The Power to Be Present

BY TYLER

Five years ago, I was at a contact improv class, which is a type of improvisational dance, when I saw a guy with the energy of an aroused Buddha. I’m not sure how I recognized this within him, but I was sure I was right. I recognized his energy as something I was nostalgic for.

Some years before, I’d had what I would describe as a cosmic sexual encounter. It was sex that felt like praying, felt like unity. The woman I had been seeing, with whom I shared that magical night, unexpectedly broke up with me the next day. But I never forgot the way it felt in my body.

I approached the man at contact improv to find out how he had come to be so very awake and so very aroused, and okay with the combination of the two. He told me about Orgasmic Meditation. It sounded too weird for me, and I didn’t ask any more questions.

A few weeks later, another guy walked into contact improv emitting a similar aroused confidence. I joked with him, “Have you been stroking someone’s clitoris?” He laughed and said, “How did you know?” 

Woah, I thought. There must be something to that. I decided to pursue learning the practice. I have never stopped thinking of it as weird, but that became part of the attraction—that it would never be routine. It would never dilute into business as usual.

In my first OM, my partner—the strokee—was able to really enjoy the experience, even while giving plenty of adjustments. I thought I would find the adjustments uncomfortable, but instead it was a great learning experience for me. I had spent most of my life avoiding feedback from others, working as hard as possible to conform to the expectations of others so they wouldn’t disapprove. If they did disapprove, it would confirm my worst suspicions. I would know for certain that I really wasn’t lovable. I wasn’t acceptable as I am. But in the OM, being adjusted was different. It was like being giving a user manual to pleasure. I enjoyed my OM partner’s pleasure intensely, and her directions on how to make it even more sensational only increased that enjoyment. Instead of causing disconnect, the adjustments expanded our intimacy. It was a real shift. It felt like I could move away from relating to others from a place of fear and inferiority, and instead move towards a future of continuous improvement through connection.

My parents had taught me that the world was not a safe place: the trick was to pay attention and conform. Failure to do so would lead to rejection and mistreatment. When I was younger, for instance, my dad really wanted me to learn tennis. I asked why, and he told me that in the future I’d need those skills to fit in. My mother could not accept any expressed dissatisfaction directed her way. She would respond with anger and irritation and say things like, “Don’t make me feel guilty.” I was a sensitive child, but I numbed that part of myself out in pursuit of being a “good kid.” All to please those two.

As an adult, instead of sensing what was right for my relationships, I practiced the art of seduction so that I could anticipate the expectations of those I felt attracted to. If I could anticipate and conform, I had a better chance of avoiding hurt. I had even grown afraid about being too sensitive. If I felt too much, I could be taken advantage of. If I said, “I love you,” or shared something vulnerable, it could be used against me.

Instead, I sought control over my emotions and attempted to emotionally manipulate others through techniques of seduction. I was just so afraid of being manipulated myself. After all, like my parents insinuated, the world was a dangerous place. It was no place for a subtle man who enjoyed writing poetry like me. If I surrendered to my emotions and allowed myself to be touched—deeply—what would happen? Would I lose touch with myself? Sacrifice some level of self-awareness? Until I began to OM, I feared being judged as not man enough, not virile enough, and I became preoccupied with feeling safe in the world.

OM restored a sense of safety to me. The container felt really safe, for one. Also, practicing OM amplified my sensitivity, which meant that I was able to feel more with other people in general. Soon, I felt much more relaxed. It’s like I could feel into what to say or do next without relying on my techniques or the expectations of others.

Recently, a partner began crying during sex. Rather than panic and worry that I had done something wrong, I instinctively held her in my arms for 15 minutes in silence. Only then did I ask her about her feelings. Not once did I fear that I was the cause of her sadness and anger. In fact, I knew I was not and was therefore able to stay present. It was an utterly beautiful moment.

Sensing what to say or do in each moment feels like a superpower to me now. OM has given me the power to be present to what’s really there and the steady confidence to remain open for adjustments at the same time. When I say superpower, I really mean it. Sometimes my experience of the practice is nothing short of mystical. In my last five years as a practitioner, there have been at least two occasions in which I experienced flashbacks of past lives. In one vision, I saw myself in front of a Greek temple. In another, I could feel in my body the sensation of wind as I stood on top of a hill.

In coming face-to-face with the rawness of desire, I have also learned to ask directly for what I want instead of allowing layers of mental chatter to get in the way. Instead of wondering what my desires mean and how having them will affect my current relationships, or how I should communicate them, I simply do the vulnerable thing and ask. Then, there is no confusion. If the answer is no, it is a no to what I really want rather than some version of it altered by excuses and judgement.

For me, OM is a practice in mindfulness and desire. Learning to be present to sensation, I have discovered I only ever move my finger because I want to. Because it is, in fact, my desire.