In the old days, I was working a lot, and everything was “fine.” Fine is a funny word – as soon as you use it, people know that you don’t mean it, at least not fully. I definitely didn’t mean it when I said it.
I lived a very fast-paced, New York City kind of life. We worked hard, we played hard, and we drank hard. I had a difficult time getting close to anybody unless alcohol was heavily involved. For a few years, I lived for Burning Man. I’d fly to the West Coast, drive out to rural Nevada, and get to be myself for one week. One week out of the year, I could be free, surrounded by people who loved each other and were open to each other. It was so liberating to be there, but I couldn’t exactly live on the playa. Somehow, I had to find something like that at home in New York. I had to find my tribe, and a place to be vulnerable.
A bad breakup sent me spiraling, and it sent me on a journey to find something better for myself. I signed up for a bunch of workshops and read every book I could get my hands on. In one of those books, I read about Orgasmic Meditation, and it just leapt off the page at me. This seemed like the coming-together of so many things I’d wondered about and struggled with. I started Googling, and soon found an Intro course being offered only a few blocks from where I lived.
When I talked to the teachers at that first Intro, the first thing I said was, “This is my jam.” I wanted to hug all of them, as I felt like I’d found what I’d been looking for all of my life. I didn’t just want to learn it, I wanted to live it, and then I wanted to teach it. Sexuality, meditation, and spiritual growth were all vital to me, and I felt like OM combined all three.
The funny thing was, I wasn’t ready to actually OM yet. As good as I knew the practice would be, I had a ton of issues I needed to work through. Most of those issues revolved around meeting men, dating men, and—above all—trusting men. So, long before I had my first OM, I focused on talking to different men I met in class, figuring out who I vibed with, felt comfortable with. I talked to the women as well, and finally decided that my first OM would be with a female.
At first, in OMs, I never climaxed. For a long time, I felt like I was riding a wave that would somehow never break, it just crested and plateaued indefinitely. This was also about trust and letting someone in. Then it went the opposite way for a while, and I couldn’t OM for more than a few moments without having a climax. It felt good, but also frustrating because I couldn’t hold on to it. I kept with it, and got to the point I’m in now, where I can hold sensation. Now, whether or not I climax, OMs feel more generative of energy and I can harness that into my creativity.
Even in the past year, I’ve been having these remarkable experiences. I have only recently realized just how shut down I was when I came into OM. There is a part of me that fell asleep long ago, like Sleeping Beauty, and it’s my job to wake her back up. I’ve loved that recently, as I’ve been OMing more, I’ve gotten to the point that I can purge or melt anything away that I need to during an OM. As a result, I’m more connected with everyone around me, including the people I’m dating. I can trust others because I can trust myself—the person responsible for protecting me is awake at last.
I used to have real problems keeping my emotions under control. I had a terrible problem with jealousy before OM. In this practice, I learned how to handle my emotions consciously, and not lash out. Rather than let something build up until I exploded, I learned to notice these feelings quickly, then name them out loud – and watch them lose their power. All the shame I had around sexuality? That faded too, just as I had hoped.
I learned that men could be safe, and I learned that women could have my back. I’d struggled with friendships, but now, I had real ones. The kind of fleeting comfort and solidarity I had first caught a glimpse of when I was at Burning Man became part of my day-to-day life. What I realized was that my problem wasn’t that New York was full of fake people; the problem was that I had no boundaries, and so had no way to regulate my relationships with others. I didn’t know how to say “no,” and I certainly didn’t know that my “no” had to come from a place of clarity, or that I would end up being steamrolled by others. My no is my no now, and my yes is my yes.
Above all, OM has helped me shed the “fake-ass good girl” persona that defined me for so long. I’m not pretending or faking anything out of anxiety or a fear of abandonment. With my friends in OM beside me, I’ve grown up. Every time I make an adjustment in the nest, I find rightness within myself, and I’m reminded that my voice is real and strong.
In the post-#MeToo world, there’s a lot of confusion and mistrust between men and women. These misunderstandings have always existed, but now we see them more clearly. OM has equipped me to be of service to others, even if they know nothing about OM, or have no interest in finding out. I’m in the photojournalism field, and I lead a group that brings greater vulnerability and loving accountability to our profession. We emphasize camaraderie, trust, and a willingness to listen. All of the tools I’ve learned from OM can be put to use in this vital work.
I barely recognize the woman I was before. I’m not ashamed of the woman I was, or even sad for her. She did what she needed to do to survive, and to find her way to this practice. I’m so glad she did, and I like to think that, every day, I make her proud.