OM: Yoga off the Mat

by OneTaste Living Library  Feb 28, 2012

nnBy Sasha K.nnOur goal at OneTaste is to make Orgasmic Meditation (OM) as widespread and practiced as a spiritual path as yoga has become today. Once upon a time, yoga too was seen as deviant and taboo. Both yoga and OM are paths toward creating greater connection with the self and others. Kati Brennan has been teaching yoga for ten years; she’s been practicing OM now for over a year and now she is an OM Trainer and OneTaste Coach Intern completing her training at OneTaste. Yoga teachers often talk about “yoga off the mat.” Kati believes, one of the most useful fields for yogis to expand their yoga game, is in OM. She has some fascinating reflections on the connections between yoga and OM.nnWhat drew you to OM?nnMy partner Greg heard about OneTaste. We did a private session with trainers to learn about OM. Right away OM felt like a real fit for me. We had done work with tantra and couples retreats but this practice felt different. The OM practice helped mellow out our relationship to a place where we could understand each other better.nnWhat made OM such a fit?nnI liked that the OM practice was expectation-less in terms of my experience. I liked that I could fully receive in the safe container created by OM. I liked the invitation for me as a woman to start mining into my desires, into what I actually wanted.nnHow did OM affect your relationship?nnWe communicate a lot better and fight a lot less. We have more common ground where we understand each other. It helps us connect on a somatic, body-based level. Because OM is a body based meditation practice, it automatically makes you pay close attention to what is going on in your body from moment-to-moment, and that breaks through a lot of mental stuff.nnBeing in a state of orgasm regularly, helps me unhook from my same old stories about Greg. That kind of “Oh they always do this” - stuff in a relationship. Drastically shifting the way I feel in my body allowed for new patterning in my mind. In yoga we call that samskara: grooves that are etched in our minds, and the more often we visit them, the deeper they get. Samskara are understood to be difficult to change. There is something about getting more in your body through OM that allows for new grooves to form, and old ones to fade.nnAhimsa, non-harming, is the first teaching of yoga, the prerequisite to every other practice. OMing helped Greg and I become better practitioners of ahimsa. OM helps us learn to request what we want directly, without complaining, shaming the other, creating a covert deal to get what we want, or resenting each other when we don't get it. We create an agreement in which we're lifting each other up rather than dragging each other down. We create greater trust, and manage some of that fight-or-flight reactivity that could come up when there's no communication.nnWhen it comes to desire, what do you see as commonalities between OM and yoga?nnIf you trace the hundreds of styles of yoga in our country to the first place they fork off, on one end you have classical yoga traditions and on the other there are tantric yoga traditions. For classical yogis it is all about overcoming desire. Desire is something to be conquered so that you can get to a space free of physical urges. In tantra yoga, we take what is edgy, the intense, hard-to-cope-with stuff, and turn the volume up to create churning and agitation that can be fuel for transformation in your life.nnAs I dug more into the classical yoga texts, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutra, Upanishads, and certain tantric texts, it seemed to me we had misunderstood the teachings about desire. When the texts are railing about desire they are railing against desiring low-hanging fruit. The problem is not that we want stuff; it is that we want too little. Our senses are grasping after the low-hanging fruit, stuff like shoe shopping, chocolate, mindless sex and gossip.nnOM initially seems to be that you are grasping after low-hanging fruit, but when you start practicing it you start running out to the edge of what you actually want; what you feel hungers for change. Something that seems so sexy and as sensually gratifying as OM is a mechanism for pointing you in a direction of a much bigger game. That desire for a bigger game is desire for freedom.nnCan you say more about the much bigger game?nnSince OMing I have been less satisfied with sensory gratification and more curious about how to be of service, to be useful to the world around me. This practice that seems sexy and hot is not at odds with this other desire to be of service. Actually, just like any meditation, OM is a means toward pointing you what you are really here for.nnWhat else should people know about yoga and OM?nnYoga is unique among schools of philosophy in India; that one's own unique experience is the best means to valid knowledge. It’s not that what your teachers say is not important, but that your own direct experience is primary. Before we start listening to anyone who says anything about repressing desires, we can do well to get curious about our desire, to experience it directly, to start to distinguish between which desires are serving us and which are not. I don’t know anybody who, in a long-term way has cut off sex completely and is otherwise well adjusted. Long-term, life-long, sexual repression is a dangerous thing. We see that in yoga as much as in the Catholic Church. Dangerous in the sense that it doesn’t free you, it creates angst within you.nnFor the typical yogi who knows nothing about OM, what would you say to her or him?nnPay attention to your desire. Be curious about any desire; don’t act on them all, but attend to them. When we go unconscious about desire we start messing ourselves up. Be discerning, cultivate that discernment.nnAny last thoughts for yogis?nnOM is one of the most interesting fields to play your yoga game in. Its a game of freedom and connection. A game aiming towards not seeing yourself as separate from anything.nn nnOM is yoga off the mat. Even in the most classical and ascetic of yoga texts, even in writing for monks who live in caves, the first practice is often about how we relate to each other. We spend most of our lives in the presence of others. OM is the yoga of how we relate to one another, how much more important could that be for us?