Taking Up Space

BY MAGGIE BAINES

It’s strange to be doing a story about Orgasmic Meditation, if only because when it came to orgasms, I spent so many of my teen years lying about them.  I pretended that I was having them with men, and I pretended I wasn’t having them on my own.  It’s rather remarkable that something that was surrounded with so much deception led to so much growth and change in my life.

I was always a very sexual person, going back to my early adolescent years.  What I’ve realized, though, is that for a very long time, my sexuality was all wrapped up in a need for external validation.  The focus was less on my own pleasure then on getting affirmation from my partners.  There was no high quite as good as the one I got from being desired by someone.  I learned early to perform. I tended to think of myself as in a porn video, and I would imagine myself watching myself have sex with this man. I wanted to look good and make sure they felt good.  

At university, I spent a lot of time reading about sexuality. I read literature through a lens of sexual curiosity, and I learned a great deal.  It was all an intellectual rather than an experiential sort of learning. I wasn’t putting into practice anything I was studying, but I was answering a lot of questions I had had most of my life.  Even after I left university, I kept reading books about sex and sexuality, hungry to understand more and more.  Eventually, I read this one book that briefly discussed Orgasmic Meditation.  There wasn’t a lot of detail in the book, but one thing stood out: this was a practice created by a woman, and it was centered on women asking for exactly what they wanted.  That sounded what I needed.

My first few experiences weren’t amazing in terms of sensation, but they were incredible in terms of the frame that OM offered.  Before I dropped my knickers, one thing was made clear: I could ask for exactly what I wanted.  The whole practice was centered around my asking, and my being heard.  For me, what was crucial was that the man stroking me was ready and willing to hear me; he was ready to respond.  He wouldn’t get hurt, and he wouldn’t pout, and I wouldn’t have to pretend. That idea was what I’d dreamed of, but never thought possible.  I didn’t think any man could handle it.  I was wrong.

I remember after a few weeks of OMing, I started to experience really extraordinary sensations.  I was with this particular stroker, and I started to feel a tingling in my right little finger.  And then it spread throughout my right hand, and then it started in my left.  I couldn’t move either hand; they were frozen, but they weren’t numb.  They were the opposite of numb; they were so alive with sensation that all they could do was lie there, feeling.  It was an absolute overload, but so good.  I realize it sounds frightening to be unable to move your hands, but this wasn’t scary at all, at least not after the first few seconds.  It was just pure sensation and connection, and it wasn’t confined to my genitals – it was passing through my whole body.

Just as the experience of OM moves from your clitoris to the rest of your body, it eventually starts to impact the rest of your life.  One thing that it really helped with was my imposter syndrome – that sense of fraudulence, that I didn’t really belong.  I think a lot of people, especially women, struggle with that, and I certainly did.  I was afraid of taking up space with friends, at work, anywhere really.  OM didn’t make that imposter syndrome magically disappear overnight, but it has helped me a great deal. I feel like I belong wherever I am now.

I’ve been in a relationship now for over two years.  I didn’t meet my boyfriend through OM, and he doesn’t practice it.  I was able to bring what I’d learned into our relationship from the beginning.  As soon as we started being sexual together, I was able to ask for what I wanted.  I trusted that if he wanted me, he’d be able to hear it without getting offended. I was right; he was eager.  “Tell me what you want me to do,” he said; “I like getting instructions.”  In these two years together, I haven’t faked a single orgasm with him.  

That candor and frankness about sex has translated into other aspects of our relationship. It hasn’t always been easy, and sometimes things are still awkward, but we’ve created this space where we each have a genuine investment in hearing and understanding each other.  We do these check-ins almost every week where we ground each other and talk about issues as they come up.  I’m able to say what I need to say, and he can hear it – and vice-versa.  And again, this isn’t because my boyfriend has any direct experience of OM.  It’s because I have, and I’m able to bring these tools into our relationship.  There’s just so much freedom in all that honesty.