Becoming VisibleBY HEATHER
Growing up, visibility was a big issue for me. All my life I felt largely unseen. It was so bad that walking down a city street people would run into me because they just didn't see me. I didn't like being invisible, but, frankly, I didn't like being visible either. I didn't like being seen, and receiving compliments was impossible. I’d worked on this issue with a psychologist, through different arts and through sacred dance, and it had gotten somewhat better. But I still had little confidence and would chronically shrink away from people and withdraw into myself.
I heard about OM and was interested in it for years before finding out more. I had grown comfortable with being invisible and this practice was the opposite of that. It was actually a very persistent friend who finally led me to OM. I moved to Seattle, where a friend of mine had started her practice. She invited me to join a couple of intro events where they talk about the practice, and that helped encourage me to take a class on how to OM.
In my very first OM I felt like I was taking a huge risk of being seen completely in a way that that doesn't normally happen. But the most frightening moment for me was not being physically exposed. It was the moment where the stroker does the noticing step. Much to my surprise and relief, noticing statements aren't judgmental, and I found them to be profoundly healing. Experiencing this neutral noticing of my genitals, everything just clicked and fell into place. I felt like I’d spent two years in traditional therapy just to get to the point of having that experience. It was that powerful for me. After that moment, my major work in OM involved getting used to being acknowledged without judgment—without good statements or bad statements.
It was such a huge shift being able to feel more, to be more present and tolerate being seen. A really big moment came one day not long after learning to OM where I walked out of a building onto the street and someone looked up and saw me. It was a man, and he actually looked at me and took me in. It was so profound. No one had ever done that before. Because I was no longer afraid to be seen, because I was no longer pulling my energy in, because I was being present in my body, suddenly people were seeing me; noticing me.
The next really big piece of the puzzle for me was connecting with sensation. There's so much we, as women, are not taught about our bodies. I was raised in a strict religious household, and sexual knowledge, body knowledge, was taboo. After OM I became really curious about sensation and what my body was feeling, how I felt things and why I felt them and about my sexuality. I realized I had spent my whole life thinking about my body as a bunch of disconnected parts and pieces without ever connecting them in my mind very much. I had no idea that the female reproductive organs comprise a whole system and that there is a direct connection between the brain and a woman’s genitalia. It was really profound for me to acknowledge the kind of wisdom the body contains—wisdom that I'd been missing out on my whole life.
Understanding that I can be my full self out in the world and that I don't have to cut off my sexuality—that it’s part of who I am, part of my creativity and part of how I connect with the world, all of which makes life that much more vibrant—was a profound experience.
As my acceptance of my body increased, so did my confidence. Simultaneously, my fear of doing new things decreased. Because I was no longer hiding parts of myself, I began connecting with people in a way that was more authentic. I experienced more ease navigating social situations. Where before I was unable to make changes and ask for things without a lot of anxiety and self-judgment, learning to respond and direct my strokers gave me the confidence to actively make requests of people out in the world. Now, day to day, I'm thinking, “What do I want? Do I want to ask for a shift?” in a wide variety of situations.
The more I release old guilt and shame and judgment the more uplifted I feel. For me, with OM, it is easy to make breakthroughs at least twice as fast as using talk therapy. Physically experiencing releases and sensations in the moment and connecting them with other body sensations and insights is really powerful medicine. There's a lot of work that happens within OM in an internal, nonverbal way. If you are like me and had wounding that happened when you were a young child before your verbal skills got developed, OM is especially powerful.
I’ve also found that journaling after each OM session really pulls all the pieces together for me. And making collages is a great way for insights to show up visually. Often after an OM session I will journal before even driving home from my stroker’s house. I go to my car and write down all my immediate thoughts and impressions. Then I go home, sit down, and do a collage. And then, after a couple of weeks, I read back over my notes and look at the collage and really take the feedback in. It truly helps deepen the practice.