Each Step is the Whole Practice

by OneTaste Living Library  Aug 12, 2011

Confused reading instructions

This blog is in part a how-to instructional and as most instructionals do, it proceeds step by step. If there is a more effective way of explaining how-to do something, we’ve never heard of it. Yet when it comes to OM, there’s a twist.

Say you’re trying to put together a desk you got from Ikea and the instruction manual lists fifteen steps. The first step is to make sure you have all the pieces and the little bags of hardware, and to lay them all out in the order you are going to use them. If you are less methodical than the person who wrote the instructions, you might skip that step, since there is no tangible accomplishment to show for it. Steps are something to be gotten over with. The job is going well if it is going fast.

OM is not like putting together a desk. Getting to step 9 doesn’t mean you are any closer to finishing than you were at step 1. And being at step 1 doesn’t make you any more not finished than you will be at step 9. One way to explain it is to say that there is no finish. Another way to look at it is that the practice is complete at every step. At each step, you are doing the whole thing. And that is how you master it: by treating each step as if it were the only step, setting down your roots in it as if there were nowhere else to go. That’s true of all the steps, but an especially useful thing to keep in mind when it comes to the first one.

You may have noticed that something is missing from the instructions. We don’t tell you how to persuade a potential partner to OM with you. The only instruction is to state plainly that you would like them to. How they feel about your request and what they decide to do about it is beyond your control.

From an Ikea instruction manual standpoint, not getting a Yes is like discovering that the desktop is missing from the package. You’re stuck. No further progress can be made until you obtain the missing piece. But when it comes to OM, getting a No at the request is a great opportunity to set down roots as if there were nowhere else to go--because, for the time being, there truly isn’t. In fact, getting a No can awaken you to nuances of the practice that you might overlook if you got an immediate Yes. The same is true if can’t think of anyone to ask, or can’t get up the nerve. Such predicaments and how you deal with them bring you face to face with your MO.

MO is short for modus operandi, a Latin phrase that means “way of operating.” It was originally coined by cops to describe a criminal’s characteristic approach to crime, but can also be used to describe how anyone typically goes about getting what they want. We all start out, as infants, with the same MO (wail your head off.) As we get older, we refine our MO through trial and error, based mainly on whatever strategies seem to work best with our parents. By the time we are adults, our MO has evolved into a complex system of inner and outer finagling, designed not only to get us what we want, but to cope with and rationalize not getting what we want.

Because instructions for asking for an OM leave you so much to your own devices, the step provides you with immediate feedback on what those devices happen to be. What you discover about yourself in this step applies to aspects of your life that have nothing to do with OM. Difficulties with orgasm at any stage tend to be mirrored in other spheres. When the trouble is occurring at the step of asking for an OM, what needs attention is your relationship to desire - look for that in our next blog!