by Leslie Baran
I grew up in San Francisco. My parents divorced when I was young, and I lived with my mom. My dad was in and out of my life. But my mom and I were close--two peas in a pod.
I had a colorful childhood. We didn't have a lot of money, but Mom was resourceful, able to materialize wonderful things out of nothing. She was the ultimate hippie fairy Earth goddess, all about flow, flying by the seat of her pants without a plan in sight. That's how she did life - spontaneous and fun. So I flipped to the other side of the pendulum. The way Mom lived didn't feel safe to me because I could never expect anything. Anything could happen at any time which, for some people, is really exciting. For me, it felt scary and destabilizing.
I developed a very layered and complex intellect. My crazy mind could do 20 things at once, and I was a super multitasker. My emotional world was complex as well, and I was always tamping my feelings down. Small things would set me off, like a pleat on a skirt not being cleaned correctly or someone using my last Q Tip. These things would just enrage me with an intensity that was disproportional with the thing that happened. Obviously there was a lot happening inside me, and I wanted to find tools and people who could help me start to unpack that.
When I found OM, I was very excited and came in with a real go-getter attitude. I'm a very open person, and it sounded right up my alley. At that time, I was also very masculine in my work and personal life, planning and scheduling everything. I was definitely not in touch with my slower, softer side, because growing up with my mom, the feminine felt confusing and scary for me. I liked things very black and white and shut down other ways of operating.
I definitely felt awkward at the beginning. But knowing there was a very secure structure, a step-by-step process to follow, I felt safe. In my first OM, I managed to just lay back and feel. I didn't have to do anything. And the fact that I just got to be present and feel was amazing. I've always struggled with meditation because the whole point is to not think and my monkey mind is always jumping all over the place. In OM, I got out of my own head and into my body, able to experience the high sensation that was happening. I’ve developed an ability to closely track my OMs. Sometimes I feel heat moving through my neck, up through my cheeks and then spurting out through the top of my head. Sometimes the cells in my body sparkle in a shimmery iridescence as if they are alive. Sometimes an OM feels like firecrackers, explosions of energy and sensation.
Since starting OM I have learned to pause and check in with my body. Previously I would just fly right past any sensation. Now, when something comes up, I stop and examine what's happening.
My first year of OMing I remember being in a conversation with someone I really didn’t want to talk with. I remember pausing and feeling this nauseous energy rising in my chest and thinking, “Oh, wow, my body really doesn't want me to be here anymore!” Normally I would have kept talking to be polite. But this time I told the person I had to go and walked away. And the sensation in my chest changed very quickly from nausea to a joyous energy exploding out of my chest—all because I let myself have that small honest moment.
Today I have a much more appreciative relationship with my mother. I understand that she is a human being dealing with her patterns and triggers. When she comes at me with an intense emotion or a change of plans, I can slow down to feel the sensation in my body and stay with it. I stay with myself and that’s the thing that has me feel safe -- it's no longer about what she or anyone else do or don't do. I’ve moved my sense of safety from external conditions to internal ones. From that place, it doesn't matter what happens next. As long as I can stay with myself, I can make it through anything.