My Practice is with Me Wherever I GoBY ANNE
If you want your car to run, you need to put gas in it. If you want your flowers to bloom, you need to water them. Even little children know this. And yet before OM, I was this outwardly successful person, building my own business – and somehow convinced that the car that was my life could run just fine without fuel.
I remember one morning I was biking to work, which was everyday life for me living in Copenhagen, and I could feel the exhaustion just pervading my entire body. I got to work, sat at my desk, and realized I could barely hold my body up, even in the chair. The lethargy was so intense. I had gotten sleep, and I’d eaten. This was a different type of tiredness, the kind that stems from holding back your feelings in order to be a “good” person – one who works hard, does everything right and has no needs of her own. My body felt tight – and it felt sad. I was holding so much in and it was starting to take a toll. So much loneliness, so much deep sadness, and so much stress from all the projects I had to finish at work.
As I slouched at my desk, I got an image of myself as a lemon that had been squeezed until every drop was gone. I was still crushing the rind in my fist, trying to get out one or two more beads of moisture. There was so little left, and my body was rebelling against me.
I ended up fighting with a colleague that day, and breaking down in the bathroom for an hour. I realized that this wasn’t going to get better. I gathered my things and rode my bike as best I could to my doctor, still crying. She checked me out, and said I was stressed. I panicked because I didn’t know what that meant for my health. Am I sick? I went home after that and lay in bed, my heart racing. After years of stuffing down what I feel and becoming almost numb, my body suddenly felt overcome with sensation. It was not going to hold things down any longer. There was something going on, and I couldn’t continue to live as I was living.
I started searching. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, exactly – I just knew I needed tools to live differently. One day, I came across a video about OM. I watched it, and then watched it again. My body reacted: my heart opened and my body filled with heat; it was just this hopeful, expansive feeling of possibility. I knew I had to try it for my own health and well-being.
My first OM was with an ex-boyfriend. I asked him to fly from Norway to Copenhagen to take an OM training with me. We had been broken up for years but remained friends, and we were both single at the time. Even though we had this history with one another, the experience of our first OM was totally new and unlike anything else. I felt something that I hadn't felt with this kind of quality attention focused on my genitals. There was heat – a lot of heat – and expansion. My body felt open and spacious, mostly in my chest and also in my stomach. I relaxed.
I remember how impactful the noticing step was for me, where he described my genitals in value-neutral language. It was such a healing step because I used to have so much shame for how I looked, even though I looked normal, I had a lot of shame about my genitals. I couldn't argue with what he was saying to me though. I couldn't argue when he said that my outer lips are brown and my inner lips are pink. Those are facts rather than judgements with adjectives like beautiful, and I could relax in that. I felt more connected with my ex than I ever had before. Our friendship blossomed because we had this shared experience of intimacy at a deeper level.
The thought that I struggled with the most at the beginning of my practice was that I orgasmed wrong. I worried that I was too quiet, or didn’t shake enough, or didn’t give enough of a sign that it had happened. In OM none of that matters, however my body responds is exactly how it’s meant to.
My ex and I kept OMing together, and I eventually found some other OM partners in Copenhagen. After a few weeks of practice, I was riding my bike, and suddenly felt warmth suffusing me. It started in my genitals and went up into my torso and down into my legs; I couldn’t believe how full and replenished I felt. I thought, “Oh my God, what if I had never found this?” I got to work and several people remarked how much more energy and positivity I had seemed to have lately. It was such an incredible affirmation.
At one point, I was in San Francisco for work – and I connected with a lot of people who were doing OM there. It was wonderful to be somewhere so open, and to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. I didn’t want to leave. I did leave, though, and came home – not to Copenhagen, but to my family in Norway. Where I was in Norway is a lot more culturally conservative than in San Francisco or even a big city in Denmark. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who didn’t understand OM or approve of it.
By this point, OM was so much a part of my life, there was no way I was going to stop talking about it. This practice gave me the ability to handle criticism and judgement with an open, compassionate heart. I didn’t have to judge people who couldn’t accept how I was living. I thought I might miss San Francisco, and wish I were back there – but I realized I didn’t. Not everyone is meant to live there, and that’s okay. My practice isn’t limited to one particular place, and it’s not conditional on being accepted by everyone around me. Even in this quiet area of Norway, I’ve found people with whom to OM. The tools are the same wherever you go. I don’t have to wish I was somewhere else -- or something else or someone else.
It felt like such a revolutionary act to hold on to my practice of pleasure. I went from numb and stressed out to fully saturated and alive. All of that comes from OM. There’s just no power quite like it.