Wow, I Look Great!

BY CARA JOY

I have never looked the way I thought I should; I’ve tried every diet plan, every workout routine, to try to change that. Not liking my body has negatively impacted every aspect of my life—my sex life, dating, even my career. I have been insecure, unhappy, and unable to be myself.

At the age of thirty-six I was in a relationship with someone with whom I felt bored and unfulfilled. I was running a farm with him in Vermont and was unhappy with that too. But I was stuck. I didn’t know how to get out of either situation and didn’t believe I had options.

Then, one day, I read a magazine article about the founder of OM. She was talking about how women could access their power and desire through OM. Having been raised a Christian, I had always been very repressed even though I wasn’t very devout. The idea that my body held wisdom and had value was new to me, and it almost sounded too good to be true. I also secretly hoped that OM would help me lose weight. The article talked about the fact that women try to satisfy their deeper hunger with things like food, shopping and exerting control. I thought maybe OM could help me stop eating too much as well as helping me access my femininity, which was a mystery to me at the time.

I asked my boyfriend if he would OM with me and he said no. If I’d been unhappy before, his attitude only underscored my feeling that the relationship wasn’t working. This guy was not going to keep growing with me; we were clearly on different paths and parted ways.

I knew that whomever I dated next would have to want to try OM with me. Somehow that became my way of determining if someone was right for me. If he wanted to try OM, it would mean he was open-minded, wanted to grow, wanted to try something new, something different. It would mean we were on the same page.

In the end, I wound up meeting my now-husband, Matt, at a Spring Equinox party. At first I thought, “No way! This guy is a nerd.” I liked guys who worked on cars not computers! But there was something attractive about him.

We started dating but took things slowly, building the foundation of a relationship on friendship. Initially, there didn’t seem to be any chemistry between us, but, as it turned out, there was a lot of chemistry. It was just of the slow burn variety. I asked Matt to OM with me after just two weeks of dating. After my ex-boyfriends’ rejection, I was nervous to ask, so I sent him an email instead of calling or asking in person. He said yes. Actually, he not only said yes, he said, “Yes, I’ve been looking for something like this my whole life.” I thought, Oh my God, this guy is a keeper!

The thing that struck me the most when we first started the practice was having a man look at my genitals so directly in the light of day. Because I was so self-conscious about my body, I had always made sure I kept my belly covered or zipped in, made sure the lights were low during sex, and generally tried to make sure I looked “right” and sounded “right.” The noticing step terrified me going into that first OM. But when we did it, it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be. I even felt brave and somehow rebellious letting someone notice my genitals with the lights on. All my life, when I looked in the mirror, all I thought about was what I would change about myself. Letting someone see me as I actually am made me feel empowered. It helped my self-esteem and helped me improve my relationship to my body. I started to see that my body is how it is and it’s awesome, it doesn’t need to be any other way.

One reason I had wanted to OM was that I thought it might help me climax in sex, something with which I’d always had a hard time and about which I’d always been ashamed. What OM did was to take the pressure off, because climaxing is not part of the practice. If it happens, that’s fine, but it’s not the point. The point is to relax into it and feel whatever feelings occur. As it turned out, I was ultimately able to climax more easily in sex because I relaxed enough to let go of the need to control what was (or wasn’t) happening.

With OM, in order to open and feel sensation, I really had to listen to my body. I had always treated my body like my slave, telling it what to do. And I was actually kind of annoyed by it because it never really did what I asked! Having to listen to it changed my point of focus from my head to my body. And it totally changed my relationship with hunger. Previously, my brain would tell me what I should eat, when I should sleep, what I should wear, who I should spend time with. Now I was letting my body decide. I was trusting my body to know. When I trusted it in OM, there was always more sensation, so I learned to also trust it in life.

I remember that, a year or so into OMing, I was looking in a mirror at a clothing store thinking, Wow, I look great! Not, my thighs are too big, my stomach is too big. Just, wow, I look great. I was with a friend who was also looking in the mirror and complaining about everything she hated about herself. I thought, “Oh my god, I used to be her.” OM did that. It taught me how to love my body, to love its wisdom and its ability to feel. OM showed me how beautiful and powerful my body is. It is my compass in life. OM showed me how to appreciate it and use it well.