Growing up, I learned not to express emotions or care about other people's emotions. My father, who never expressed emotions, came from a successful family, while my mother, who was very emotional, came from an unsuccessful family. I noticed that people looked up to my father, who had many accomplishments. People like my mother, who got stuck in her emotions and didn't get much done, were not respected.
I also learned that accomplishments were what got you accolades and friends. But I was not a good student because I was so bored by reading and rote memorization. In those days, drawing was my refuge. When I was drawing, I was recreating life. I liked to have people look at my comics and be amazed, and I'd feel I had made someone happy.
Meanwhile, my schoolwork got worse and worse until I was almost flunking out. Then a girl came along who I wanted to impress, so I was determined to improve in school. I discovered that math and science had concepts that I could use as learning tools. By applying formulas and logic, I could find answers instead of just memorizing. Inspired by this girl, I worked so hard, I graduated at the top of my school's math and science program.
But then when I got an engineering job, and the girl was no longer in my life, I grew bored and depressed. The work was not that interesting, and I was lonely again. I didn't know how to connect with women except by trying to impress them. I still did not value emotions at all, and I was arrogant, insisting my point of view was always right.
I had one friend who was estranged from her mother, and I kept pushing her to try to talk to her. It never occurred to me to try to understand what was going on, why she didn't feel comfortable reaching out to her mom. Instead, I totally disregarded her emotions. Eventually, she didn't want to talk to me any more. In hindsight, I see that we got disconnected because of my masculine way of ignoring emotions.
This failure to value emotion extended to my desires. I wanted so much to be accepted and desired myself, but I felt I had to hide that side of me. I was ashamed and afraid to look greedy or demanding.
When I started learning about OM, I heard people discussing desires as if they were positive. I was curious. What would it be like to be a part of a culture where desires are not only accepted but given importance? It was exciting to meet people who believe you should actually have more desires, not just one or two, but a hundred desires. You could make a list of all your desires. I liked that idea.
In my first OM, I was able to feel what my partner was feeling. And when she wanted something different, she asked for it. It was that simple. I offered my attention and attuned to her body and the spot, then both of us have a richer experience. She’d express a desire, like “Can I have a lighter stroke?” Then I’d answer her, “Yes.” As I’d adjust the stroke, I felt the sensation shift and expand through my body. It’s hard to explain how profound my joy in this was. And to my surprise, the effect didn’t go away. I found that with each subsequent OM, the depth and the joy only grew.
That’s my favorite part of an OM, the communication. I make offers and my partner makes requests. I can say, “Would you like a faster stroke?” If she says yes, I speed up and if she says no, I stick with what I’m doing.
In the OM, I noticed that my actions were actually changing the way both my partner and I felt. It made me so happy to offer myself, to contribute to our shared experience. I felt accepted and trusted in a way I had never felt before, and that shifted my entire relationship with desire.
Now I see myself as someone who cares about other people and their desires. If I can help fulfill their desires, then I know that the universe will also care about my desires. I can have as many desires as I want, and I can stay open whether they are met or not.
Last year, I had just started dating a woman when I got a new job in Los Angeles. I wanted to invite her to come to L.A. with me and help me find a new place to live. It was hard to express this desire. I was worried she might think I was a weirdo, and I thought she would probably say no. But I asked anyway, and she said yes. She helped me find a place, and later she ended up moving to L.A. herself. We're not dating anymore but are still good friends. All this connection was created because I acted on my desire.
In my work, I have also followed my desires. I applied for a job that would make extensive use of my drawing and math skills. The interviews took a day, and I was asked a lot of technical questions. Because of my passion for the work, I had no trouble answering the questions, and I landed the job. To me, it's the best job in the world.
I attribute this success to OM, which has showed me what a difference it makes to be expressive. Life is so full when people ask for what they want. I like being able to provide people with what they want, and I like to be asked what I want.
Emotions have become important to me. When I'm in conversation, I know that there's a reason behind what someone is feeling. Unlike in the past, when I saw emotions as worthless, or would shut someone, I now validate every emotion and I’m willing to be with whatever arises.