The first thing that struck me walking into the Intro to Orgasmic Meditation workshop was how many young, cute single people were in attendance. Specifically, how many young, cute (if slightly disheveled-looking) guys. Why did they pay $195 for this? I found myself thinking as my boyfriend and I took our seat in the large, fluorescent-lit room. The guys in front of me, plaid-shirted with messy hair, reminded me of ex-boyfriends I'd had; the types who love to meditate and seem in a constant state of searching. I suppose in this case, they were searching for the secret of how to please a woman on a spiritual level. They would be learning to "OM," which is defined by One Taste (the company that leads the workshops) as a "15-minute partnered consciousness practice where one partner strokes the other one's clitoris for 15 minutes with no goal other than to feel and be present." I was excited. Maybe this was what I needed in order to finally stop stressing about taking "too long" or not being able to come when I was being pleasured by a partner.
What followed during the eight-hour workshop was a long intro about how orgasmic meditation had changed the instructors' lives, followed later in the day by practical instruction on how to OM, and finally, a group practicum in which the 30-odd women in the workshop paired up with men, stripped from the waist down, and had their clits stroked in a room filled with people for 15 minutes. I was one of them, and I'm surprised to say that the experience has changed the way I've been having sex in the months since.
While my partner and I have not taken to practicing orgasmic meditation regularly (not yet, anyway), we have (and this is not necessarily encouraged by One Taste, which insists that this is a meditative practice that isn't about sex or climax) integrated some of its principles into our sex life, and found them extremely useful and pleasurable. Here are eight lessons I learned from orgasmic meditation, and how I've applied them to my sex life.
1. I Have Vaginal Shame To Overcome
One of the first steps of the orgasmic meditation practice is for the stroker to look at the receiver's pussy (OM practitioners always call the vagina "pussy") and describe it to them in "physical, nonjudgmental terms." So, for example, the stroker might say, "I see that the left side of your labia is a darker pink than on the right, and that your pubic hair is covering your clit on the upper left side." Hot, am I right?
The idea is for the stroker to be honing in their attention on the receiving partner's vagina, where all their attention and energy is about to be focused. I think of myself as pretty sex positive and comfortable with my partner and vagina — I rock a full bush, and didn't mind stripping down in a room of strangers, after all — but I was surprised to find that I was nervous before my boyfriend described my pussy anyway. Even though what he said was totally nonjudgmental and just a physical description, I found myself taking a negative interpretation in my head. What do you mean the left side looks like that? Is there something wrong? The experience taught me that I have more internalized insecurity about my vagina than I'd realized, and I think this practice is an empowering way to potentially keep confronting that. Of course, the fact that I was confronting it in a room full of dozens of other women with their pants off was, in a weird way, comforting. All our pussies were different and being admired, and there was nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Really, Really Light Stroking Is Crazy Awesome
The OM stroke is supposed to be feather-light, repetitive, and direct. At first, I thought that might feel too intense, and maybe even hurt. Not so. When you OM, the stroker uses their lubed-up pointer finger to stroke what One Taste called "the upper-left-hand quadrant of your clitoris" incredibly, incredibly lightly up and down. It's basically like being very, very directly teased, with a gentleness and consistency that (sadly) most women don't ever get to experience otherwise.
During orgasmic meditation, while the stroker has their pointer finger on your clit, they are supposed to rest the thumb of their other hand over (but not in) your introitus (aka your vaginal opening). Turns out this also feels awesome — like the best tease ever. Most of the time, when some guys go down there, I find they can be overzealous about getting their fingers inside you as quickly as possible. With this practice, your vaginal opening isn't intruded at all, but there is a very satisfying pressure on it, increasing blood flow and making you feel in some ways "filled up". My partner has since integrated resting his finger on my introitus during foreplay sometimes, and I highly recommend it.
It feels so good to be stroked so gingerly and directly that I've come to prefer OMing as foreplay over just about anything else (though again, foreplay is not what the practice is intended to be). The revelation that what I like is actually much more gradual and gentle than I thought (I mean, I have a Hitachi Magic Wand!) was exciting, but also upsetting. I felt a little overwhelmed, like I would never fully be able to know my pleasure's capacity, because it could probably just keep building and building, were I committed to spending the time to let it.
3. Time Limits Can Be Incredibly Liberating
Another very limiting thing for me and many women about receiving pleasure is the worry that we're "taking too long" or that our partner "must be bored or tired." The fact that in orgasmic meditation the stroker has to be stroking the clit for 15 minutes — with a timer — was incredibly liberating. There was no "too long," and I found I didn't worry as much about whether my partner was tired. He'd committed to the practice for 15 minutes, and was supposed to be getting some enlightenment out of it, too. Because those limits were in place, I was able to let go of what is still a major worry of mine during foreplay. It felt good to know that it wasn't up to me — a sensation of not being in control that I think many women crave and usually seek out through power play. I was reminded that applying other kinds of constraints like these is also an option.
