In 2013, my depression went away and I haven’t been depressed since. I’ve learned to relax into my body, rather than retract and be afraid of it.
When I first heard about Orgasmic Meditation, it was 2012 and I’d been suicidal for six months. I didn’t dare tell anyone about it, but I did agree to go to an ecstatic dance class with a friend of mine, which should have been a clue that something was off. I come from a very scientific background, so ecstatic dancing and meditation always seemed way too ‘woo woo’ for me. But my friends, who did it, all seemed to be happy. So, I thought I’d give it a try.
All I remember from that night was the moment my friend started talking about this thing called OM. When he said the word ‘clitoris’ I remember feeling as if the skin on my arms was crawling. I wanted to scratch and peel off my skin and an intense heat spread all over my body. I’d always thought of myself as open-minded, but I was shocked. I wanted to run away.
In those days, I would feel depression in my stomach and in my shoulders. My stomach would cramp and my shoulders would get tense. I always felt as if I wanted to run away, to protect my stomach. At work, my perception was that I was expected to be one of the pack. I perceived that in science, weakness is not tolerated and it was an aggressive environment.
Relationship-wise, I was obsessed with a guy who I considered my intellectual inferior. I didn’t think I should be so attracted to him. We’d have one-off sexual encounters, but I wanted to make it more serious. He was happy seeing lots of woman and this was a big blow to my ego. I felt too ashamed to feel like this. I had a lot of shame issues. At work, I’d learned a way to cry at my computer so nobody would notice. The only person who did was a 16-year-old intern who messaged me one day and asked if I was okay. At parties, I was known as the life and soul. So, I’d be the life and soul and then I’d go to the loo, have a cry, and come out again.
During my depression, I’d spent time working out how I was going to buy life insurance, play the happy person for another year, and then go on a cruise and jump over the side of the ship so it would look like an accident. I’d read that drowning was painful, so I was still researching which were the best drugs to take. I wanted the money to go to my parents and I didn’t want to upset them with the knowledge that it was suicide, because my sister drowned when she was four and I was six.
I finally decided to go to an introductory OM course in 2013. First, I went to a lecture put on by the OM teachers. I was petrified when I arrived at the OM event. I expected everyone to be hippies, but I found a group of people who were curious, gentle, and kind. Something in me relaxed and all of a sudden I was able to say to a bunch of strangers that I was deeply depressed.
By the time I arrived at my first class, a shift had happened. I didn’t feel so confronted. I’d done yoga before, but that had felt very competitive. I have great agility, but I never had a feeling of connecting with my body. I’d tense up a lot and if you are depressed you are already very tense in your body. My shoulders were tense all the time.
As I settled onto the yoga mat and into the nest, I felt that just being there was enough. I had expected to feel very little in my first OM, but actually my whole body ignited with warmth. I quickly understood that I wanted to practice OM frequently.
After six months of OMing, I realized that I’d never climaxed sexually in my life. I’d had a few peaks of sensation that I always took for climax, but I naturally have a lot of sensation in my body with very gentle touch. I’ve never used vibrators, as I’m so sensitive. OM helped me develop that capacity, to tune into my sensitivity and take it further. Some days, I started to feel connected to my stroker. I knew he was feeling what I was feeling. I could feel, too, when a stroker was tense. I’d no idea why this was happening. Understanding this was hard for someone who had learned to rely on science.
A gentleness started to infuse my body. I didn’t go one day from super tense to super relaxed; it was gradual. But my depression started lifting. My stomach felt happier. Then, two years into my practice, a deeper change happened. I OMed with a friend and reached a new level of awareness in my body. Up until then, I’d had electric sensations and my body would vibrate. This time, the vibrations went into a solid throb and my body stayed very still. My awareness grew to fill the room and I felt everyone in the room in my body. I heard a ‘boom, boom’ sound. I felt nauseous. I had to breathe and relax just to feel it. I heard my stroker friend gasp as well. Afterwards, when we shared frames of what we’d felt during the OM, we realized we’d had an extraordinary experience.
It was the first time I’d truly relaxed, which is why I went to that place. Before, I’d have engaged my mind. Stopped the process. Thought the noise was the wind or a train—not that it was my body.
I feel things are getting better and better. There’s a sense of positivity. Now that I feel more connected, I don’t feel a need to drink heavily or go to parties all the time. I still feel fear sometimes. But now I know that the minute my body tenses, I need to slow down and sit with my feeling until it changes into something else.
In 2013, my depression went away and I haven’t been depressed since. I’ve learned to relax into my body, rather than retract and be afraid of it. I’ve learned to trust it—to believe I can come out on the other side of any experience.
Bernadette is a 40-year-old, Mexican woman who lives in London and works as a writer, coach, and mentor.