The Discipline of PracticeBY BECKY
My life used to be super linear, with a well-defined structure. You were supposed to check off boxes: get married, have kids, save money, retire. My life was proceeding according to the rules, but I wasn't really fulfilled or happy. Even when my relationships were good, I felt there was still something wrong with me. I had to keep trying to mold myself to be more perfect in my relationships and my job.
I liked my career as a pharmacist, but I was becoming disillusioned with the medical system. Drugs have side effects and are used as band-aid solutions that don't truly heal people. Given the limitations of Western medicine, I felt other modalities of healing could be useful, but I didn't know how to bring them into my work.
When I encountered OM through reading and videos, I heard one speaker discuss how women tend to be both tired and wired, our hormones unbalanced by our lifestyles. As a pharmacist, I knew the science behind that phenomenon, so I was intrigued by how OMing was presented as a natural practice that raised oxytocin levels in the body, to benefit women's moods and functioning. I was interested in science, sexuality, and spiritual growth, and OM fit all those categories.
My first OM partner was also a first timer. I was nervous, but my partner was so anxious, his hands were shaking, and that made me feel calm in comparison. My second OM, on the same day, was with a more experienced stroker, and I noticed more physical sensation because I was able to concentrate on my own body. The third OM, also the same day, was intense because I climaxed, and then I was hit by a wave of shame. In that moment came my first solid realization that I had a lot of shame around my sexuality.
I grew up in a loving home with generous parents, and I was close to my sister and cousins. Nothing terrible or traumatic happened to me. However, we were raised Catholic, with lots of guilt and shame around sex. We never talked about sex, and my mom discouraged us from having boyfriends, even into our twenties. So there was plenty of repression going on in my subconscious. I had a strong sexual side that wasn't being fully expressed, and I didn't realize how disconnected from my body I was. In my intellectual and rational world, it was most important to have the right answer. I didn't understand that being in your body can give you access to power and creativity that will expand out into your life.
The OM practice felt to me like a discipline, something you do regularly because you know it's good for you. When I was in the military, we had rituals, like shining our boots and cleaning our weapons. They were important for a reason, and we knew why we were doing it. The regularity of my OM practice enabled me to tap into the energy and the sexuality that had been hidden from my awareness. I craved that kind of attention, but I didn't know how to handle it directly. Stroking is a form of receiving and holding attention, and, over time, OMing increased my capacity to receive.
I've often been told that I'm overly sensitive. People have seemed to think I was crazy, and then I couldn't tell what was real and what I was imagining. The sharing frames step, where each partner describes a sensation from the OM session, taught me to not only notice what I was feeling but also find words for it. It gave me language to communicate with myself and with other people. As I started to understand how the movement of energy works, I was also able to describe the intensity of my feelings. I realized there's nothing wrong with me, that what I'm feeling is real, and I can have some agency around it, instead of just reacting or feeling crazy.
I'd been OMing for a while when I started flirting with a guy who clearly liked me. I could feel desire for him in my body, and I knew he could sense my desire, but when it came down to it, I just wasn't ready to have sex with him. Something was going on in my head involving fear of not being safe, and I was still processing shame around my sexuality. At the time, that's where I was, and I had to respect it, but I didn't do such a great job of handling the situation. Now I'm at the point where I can communicate a disconnect like that to my partner and not feel bad about it or like it has to ruin the relationship. In that particular case, the relationship did get ruined. But it taught me that I had to take responsibility for my conflicted feelings and set boundaries instead of shaming the guy for reading my desire and trying to act on it.
OM launched me into being a healer, beginning with healing myself. As I learned to connect to my body, I started to be more in the present moment, where I could feel and not just intellectualize my emotions. That gave me the ability to tune into other people. Because I can feel emotions in my body, and I can accept them, then I can also hold space for other people's emotions. I started a coaching practice, based largely on fundamentals that OM taught me. I often introduce OM to couples so we have a reference point for talking about the issues that come up between them.
As a coach, I've found that if I can be more authentic, then I can take more risks because I know I'll be able to hold the sensation of either rejection or attention. So I can say things to people that are more direct, which gives me opportunities. I'm still a pharmacist, but my coaching business has been so successful that my income has shot up. It's proof that OM, besides transforming people internally, has practical effects in the world.