A lot of things happened the year I started to OM. I turned 40, I learned to say “fuck,” and I left a coveted but soul-crushing job in academia. I won’t say all of those things were because of OM, but I won’t say that they weren’t.
I had come from a community with a reverence for trauma. We had books about slavery on the coffee table. As a child, in my free time I studied the holocaust, so I was also well-versed in other people’s trauma. As an adult, I was a superhero of vigilance. No dogs would be kicked, no wives beaten, no waiters untipped on my watch. In my How To OM class, my impulse was to protect the woman who did the demo from what I had deemed to be a lecherous on-looking crowd. I was a well-educated, well-traveled, well-intentioned New Yorker with a do-good button I could not shut off. I was also unbelievably tired.
I decided to try the practice for many reasons, not least of which that I could lie down for 15 minutes and not do anything else. I learned that women have something called a vigilance center that keeps their attention focused on many things at once. And I discovered, as I started to rest mine, just how many things I had my attention on and felt responsible for. It was no wonder I was tired. Just by paying attention to my body in the nest, my practice started to unravel connections between sex, race, and trauma that 20 years in academia had not. The key for me came when I understood that somewhere along the line, I had given up my sex for intellectual pursuits. As a young black girl, I had decided that I couldn’t have both. Through OM, I reclaimed my sexuality as another kind of intelligence. I OM as a way of knowing.