What does it take to be honest


I’ve always been attracted to things that push the envelope.  I like to take on challenges that scare off other people. In the past, some of that was ego, but more of it was just this deep curiosity about what humans can do and become.

I found OM living in an intentional community in San Francisco more than a decade ago.  Many of the people I lived with were polyamorous, or into other alternative pursuits.  Several were into Orgasmic Meditation, which they often described to me. I was in a long-distance monogamous relationship.  I’d moved into this garden of earthly delights not long after my girlfriend had gone to Germany for a year to work.  So my (incredibly daunting, but not impossible) challenge was to stay completely chaste while surrounded by all these erotic opportunities.

One day, I was on the phone with my girlfriend, and she asked me bluntly if I had been faithful to her. I told her I had been, despite a great many juicy invitations and my own intense desires.  “It’s not easy, but I’m choosing to honor our agreement,” I told her. 

“Does that mean you could envision having sex with other women?” she asked.

“I can envision lots of things,” I told her. “The important thing is that I’m staying true to our promise to each other.”

She became furious.  “That doesn’t work for me. I need to be the only one you’re attracted to. Lie to me if you have to; cheat on me behind my back if you must. But never destroy my illusion.”

My jaw hit the floor: that struck me as crazy. By the time we hung up, we’d called it quits.  I was free to explore.

I share this story because it shaped my experience with OM.  It was a practice I very much wanted to learn, but I held off out of a sense of commitment to my relationship. It’s important to me that I came to OM from a place of integrity, not practicing it until I was “free” to do so – but my story also explains how intensely curious I was about it by the time I actually OMed for the first time.  By the time I had my first OM, I had been living in this community for seven months and hearing about OM often during that time.  To say I was ready would be an understatement! 

During that first OM, I couldn’t get over how much energy was generated by the contact between the tip of my finger and the upper-left quadrant of a woman’s clitoris. There was all of this feeling of presence and connection, but it didn’t feel sexual in any way I had ever experienced. There was so much trust, and so little possessiveness. 

I came out of that first OM bursting with energy.  It was like fire erupting from my insides. I biked up Potrero Hill, which if you know San Francisco, is extremely steep.  I came home, and did 100 pushups and took a cold shower and still felt as if my whole body was buzzing.

I should say that a few days before that first OM, my grandfather had died.  His burial was the day after, and I fell asleep that night thinking both of my OM experience and of him.  (He had lived in Europe, and I couldn’t make the funeral.)  That night, my grandfather came to me in my dream, and it was the most amazingly lucid and powerful dream I’d ever had.  We hugged and said goodbye to each other. I woke up in tears, filled with emotion I could not have tapped into without that OM experience.  It had opened something in me.

One thing I learned early in OM that has always stuck with me is that I don’t need to judge my worth by how much I get a woman off.  I’m not here to placate or stimulate; I’m here to practice presence and be of service. Sometimes, a partner won’t have an orgasm, or not the one she might have anticipated; sometimes she’ll just need to lie there in the nest and be peaceful or cry.  That doesn’t throw me for a loop; it’s simply the experience she’s meant to have, and I’m meant to witness with her. 

Fast forward a decade, and I’m still practicing OM.  I have a partner now, Melanie. We OM together, and we OM with others, and the practice shapes and heals and deepens our relationship.   Every couple comes to a relationship with their core traumas, and they either work through those traumas with their partners or they don’t.  My core trauma goes back to my mother, who could be emotionally and physically abusive. Mom could shift from being kind and gentle to raging and violent in a matter of seconds, with no apparent warning.  That experience left a deep mark on me, and it made me very fearful of women’s anger.  Melanie’s trauma is rooted in abandonment.  She had all these overwhelming feelings and experiences when she was young, and there was no one there to hold her or comfort her. 

You can talk your way through some traumas, and you can, to put it bluntly, try to sex your way through others. The thing about trauma is that it’s often deeper than words or sex.  Going to bed together or talking all night can only resolve so much.  Sometimes, Melanie braces herself for the feeling of being abandoned again; I can feel the temptation to brace myself for violent rage.  And instead of slipping back into those ancient patterns, we take it to OM, where she feels safe and adored. She can sense that I am with her without being afraid of all of her strong emotions.

OM is the central growth and connection exercise of our relationship.  Together, we lean into our traumas in this safe and creative space.