Learning to show up for myself through slowing down and listening to my bodyBY HEATHER
I had been on a spiritual search most of my life when I came upon OM. I read a book about it and took a year to think about whether I wanted to try it. It felt important and like it might fill a gap in my spiritual practice, but it took a while to wrap my head around it all. I needed to talk with my partner and get some good arguments going around doing this practice, which was a bit outside of the mainstream. I was looking for something to help me find healing about issues with sexuality, and to find a practice that involved a regular expression of sexuality in life and in marriage.
I consider myself a loving person, but not in a particularly sexual way. I felt a yearning for healing my disconnection to my own energy, which I shut down a lot. I was living a normal life, working a lot, but this one important aspect needed attention. I recall when I read about OM feeling like I might finally be able to get back in my own body and experience the pleasure of being in the moment with the sensations that arose. I liked that as a goal, because it felt like a very healing space to be in.
OM’s vision of connectedness and intimacy within a practice was appealing. It was also a little terrifying in the beginning, thinking “Oh, my God, I’m gonna do WHAT?” I do have this part of my personality that thought it wasn’t weird and I was going to go for it.
The first time I tried OM was super scary. I learned the set up and really had to work up my courage to ask someone. At that time, I could set up three OMs in one day. I was very self-conscious and didn’t sink into it much yet, but it was really enjoyable. I liked the structure of it all. I think the structure helps you to relax over time and sink more into the experience.
After a while, I noticed a few things that really shifted. One of them was about finding more of my voice and being able to ask for an adjustment. And they just say thank you, there's not an argument. You don’t have to stand on a mountaintop and scream about it, you just say, “a little to the left.” Some partners listen better than others about that kind of thing. Just to be able to ask was huge, because that's been an edge in my sexual life. It's still something I'm practicing. I tend to get into a really non-verbal place. I generally will ask for an adjustment if something feels off, and I also I think there's something really beautiful in just seeing where it goes.
OM also helped me show up more in my life. Giving myself permission in one area opens permission to another. What if I could ask for that kind of thing at work? Or in my marriage? Or with my kid? An example would be in my marriage. I am better about asking for something a lot of times, because things trip us up in our communication styles. She may say something to me in an abrupt, sharp way. And I've gotten better at being able to say, “could you say that a little softer?” Telling her I don't have an issue with the content of what she’s saying, just the tone. I'm getting better at how I am reactive to the energy of the tone.
I also learned how to be in my body and track the sensations. I’m a mental person and I had to learn to focus on the sensation without interpreting it. Now when someone asks me how I feel, I notice what my body is experiencing, like a heavy pressure in my shoulder area, and I can say that. I also love the radical notion that following the most pleasurable sensation is the point of the practice. We are so trained in scarcity and that what we want is enough, that we don’t go for the most pleasure. Even at work I can find that place of ease and pleasure within my body and follow that. It is a different way of orienting and aligning so that everything feels good, not as if it is going sideways.
In my life, I equate this with food. Eating and slowing down, savoring and tracking the sensations, and asking what really feeds me and what am I really hungering for. I've spent an enormous amount of my life following the rules about food, then realizing those rules don’t work. Then following another set of rules about food. I had to learn to trust my body to tell me through pleasure what I should do and not do to feel something pleasurable.
I notice this, too, when I am teaching. I have to check in as to how it feels in my body, and if it feels good, there is flow present. Maybe I need to slow down in one area, because usually it's about me going too fast. I teach high school math and I get excited about it, and then we're going too fast. And then they're tense, so if I can feel into my body and track that and remember learning is supposed to be a joyful experience, it makes it a better experience for everyone. This is important to me because teaching is my calling. It feeds my heart and soul, and I can be better as a person, and as a teacher. If I am comfortable in my own body and my sexuality, I feel that comfort radiate into the space I am teaching in. If my students ask me now what I think about a topic or subject, I can answer from a place of being real with them, which sometimes surprises them.
With my relationship to my wife, OM helped tremendously. I think I chose her because she knew I didn’t want to be pushed in the area of sexuality, and that I needed some space to do my healing work around it. There were years in the past when I was angry with her because that wasn’t something that she wanted. She’s older than me. She went through menopause early. And she just said, “Yeah, I feel like I'm done with sex.” I was really mad at her, and that was hard on our relationship. Finding OM and finding a way to have a practice that helped my sexual flow brought that sort of orgasmic energy back into my life in a way she was fine with. That made a huge difference and I was no longer angry. The affection returned, in more of a platonic way, but that was an enormous shift. It helped take the weight off of her to feed that hunger in me. It was unfair for me to try to force somebody into a sexuality where they are just not in that same place. I want to respect people where they are, and OM did that for us. It took a lot of negotiating, but it is working very well and has been a gift.
A few months ago, I realized how frustrated I was that I didn’t have OM in my life anymore because of the pandemic. I wasn’t in a good space and was having some interesting dreams. I pay attention to that kind of thing. I reached out to an OM partner who I knew and asked if he would be willing to do protocoled OMs. He was willing to and the first time back in the nest, my body just felt so happy. The next day, I sent him a text saying I hadn't realized how much I missed OM until I did it again. He said he felt the same way. It taught me to just breathe into the vulnerability of asking because it can be scary. And to accept whatever the response is. I feel very blessed and happy to have OM back in my life.