting the day take us.
OM made me braver and more responsible in some ways, but it also allowed me to be a spontaneous again. That’s maybe the most valuable thing I’ve received from the practice.