I Am More Adaptable with My Wife

BY RAYMOND JOHNSON

The yoga class was ending, as always, with the students coming out of the corpse pose, the final relaxation. That is, most of the students. “Start to move your fingers and toes,” said the teacher, “and when you're ready, roll to one side and sit up.” But I wasn't ready. I felt so calm yet alive, lying flat and still on the floor, focusing on my breath as it flowed in and out, gently expanding and contracting my chest. The tingling energy generated in my body by the class was washing up and down on the tide of the breath. 

“Guys have a tendency to want to win,” the teacher had told me six months earlier, “but there's no winning in yoga. That's not how it works. Yoga is really about connecting with the breath.”

I didn't pay much attention at first because I had always been an athlete, trying to win at soccer, cricket, rugby, all kinds of sports, until I tore up my knee. Yoga was part of my rehab, and at first I took an athletic approach to it. But eventually, I decided to listen to my teacher and really put my attention on the breath. For the whole sixty minutes of the class, I spent every second practicing breathing. It was a breakthrough moment for me, because I'd never really been aware of breathing. I just took it for granted. The change in focus started a shift in me, which led to those long sessions of the corpse pose. I was learning about the capacities of my body for sensation and flow.

When someone told me about OM, I immediately felt drawn to it. I love the meditative aspect of yoga, but I had also stumbled across something that provided a practical way to explore.

Instead of focusing on the breath, in OM I focus on stroking the spot of highest sensation on my partner’s clitoris, while observing the sensations in my own body. We can maintain our connection only if I stay present, consistently bringing my mind back from any thoughts or objectives that try to impose themselves. Just like with yoga, it took me a while to understand OMing and to accept it as a goalless practice. I'm not trying to achieve anything, to become a better stroker or have more women or bring someone to climax. It's about the discipline of focus and presence, rather than about pursuing a specific outcome. If the practice is truly goalless, then nothing that happens can be bad. It's all just learning.  

I have always tended to be achievement-oriented. If I played a game and scored a goal or won, I felt totally different from when I didn't score or win. OM's focus on the present taught me to be more in the moment in everything I do, including sports, and helped me just enjoy each experience.

I have always liked being on a team, especially when I am the leader of the team, saying, “What can I do to bring the best out of each person?”  One of my weaknesses is that I don't do very well at receiving. I thrive on making other people happy. But I seldom ask for things for myself, and I feel guilt when people do things for me or compliment me. I prefer to be the giver in all situations. But because of my sports injuries, I am not physically very flexible, so sitting on cushions with my legs in the OMing position, I was uncomfortable. So I had to ask for adjustments in the way I sat, and that was hard for me to do. It forced me to learn to ask for something for myself.

I had a lot of guilt about not having any major problems. My family was stable when I was growing up, not a lot of struggle to speak of. I felt an obligation to give a lot to people because I'd been so fortunate. But then I would allow them to drain me of money, time, attention, and I would have nothing to fill me back up. That need to ask for something for myself in OM helped me learn to set boundaries with people. I can still be a giving, caring person, but there are times where I have to tell myself it's okay to stop. 

It was a great relief to find that in an OM, there's no pressure to be reciprocal. Sometimes in sex, there's the feeling that you've done something for me and therefore I should do something for you, whether I want to or not. In OM, you just follow the straightforward rules of the container. Both partners are focused on the “spot” and on their own sensations. Even at the very end of the OM, where both partners share frames, you don't owe each other a certain kind of response. You each transmit a moment you felt something at the level of sensation in your own body, without any sort of judgment. So if I say, “There was a moment I felt a warm tingling sensation in my heart,” my partner doesn't have to say, “Okay, tell me more about that. When did that happen?” She just says, “Thank you.” I like being able to share without having to enter into a discussion about it.

My OM practice has had a big effect on my marriage. I've become a lot more adaptable and fluid in my interactions with my wife. In the past, if she said she didn't like something I did and wanted me to behave differently, I would argue with her and try to change her mind. But now I've seen how adjustments work in OM, how helpful it is for my partner to ask for a change in how I'm stroking. When I do what she asks for, the energy between us responds. It helps keep me on the spot throughout the OM. In daily life with my wife, I can accept what she's asking for too. Instead of arguing, I can say, “Okay, thank you. I'll try to do that.” 

I believe OM could change the world if more people embraced it. We all have bodies. We were born naked. We should be able to express our sexuality without cheating on our partners and without depleting our energy. If people were able to make that distinction, they would be better at managing themselves. We would have better interactions, and our lives would be a lot more fulfilling.