If you find you also have trouble with worrying about "taking too long," you might want to consider setting a generous minimum time limit on foreplay with your partner for a session, and see if that doesn't actually liberate you a bit from that fear.
4. It Helps To Ask Very Specific Questions When Giving
The instructors were very clear about what kinds of questions the strokers should ask: specific, directional, yes-or-no questions. So, for example, they shouldn't ask, "Does this feel good?" or "Should I keep doing this?" but instead, "Should I move my finger a little to the left?" or "Would you like me to go a little faster?" or "Would you like more pressure?" It felt good to be asked such direct questions about how I wanted to be touched that were devoid of value judgments about their performance. It also felt good to be asked so repeatedly and casually, as the strokers are instructed to keep inquiring throughout the 15 minutes.
I found it helped to get specific questions like this, but I was also surprised by how often I would answer, "Maybe...um yeah?" or "Maybe a little to the right?" I was so used to usually being asked "Does this feel good?" that I almost didn't know how to respond to a more direct question at first. But that meant it was also harder to soften the truth for my partner's benefit. It was really hard for me not to qualify my answers with the word "maybe" or to phrase them as questions — not so much because I was afraid of bruising his ego, but because I had the humbling realization that I myself often didn't feel sure what would feel best in that moment. It's something to work on through more direct communication during sex, for sure.
5. Receiving Is An Active Skill
In the same way the stroker is encouraged to ask direct questions, the strokee is told to give clear answers. While I found that this was more difficult for me than I expected, it also reminded me that receiving is not passive. In fact, it is very powerful.
As I was focusing on my clit and the connection between myself and my partner's finger, it was clear to me that my body was doing just as much work, if not more, than his. As women, we're often taught to think of ourselves as passive during sex in lots of subtle ways — men fuck us, put their dick into us, make us feel good. Orgasmic meditation reminded me that all those supposedly submissive or passive things are actually quite active, and could be rewritten. We offer our pussy to a man's dick and accommodate it, we decide to feel pleasure, and envelop him in our walls. There's really nothing inactive about it, even when you are just laying on your back.
6. Focusing On The Clitoris Is More Fun Than Focusing On Breathing
I've written about focusing on the breath during sex before, because it's a great way to stay more present (and also send more blood flow to your genitals). But this practice reminded me that you can also place your attention on your clit itself, and get some pretty exciting results.
The concept behind orgasmic meditation is that there's an energy exchange that can happen between the clit and the finger. The person receiving is supposed to try to stay connected to the stroker's finger, and help direct them to the most intense point of sensation. I found that focusing on my clit itself was actually easier than focusing on the breath, because it was where most sensation was happening anyway. By focusing on my clit, I found it was a little easier to think in terms of what felt good in that moment, rather than whether I would come.
I've since tried to feel the "energy exchange" when I'm enjoying having my clit stroked or sucked during sex, and have found it really does help your mind be more in the present moment to direct all your attention to that one little, powerful point — and to send it back to your partner.
7. Taking Away The Expectation Of Orgasm Is Sexy
At One Taste, they say that they're trying to take orgasm out of the context of climax. They use orgasm as a verb, noun, adjective — "this is about bringing orgasm into your everyday life; you can walk around with orgasm" — but they insist that the practice is NOT about learning how to climax better or more often. "There’s an important distinction that’s worth making between climax and the orgasm state," One Tastes's website states. "Climax is a few seconds of physical experience, whereas the state of orgasm is continuous — allowing OMers to access optimal state of consciousness brought about from the activation of the sex impulse."
I was skeptical, because orgasm has a lot to do with climax for me, though I do like the idea of reprogramming the way we think about the word in such a goal-driven way. The way One Taste frames the practice — that climax is not the goal, the practice, or likely to happen — is actually incredibly liberating. Without the expectation that I might be likely or able to come, I found it easier to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the new sensation for 15 minutes. It's a laissez faire attitude I've since found myself applying to receiving pleasure during sex. I try to remind myself to just enjoy the ride and not expect orgasm. In letting go of the expectation or goal of climax more and more, I actually end up getting much more aroused.
8. This Is A Feminist Practice
This was perhaps my favorite aspect of orgasmic meditation: the undercurrent of the practice, which was designed by a woman, is incredibly feminist. Not only is it centered on the clitoris, but it also aims to address vaginal shame, phallus-centricity, climax, time pressure, and to redefine pleasure for women. The result is incredibly empowering. It reminded me of just how boundless my capacity for pleasure is, and just how much work I still have to do in owning and claiming my right to it — no matter what form it takes, or how long it may take me to get where I want to go.
I haven't looked at sex the same way since, and I would highly recommend orgasmic meditation to anyone who wants to explore orgasm and redefine pleasure for themselves. Even if you don't adopt the practice regularly, it will probably end up changing the way you think about receiving pleasure and remind you just how complicated and powerful your clitoris is. At least, that's what it did for me.
Images Bustle; One Taste(5)