In college, I learned to put on a facade of party girl plus smart girl. My school was intensely competitive, and I valued intelligence, as long as it was balanced by fun because I didn't want to be seen as a nerd. Instead of sleeping, I took tons of Adderall. At 21, when I was going out to clubs, I thought I would have this lifestyle forever. I didn't get why people stopped.
Eventually, doing yoga got me off the Adderall, but it left me relatively numb. A lot of the time I felt like a zombie. My relationships with men were not nourishing, and my friendships with women were codependent. I hung out with a mixed crowd, and the girls would go along with whatever the guys decided to do. No one ever talked about how they were feeling. I had a yearning for more connection with the women. It would have been great to spend time in an all-female group, but the other women weren't interested. I felt sad about it, and then I let it go.
When I decided to move across the country, it was because I was vaguely aware that my life was not working. I needed a change, and the Bay Area proved to be a good place to teach yoga and find a community that would feed me. One of my yoga students told me about OM. I saw myself as an adventurous person who says yes to new things, so I dove in.
I didn't immediately fall in love with OMing, but I liked it enough to make it a daily practice. At first, I wasn't doing it for the enjoyment of it but as research. I was interested in how to get myself and my partner to the spot of highest sensation. Part of my numbness was an inability to have a climax, which made me feel broken, so seeking orgasm was also part of my drive to learn more about my body.
For a while, during the sharing frames part at the end of the OM, they consisted of observations like “I thought I felt a shiver in my foot,” or, “My hands fell asleep.” My frames had almost nothing to do with the OM. After a while, I started to describe feelings in my belly, my spine, my genitals. It was a gradual process of noticing sensations and then being able to articulate them.
Adjustments were another way to practice putting feelings into words. As I became more in touch with my sensations, I started asking my OM partner to try different strokes in order to optimize the feelings in my clitoris. At first, I wanted more pressure, but at a certain point, I realized that I actually felt more when the stroker applied lighter pressure. Making adjustments was part of my research. Sometimes I would adjust things just to try them out.
One day, I had a breakthrough where every part of my body was alive and trembling. Afterwards, the stroker said he had been barely touching me. That was really big, because I had a whole story around being broken, and it turned out I was actually super sensitive.
The ability to feel sensation in my body helped me navigate daily life. I'm always checking in with myself for indicators of when I'm tuned into my own inner voice, or when to accept an offer that's being made. If I decide to work on a project, for instance, it's because I've felt it in my body, usually a sense of opening and warmth. There's a life-giving energy to it versus a life-force draining quality. The physical sensations tell me in advance.
Nowadays my friendships with women are rooted in truth. We talk openly about sex and relationships and whatever's in our hearts. This ability to communicate freely is one of the things I'm most grateful for. I'm close to a lot of women who OM, but now I'm able to create the same kind of open communication with women who don’t OM, also.
In my work life, I've become the decision-maker of how all the yoga goes at the studio where I teach. OM has slowed down the speed of how I practice yoga. I receive more from it than I ever did before.