The Quality of My Attention
by Ben

My goal in life was to be a rescue swimmer, and I was pushing my body hard in that direction. I had been in the military, so I had a vivid masculine ideal of the person I thought I should be. My body was a means to an end. I built it up in pursuit of a job; or I drank all night in bars with cool people who could help me make the connections I wanted. I didn't pay attention to messages like soreness and exhaustion after a workout, or a hangover in the morning. My mind wanted it, so I didn't listen to what was happening in my body.

At the same time, I was hungry for connection with women, but I only tried to connect with women who were unavailable. Time and time again I failed, as I spent tons of money buying drinks for these women who I desperately wanted to like me. It was like they were behind a wall, and I couldn't get to them. 

When I did sleep with someone, I had a selfish attitude. I had a goal in sex to climax and then I was done. Attention on my partner didn't really enter my mind and sex wasn't really fulfilling for either of us. 

A woman friend told me about OM, and I decided it might help me relate to women. The first time I OMed was nerve-wracking. I put a lot of attention on her experience and how she must feel. Was I going to do it right? Would it be okay for her? My face burned and my heart was pounding.

I was still fairly new to the practice when I had an OM with a woman who was even more of a beginner than I was. Before starting, we agreed to do two OMs. After the first one, we took a short break. I felt something and heard a voice in my head to check in with her about having a second OM. It turned out that she didn't want to do the second one. A feeling of relief washed over me. I felt such a strong connection with her because she had been able to say no. It left me with a sense of freedom.

Adjustments taught me a lot about communication. When my partner asked me to adjust the way I was stroking, I discovered we both wanted the same thing. By knowing what would help her, I could put my attention on optimizing her sensations, and then I experienced more energy flowing through both of us. 

When I bring that level of communication to my connections, I can avoid situations that leave me feeling blind and dumb and guilty. Instead I get to feel skillfully connected and I can create electricity in a conversation with the quality of my attention.

OMing changed my relationship with my body because it slowed everything way down in my mind. I started noticing the sensations and recognized that they are actually communications about my needs. If I can listen to those messages, there's a new level of satisfaction and joy available because my mind isn't dragging my body along. If I feel a heaviness behind my eyes, I can take the time to cry, if that's what my body wants, and then I'll feel so much better than if I tried to avoid those feelings. Instead of compressing my emotions until I find someone to blame for them, I can get into the natural rhythm of the way my body wants to move.

Anger was an emotion I really used to try to avoid. I was always feeling it, but it never had a place to go or an outlet. In my family, anger was not expressed. At Thanksgiving, anything could be happening with anybody in the family, and we got together and pretended nothing was wrong. If I was angry with somebody, he or she would never know it, but it still tortured me. OM taught me that anger is just another form of electricity that lives in my body. It doesn't have to be labeled good or bad. The only object of OMing is to feel. If I sit down to OM, and I'm thinking about hiding my anger, I'm not actually connected. But I learned that I'm allowed to feel my anger, just like I feel any other sensation. Nowadays I'm responsibly stepping into situations and saying that I'm angry, and I'm bringing my whole self into it. That's the level of connection that I want to live at, not only connected with the other person so I can have a conversation with them, but also connected to myself.

OMing helped undo so much of the conditioning I took on as a man in culture I grew up in. In the context of an OM, all I'm doing is stroking and observing what's happening instead of pushing toward a goal. I’ve relaxed around trying so hard for someone else's approval or to be the person I thought I had to be.  The groundedness and energy of the present moment are so compelling that I've learned to live my life in a way that feels good.