Getting to Love - A Lesson From My OM Practice

by Marie-Elizabeth Mali  Jul 26, 2016
black woman white man couple embrace Ramon Haindl

Yesterday, I caught it: an undefended loving look. We were in the car and I reached over to touch his cheek at a red light. I’ve been stressed out for several days, tight and withdrawn, so when I felt the impulse to reach out with tenderness, I acted immediately, not knowing when it would arise again.

To be met with naked love was unexpected. I asked myself why I was so surprised. I expected a resentful response, like, “Oh, NOW, you want to show me love instead of shutting me out? Where have you been the last few days?”

I have a story about having to earn love, to cajole it out with good behavior, sexiness, or being so thoughtful that someone has to return the favor. None of these ways of trying to get love works over time. Maybe for a short time they buy a semblance of love, but it’s like eating frosted pound cake day in and day out, instead of real food. This kind of love stays in the realm of commerce. It’s a finite resource and not the ideal basis for relationship.

Love is not a commodity to be bought or sold, at least not in the type of relationship I want. Love just is. It hums steadily under the surface of whatever layers we humans pile on top of it. My experience of getting to love has been one of stripping away everything I think it is, and everything I think I have to do to get it, to discover it’s what’s left when everything else falls away.

Through the practice of OM I’ve learned to lie down and receive. I don’t have to be nice, don’t have to fake more sensation than I’m feeling, don’t have to “give back” after the OM is over. The practice is the practice and it is enough. In those fifteen minutes, I practice feeling my body and the connection between us, nothing more. Whatever emotions and sensations move through me do just that: they move through me. No story. There’s nothing I have to do but focus my attention and be receptive.

When my partner and I first started dating, he was more of the withdrawing type. He’d get full on how much intimacy he could digest and would pull back to regroup. I could see that happening, so I didn’t take it personally and left him room to come back when he was ready. For the first time this didn’t feel like a strategy for how to buy his love, it felt genuine.

We talked about this before he moved in almost eight months ago, how my ability to not freak out when he withdrew had it feel safe enough for him to come back and open more. We agreed that I would not hold my love back or try to manipulate myself to fit what I thought he wanted, and he would grow his capacity to receive all of me. And this is exactly what’s been happening. I discovered yesterday in the car that I still, on some unconscious level, expect him to fill up and start squirming when I send love his way and expect to be met with resentment when I’ve been stressed and unavailable. So when he leaned into my touch and beamed more love at me than I felt I had earned in that moment, it stopped me. I forgot where we were, that the light might have turned, that cars behind us would honk if I didn’t move. I took his love in, exhaled, landed in my body, turned to face the road, and pressed the gas.

(Photo Credit: Ramon Haindl)