As a first-generation Chinese American, I grew up being sensitive with little knowledge of what to do with that sensitivity. My parents' first concern was always security—they had lived with the reality of starvation. On the American TV shows I watched, love was equated with acceptance, something my mother and I struggled with daily in our relationship.
My peers provided the acceptance I thought I needed as a young adult. But theirs was a tentative source that kept me from taking the risks necessary to truly access intimacy. I had many friends, but little closeness. I was still a virgin at 23. Joining a startup in San Francisco gave me a faux sense of intrepidness, coolness, and respect.
When both of my grandfathers died, I felt more the shock of death than the loss of the relationships. As scary as intimacy seemed, it now seemed scarier to keep putting it off.
When I found out about Orgasmic Meditation it made sense to me—if I wanted to learn to be intimate what better way than to actually be intimate. By regularly practicing Orgasmic Meditation, touch became a regular part of my life, and so the excitement and comfort of physical connection became less confusing for me.
Years later, I had an active sex life and then a girlfriend. What OM had taught me in the meantime was how to not run away from intimacy. OM also taught me that feelings can arise—from fear to hunger to sadness to pride, even feelings I couldn't name—and I could still stick around. In my relationship, too, we went through every emotion and I could stay.
OM gave me a kind of courage, a knowledge that if you have something to offer you will always be welcome. Over time, my fear of rejection was tempered by the experience of asking someone, with humility, to practice Orgasmic Meditation and being met with a yes.
My relationship also showed me places where I needed to grow. Though I was giving and I stuck around, I still held many parts of myself back. I hid many of my emotions, from anger to joy. I cheated emotionally on her—with porn and emotional intrigue with other women—in my search for ways to express myself. We’d grow apart; fight and rage; make up and hope to never leave the high of our makeup. Of course, that high would always move away, just like the spot of sensation in an OM.
When we broke up, it was devastating. I left the relationship understanding that I needed to express myself in healthier ways.
Inside that inspiration, my life and my OMs felt different. My range of experience was greater, and I seemed to be meeting each moment with more of myself. I remember an OM where I could feel a heart-wrenching sensation that seemed to pull me closer to my partner. I softened and deepened my stroke. As I did so, I could sense a connection between us and my heart skipping a beat to get in sync with hers. Our union could come and go without fear. The lack of fear brought us even closer together. But, like all inspiration, that peak experience didn't last forever.
A year and a half later, my wife and I got engaged. Yet, our sex life was challenged. My old demons of withdrawing had returned. My inability to set my pride aside and admit I wanted her connection nearly dissolved our engagement. I told her I wanted to change, and her own change of heart helped us meet in the middle. From that connected place, we followed through with our marriage.
Today, I am discovering a new fortitude through OMing. I’m realizing that I am enough, and that realization is showing me the present moment is enough. In an OM, I practice resting my attention. For example, if she flinches, my initial habit would be to defend myself by mentally blaming her for the flinch. I can instead acknowledge my fear, then return to a state of mental openness. I don't yet know what her flinch means. Is it pain? Is the pain good or bad? Is it a shock indicating a more sensational spot? Is it simply a temporary feeling that has already passed? The only way I’ll know is if I return my attention to her with my eyes, my emotional sensitivity, and with the adjustments of my stroking finger. Through this practice, I learn that in each moment I am enough, I have enough, despite what I may have been taught or believed in the past.
As I take this refined sensory skill and new attitude of enoughness into my life, I notice a deeper honesty with life. I more readily contribute that depth to my relationships, from my marriage to my friendships and my mentor relationships. They all feel more alive, with a mutuality and respect. Life unfolds as an adventure and a gift and I find myself constantly remarking, "Wow, life is an amazing opportunity!"
Kenan is a 32-year-old editor who travels with clients.