Healing My Relationships with MenBY ANDREA HYLEN
My body was streaming with sexual feelings and I didn't know what to do with them. I hadn't had sex for eight years, since the death of my husband. Picking someone up at a bar and having drunken sex had no appeal for me. When I confided in a friend, he told me about Orgasmic Meditation. I did some research, and what I learned had me think the practice had the potential to heal the world.
After my husband died, my youngest daughter and I moved to California, and I tried to figure out what was next in my life. I wasn't in a community where I was naturally getting hugs. Not only was I not in a relationship, but I was living with a seventeen-year-old who wasn't interested in physical contact with her mother. The lack of physical touch was hard for me.
The first time I OMed, I felt good as soon as I lay down in the nest of pillows, and the stroker sat beside me. It was comforting to have his leg touching my leg.
At the time, I had recently started a business called Heal My Voice, helping women write stories about trauma, loss, and grief. The hope was that they would reclaim their power through telling their stories and then move into leadership roles in their homes, businesses, in the world. Having lost a brother, a son, and a husband, I was using my experience of grief to guide my clients through their writing. I had also been hosting radio shows, where I was talking about the power of grief.
When I started OMing, I connected with a man I would OM with twice every Saturday. In the midst of my twenty-fourth OM, I had a moment when I said, “I feel so sad. I feel like I'm going to cry,” and he said, “Let it out.” I sobbed through the rest of the session, grief pouring through my body.
I believe the clitoris stores energy and emotions that stroking can release, but you can't do it yourself. The catalyst is the vulnerability of the connection with a partner. I've OMed with men who have sobbed throughout our session, and it was always someone who'd lost a spouse and was grieving.
While crying that day, I yelled out, “Don't leave me!” And my partner said, “I'm right here.” When we had our second OM, it left me feeling smoothed out. Afterwards, I said, “I've never had a man who could hold that much of my emotion.” He said, “I've never had a woman who would let me.” That was the start of healing my relationships with men.
I hadn't realized how much I feared men and held back from them. I had friends who were men, and I'd been in relationships with men, but there was an underlying fear that they couldn't really handle the extent of my joy or my sadness. One of the things that OM gave me was the trust that men can show up in a fully responsive way.
OM also taught me not to be a people pleaser. The way a session is set up, I have to ask for what I want, using my voice to request a lighter stroke, a heavier stroke, a move to the left or the right. The stroker might offer a different kind of stroke, asking if that's what I want. The communication is neutral and matter-of-fact. It helped me learn to use my voice in other situations where I would ordinarily be afraid to speak up. At one point, I was in a living situation where someone was taking advantage of my generosity, and I was able to stand up for myself.
Another OM lesson had to do with accepting emotions. I'd been working with women for two years, handling their powerful feelings. After I'd been OMing for a while, I noticed that I tended to close down to certain emotions in my clients. I saw jealousy as bad. If anger came up, I tried to get through it as quickly as possible. But as OMing gave me the experience of holding more emotion in my body, I realized jealousy is connected to desire. It's a clue. It's not a bad thing. Anger is a clue. Fear is a clue. This insight changed the way I coach and the way I hold people's feelings.
When I'm working with women who've had trauma, sometimes their anger gets directed at me. I learned to say, “Bring it on.” I stopped taking things personally when I was able to hold a wider range of emotion. Heal My Voice is a nonprofit with a small board of directors, and the women on the board commented on how I was changing.
When people were polarized by the 2016 election, I found myself being a voice of reason. Instead of getting involved with name-calling and anger, I would ask people why they had such strong opinions about various political topics. By listening and being able to take in their emotions, I was able to change the dialogue. My business expanded, and I became capable of a new range of conversations.
Besides teaching me lessons, OM continues to be a source of nourishment. One of my favorite steps in a session is the noticing step, when the stroker looks at the strokee's genitals and describes what he sees. It gives men full permission to really look at a woman's private parts, creating intimacy and connection. I like hearing about a part of my body that I don't ordinarily get to see.
Sometimes for a month or two, all my OMs are filled with a blissful stillness. There's a release of tension, but there's no climax or heat. Other times, the minute the stroker touches my thighs in the grounding step, I feel energy and excitement rising in my body. And I can have both kinds of OMs with the same person. What gets nurtured in the OM is exactly what I need at that moment.