From People-Pleaser to Making My Own DecisionsBY ASHANTI
I see my journey with OM as an unraveling of many layers of deep cultural conditioning to reveal the true, liberated me. I was taught that women should be people-pleasers, do what is expected of them, and not to consider their own desire. OM has freed me from ideas like these, and I take pleasure in knowing that my sisters in this practice feel liberated, too.
I was raised with a kind of Christianity that says you have to sacrifice yourself and put others first. You have to follow the scriptures and use your head, not your body, to make decisions. Not to mention all the taboos around sex and intimacy outside of marriage.
I found out about OM through a webinar, and I was intrigued by the way it helped you “feel into” another person. Despite my cultural background and conditioning, I felt drawn to the practice. The challenge was finding someone to do it with, though I eventually found a man who had experience as an OM stroker.
I went out for coffee with him first, and I felt a sense of trust. My first OM was in my living room, and I remember feeling a sensation in my belly—a kind of expansion--which I’d never experienced before. I was also secretly turned on, but that wasn’t something I could verbalize.
As I continued with OM, one of the biggest teachings for me was the ability to feel into my body and discern my true desires. Practicing regularly, I started to be able to not just feel but express my desires. I used to think that as a woman, I shouldn’t express my desire for sex and intimacy, because that’s “too much.” OM has taught me that my desire is not too much, and that desire has to be followed. Otherwise, you feel false and stuck.
The stroking in OM has helped me to feel my body. I was in the habit of overthinking. Say I had a date with a man and we kissed, but we didn’t see each other again. I would go into a painful place of feeling rejected and wondering what went wrong. I would obsess, feel unworthy, and judge myself for things that I knew I shouldn't be judging myself for. I wouldn’t feel valued or wanted.
Now, I'm much more flexible. I can more easily let go and surrender to what is. I’m not saying that I accept everything all the time. But I don't need to stay angry or sad. If a man doesn’t show up the way I want him to, I’m more forgiving. And that's a good space to be.
My body image is also completely different now. Before OM, I was not proud of my body. Now I take pleasure in it. I’m no longer limited in thinking that my body must look a certain way for me to be worthy.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough for me was freeing myself from being a pleaser. Before, a friend might request my help with something, and I would feel obligated to do it. But after practicing OM, I realized it might not always be what I wanted to do. So, I freed myself from that obligation. And I thought, this practice is shifting who I am and how I show up in the world. It was momentous to realize that.
It’s shifting who I am not just as a friend but also as a mother. I used to seek advice from others about raising my daughter, but now I trust myself more. I’m less limited by what my friends might think or whether they’ll judge me. It’s a powerful realization to be able to stand in my rightness about what I choose to do, whether it’s how I parent, conduct my finances, or anything else.
I feel that people around the world need to be doing this. In some countries, men cannot see a naked woman without having perverse ideas. For people struggling with addictions, I feel that OMing would help them get to the core of their desire and stop their compulsive behaviors.
These days I work as a coach, and I am looking for ways to share this practice—because I want others to feel as liberated as I do. I feel called to inspire people to embrace OM and use it gracefully. I believe that most people will benefit from OM and it will help them get to the next level of transformation. Because that is what it has done for me.