Learning to Love my Body
by Cara Joy

All my life I've disliked how I looked. I’ve tried every diet plan, every workout routine, anything I could to try to change my body. I always thought I would be happy if I could just lose some weight. Not liking my body has negatively impacted every aspect of my life—my sex life, dating, even my career. I have been insecure, unhappy, and unable to be myself.

At the age of thirty-six, I was in a relationship but felt bored and unfulfilled. I was running a farm with my boyfriend in Vermont and was unhappy with that too. But I was stuck. I didn’t know how to get out of either situation and didn’t believe I had options.

Then, one day, I read a magazine article about the founder of OM. She was talking about how women could access their power and desire through OM. The idea that my body held wisdom and had value was new to me, and it almost sounded too good to be true. I also secretly hoped that OM would help me lose weight. The article talked about the fact that women try to satisfy their deeper hunger with things like food, shopping and exerting control. I thought maybe OM could help me stop eating too much, and help me access my femininity, which was a mystery to me at the time.

I asked my boyfriend if he would OM with me and he said no. His attitude only underscored my feeling that the relationship wasn’t working. This guy was not going to keep growing with me; we were clearly on different paths and parted ways.

I wound up meeting my now-husband, Matt, at a party. At first I thought, “No way! This guy is a nerd.” I liked guys who worked on cars not computers. But there was something attractive about him.

We started dating but took things slowly, building the foundation of our relationship on friendship. I asked Matt to OM with me after just two weeks of dating. After my ex-boyfriends’ rejection, I was nervous to ask, so I sent him an email instead of calling or asking in person. He said yes. Actually, he not only said yes, he said, “Yes, I’ve been looking for something like this my whole life.” I could tell he was looking for the same growth I was.

The thing that struck me the most when we first started the practice was having a man look at my genitals so directly in the light of day. Because I was so self-conscious about my body, I had always made sure I kept my belly covered or zipped in, made sure the lights were low during sex, and generally tried to make sure I looked “right” and sounded “right.” The noticing step terrified me going into that first OM. But when we did it, it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be. I even felt brave and somehow rebellious letting someone notice my genitals with the lights on. All my life, when I looked in the mirror, all I thought about was what I would change about myself. Letting someone see me as I actually am made me feel empowered. It helped my self-esteem and helped me improve my relationship to my body. I started to see that my body is how it is and it’s strong and beautiful, it doesn’t need to be any other way.

One reason I had wanted to OM was that I thought it might help me climax in sex, something with which I’d always had a hard time and about which I’d always been ashamed. What OM did was to take the pressure off, because climaxing is not part of the practice. If it happens, that’s fine, but it’s not the point. The point is to relax into it and feel whatever feelings occur. As it turned out, I was ultimately able to climax more easily in sex because I relaxed enough to let go of the need to control what was (or wasn’t) happening.

With OM, in order to open and feel sensation, I really had to listen to my body. I had always treated my body like my slave, telling it what to do. And I was always annoyed by it because it never really did what I asked! Developing a new relationship with it through OM, I changed my point of focus from my head to my body. Shockingly, this totally changed my relationship with hunger. Previously, my brain would tell me what I should eat, when I should sleep, what I should wear, who I should spend time with. Now I was letting my body decide. I was trusting my body to know. When I trusted it in OM, there was always more sensation, so I learned to also trust it in life.

I remember that, a year or so into OMing, I was looking in a mirror at a clothing store thinking, Wow, I look great! Not, my thighs are too big, my stomach is too big. Just, wow, I look great. I was with a friend who was also looking in the mirror and complaining about everything she hated about herself. I thought, “I used to be her.” OM did that. It taught me how to love my body, to love its wisdom and its ability to feel. OM showed me how beautiful and powerful my body is. It is my compass in life. OM showed me how to appreciate it and use it well.