The Goth StrokerBY STEVEN SCHAUMBERG
I was always a bit of a misfit. I did not do well at school, particularly socially. I couldn’t wait to get out. If I’d been born 30 years later, I would have had my ADHD diagnosed – but growing up in the 1970s, I was just dismissed as difficult. I was convinced there was something wrong with me, and the way my teachers and family treated me reinforced that belief.
I spent a lot of my life looking for a place where I could belong. The first place I remember fitting in was in the punk rock scene of 40 years ago. I found friendship and closeness there; the scene was like a family. That segued into becoming a Goth, and that was an even more tightly knit bunch. We were all misfits; most of us had been thrown out and rejected and ignored and then found each other. I’ve always looked for those sorts of people. The coming of the internet in the late ‘90s made it much easier to find groups of the like-minded. It was so good to have this tool for finding people who were kind, accepting, and who loved life.
As I got older, I became especially interested in people who worked in the intersection of sex and spirituality. I explored BDSM and certain types of yoga and went down many rabbit holes. Eventually, I heard someone mention Orgasmic Meditation, and that sounded instantly interesting. I did some research and went to check it out.
My first OM happened before I was properly ready. I hadn’t had any training, but at my first OM workshop, a woman walked up and asked me if I’d like to try with her. I was nervous, of course, particularly as I started to stroke her. A moment or two later, I felt like I’d stepped into a scene from the Matrix. I felt as if this program had been put into me, and all of a sudden, I knew what to do. That doesn’t mean I magically became a master stroker – it was that I got so clearly what my task was with this woman. You can focus, I remember telling myself, and you can do it for 15 minutes. My attention span could never hold that long, but now, strangely and wonderfully, it could.
The problem when I was just a kid in school had become a problem in every job I’d ever had. I daydreamed my way through tests; I spaced out and lost track of every project I was assigned. It was just part of who I was. I had done the minimum just to get by, convinced I couldn’t do better. In that initial OM, I found focus for the first time in my life. This beautiful energy kept me connected to this woman I had just met, to her body, and to what we were both experiencing.
I’d always been good with numbers. I can do math in my head very easily; I can solve these complicated and detailed equations very quickly. I couldn’t do it on tests, or when asked to at a job; I did it on my own. It only seemed to work in private. I realized that in some ways, OM is all about math. It’s a few square millimeters of finger on a few square millimeters of clitoris, and even the slightest shifts can have huge, rippling consequences. I could see equations fountaining up and out of my finger as I stroked. And I realized, to my amazement, that I was totally focused on this one very small thing, this one very small task, and I wasn’t distracted. The feeling I got from that first OM is the one I still get: the sense that I’m here, completely present.
It became my turn to ask women if they’d like to OM. In my old life, that would have seemed so daunting. The fear of rejection would have been paralyzing. The thing was, I loved what OM did for me, and I saw what it did for others, so asking didn’t make me feel presumptuous. Just saying the words, “Would you like to OM?” became simple instead of overwhelming. I was ready for a yes, and I was completely okay with the occasional no. My heart was open, because I believed so much in the benefit of this practice. I was open to correction and direction, and all I cared about was responding to the “asks” as they came. I realized that if I could be this direct and open and calm about something that was so intimate, I could be direct and calm and open and focused in other things as well.
For many years before OM, the people who loved me and understood me had told me I was selling myself short. They were frustrated to see me doing just enough to get by, dabbling in this or that without ever really finding something I was good at. The people I met through OM were more direct with me, and they had evidence to back up what they were saying. I needed to do more because I could do more; it was time to stop being a “jack of all trades” and find somewhere I could be a master. After a while, my friends both in and out of OM began to push me in one direction: towards being a spiritual teacher.
I was very skeptical. Me, a teacher? Won’t I have to go to some fancy and incredibly expensive institute and pay a fortune to be taught by gurus? I couldn’t see that working. My friends showed me that wasn’t all there was to being a teacher. Because I had so much experience with distraction and lack of focus, they explained, I had a particular empathy and connection with other people who were struggling. Just as I had found lucidity and focus in this one practice, I could help others like me find something similar.
In OM, I found that the distractions are as beautiful as the focusing, but that through the practice, even the distractions always lead you back into the focusing. That simple truth is something I can use and something I can share to help others find the connection, the calm, and the clarity I’ve found.