When I came to OM, I looked like I had it all. I was on a very popular TV show at the time. My career as an actress had taken off. I had great friends, a beautiful life, commercial success. I had a boyfriend I loved and whom I felt loved me. People wanted to be me. And at the same time, so much in my life wasn’t at all what it appeared.
I was 29, and I’d already spent a lifetime playing parts. I was the good girlfriend and famous actress. For quite a bit longer, I’d been playing the parts of great daughter, best friend, good woman, good little girl. Early on, I’d learned that good girls didn't have sexual desire -- or at least didn't express it outwardly. I had shut down my desires from early childhood – and I’d decided that acting was the best way to get love and attention.
I decided that nothing was worse than letting other people down, and I started playing parts to get the affirmation I hadn’t been getting, and I just kept getting better at it. I learned to play the part of the girl who wears pink and has crushes on popular boys. First, I did it in real life, and then I did it as an actress. I built an entire career out of doing what I needed to feel safe and secure. Acting was simply the most efficient way I could find to get the validation, attention and approval that I hadn’t otherwise gotten from my parents.
It was at this particular peak in my career that I first came to OM. A friend had been invited to an event where they talk about the OM practice, and she said she thought it was a bit strange, so she asked me to go with her. I was free, and she seemed to need the support. I went without even really knowing what the event was about.
I’ll never forget what happened when I walked in and first heard the term Orgasmic Meditation. Just hearing it described, I felt an earthquake inside me. My heart began to pound, my face flushed. I had to excuse myself to go to the restroom, as I was shaking and giggling. I had to call a friend just to calm myself down enough to go back into the room with everyone else. I had an incredibly difficult time composing myself.
On the way home with my friend that night, I could scarcely hear a word she was saying. All I could do was plot in my mind. How could I try this practice without anyone finding out? As it turned out, it would be nearly another year before I figured out how to pull it off.
When I finally had my first OM, it was extraordinary. It was an orgasm, but so different than any I had before in any sexual sense. I felt like I had expanded, as if my whole body had been stretched and become bigger, able to hold and contain more. It was like inhaling and exhaling more deeply than I ever had before. I remember thinking, as I had so often in the year since I first heard of OM, that it seemed that no one in my life could ever understand this. And at the same time, I was certain that this was something my body was supposed to naturally experience.
Both in that first OM and for a long time afterwards, I couldn't feel upstrokes as well as I could feel downstrokes. I realized that’s because my entire life was already an upstroke. It’s as if I was always saying to the world, “Hi, I'm an actress, I'm hyper, I'm entertaining, I'm happy, I'll bring you up! I'll say what you want, do what you want, because I know what you want.”
Those upstrokes got me upstrokes in return: “I loved your show!” they’d say, or “I loved your movie, it was so good.” I fed off that. What I didn’t realize until OM was my body was so hungry to go down. Downstrokes were the only thing that made me feel grounded. It was as if I was finally giving my body the nutrients it had been lacking for so long. Getting nourished that way shifted everything for me.
Before OM, telling the truth felt the same as pretending. Gradually, telling the truth became so much more fun and pleasurable because the truth was coming from deep inside me. I could feel my body lighting up when I told the truth. For the first time, I could feel what was real and what was pretending because now my body was never in doubt about the difference. It let me know, and still lets me know, what’s true and what’s not.
OM changed how I think about my work. Before, I did my best to play the part the way I thought people wanted to see it. Now, it’s about connecting the character with the source of life I’ve found in myself. Let’s say I’m playing the role of a woman who has spent her whole life longing after this one guy, and has never been able to get him. Instead of just thinking about how she would act, now I think, how can I be this woman and have it feel true? I’ll play the scenes over and over until my own body feels the truth of not being able to talk to that guy she’s in love with. Her anxiety and her longing become my own. My body has to own her heart palpitations and flushed cheeks as my own – and once it feels true for me, Vanessa, then I can play it as someone else. I’m so much better at this crazy job now.
There’s such a bigness to who I am now. I’m still discovering more and more of who I am. I spent all those years afraid that if I stopped pretending, I’d lose the people I loved. I know in my body now that’s just not true.