The Desire Needs No Other JustificationBY STEFANIA BRANDNER
I grew up being talked out of my dreams.
I was raised in a small town in northern British Columbia. It was a remote community, and a conservative one. Not conservative in the ultra-religious sense, but in the way that it put strict limits on what you were allowed to want.
For as long as I can remember, I had to justify and explain why I should want the things I desired. For example, when I was about seven, I saw the movie Legally Blonde. I had this instant affinity for Harvard Law School. I didn’t fully understand what law school entailed, but it just seemed perfect for me. I announced to my family I was going to be a Harvard educated lawyer. My mother turned to me, and asked, “Do you have any idea how expensive Harvard is? Do you think you have the grades for it? You’re going to need a lot of money to make this happen.” I was seven, but the takeaway was clear: I had to make a logical case for anything I wanted.
I learned to anticipate the doubts and questions. When I was 13, I wanted an iPod more than anything. So, I got a job first – just so I wouldn’t be asked, “Where are you going to get that money?” I became more and more rigid, thinking about how to control each and every scenario. It was exhausting, and I felt defeated every time I was questioned. I didn’t feel as if anyone had my back, either, except for my grandfather.
By the time I turned 18, I was conditioned to overwork my mind, my body, and my spirit. My family had urged me to be practical, and to pursue a degree in business to guarantee I’d make good money. I went off to university, and it was a disaster. I spent ten years working on my degree, and I couldn’t get through it. It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle the work – it was because it wasn’t right for me. I was so shut down to what was right for me, though, that I couldn’t see the real nature of the problem. I just kept banging my head against the wall.
Then my grandfather died. He had been my most loyal advocate, the only person in my life who had believed in me unconditionally. I was inconsolable for a while, and when the pain started to lift a little bit, I felt this urge to make a change. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew I needed to go away for a while. I ended up picking L.A. almost at random, which was utterly out of character for me. Perhaps I knew that’s what I needed.
I had a few friends in L.A, and one night went out to dinner with them – and they told me they had just started doing this practice called Orgasmic Meditation. They had some ambivalence about it and were talking it through. Just listening to them, I felt this deep curiosity to learn more. I didn’t want to process through their opinions, I wanted to understand what OM was really about. Unfortunately, I had to go back to Canada before I could try my first OM, but the interest within me only grew.
I eventually found some people who were practicing OM in Vancouver, and they told me about an upcoming opportunity to learn about the practice. I remember the morning before that first workshop, and I was hesitating – then I thought of my grandfather. I knew I wouldn’t want to explain the details of OM to him, but I also knew that he wanted me to go. I could almost feel him pushing me out the door. He always pushed me to do the right thing, and I could feel his blessing on this.
The workshop facilitators walked in that morning and I felt my whole body tremble as something seemed to have filled up the room. Whatever these women have, I thought to myself, that’s what I want. And a little while later, I had my first OM – and I was momentarily much less sure that this was what I wanted. I felt incredibly vulnerable, and it had very little to do with the fact that I’d taken my pants off.
All of me felt exposed. Before that moment, I had always approached physical intimacy with the mindset, You can have my body, but you aren’t getting me. I would eventually realize that there’s no faking in OM, and no possibility of putting up a wall. You can’t pretend in this practice. You can fake an orgasm and pretend to climax in other contexts, but in OM, it’s something people can feel, even taste. The body will not lie for you. The sex I’d had was a way to protect my heart, and OM – from the beginning – was a practice that revealed my heart. I remember after that first OM, I understood why I’d felt my grandfather pushing me so hard to go. He knew my heart, and he knew it needed to be opened to the world.
The more I practice, the more I concentrate on it as meditation. It’s one thing to sit quietly alone on a mat and meditate; it’s very different when someone else is actively stimulating your body. This presents a great challenge – how do I stay conscious and connected with the sensation while I’m being stimulated? It’s easy to stay in my body when I’m in solitude. With OM, I might have a partner who smells a certain way that throws me off, or maybe I could get distracted by how he breathes. These challenges are ideal, though – because it helps you understand how to connect even when the environment is so clearly out of your control. OM equips you to stay attuned anywhere.
I wrote at the beginning that I grew up feeling I had to justify every desire I had. OM released me from that trap. I can name what I want, and I don’t have to torture myself with explaining why this desire makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t make logical sense. I can want things, and have things, and I don’t have to give grounds to anyone for why I want them. Lately, I’ve decided I want a Burmese Mountain dog. These are huge animals, and they’re expensive; they eat a ton. Given where I live, it would make more sense to get a little spaniel or a terrier, but those aren’t what I want.
Burmese Mountain dogs are enormous – just like my desire. They’re these great big playful, loving, ravenous creatures, just like I’ve accepted I am. My boyfriend suggested that maybe I breed them, so I can get a return on the investment I’ll be making. I told him that I wasn’t interested in making that kind of calculation. Sometimes, I said, the desire is just the desire. It doesn’t need an explanation. He looked kind of stumped, but it felt so good to say that. My desire doesn’t need an explanation, and it doesn’t need to turn a profit. It just gets to be. That’s all the work of OM in my life.