I first learned to OM in April of 2016 after returning from a sojourn to Thailand. My whole world fell apart when my six-year relationship broke up and I went to heal my heart. I had no sense of who I was outside that relationship. Lost and confused, I hopped a plane to Thailand hoping to validate my manhood with lots of meaningless sex.
In my relationship, I neurotically used sex to gain approval from my girlfriend, assuming I wasn’t good enough as I was. I thought I needed to prop myself up in her eyes and our sex would make me feel complete. I lived and breathed for her, but was wracked with doubts about my ability to satisfy her in the bedroom and everywhere else.
Little did I know that in Thailand my whole concept of sex was about to change, but not in the way I expected. An Irishman paid for a prostitute to help cure my blues. I remember standing half clad, looking down at this beautiful naked Thai woman, with no desire for sex. ‘What is wrong with me?’ I remember thinking. My body just would not cooperate. I realized in that moment that my desire was for intimacy and connection, not my partner’s physical appeal.
Soon after, my father joined me in Thailand and offered me a way to balance sexuality and spirituality. “Ethan, when you get back to the United States, go check out this practice called Orgasmic Meditation." I figured I had nothing to lose, so I did.
I remember in my first OM still feeling anxious about my ability to satisfy a woman and being consumed with doubt about my worthiness. ‘What if I do it wrong? What if I don’t get her off?’
My first OM went by in a blur. Despite that, I settled into the feeling that something deeply important was taking place. I had tasted real connection and it was unshakeable.
During my second OM, I worried I was doing it wrong, and then, I heard her voice ask me to stroke a bit more to the left. In that moment, I realized I didn’t have to be in control. I could surrender to her requests and everything would turn out okay. Tears welled up in my eyes and a deep wave of what I can only describe as devotion, swept through me. From such a sacred place, I could also give up my fears about my performance.
Since that experience, my whole relationship with sex, masculinity and feelings of worth shifted, leaving me feeling grounded and trusting of myself.
I understood that, in my relationship, I had been craving real intimacy, with myself and my partner and had failed to find it. Now, I was able to let go of all the signifiers of what made a real man. There was this vast space for me to show up exactly as I am and that was all that was necessary.
If I was able to find connection through surrendering in an OM, I could also learn to embrace my girlfriend’s requests outside of an OM as an invitation to grow. I no longer feel them as attacks on my character. And, I always have the option to say no. The degree of connection that I now feel with her has allowed me to keep my heart open, even in exchanges of difficult emotions such as anger, jealousy, or sadness.
The noticing step in an OM—in which I neutrally observe features on a woman’s genitals before I begin stroking—has allowed me to let go of fantasies and projections I have imposed on various women and allowed me to feel them as they are.
Sex has become an experiment in feeling my partner’s heart, no longer striving solely for climax. I have experienced moments of deep connection when my sense of self and other dissolves, tears run down my cheeks, and pleasure I didn’t know was possible surges through my body. My sexual desire is now kindled by the feeling of connection and intimacy with a partner and not based entirely on their sexual appeal.
More broadly, I find fast and lifelong friends around every corner, soul-nourishing conversations with complete strangers, and a deep sense of myself and my purpose in the world through connection and sharing my heart energy with others.
Even my guitar playing has shifted as a result of my OM practice. In the past, I was plagued by insecurities on the stage, afraid I would make a mistake or that the audience wouldn’t like my music. Now, I am able to feel the audience and open my heart when I play, instead of shrinking and hiding. I feel as if my heart is extending out into the audience, stroking the audience with love. Remembering back to Thailand and my father’s prophetic statement, “Who knows? Maybe someday you will learn how to OM an audience,” I know now how right he was.
Ethan is a 29-year-old teacher’s assistant from Portland, Maine.