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Sustained Intimate Connections

by Sai Lopez

I grew up in India, and I immigrated to the United States 25 years ago.  I’m 51 now, and until very recently, my entire focus has been on survival.  It was the driving force in my childhood and later as an adult. My parents instilled in me the sense that life was dangerous and frightening and failure was inevitable if I didn’t do my absolute best.

All this made me both very successful -- and very fearful. I married an American woman whom I met not long after I got here.  This wasn’t some sort of sham marriage to get immigration status; I really did love her. The problem was that I had no communication skills at all.  

Marital Breakdown

The fight that ended our marriage began when I wanted to go to an Italian restaurant, and she wanted Mexican food.  We couldn’t talk it through, so we ended up staying home and eating separately out of whatever cans we had in the pantry.  It was absurd, it was ridiculous, and it was heartbreaking.  We both knew we couldn’t go on like that.

After the divorce, I dated quite a bit, and I had a little more success in communicating.  One woman I met told me that she practiced OM and that it had changed many things for her. I went with her to an OM-related event, and I found everyone to be kind and warm, I learned the practice not long after.

First OM Experience

My first OM was surreal.  The person I OMed with was more experienced in the practice; she guided me through the process, prompting me with reminders of the steps that, though I had learned, were still very new to me.  I expected to be scared, but to my surprise, I was quite calm.  I felt connected right from the start; the whole thing was alien to my past experience, but it somehow seemed very natural. 

I have learned and grown so much from OMing itself.  Honestly, though, the best thing has been being able to join a men’s group made up of some men who also OM. It’s been such an incredible gift to be able to talk with and connect with other men. From the start, I was amazed by how many men could be so well-connected to their own selves and could talk about their feelings and their fears so openly. I wanted that openness for myself, and I was determined to get it.  Just because I grew up in another culture that didn’t give men the opportunity to open up, it doesn’t mean I can’t learn it.  If you could see the difference between how I talk now and how I spoke about things before the men’s group, you’d be stunned.  Remember, I’m the guy who couldn’t even say what he wanted for dinner!

Healing in Community

Not long after I started OMing, I went through a breakup with the very same woman who had brought me to the practice.  I was really struggling, and I started to go through my usual process, which was to internalize all those feelings. The men’s group helped me to resolve that pain in the community instead, which was hard at first and then so liberating. I could share my experiences and my hurt, and no one judged me or laughed at me.  Once I started talking about it, the words just kept coming.  I talked about this relationship week after week, and the men in that group didn’t get exasperated with me.  They listened and supported me through the whole healing process.

Vulnerability and Connection

I imagine that OM means different things to different people. For me, the keyword is “vulnerability.”  I learned recently that the root of that word in Latin is “wound.”  In the OM itself, you and your partner give each other that gift of vulnerability, and you find that this practice heals the wounds you’re willing to reveal.  In the men’s groups, the healing continues as long as I’m willing to be vulnerable.  Coming from such a different background, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to relate to others or have them relate to me – but through OM, I am able to sustain intimate connections.  It’s an incredible gift. 

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