Leaving Shame BehindBY ARMIN AHMADI
I was a hungry person. Despite a strong spiritual practice, a satisfying creative outlet, and two children I was deeply devoted to, the one area that wasn't working in my life was my marriage. My wife and I went into all kinds of counseling, and I tried to approach the issues through psychology and bodywork practices, but the relationship continued to fall apart.
One of the problems was my sexual appetite. I felt ashamed of desiring people besides my wife, and I couldn't speak about it. Those hidden desires built up to the point where I had an affair. It was a completely damaging thing to do. But there was so much confusion and shame and pressure inside me, and the communication with my wife was breaking down. Meanwhile, I was afraid that if someone found out what I was like, that this is who I really am, then I'd be totally rejected. The more I concealed and lied, the messier the situation became.
We got to a point where my wife found a boyfriend on the Internet, and he moved in with us. When she left, we had a huge fight about what would happen with the kids and with our house. I was devastated. I had dedicated a lot of my life to my family, giving up much of my work as an artist in order to be a father. That's when I dived into a process of research about relationships and sexuality. I wanted to figure out what had gone wrong and try to heal that pain. My searching led me to OM.
I'm not sure what the difference is between excitement and fear, but I definitely felt one or both when I had my first OM. I don't remember much of what happened. Afterwards, I floated out of the room and cycled home, and I don't think my bike had wheels. It was an extraordinary feeling. I remember my second OM experience was more grounded, and my attention more attuned.
Through my OM practice, as I gradually became more present and focused, I experienced a healing of the sense of shame around my sexuality. Although OM is not sex, it brings sexual energy into the learning process, and that element was vital to my healing.
Besides shame about the urges I had during marriage, I had grown up with the message that, as a man, my sexual desire objectifies women, and therefore it's bad. In OM it became clear to me that women have sexual desire as well. I didn't know that, since I'd always felt like I had to convince women that sex is good and chase them for it. But in OM, when you meet at that point where the finger and the clitoris connect, both of you want to move in the same direction, which is toward sensation. So obviously, if both of us are working with sexual energy, and it creates a positive experience for us, desire is not something to be ashamed of.
For years, I was trying to be a good son for my parents, a good husband for my wife. I was trying to be a decent person and not be rude and all those kinds of things. But it seemed like all the trying wasn't enough to make my life work. What works is not being ashamed of myself.
When I met other people who were OMing, I discovered a feeling of abundance. It was okay to want to OM. It was okay to ask for it and talk about it. I could be real about whatever it was I wanted. Instead of hiding myself, I had the freedom to be out in the open.
I already had an established Vipassana meditation practice, which is about fine observation of physical sensations. OM was an extension of that practice. In order to train the mind for Vipassana, I started by learning to focus the attention on a very small area, noticing the breath moving in and out of the nostrils. I understood OM as being a version of that practice, except that the small area of focus is the tip of the finger or the clitoris. In Vipassana, we then went on to scanning the body and feeling sensations throughout the body, just as in OM. Vipassana also includes a practice of generating lovingkindness towards people, which we do in a similar way by connecting with the OM partner. The main difference between the two practices is that OM is done in connection with another person, and about learning to harness the sex impulse, which served to address what I was most ashamed about. OM released the pent-up pressure of my desire and spilled that energy into all my interactions with people, bringing insights and new confidence.
Now I'm looking after my kids and living alone. I have the legacy of my children, which is always my main focus. I'm getting on with things I feel good about. When I get involved in an intimate relationship, I always teach my partner to OM. It's a really useful modality, one that has taught me it’s okay to be real and own who I am.