If you feel like there's something wrong with your life, maybe your problem is you aren't getting off enough—at least, that's what proponents of the OneTaste movement say.
Can you wank your way to inner peace? According to the OneTaste movement, you can. OneTaste is an organization dedicated to "the partnered practice of female orgasm," which it calls orgasmic meditation (OM). This is much like any other form of meditation, only instead of focusing on deep breathing or repeated mantras, OM is all about having someone—anyone—stroke your clitoris for 15 minutes.
It works like this: after building a "nest" out of soft furnishings, the stroking partner lubes a gloved finger, sets a timer for exactly 15 minutes, and strokes the "upper left quadrant" of the woman's clitoris with no goal but to "feel what is happening in the moment." Before he (or she) gets down to business, the stroker examines and describes the vagina he's about to stroke, discussing color, texture, shape, and any feelings he's having while looking at it. This is a pretty uncomfortable thing to watch. At the end of the allotted time, both parties share a glimpse of their experience, using sentences like, "A white light extended from your pussy through to my finger." (In OM, the vagina is always, always, a "pussy.") Theoretically, the experience is equally intense for both participants—stroker and strokee.
OneTaste has grown quickly since its founder, Nicole Daedone, set up the first center in San Francisco in 2001. Thousands of flush-faced members now swear by it, while a few critics have gone so far as to describe it as a sex cult. One of Daedone's most ardent followers is Justine Dawson, a former social worker who used to help homeless women and children but who now dedicates herself full-time to the pursuit of helping women come. I recently had a chat with her to find out why she was so into orgasms.
VICE: What is orgasmic meditation, in your words? It kind of sounds like tantra, but it's supposedly nonsexual, right?
Justine Dawson: OM is held within a container—15 minutes, start to finish, no reciprocation, and no goal. This separates it from sex and puts it in the realm of practice.
So it's a bit like tantric sex?
It's much simpler than tantra in that it doesn't involve any visualization, special working with the breath, or deliberate movement of energy within the body.
OK, so what are we aiming for here? What happens after 15 minutes?
There's no ultimate goal, but most people who practice over time experience greater connection, rich sensation, more energy in their life, and a general feeling of ignition in their bodies. It's similar to yoga or meditation, where you might not feel all the benefits every time you practice, but over time you experience a significant difference—in this case, in your sex, relationships, and general spark.
So there doesn't have to be an actual orgasm in the 15 minutes of OM to make it successful?
No, climax isn't a goal in OM. It may happen and it may not. But taking the goal-oriented pressure off makes the whole thing a lot more fun and pleasurable for both parties.
What about the women who have difficulty reaching orgasm from clitoral stimulation alone?
Many women who have been diagnosed anorgasmic have reported experiencing climax since starting OM. And for me personally, I never experienced an orgasm from penetration before, but now regularly do. OM has changed my relationship with orgasm entirely.
Can you expand on that a bit?
Well, before I started practicing OM, I had a set standard of what good sex looked like. It was spontaneous, we would give and receive equally, and he would always ensure I climaxed. There was a certain accounting to the whole thing—I stroke you, you stroke me; it was like a commerce model. Now climax isn't nearly as interesting to me. I experience a much deeper and richer range of sensation. Sometimes it's subtle and intricate, sometimes huge and intense. But I'm always inside of it—rather than in my head, which is where I used to spend a lot of time during sex.
What about him? How does he get off?
I know my partner can feel it too, while stroking. And because he can feel it, the whole reciprocity question falls away. We both have access to the same thing, just from different positions.
An introductory video to OM.
What about the male orgasm, though? Why is there no male stroking technique?
There is a male stroking technique, although we focus on the female orgasm. It gives men the opportunity to experience their whole bodies, starting with their finger, as a sex organ.
To be honest, that doesn't sound like a fair deal.
