Learning a Common Language
by Anaïs

I’d heard about OM from a man that I met at a slow speed-dating event in the Bay Area, where I live. At the time, I was not tempted to try the practice, but I told a male friend about it because I thought it might be good for him. This friend had just moved to the city, was feeling lonely and had low self-esteem, and he was willing to give OM a try. After he started practicing, his life changed a lot, and he encouraged me to do it too. It was two years later when I decided to finally try it for myself, based on his insistence—and the guidance of my relationship coach.

I don’t remember a lot about my first OM. I was probably pretty nervous. The process of taking off my underclothes and revealing myself—of being seen and touched and commented on—took some getting used to. In those early days, I would OM with almost anyone who asked me to, unless I felt uncomfortable around the person. I ended up experiencing the practice with many different men.

Right away, OM made a difference in the way I expressed myself because it taught me to say what I wanted. A big part of the practice is asking for adjustments in the stroking—whether you want a faster or slower stroke, or a stronger or lighter one. What amazed me was that those requests were not only okay, but also welcomed by the man. Through that practice, I felt emboldened to transfer that way of communicating to other areas of my life.

During my OM sessions with various men, I had one partner who felt different from the others. With this person, I had very strong emotions during the OM, and that was something I could not explain. When he eventually asked me if I’d be interested in getting to know each other better and go on a date, I was open to the idea. I’m not sure I would have been as open if I hadn’t OMed with him and felt something really special during those sessions. This was the man who would become my husband—and it was OM that brought us together.

Not only did I find my partner through OM, but I found a partner with whom I could share a common set of communication skills and tools that we had each developed through the practice. When you OM together, it’s like learning a common language. I definitely didn't have this fluency in my previous relationships, and it’s a valuable way of relating to each other. We share a common set of beliefs about communication, relationships, desire, and healing—all of which are part of the OM philosophy and practice.

When we hit patches where we’ve drifted apart, had a problem, or felt a little distance between us, we often turn to OM to bring us back to each other. One of us will reach out to the other and request an OM, and quite a few times this has helped us build bridges again and re-establish intimacy and connection. I’ve noticed that I sometimes act withdrawn when I'm upset. So, I work on different ways to get through the wall, or to take the wall down. With my husband, one way might be asking for an OM. Requesting an OM gives me a simple, direct way to connect with him, without having to explain or justify anything. It creates a small opening. And if it’s not an OM that I need, I can ask for something else, like a hug or even time alone. 

OM has changed the way I relate not just to others, but also to myself. The noticing step and sharing frames lets you hear the man’s perspective of your body, without judgment. I always appreciated hearing the shared feedback that I would get from my OM partner. Hearing about the man’s experience makes me feel like my body has given someone something. And that makes me feel good. That’s part of what makes OMing a wellspring of strength and confidence to me.

Once, before I got married, I OMed with a man who was new to the practice. At first, he was nervous and not making eye contact—he seemed afraid to relate to women directly. I was receptive and encouraging with him throughout the OM. During the frames afterward, I told him about the warm, glowing feeling I’d had. That day, he OMed not just with me, but with a couple of other women, too. And at the end, the man looked completely transformed. His stature was more upright, he looked me in the eye, and it really seemed as if he had broken through something. It was amazing to be part of the empowerment of another person like that. 

I’ve sometimes wondered what the world would look like if everyone OMed—if every woman could feel safe being seen and touched by a man in a way that’s accepted, beautiful, and honorable. We often hear instead about rape, or of women being spoken of in a derogatory way, or of their bodies being used as vehicles for men to exert their life worth or their need to dominate. 

The world would be so different if everyone were able to accept a practice like OM for what it is: a beautiful way of communicating.