My Internal Landscape Revealed Itself to MeBY KATHERINE SHELDON
I was a graduate student in a Ph.D. program and had just come out of a 10-year relationship that started in high school. We both were really smart and intellectual and soaked up information like crazy. But in a lot of other areas of our life together and as individuals, we were both kind of dead. We read and we talked and had lots of friends in these big groups of graduate students in different departments at the university, but we didn't seek a lot of enriching experiences beyond that.
Before the breakup I didn't have many deep relationships. In that closed intellectual world there was a lot of snobbishness and looking down on people based on whether they were well read. And as I got out of that relationship and that social circle and started spending time with other kinds of people, I was really delighted. I was almost 30 and out in the dating world again, excited to be meeting different people and having some experiences that were new for me.
I met someone online, and he asked if I would be willing to do something a little bit outside the box for a date. I said, “Sure,” so he took me to an evening of communication games at the place where they taught OM. And I was completely turned on. I loved the energy of the people in the room. I loved the way that the women spoke about their desire. It was like everybody there left all the crap that people usually put on top of their personalities at the door. And since I had been wanting to take some layers of crap off of my own personality, I thought, “This is it. This is where I need to be.”
I started the training and the women in the community were just amazing. They were super grounded, clear and confident and seemed full rather than empty. It wasn't an aggressive confidence either. They just exuded a sort of gentle, but incredibly powerful, expansive sense of their own gravity in the world. And I wanted what they had. So, I just kept showing up until I figured out that I wanted to do the practice of OM for myself.
My first OM I wasn't scared to take my clothes off. I wasn't scared to have someone I didn’t know well touch my genitals. I was scared of what I would feel or not feel. I was scared I would be overwhelmed by sensation, or that I would somehow find out that I was dead or broken sexually. But, during that first session, what surprised me most was how much sensation I felt all over my body, and not just on my clitoris. I felt the stroking and I felt the energy that the stroking was releasing as it came up my spine. Then I felt it in the back of my head as a kind of buzzing pressure. Then it went out into my hands and my thighs. My body felt electrified.
I remembered to breathe into the sensations and moved them around my body, which was awesome. I felt super supported and when it was over I thought, “Okay, when can I do it again?”
About two minutes later, I was back in the nest and my second OM was just as sensational and even more enjoyable because I knew better what to expect. I remember feeling like I had never been fully awake in my life before that moment.
As I got into the practice, initially I had some discomfort around having the stroker hold the container. I felt like I needed to hold the container and set up the nest and clean up the nest afterwards. Without that I felt like I wasn’t doing my part. But the instructors and other more experienced practitioners had assured me it wasn’t my responsibility. And when I let that go, I realized just knowing things were handled was part of what was helping me learn to trust.
During the six or seven years that I was into the practice, I experienced a lot of different things. I was endlessly impressed by how, in the nest, I could experience feelings that I wasn't expecting to experience and that I had never experienced before. Some OMs felt really warm and grounded, humming with a low vibration. Other times I felt like I was touching something eternal and peaceful, like a bass note of some kind. And then I had other OMs where I felt on the high end of floaty and weightless, leaving the constraints of personality and self behind.
It was like an endless process, an infinite process of discovery, moving around, exploring the map of my own body, discovering, “Oh, here's a mountain over here.” And “Oh, here's the seashore and there's a river and there's a valley.” This whole previously unseen landscape of myself was revealing itself to me.
I remember getting back into the OM nest for the first time after a couple of months away, and my body relaxed almost immediately. And I realized that I hadn't felt that relaxed since the last time I'd OMed. Even when I would fall asleep at night, there would be all the mental noise of everyday life, stirring things up. And when I got back into the nest, that was gone. I felt my body open up into total receptivity and relaxation, and I thought, “Oh, God, I missed this so much!”
OM taught me about being present to life. Today I practice with activities that I find sort of uninteresting, like doing the dishes. Now I do dishes like I was OMing. I feel the hot water, I feel the texture, and I get so much pleasure out of dishwashing now, even though I used to think dishwashing was a pain. Now I think dishwashing is the best thing I've ever done. I want to do dishwashing forever. OM taught me that wherever I put my attention I will find so much to celebrate and be grateful for.
Today, I have a much stronger sense of my own desires and preferences—my own identity. I have a stronger sense of which parts of life matter a lot and which parts are totally open for compromise and negotiation. And that has so helped my marriage! We're continually negotiating and renegotiating our boundaries around how we move around in our house. My husband is also an OMer, and we’ve been able to stay close without being totally enmeshed in each other's lives. I don’t think that would have been possible without the practice.
Before OM my world was tiny. Now I realize how much variety of sensation and experience is available just inside my own body. All I had to do was to develop my awareness. It’s taught me that I didn’t have to leave my body to find something else. I didn't have to go looking for some external idea of romance or love or sexual bliss or any of those things, because those things were actually in me all along. It was something I already had. I just had to remember that it was mine.