I grew up the youngest of three kids in a very well-educated family. My brother and sister were mega-smart, went to much better schools than I did, and acted kind of superior to me. I was very athletic growing up, very gifted, and the champion at every sport I played. This, of course, made me extremely popular. But I found myself uncomfortable with being this kind of prized champion at everything. I’m a very, very sensitive guy, and it just got uncomfortable. I couldn’t handle the weight of people's expectations of me. So, I started looking for something else. At fourteen, I discovered alcohol and drugs. I stopped playing sports, I stopped performing at school, and I switched social circles, gradually becoming more and more introverted and isolated. I preferred to stay home and use with the blinds drawn.
There had been elements of abuse in my childhood, and drugs and alcohol made me feel emotionally stabilized and fulfilled. I used continually throughout university in Colorado. Emotionally, I was in the dark, becoming deeply depressed. But once I started majoring in Finance, something in me woke up. I started doing surprisingly well, getting straight A’s. My dad was in Finance and a big business person. Growing up, I never really knew how to connect with him. Suddenly, I had this avenue—this extra motivation to prove myself to him and gain the intimacy that I wanted with him. I liked the challenge of the classes, and my dad did end up very proud of me.
After university, I got a job at a startup in India. I had this incredibly opulent lifestyle and was a superstar again. But again, I got depressed. Coming back to the States, I had a brand-new, big apartment in Pacific Heights and a brand-new Audi and lots of money. I thought, I'm gonna be good. But I wasn’t. There was nothing to grow into. I was still heavily into drugs and alcohol. I had erectile dysfunction—a condition I’d had since the first time I ever made out at age fourteen. My world was collapsing in on me. My mind was collapsing in on me. Drugs and alcohol stopped working. It was really, really scary and the darkest my life had ever gotten.
My ex-girlfriend had found Orgasmic Meditation while I was in India, and she told me about it. When I got back to the States, she brought it up again. “Did you ever check out OM?” she asked. “I really think it might help your issues. I think you should check it out.” And so, I did.
I don't remember a whole lot about that first time, but it was profound. I OMed with a friend, and I remember, after we finished, we walked outside. I just looked at her thinking, She is so beautiful. I just felt this appreciation for her. I felt this overwhelming feeling of gratitude that she took a chance with me.
These were totally new feelings for me. It was stunning to feel stuff like that. So, I kept OMing. It was the most interesting thing I'd done in a long time and totally captivated my attention. I started to come out of my depression. I started to wake up early. I got back into exercise, started eating more regularly, and began to feel more optimistic about my life. I started to reach the kind of states of consciousness that I would reach when I first started using, where I would feel very intimate with myself, with the power of my spirit. About a year after starting Orgasmic Meditation, when I was 25, I got sober.
At first, I used to break out in a profuse sweat during an OM. There was this overwhelming feeling of heat, and the sweat would pour off me. I was wracked with self-conscious embarrassment, but I was in an OM. I couldn't leave, even though my instinct was to get out. I had no association for that kind of feeling, and never before had I been so intimately connected with another person. I would just pray for it to pass and pray my finger wouldn't stop moving so my partner wouldn't notice. I didn't know what to do with the physical sensation of it, and I didn't know what to do with the emotional element of it.
After about three months of this, it started to normalize. I started to feel safe and didn't try to cover it up so much. The self-consciousness subsided, and I started to feel like it was okay to be feeling this feeling. I still sweat a lot, and I still felt all the heat. But it re-contextualized for me, until it wasn't a source of shame and embarrassment. That was a big, big shift for me, to so effortlessly be able to be with it in the close presence of another human being.
Orgasmic Meditation held many surprises for me. I remember, one time I was OMing with this friend of mine who was a butch lesbian. There I was, a proud heterosexual male, rich and successful in the world, and she was this butch lesbian who grew up with very little. She had a kind of disdain for the rising tech class of San Francisco—which I totally embodied. Our personalities did not match, but when we OMed, it was one of the most sensational, captivating OMs I'd ever had. I felt so connected to her. We were so in sync. I was feeling what she was feeling, and she was feeling what I was feeling. It was especially profound because I thought I was so different from her. I had heard people say that OM is not about sex, and I believed them to an extent because I'd experienced it. But I was still mostly interested in OMing with people I was sexually attracted to. After that OM, everything changed. That redefined who I was most interested in OMing with.
With Orgasmic Meditation, I was able to process a lot of pain from growing up that I had never been able to process before. It took a while, but I now have a basic gratitude for everything and everybody in my life from my childhood, even those who didn't treat me very well. Depression doesn't haunt me anymore. I am no longer isolated and alone, and I am in connection with many people.
Eventually, my erectile dysfunction just left. Today, I don't think twice about it. I'm still a very sensitive person, but now my sensitivity fuels a tremendous sense of purpose that I feel about my life and the world. I feel a lot of passion, and I care about other people in a way that I didn't before. When I see other people really struggling with the things I used to struggle with, I feel a basic desire to help them—to show them there's a different way. I want to tell them, “You can do this!” I have a capacity to be able to receive people that I didn't before.
It’s like that Hafiz poem about how everyone wants the same thing. Everyone walks around with eyes looking for love. What if you were the eyes that shone love back at people? Through the OM practice, I feel that I'm more and more that person who can look back at others with love.