Rewiring My Ability to Receive

BY RACHEL KASTNER

“Who are these men?” I remember thinking, the first time I heard about Orgasmic Meditation. I was skeptical. My friend who was telling me about the practice works in violence prevention and reproductive justice, so I knew it had to be safe. But it still took me two months of watching her walk around in this constant state of glowing from the inside out to finally say, “Okay, fine. I’ll have what she’s having.”

I was uneasy going into my first OM. I remember asking my friend, “What if I cry? Oh my God, what if I fart?!?” She laughed, and was like, “Both are totally fine. DON’T WORRY.”

My first OM partner was so warm and accepting. This helped immediately. But I still remember feeling uncomfortable until about midway through that OM. I took a deep breath, focused on the sensation, and started to weep.

That OM was almost a year to the day after I had finally left the 5-year abusive nightmare that was my most recent relationship. That day that I finally left, I was making out with my ex, and he was stroking me. I was simply receiving, and he stopped and looked up at me. I asked him if everything was okay. He rolled his eyes and said, “What is this, the Rachel lies on her back show?” I guess I wasn’t reciprocating enough for his taste. I started crying then, too.

So here I was, a year later, on my back again, being stroked again. Crying again. But this man was just staying with whatever came out. Not expecting anything, and not walking away. It was such a deeply powerful experience. It reminded me that there are good men. It reminded me that in this moment, in this practice, I am safe.

One of my first sexual experiences was one that I didn’t want to have. I was young, and it was with someone I knew from high school. That was my whole orientation to sexual consent, just this sense of, ‘Wow, what I want doesn’t matter. The boundaries I put up won’t be recognized.’ It was the first stop in what would become a long pattern of feeling silenced, sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally, in my relationships with men.

Thus, I was distrustful of the men involved in OM at first. I was distrustful of men, period, but OM felt immediately different. Just having a clear beginning and end created a real sense of safety for me. Boundaries can so easily be lost in sex-and-consent-land, but not in OM. There’s a bell, an actual bell, that tells you when to start and stop. The stroker puts on gloves, which really reminds me that this experience is mine. I get to own it. And it’s the same every time. Having experienced sexual trauma, it’s almost impossible to know what’s your yes and what’s your no. Building a sense of safety and consistency has been really grounding for me.

Knowing that my adjustments would be respected, I’ve begun making more of them. Which, as someone who has spent so much of her life in relationships feeling silenced, was huge. It’s translated to everything, even seemingly small places like making sure I get the almond milk I asked for in my iced coffee at Starbucks.

I feel a certain power returning to me that I never knew I’d lost. Back in college, I studied theater, and I still remember the senior showcase. We all went to New York to be seen by all these agents. I’ve always had body issues, a deep sense that I am not what people want, and that showcase was the magnification of all my insecurities. I got to see firsthand the reality that the stereotypical image of beauty would get called back time after time, while I was casually passed by. I think, at one point, somebody said, “Don’t worry, you’re the funky ethnic looking one!” Somehow, somewhere, I lost that sense of the divine feminine. I wonder how.

OM has reawakened the knowledge that I am part of something much greater than myself. I feel connected to the earth, almost as if my clitoris is rooted in the ground, but also somehow in the sky above me. I’ve gone from not wanting to live, in my last relationship, to an understanding that, you know what? I’m pretty great. For the first time, I’m not worried about how I look while I’m having sex, or if I’m doing a good enough “job.” For the first time, I can leave my head and receive.

I got a new job this past year teaching creative movement to kindergartners. A month and a half into the job, I threw my back out so badly I couldn’t move for three and a half weeks. I’d had back issues for 7 years, and I finally found out that I had 2 herniated disks. I’m very interested in how our bodies hold stories. I believe there are emotional aspects to what our bodies do physically. I did some research and came across something that said one of the disks I’d herniated was related to an inability to receive pleasure.

This struck home. The shitty things I’d experienced. The trauma of that sexual assault, of my ex-boyfriend’s expectations and disrespect. So, I OMed. Laying down on my back was pretty much all I could do anyway, so hey, why not? Every time I would stand up after an OM, my pain was gone. Eventually, the pain went away. It hasn’t been back since. Just because I learned how to lay back, feel, receive, and heal.