The Caregiver Finds His Own HealingBY ALAN
Five years before I found OM, my wife had developed an increasingly degrading brain condition. My life became increasingly unmanageable as I tried to show up as her caregiver as well as meet all the rest of my responsibilities. My life quickly spiraled downward as my wife’s state deteriorated relentlessly. I was under a lot of stress in both my home life and job, and I found it increasingly impossible to juggle the work/life balance. I desperately needed an outlet, or I thought I would go mad.
I had been a devotee of yoga for 40 years, and in my very precious and little free time, threw myself back into that. I met a woman in one of my classes, and we became friends. One day, she saw the tension and exhaustion on my face, and she gently told me about Orgasmic Meditation. It sounded too good to be true, honestly, and at first, I thought she was teasing me, or maybe coming on to me. She wasn’t offended and told me that my resistance might be a clue that there was something of value for me there and that I should at least check it out.
I signed up for an Intro to OM course, and I got a taste for the depth of practice that was possible. I noticed the people I met there were more like-minded to myself, people who were on a path of exploration, like me. I felt like I was in the right place. I had thought I was so self-aware, but everyone else seemed to be on another level. I wanted what they had.
My first OM was truly amazing. The things I felt in my body were things I had never thought were remotely possible. I had never understood what orgasm was, and to combine it with meditation and focusing attention — this was something that just had not been part of my life before. I felt a kind of electricity in my body, a palpable, tangible sensation of an energy going through my nerves. It didn’t exactly come from her body, and I didn’t exactly make it happen, but together we were tapping into something. It felt more spiritual than sexual, like we were worshipping something greater than ourselves – or together, creating something greater.
Initially, I wanted to bring my wife to OM. I thought that maybe the practice could bring her some comfort and healing. Unfortunately, she was too deep into her dementia. I couldn’t reach her, and she would never have been able to properly consent to an OM. If I went ahead with this practice, I would have to do it with other women. That made me feel torn. Was I betraying my wife? Was this okay? What shifted for me was the realization that the more I OMed, the more I could be present as a consistent and tender caregiver for this woman I had loved so much for so long. She would never know I was doing OM, but I thought she might be able to sense a greater devotion and comfort through me. In the nest, I could create this energy that I then carried home to my ailing wife, and I could soothe her with it.
In OM, I have met so many others who are also facing intense life challenges. Everyone comes to this practice with a story. Before OM, I felt a bit sorry for myself. Look at poor me and all my responsibilities, all the work I have to do. This practice showed me I’m just like everyone else. We all bring our baggage and our pain and our hopes and everything else to the nest; and we use the OM itself to get the clarity, comfort, pleasure and purpose we need.
I learned, too, that if I get an adjustment, it’s not a criticism. In the past, when I felt like someone was chastising me, I’d withdraw. With adjustments, I realized that this was simply an opportunity to find a way to get closer to someone. That’s translated into how I operate in my life outside OM – I don’t carry resentments. I had been the sort of guy who could hold onto grudges for years. OM made all those slip away. What I thought was other people wounding me was just an adjustment they had been giving, whether they knew it or not. I could take it in stride.
My daughter and I are not speaking at the moment. It is very painful. It feels like another loss, akin to watching my wife slip away into her illness. My daughter is angry about OM and that I have seen other women besides her mother. She wants me to be faithful to her mom, regardless of her mother’s condition. I believe I am faithful to my wife in all the ways that matter; I am still her chief caregiver. What I know to be healing for me, my daughter sees as betrayal. That may take a long time to heal.
What I can do is bring that pain over my relationship with my daughter to the structure of the nest and the OM. The container of the OM can hold all that grief and uncertainty. It’s 15 minutes that will be there no matter what. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Come what may (in every sense), it will have the same rules each time. These boundaries of the OM container help me set boundaries in the rest of my life. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end – and sometimes, when I’m stuck in the middle of projects, I can start to despair and wonder if the end will ever come. OM reminds me that it always comes.
The same thing is true in my relationship with my daughter. I know the healing between us will come, and my job is to show up and stay open to it, to trust that this time in the “middle” will not last forever. When my daughter and I reconnect again, and we will, I will be a better and more present father for her because of this practice. I know that in my bones.