One of my "goals", "resolutions", "mantras" for the year 2016 is to find, feel and access Pleasure in my life. What does that mean? Lets start at the impetus.
It was first brought to my attention by a few wonderful healers I work with, Jamie Wollrab and Erin Schroeder, who rightly stated, you don't allow yourself to feel pleasure because you're afraid that if you acknowledge the "high" that the pleasure brings, you will have to acknowledge and feel the fall when the high dissipates. This resonated with me and I quickly realized that it colors all parts of my life. I'm an improviser and I've been doing it for 12 + years. I am good at it, but just the other night, hanging out at the bar at iO West, one of the teachers, veteran players and well regarded dudes there called me over, gave me a big hug and whispered in my ear, "You really did a great job at the auditions (for Harold teams), such solid work." I quickly said thank you and directed the conversation elsewhere. You'd think I would be thrilled with that comment, but sure enough, plain as day, I dismissed it and not only that, but then continued to stand in the bar, awkwardly with "no one" to talk to, because i didn't belong there, didn't know anyone, you name it, I was thinking it. I diffused and dissipated the weight of his comment, not celebrating it, taking it in or embracing it by making myself believe that I didn't belong there.
Pleasure. In order to even understand or know how I could bring pleasure into my life I had to look up the definition. The definition(s) of pleasure are : gratification, delight, sensual gratification; worldly or frivolous enjoyment.
Gratification. Cool. Delight, I love delight, its one of the words I resonate with and have used when plotting and planning with the #DesireMap! Sensual Gratification . . . can you feel me start to fidget, to get nervous, shut down? Because, while Jamie meant that I don't allow pleasure into my life, he also was speaking directly to me not allowing sensual and sexual pleasure into my life.
I was raised in a fairly conservative family that didn't really speak about sex, or pleasure, and we definitely never discussed deriving pleasure from sex! I was raised Catholic. We went to church every Sunday, were altar boys and girls, readers and ushers at Mass, went to Sunday school and received the Holy Sacraments all the way up to confirmation. (Which is as far as you can go with them, until you get married and receive THAT Holy Sacrament.) I was active in the church choir and loved going to youth group. One Sunday evening, we all made a commitment to Jesus and signed a contract declaring that we wouldn't have sex before marriage. I'm 36 and have never been married and well, lets just say that I hope that that contract wouldn't stand up in a court of law.
I really enjoyed growing up in the Catholic church and believe it gave me a solid foundation to become the person I am today. I mention this because growing up in the church does not allow for sex to ever be considered something that one would derive pleasure from.
SO . . .
A few months ago, I was matched with a guy on Bumble and I noticed that we had a mutual friend. I used that when I said Hello to him, because for some reason, "Hey, we have a mutual friend" gets more response from men than a simple, "Hello." He responded, "Who?" I told him and he said, "Oh yeah, we OM together." To which I replied, "Eh?"
OM stands for Orgasmic Meditation. I looked it up. I was intrigued. I thought. . . hmmmm, I bet this would allow me to access pleasure. A few weeks later, I mentioned it to another friend and he replied, "Oh yeah, I have friends that do that and they say its amazing." I started reaching out to some friends that I thought would maybe be open to exploring what OM is. Here's the thing, I don't always need someone to hold my hand but the practice of OM takes two people and putting myself in this vulnerable position with someone who was a total stranger just seemed like a no go for me. Also, I wanted someone to go to the "Turn ON" event with me just in case it was crazy and we needed to escape from a room full of psychos together. I knew i'd never get out alive if I went alone.
First of all, there's not an easy way to say," Hey, do you think you'd be interested in stroking my clitoris for 15 minutes in a non-sexual way as I meditate?" So I led with, "Hey, have you ever heard of OM?" Which led to questions and me directing them to the website so that they could check it out for themselves. A few of them were responsive, one was doubtful, another ran for the hills. For weeks I've been saying that I'm going to go check out OM and go to a "Turn ON" event, but I've always found a reason or an excuse to not attend. Last night, I took the plunge. I attended a "Turn ON" event to figure out what this whole thing is about. First thing, good news, I didn't die AND I went alone.
At these events, they play three Conversation games that are designed to mimic the experience you have during an OM session. It was actually quite brilliant the way that they tied everything together! I'm getting ahead of myself. As I walked up to the door I thought I had done a pretty great job convincing myself that this was something I could handle, I can do this, I've gone to places alone before. I knocked on the door, there were people inside milling about, I could see them walking by, chatting with one another. I knocked twice, no one seemed to notice, they just kept chatting, milling about. I almost turned around and left. I thought, well, maybe they can't hear me, I rang the bell. I heard someone actually say, "There's someone at the door" and then they just kept milling about. In reality, this whole exchange probably took 30 seconds, but it felt like a lifetime standing outside that door, wondering if these strangers were going to let me in. Let me in to the house, in to their world, their practice, into their souls.
The door opened and as I awkwardly took off my shoes, Leah, who I had been in contact with a few times, stood there with a welcoming smile and made me feel at least a little wanted. I glanced around the room as they apologized for keeping me outside, they had just finished an OM circle and were getting ready to set up for the event. Now i knew why I was kept outside, but now I'm also thinking about all of these strangers engaging in an OM just minutes before.
I'm hesitant to admit to you that I immediately began judging people and jumping to conclusions about them. I'm a fairly enlightened person who prides herself on having an open mind and heart, but with the idea of engaging in such an intimate act with these people really made me regress. I was approached almost immediately by a man. He jumped at the chance to meet me and I was aware that the other 3 or so veteran men in the room had seen me as well and looked a little jealous that this guy had beat them to the punch. Now, I don't know if its because of this practice that the men in this room are more in their bodies and have a bigger presence than most men I come in contact with or not, but there was a definite difference in their energy. As they approached me it was direct, open and a little overwhelming. I think it was also overwhelming because I felt a little like I was in danger. (I most definitely was not, but the apprehension definitely had me on high alert).
As 15 or so adults settled into a semi-circle, facing our two hosts, I didn't really know what to expect. I had watched the videos online where they showed examples of the communication games we were about to play. Everyone was asked to be honest, say the first thing that comes to your head without editing, and to engage fully, allowing all sensations in your body to occur and be noticed. We were not allowed to clap after as it breaks the energy and mellows it out. We started the night with prompts from our hosts that asked us to finish as quick as we could. Prompts like I'm feeling . . . . and Three words that describe me are . . .
I was floored by how honest and open everyone really was. One gentleman in particular I had leapt to judgement about pretty quickly, about how mean, harsh and threatening he looked and therefore, he probably was took me by complete surprise. When he was on the hot seat, he opened up about some traumatizing events in his life and how all he really wanted out of OM was to experience the softer side of sex and connection with others. As he spoke and opened up, he opened his heart and his appearance seemed to soften. By the time the night was over, he was my favorite person in the room.
In fact, by the end of the night, most of my snap judgments and harsh criticisms of everyone in the room had been proven wrong. As everyone opened up with their honest answers the energy in the room shifted from one of high, anticipation, danger and uncertainty to one of openness, acceptance, love and comfort. The temperature of the room even seemed to have risen by a few degrees.
I've yet to experience OM, but I DID sign up for their Intro to OM class with an optional lab at the end. OPTIONAL. I've got some phone calls to make to see if any of my friends want to join the class with me. . . or perhaps, at the end of the end, I'll feel comfortable enough to explore. Until then. . . The Pleasure Project continues.