This article originally appeared on VICE UK
Full disclosure: sex ed was awful and inaccurate at my all-girls' school. I remember that our biology teacher said that when a man (and only a man) climaxed, it was called "achieving organism." As you'd expect from such a cryptic introduction to sex, formative experiences went along the lines of downing two bottles of Lambrini and getting fingered in a phone box by a boy you'd bitterly insulted 30 minutes earlier. Talking about sex and sexual intimacy is something that people from Germany, Scandinavia, and possibly the west coast of the US do.
Anyway, forget about all that because over Easter weekend I opted for for an introductory session to Orgasmic Meditation: a US import that aims to help people achieve intimacy and connect with each other through a specific amount of clit touching. The all-day session, held in a studio in east London, is led by Rachel Tayeb, who has been OM-ing for a decade.
She spends an hour telling the punters—who have each paid £147 [$210] for the course—her personal story. She suffered from anorexia and was told by three doctors she would never be able to orgasm. A guy called Kapil from India tells the 60-strong audience of his crippling addiction to pornography. OM turned their lives around, they say, and the audience is rapt. I think this is when a guy on my row starts crying.
Let's back up. Orgasmic Meditation, we're told, is a practice that involves very focused, concentrated stroking of the clitoris, by either a man or woman, for a timed 15-minute session. There's no eye contact allowed and the stroker wears gloves, maintaining focus on the genitals only while asking yes or no questions such as: "would you like me to use a lighter stroke?" No chat, no penetration, and you can only refer to vaginas as "pussies." After 15 minutes, a timer goes off and the session is up. The stroker then presses the palms of their hands against the woman's vulva to bring down the swelling of her genitals.
After the explanations, a microphone is passed around the room and everyone has to say their name and what they're feeling. There are several pass-the-mic sessions during the day, where people say they're feeling curious, excited, trepidatious, hot. Several say they feel like they've "come home."
And then the demonstration starts. The day's headline act. I couldn't take a photographer in, but this is an example of what it looks like, as per some images that OneTaste—the company behind Orgasmic Meditation—sent.
A man and a woman come to the front of the class. She jumps up on a bed positioned in front of the chairs, knickerless underneath her dress. She plants her feet together with her knees apart and the man puts on his vinyl gloves, lubes up his finger, and begins to gently stroke her clitoris with precision. Within 15 seconds she seems to be orgasming wildly. The pressure in the room drops and the audience is captivated. The guy next to me, who I'd just had a lovely chat with, is making a low guttural noise. People in the room are calling out what they feel—tingling in their feet, a heavy clitoris, shooting in their calves. Someone says something about their perineum.
I speak to Dette, a wonderfully sunny, certified OM consultant and former computer scientist from Mexico, who says that it took her three months to fully get into it—but then her life changed. A friend first recommended she try it out. "When he mentioned the word 'clitoris' to me, I felt itchy. I wanted him to stop saying it. I was just living in my brain, not my body," she says.
"At the beginning I was having heartbeats and sensations I'd never felt before. My scientist friends thought I needed to go to hospital," she says. She went in skeptical, unsure, and then embraced OM and said everything improved, from her sex life to her relationship with her family.
At the end of the day's course, people say this feels like the first chapter of the rest of their lives, and that they're finally accessing parts of themselves that they thought would be locked away forever. They say they feel part of a new community. I feel like a head in a jar and my knickers remain bone dry, but there we go. Some of what we've seen feels like anything you'd already know, if you've dated or shagged anyone committed to really working the clit.
But still, today has shown me that orgasm is possible outside the old 'penetrative straight sex with the one you love' scenario. People in the audience believe there's more out there—not just for their sex lives, but in other parts of their day-to-day existences. If OM helps people connect with others and learn to come, then I can't really argue with that.
For more on orgasms and OM, watch a clip from a recent VICELAND episode of BALLS DEEP:
VICE was the guest of TurnOn Britain
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