I’m at a class to learn about Orgasmic Meditation, and the woman in front of me is patting her boyfriend’s shoulder reassuringly. The only people who don’t look nervous are the super-friendly helpers in their Powered by Orgasm T-shirts.
So why have a bunch of buttoned-up Brits – singles and couples of all ages – signed up for a decidedly Californian day which includes a full-frontal demo of Orgasmic Meditation and ends with an opportunity to try it yourself?
I’m here because Orgasmic Meditation (which they call OM, pronounced ‘Ome’) sounds like a good way for long-term couples to reignite passion, and for menopausal women – who often feel a bit dead sexually – to rediscover the joy of sex.
I’ve watched OM guru Nicole Daedone’s hugely popular TED talk, Orgasm: the cure for hunger in the Western woman, and want to know more. Anyone who’s giving female orgasm serious attention, and engaging men in the whole business, must be worth listening to.
Desire for connection
Other people have come to the class for a variety of reasons: there’s a middle-aged guy who is weaning himself off porn and was persuaded to come with his girlfriend, and a workaholic who wants better relationships.
There’s a middle-aged woman who is fed up of perfunctory sex; another who is struggling with difficult sexual experiences in her past. The common link is a desire for connection.
“Many people feel something is missing, that they’re not being touched deep inside,” explains our teacher, Justine Dawson, who moved to London from San Francisco to spread the word.
“They sense there’s more but they don’t know how to get there. One woman I’ve met had been diagnosed with anorgasmia, another had been abused.
“OM can have a huge impact because it’s a safe container to open something that has been shut down.”
What happens in an Orgasmic Meditation class
The morning consists of a talk about why it’s so good and, reassuringly, why it’s so weird, and Justine shares her personal experiences.
Then there’s demonstration of the technique. The man remains clothed and the woman keeps her dress on but removes her knickers.
She lies in a ‘nest’ of blanket and cushions, while the man strokes the upper left quadrant of her clitoris lightly for exactly 15 minutes. And that’s it.
After lunch, we learn the technique, then divide into pairs to practise it for ourselves. Some of those who pair up know each other already, but some don’t. On the day I went, only two men didn’t find someone to OM with.
Benefits of Orgasmic Meditation
There’s none of the thrashing around we’ve come to associate with great sex. But then, OM isn’t sex, exactly. A key distinction is drawn between climax and orgasm.
Removing the idea of a goal shifts the focus so that orgasm becomes a more undulating, exploratory experience.
While OM increases libido, its impact can go way beyond sex. Practitioners claim it heightens concentration, reduces stress and promotes better communication.
“With sex you blow off steam; you often have a good nap afterwards,” says Justine. “OM-ing fills the body with energy.
“And if you’re stressed it helps smooth that out. People sleep less; there’s a vibrancy inside their body. OM-ing cultivates that internal aliveness.”
What do men get out of OM?
It’s easy to see why women like OM-ing. But what do men get out of it? Casey, who does the pre-lunch demo, says he gets turned on in an OM ten to 15 per cent of the time. That sounds a bit paltry, but then that’s not really the point.
Men talk about reaching a whole new level of intimacy through OM. One says: “It’s given me more confidence in relating with women than I’d thought possible. I’m no longer guessing.
“If I’m feeling more I know she’s also feeling more. If you understand how her orgasm works you understand the rest of her world about a thousand times better.”
We’re warned that it’s important not to give up if it doesn’t blow your mind the first time. One woman who hadn’t had sex for two years until she came to an OM class remembers, “For about the first 12 times I didn’t feel anything much.”
So why persist? “Because I knew something in me needed to change. After that things gradually started to move. At first I thought, ‘Does it have to be this?’ But it’s the only thing that worked.”
Overcoming intimacy issues
Her initial reservations are understandable. You’ve got to be pretty brave to pitch up as a singleton and ask a stranger to OM (it’s fine to say no!).
Yet only one person leaves before the (totally optional) practice session, muttering that it all feels a bit cult-ish to her. In the tea break one guy wails, “I’m single – who can I do it with after today?”
The answer lies in the OM community, who offer training and mutual support through Practice Clubs (£195 for four), Circles and an online Hub.
Support is crucial, because OM-ing can expose all sorts of difficult issues and emotions which may have been buried for years, such as jealousy, anger, and above all, shame.
Call me old-fashioned, but that’s where I baulk. OM-ing seems like a really wonderful way for couples to re-connect, and many choose private coaching (£500 for three sessions). But getting your knickers off with a stranger in public? Exploring jealousy? No thanks. It’s all a bit 1970s for me.
Justine’s response is reassuring: “Each person has their own boundaries and desires. We work with what they want to learn.
“It’s like anything you practice, such as meditation or yoga. It might give you a little inspiration, a nice feeling, it might open something with a partner. Or you could take it on as a practice and feel more of the benefits over the long term.”
As for me, what did I get out of it? I certainly had more energy and a sense of that ‘internal aliveness’ Justine talks about. But did it have any lasting effect? Well, put it this way, I’d be happy to keep practising.
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