I grew up in New York City, in a working-class family. My parents were immigrants from the Dominican Republic; eager to get ahead and to ensure that we kids had opportunities they did not. Those opportunities, though, were all filtered through the church. Before I was born, my parents had converted to the Christian faith, and once in New York, the church became their life. In many ways, this was a good thing, because it protected me from a great many bad influences and kept me on “the straight and narrow.”
The thing about the straight and narrow is that the narrow part gets to be really tough as you grow up. I was shy growing up, particularly around girls. When I went off to college, I was convinced I was the last person to still be a virgin. I wanted to have relationships, I wanted to explore, and I wanted to make friends. Eventually, I wanted to be married and start a family. The problem was, I was socially inhibited, mostly as a result of my very strict upbringing.
I had tried for years to be part of the social scene, but never had much luck with that. I usually went out by myself, surrounded by happy people, and went home lonelier than when I had walked in. It was on the internet, specifically the Meetup site, that I finally began to break out of my shell. Meetup introduced me to so many different opportunities. Here, I could meet people who shared my interests, and I could go in with something to talk about, because presumably we were all at this “meet” for the same reason. This is what led me to OM.
The first time I came to an OM-related event it was quite big, and my first thought was that it felt like a church service. The lighting was low, there were candles everywhere. People were buzzing around before it started with an air of excitement, as if they were going to learn something powerful. All of that was strangely familiar and comforting. Even though the topic itself – orgasm – seemed out of my comfort zone, the way it was presented reassured me. I always say, talk to the people who practice OM; listen to how they communicate. You’ll see what I mean: the honesty and openness come through.
I started OMing after that and the OMs themselves were remarkable. Again, what surprised me was that I felt comfortable doing this incredibly intimate practice. Given my background and history, I honestly thought I would have been more anxious and unsure. What made the difference was that I didn’t feel like I was doing anything dirty, or even particularly sexual. This might not have been something the church I was raised in would have embraced, but it felt spiritual anyway.
For me, the most powerful part of the OM is always looking at my partner’s genitals. Yes, I feel sensations and I respond to our connection, but being able to gaze at her and take her all in is so powerful. I think a lot of men are raised to believe they’re not supposed to look at women, or that women will be afraid of how men look at them. I was raised to believe it was not only a sin to look at women, but that it made women feel uncomfortable or upset. So to be welcomed to look upon a woman who trusts me with this practice container is still incredible to me.
OM was a tool for me to grow. I came in hoping to have a connection with a woman, and I got that. The container of the OM, the sharing of frames afterwards, all the key steps along the way – they all strengthened me. As I said, I was so unsure and unconfident when I came to OM. To be able to feel like I was in control of myself and trusted by my partner was a huge boost to that confidence. Crucially for me, I think, was that it didn’t have to mean more than what it was. It could be sacred and spiritual without becoming romantic or sexual; just because I had this experience with a woman didn’t mean we needed to get married. I carried around this dead weight of responsibility from my childhood; OMs taught me how to enjoy the moment without having to worry what would happen with this person in 15 minutes or next week or whatever.
I feel most like myself when I walk out of an OM. I feel like I can walk into an OM session, set up the nest, and do it without pretense and anxiety. What follows is this wonderfully intimate battery recharge for the spirit, and you can go there almost instantly. OM is this resource I can tap into any time I want. Any time I forget who I am, and start slipping back into old doubts, I can remember my most recent OM and be reminded who I really am.