Opening My Voice

by Piney

I was always generally able to get along with people, but it was hard to get close to anyone. I didn’t have enough trust to let people in. As a young adult, I was supposed to be exploring new experiences, but by my late 20s, I had stopped reaching out into the world because so many things felt too intense to stay engaged with. It seemed safest to withdraw from the world and stay inside myself.

One way I coped was to organize my environment, which is why I went into design and became an architect. As a kid, I spent a lot of my time in my bedroom, constantly rearranging it, painting the walls, and making my own lamps. I took all my negative feelings and poured them into making the world around me look good. I thought if I got everything perfect and created something great in the world, I'd be recognized for it. Then I’d have a community and a place of my own, a beautiful world to inhabit.

Unresolved Relationship Issues

I realized my coping strategy wasn’t working when I bought my first house at the age of 34 with my partner of 17 years. I was with him because he was the one person who seemed to understand and approve of me. He felt like family, which also meant I hated him like family. So many unresolved issues were under the surface, cloaked by a liberal relationship ideology. I didn’t buy into the mainstream idea of romance and partnership. I was an independent woman, and I didn’t need anybody. We lived together because it was economical, but there wasn’t a heartfelt commitment. 

In reality, I was scared. He was the only person I had ever built that level of closeness with, and I didn’t know how to find it anywhere else in the world. He filled a basic need for safety and approval, and we lived in a little bubble.

Discovering Orgasmic Meditation (OM)

When I saw an interview with the founder of OM, I immediately wanted access to what she had. Just listening to her speak about the practice, I felt my whole body light up and come alive. I had a longtime interest in metaphysics and Zen Buddhism, so many of the spiritual concepts weren’t new to me. But the things she was saying about OM and the way she emanated care when she spoke had me feel the connection between “God,” “universal truth,” “goodness,” and my own shadow side I had been avoiding. All the feelings I had labeled bad or not appropriate – anger, resentment, fear – felt like they could find a home in OM. After consuming every possible video online, I decided to try OMing.

I was self-conscious about taking off my pants, so for my first OM, I got my pubic area waxed. It caused a horrible rash, with the hair follicles turning red and puffy. I was afraid it would look like I had a disease. A woman who had experience with OM was giving me advice, and she told me, “It’s no big deal. Just explain to your partner ahead of time what’s going on.” That’s what I did, and it was totally fine. It was my first lesson in being direct, matter-of-fact, and letting go of self-judgment.

Learning to Express Desires

My early OMs felt scratchy and sharp, and I would endure the discomfort. I was getting a lot of energy from the practice, so I kept OMing. It took me a while to realize I wanted the stroking to be softer and slower. I always knew I could ask for that, but I needed time to attune to exactly what my body wanted. When I started making adjustments by asking for a different kind of stroke, my whole body opened, and the level of pleasure deepened. I had taken the first step in learning to express what I wanted.

Expressing the Truth in Relationship

After four months of OMing, I had a serious conversation with my partner, who wasn’t really on board with the practice. We OMed three times together, but it was clear he wasn’t really interested in it. We got into a huge fight; he wanted more from me and felt I wasn’t trying hard enough. I hadn’t been thinking about it or planning what to say, but when I opened my mouth, the truth came out: “I don’t want to be with you. And I don’t want to have children with you.” We were both shocked. We cried for the rest of the day. It was sad, and there was so much energy running through my body because I had told the truth. 

Saying those words made me feel like I had come to life... like I finally existed as a person on the planet. At that moment, and for weeks following, I felt solid and big. Nowadays, I have a level of comfort in my own skin that I never had before. I can communicate authentically, whether it’s talking about myself or speaking up about what I’m experiencing with a near-stranger. In relationships, I can stay with myself rather than being easily knocked out or taking on somebody else’s emotions or opinions. I know what’s good for me in the moment and how to stay true. 

Confidence in Professional Life

At a recent business meeting, I brought a design to show a potential client, and her boyfriend was there. I could tell she’d brought him to be the pants, to be scrupulous and critical and point out things I’d missed. In the past, I would’ve felt defensive, and I would’ve shrunk into withdrawal and been unable to think clearly. Instead, I wasn’t triggered in the least. I could see the service he was providing for her, and I didn't feel victimized. I answered his questions confidently, knowing I had done an excellent job. The client hired me, and it’s been a successful project. 

Growth Through OM

Expressing anger is still challenging. But I have a much shorter timeframe between when I realize that I’m resentful and when I decide I need to say something to the other person. 

I see OM as a practice where I learned softly and slowly to open my body, far enough to be able to listen to what's actually there. It’s created an open channel between the deepest parts of myself and my voice.

Related Stories
Finding Space to Listen
by Ethan Feerst
In my twenties, after working on a low-budget feature film, I turned to developing an underground theater company into a major ... see more
5 min Read
From Suave to Skillful
by Ross
Kids at school bullied me and made fun of me for how different I looked because of my Asian features. That's how I learned to e... see more
6 min Read
The Discipline of Practice
by Becky
My life used to be super linear, with a well-defined structure. You were supposed to check off boxes: get married, have kids, s... see more
6 min Read
Being Real
by Erin
My parents taught me the attitude that said, As long as you look good, you'll feel good. If you're not happy, it's okay. Becaus... see more
7 min Read
Surrendering To Have It All
by David
The last 12 years of my marriage were very strained because of my business and other obligations. I became more and more hidden... see more
5 min Read
Freedom and Permission
by Audrey Steele
When I moved to San Francisco in my twenties, I felt free to do whatever I wanted. I was raised in a conventional, middle-class... see more
5 min Read
I Became Comfortable in My Body
by Christie
My parents are super conservative, and I grew up with a lot of Catholic shame and guilt. I attended Catholic school until colle... see more
5 min Read
Not-Enoughness Became Confidence & Value
by Jessica Locquet
A couple of years ago, I was at the Bulletproof conference here in Los Angeles when a guy approached me and some friends to inv... see more
5 min Read
No Longer Afraid to Speak or Be Noticed
by JB Alexander
The first man I lived with was a lot like my parents. Doug was checking all the boxes, and so I was I. We lived in a house I ha... see more
7 min Read
I Can Face a Woman’s Anger
by Ben Phillips
My wife and I had a typical story. When we first got together, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. The sex was fantastic... see more
6 min Read