“In essence I am suggesting that 20th-century women have been living for centuries in a male-oriented culture which has kept them unconscious of their own feminine principle. Now in their attempt to find their own place in a masculine world, they have unknowingly accepted male values – goal-oriented lives, compulsive drivenness, and concrete bread which fails to nourish their feminine mystery.” – Marion Woodman
How can we reconnect as a couple?
A question I often get from client couples in marriage counselling is “How can we reconnect?” A few years ago I stumbled upon a sexual practice that caught my attention. It involves a man methodically and lightly stroking a woman’s clitoris for a set length of time. There’s no goal other than to be aware of the sensations, for both parties. Essentially, it’s a body-centred mindfulness practice that is relational and erotic. I found it personally intriguing, and as a mindfulness based, body-centred therapist working in the realms of sex and relationships, I found it of interest professionally. The practice evolved into what is known now as Orgasmic Meditation (OM), and it’s taught worldwide. I thought it might be useful to my clients and readers, so I caught up with OM teacher Bez Maxwell to ask some questions –
Justice: Is Orgasmic Meditation sex?
Bez: Orgasmic Meditation is not sex. It’s a practice that people do independently of having sex. It’s not foreplay, it’s not a replacement for sex and sex isn’t a replacement for it. It’s goalless, and simply focuses on connection around one point of contact — yes, a clitoris. Orgasmic Meditation is not a climax practice. It can feel really good and climax could happen, but it’s not the goal.
Justice: How can Orgasmic Meditation potentially help couples who are feeling disconnected or hurt or distant in the relationship?
Bez: What happens is that couples can simply BE together without an agenda and feel each other without any expectation in a very intimate setting. It’s a type of contact that we don’t often get a lot of in our culture, which is often very results-oriented or has an expectation that sex and connection are supposed to look or feel or sound a certain way. With OM, all those expectations are dropped. So the pressure to perform can be replaced by a true sense of real connection around what’s actually happening.
Justice: Do you talk during Orgasmic Meditation?
Bez: Only in a few specific ways around logistics. OM is really a time to calm the chatter, which is often around performance: Am I doing this right? Do you like me? Does this feel good? In OM you simply notice these thoughts without saying them out loud.
Justice: So the connection is mostly non-verbal?
Bez: Yes, it’s body-based connection. We favor sensations rather than stories. And the best part about Orgasmic Meditation is that nothing is supposed to happen. It isn’t supposed to be hot, or sexy, or loud. You don’t light candles or create a mood. You just connect around what’s here, with nothing extra. And what happens is that people get to relax. That’s what happened for me. It was the first time in my life that I actually relaxed around another person. Ever.
Justice: Wow! That’s significant.
Bez: Yes. Very!!
Justice: When there’s resentment or mistrust in the relationship how do you create enough safety for such an intimate practice?
Bez: Well, OM is very prescribed. The idea is that if we create a clear and easy to follow enough container, then it’s safe for anything to happen inside of it. That’s why in order to practice OM, you will want to get trained so that both people are completely clear about what OM is and what it isn’t, what the set up is, and what’s included and what’s not. That way, both people can relax. I OM with my boyfriend even when I hate his guts and can’t stand him and don’t even want to talk to him — we’ll OM. Because I don’t need to pretend. I can just be me, exactly where I’m at. Because even when you can’t stand your partner, there is still a way to connect with them there.
Justice: There’s an obvious asymmetry to the practice. Why?
Bez: That’s a great question. Orgasmic Meditation is purposefully asymmetrical. The best way I know how to explain it is through this article that my teacher and former OneTaste exec Ken Blackman wrote about why men like porn and women like vibrators. Basically, in this practice we give men and women what they actually want. If you look at the sex buying practices of Americans (and probably Canadians), then you’ll see very clear patterns – Men buy porn, women buy vibrators. Because what women crave and what they are under-nourished in is direct stimulation on their clitorises. They want to feel sensation, lay still, and do nothing. Right? That’s what they do with vibrators. Men, however, want what we call empathic orgasm in that they crave and are undernourished in watching others in states of pleasure and getting enjoyment out of seeing others in enjoyment. So OM actually puts us where we are lacking, and also puts us into the roles we are less comfortable. For women in particular, to lay still and do nothing but get their genitals stroked—and then owe nothing in return—is game changing and relationship changing.
Justice: Interesting! But aren’t we back to sex now?
Bez: Certainly there is sexual arousal. I mean, the stroker is stroking my CLIT. But it’s different from sex. It’s timed. It has a clear order that it always follows. And nothing precedes or follows it that is sexual. It’s not foreplay and you don’t need any foreplay to do it. We recommend that couples don’t OM in their bed, but in a different location so that it can be clearly separated from their sex. Think of it like a sexual wellness practice. We say it’s like yoga, for your orgasm. It’s like running laps or doing sit ups, or eating healthy food. It’s how you can take care of yourself so you can have the kind of connection you want, in life and in sex.
Justice: What kind of leap of faith or thinking do you think is required to start?
Bez: I think it’s a desire to have something different, something more. And a willingness to do the work to get it. Sure, Orgasmic Meditation is edgy. It involves genital stroking. And — it’s not THAT weird. Really. I mean, I have young children and I teach about Orgasm and Sexuality. At first I was nervous about what the other parents would think of me. But honestly, what happens more often is that some mom comes up on the playground with a desperate look on her face and is like, “I just heard what you do for a living. I need to talk to you.” Because while we may have a taboo about talking about our sex and our sexual needs and health, we ALL all have sexual needs and desires. We are all basically the same in that regard. So sure, the practice of Orgasmic Meditation is going to require that someone takes their pants off. And…. don’t you do that every day with your partner anyway, whether you’re stepping into the shower or getting dressed for work? To put that much attention on each other, now THAT is edgy. To go into the unknown, that’s what takes the leap of faith.
Justice: What surprised you about Orgasmic Meditation when you started?
Bez: I remember before OM I just thought, either relationships work or they don’t. The sex works or it doesn’t. It was either magically awesome and I was lucky or I was just destined to be under-fucked and miserable. And with OM, I found there is actually something I can do about it. What surprised me the most, two things: One, my first 50 OMs I just cried. I just cried like the entire time. Because I had no frame of reference for being of any value or use to a man while not doing anything. I couldn’t fathom that he would want to look at or touch my genitals just for his enjoyment. So that was a real life changer. The second was how much not owing a guy anything changed my life. Like, we would have an OM—and then, he would leave. It was over. I couldn’t believe it at first. I was like, I don’t need to give him a blow job or make polite conversation or even offer him some cookies and tea?? Nothing?!? I couldn’t believe it. It really messed with my programming in the best way.
Justice: I guess it’s changed how you do relationship!
Bez: It has in that I understand how much men love women in a way I never did before. And my ability to connect, with no ulterior motive, has given me the chance to have the kind of connection I really want. Which is not surface-level, but much deeper. Unconditional.
Justice: Can it help couples who are “out of love” after 20 years of marriage?
Bez: I’m not sure how to answer that because I can’t say if it will help them or not. I mean, not every relationship should be saved, you know? What I can say is that what Orgasmic Meditation does is provide a space for two people to truly connect with each other. It’s like a flashlight that can light the way towards more satisfying connection and towards more knowledge of yourself and your partner. So if you use that flashlight to find your way back to each other, then yes! If you use it for another purpose, then no. And I want to emphasize that it’s a practice. Just like running or stretching. It’s not a one-shot deal. If you want to get in shape, you practice your laps and you run every day.
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