Somatic Meditation Only Scratched the SurfaceBY IAN
When I was six or seven years old, I developed a lot of awareness and curiosity around what it meant to be alive. From that point on, I became interested in spirituality, meditation, and even psychology, and to my parents—who were relaxed in their Catholic faith—going to church every Sunday was one way the family could support my growing interest in these topics.
Even though my parents weren’t particularly religious, we never discussed sex or sexuality, and as a result, I grew more and more distance from feeling connected to or happy inside of my body. Not surprisingly, because of this, from the time I was a teenager and into my early thirties, sex was always an issue for me, whether I was in a relationship or not. And when I was in long term relationships, it was the piece that never came together, despite getting along with my partners in every other way possible. I was often confused by how intense my desire for sex and connection was. My confidence in myself was low, and I found that I was often uncomfortable talking with women, let alone in asking for things that had anything to do with intimacy.
By the time I was about 32 years old, I’d had a practice of somatic-focused meditation, which was something I had adopted in my mid 20s as a way to try and get back into my body. Whenever anyone would ask me about it, I’d say that my meditation was as if I had a block of ice in my body, and that somatic practice was chipping away at it to get to the middle. It was a slow process, but I believed that if I was patient, I would one day know what was underneath the numbness I felt in place of sensation.
In 2013, I went to a 30-day meditation retreat where I was in the company of a great many hippie types in search for enlightenment. I’d just come out of a painful break up, and wasn’t searching for anything except space to go within for a longer stretch of time and heal. It was there that I encountered a woman who I hired to coach me through to the next phase of my life. She and I worked together for about three months, over the course of which time, I learned that she also taught the practice of Orgasmic Meditation (OM). I saw OM as an opportunity to bring together the disparate parts of myself that I had ignored. It was an opportunity to not leave something God-given—pleasure—off the table. I wanted to be good with women, so I decided to lean into the practice as a way for me to heal the fear and baggage I carried around about my intimate life.
Over Memorial Day weekend in 2013, I went to Colorado and learned to OM there. I had my first OM and felt totally turned off to it; it felt so surgical and medical with those gloves and that timer. Even though I was able to locate my partner’s clitoris, I didn’t feel anything within my own body, and when it was over, I was underwhelmed and couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I went for a walk and sat down on a bench, and out of nowhere, I heard a voice that I’d never heard before or since. It said, “No, no, no. There is more for you here. Stick with it.” Startled, I figured maybe I should listen. Maybe there was something for me to explore there, so I continued on the path and returned to Portland, dedicating myself to creating a regular OM practice.
After the phenomenon of my newfound enthusiasm calmed down a bit, I started to see how much energy I was wasting in trying to figure out, manage, and control my interactions with women. I was in an OM and noticed how connected I felt to my partner when I was just focused on the point of contact: where my finger met her clitoris. I saw how much energy and presence was lost in my attempts to control the structures of all of my encounters with women, and that when I was willing to let all that go, the present moment held the most incredibly rich sensation. None of those feelings I was waking up in my body came from overthinking or over analyzing.
That’s what I feel has made the biggest difference to me: slowing down and placing my focus in the present moment long enough to notice the strength of the signal that was moving between two people. Being in connection with another person is so simple, and doing this connection thing in a practice is a simple way for me to regularly move out of my head and into my body: something all those years of somatic meditating only scratched the surface of.
OM became a way for me to have a dialog with the frozen and locked parts of myself to warm them up and get things moving again. And I found that once I started to practice OM regularly, it was as if some heat source turned on in the middle of the block of ice and was thawing it from the inside.