Many women bring obligation into the equation of sex. We do it to make our partners happy, so that they'll do something in response or for a number of other complex reasons. We don't just do it for our pleasure. That's because most women aren't full sexually, and so when we touch men, fuck them, and stroke or suck their cocks, we aren't doing it with all of ourselves. But, when a woman has OMed for a while, she changes, and the way she enters sex is from overflow. And that is an entirely different experience for both her and the people she's having sex with.
Why is female sexuality so confusing for some people?
For many women, desire is shameful. If we're not getting off, we often think it's us, some deficit in our sexuality. We don't realize that our bodies know exactly what they want and would feel so good if only we listened to them and asked them what they want. In OM, we teach women to do this. We also train men to make simple offers that women can say yes or no to: "Would you like me to stroke faster? Would you like me to use a shorter stroke?" That way, two people can hone in on the greatest sensation. Men find it relieving to receive direct instruction on what will feel good. They no longer have to read women's minds.
And this partnership is equally stimulating for the stroker and strokee? Does it have to be a male and female partnership?
OM simply requires one person with a clit and another person with a finger, so women can equally OM together. Having been stroked, as well as having stroked for many years, I can say that the experience is equally impactful from both positions. It's wild, but true. Rather than one person giving and the other receiving, it's more like two people plugging into an electric socket and both feeling the electricity run through their bodies. There's science that explains this—the biology of limbic connection. But most importantly, experience speaks for itself.
Why do you guys always call it a pussy and never a vagina?
Pussy is just more charged, isn't it? Going into charged territory is sexy. It increases sensation. It has us question things. We like that. The funny thing about pussy is all the stroking connotations. A couple of weeks ago, we had an article in the Sun. Right next to it, they put a piece titled "Why Stroking Cats Can Help Beat Stress." Turns out the Sun has a sense of humor.
Do you think having a specific set of cunni-lingo is important to the overall practice? Are you trying to, in effect, teach people how to speak about sex in a way that changes their philosophy while they do it?
Yes, that is a part of it. We do like using charged words: Pussy, cock, fucking, sucking. They go right to the center of shame and turn it around. They have a rawness to them. Sensational sex is raw. You don't need to add anything to it. No flowery language, no yoni, no sacred. When you strip sex down to its most unfiltered components, that's when you find out what's actually there. You can stop pretending. You don't have to be anything other than what you are.
Can you describe your first OM experience?
I don't actually remember much about my first OM. The experience itself wasn't mind-blowing, but what was amazing was what I felt afterward. It was like a door deep inside of me opened and feelings I didn't even know I had started flooding through—pulsing sex, weeping sadness, hilarious laughter, raging anger.
A TED Talk by Nicole Daedone, founder of OneTaste.
How has your life changed because of OM?
After that first OM, my pussy turned on in a way I had never felt it. It was alive. And I started to feel more alive, too. I opened my sex. I had a lot more energy. I felt more creative. Six and a half years later, my life is fully immersed in OM and everything that goes with it. Under my photo in the high school yearbook it says, "Most likely to become a nun." Not anymore!
Has the British population responded well to OM as a movement?
I would say Brits enjoy a good amount of skepticism. I've been told there is an exalted culture of critique here. So people have the ability to use intellectual defense at a whole other level. On the other hand, Brits are more reserved and less expressed. There is a lot brewing inside that is dying to come out. When British people discover OM, it gives them permission to be real and express themselves in a whole new way.
Does it tend to make practitioners more, uh, sexually prolific?
OM opens up desire. For some people, they might have had a lot of sex [and] exploration in kink and other arenas. For others, they may have never let their sex out—it's been like a wild animal living in a very small cage and, through OM, they begin to open the door. For me, I was definitely in the second camp. Through OM, I came to truly love sex. I lost my inhibition against asking for what I want. My body is more alive and turned on. I have more of the sex I want, more of the time.
Guess it's tough to argue with that. Some profiles I've read have dubbed OM a feminist movement. Do you think that's true?
I would say OM is for everyone who wants more connection, energy and turn on. Feminists would get a lot out of OM, but so would conservatives. I think most people would benefit from a little pussy stroking.
Follow Monica on Twitter: @monicaheisey
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