Sex & Relationships

What I Learned About My Vagina at an Orgasmic Meditation Class

"I’d been waiting for confirmation that I have the potential to have an amazing orgasm, and my vagina is beautiful."

Photo Credit: lenina11only / Shutterstock

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday in New York City, and I’ve already heard a stranger say the words “orgasm” and “pussy” in front of 50 people in folding chairs. No one is scandalized. And why would they be? This is, after all, the Orgasmic Meditation workshop.

According to the Orgasmic Meditation website, the practice is when “a partner strokes a woman’s clitoris for 15 minutes with no goal other than to feel, connect, and be present. With practice, you develop a larger state of consciousness, have better intimacy, and stronger connections.”

In front of the room stand our valiant instructors for the day—the very young and attractive Sasha and Dave. The two explain exactly what Orgasmic Meditation, or OM, is. I’m surprised that they have a sense of humor about what we’re doing: “This whole concept is weird,” Dave admits. “Most of you aren’t even going to hear the majority of what we say, because you’re worried about taking your pants off. And that’s normal.” Everyone laughs, and the instructors assure us that no one has to stay for the “hands on” portion of the day. All that matters is that everyone leaves feeling good, with a little more love for themselves and others. That means that some people are happy to simply learn about the practice, and then try orgasmic meditation with a partner separately.

Sasha and Dave also bring up the importance of communicating your comfort level. “If you say yellow or red,” Sasha says, “We will immediately stop what we’re doing and check in with you. If you want, you can talk to the group about your feelings.” Dave adds, “Otherwise, we have staff in the back who can talk to you outside of the room.” This makes me feel better—after all, we’re in an extremely emotionally charged environment. I can only imagine the poor soul who paid the class fee, thinking they’d just be breathing and chanting ... only to realize that they are about to get a full-frontal vagina view.

To my left is a 21-year-old personal trainer—someone who I would never expect to set foot in a class labeled “meditation,” orgasmic or otherwise. He’s wearing a tight gray t-shirt that clings to his muscles and says “STRENGTH” in bold letters across the chest. He shifts in his seat, clearly nervous. Next to him are a smiling uncle and nephew, the former with an Irish accent and a pot belly, the latter waifish and in his mid-twenties. Neither of them seem to think it’s weird that they’re about to see a bunch of vaginas with a family member. In front of me is a 70-year-old woman in a suit jacket chatting to a couple in their forties with fake tans.

Put simply, this is not the crowd of wide-eyed hippies that I was expecting.

One by one, everyone in the room says why they’re taking the class. “I want to become closer to him” one woman in her fifties says as she smiles and gives her partner’s arm a loving squeeze. The next person, a balding man in a plaid shirt, bravely admits that he’s there to let go of the shame he feels about his sexuality. The oldest man in the class, the tie-dye wearer that I was expecting, bursts into tears and says that he wants “to reconnect with the spiritual act that warriors have been doing for centuries.” And by spiritual act, he means jerking someone off.

Finally, it’s my turn. And truthfully, I wasn’t totally sure why I decided to sign up for the Orgasmic Meditation class, other than to have a great story. Yet, with 49 pairs of eyes on me, my brain surprises me and conjures up the answer: “I want to learn to love my body, and understand more about how it works.”

***

I consider myself “sexually empowered.” I’ve written publicly about my interest in kink and my efforts to love myself like a Goddess. The experience of publishing a piece on these topics taught me that discussing the most personal of subjects—sex—in such a public forum was a great way to teach others, and myself, more about sexuality. That’s when I began to research other forms of sexual expression and stumbled across OM.

Yet despite my gung-ho, sex-positive attitude, I have a tight knot of anxiety in my stomach when it’s time for the class to get hands-on. It’s hard for me to admit why, because I know that my feelings aren’t very “empowered.” But despite knowing that I should think otherwise, I am embarrassed about the appearance of my vagina ... and the fact that I have a lotof trouble orgasming.

My entire life I’ve been craving one of those earth-shaking, mind-numbing orgasms that make your toes curl. So far, despite muchexperimentation, all I’ve gotten is a little spasm and ... that’s it. And that’s never even been with a partner. I’ve made a promise to myself to never fake an orgasm, but I have definitely let men down in the past because I never had “the big moment.” I was seeing a scientist in Boston, for example, who made my orgasm his own personal experiment. Every time we were together he had a different method to try—completely vanilla sex was the control. Needless to say, my When Harry Met Sally “I’ll have what she’s having” moment never happened with that kind of pressure.

I try not to think about my shame surrounding my own anatomy. When I’m with a partner, the lights are so dim, and my mind is so preoccupied, that I don’t think about the appearance of my vagina that much. Yet, I’m suddenly realizing, it’s an entirely different story when my legs are akimbo next to trainer man, who is putting all-natural lube on his rubber gloved hands under bright fluorescent lights. This moment gives my unacknowledged shame the hard kick to the forefront of my brain that it needs.

As Eve Ensler says in The Vagina Monologues, “I was worried about my own vagina ... There’s so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them—like the Bermuda Triangle.” And if Eve can admit it, so can I. I am self conscious about my vagina, both in terms of appearance and functionality. (What am I talking about, a car?) I understand that these feelings are not “body positive,” but tell that to my brain. Thanks to the porn that, gasp, yes, I have watched, I’ve been conditioned to think that my long labia are subpar to a clean, labia-less Southern region. So, my legs butterflied, razor bumps clearer than they’ve ever been, I panic.

Women surround me on all sides, their legs splayed open as their partner slowly strokes their clit. Everyone constantly checks in with each other. “Can you move slower?” “Thank you.” “Would you like me to make bigger circles.” “No, thank you.” However, Personal Trainer seems to be having trouble finding my clit. He has to pull my long labia apart, lift up my hood, and put his finger on the spot. Apparently, this is difficult. He’s embarrassed. I’m embarrassed. The instructors keep coming over and redirecting him. No one is getting as much attention from the teachers as me. Hot shame rises in my face as I listen to the increasingly audible moans of the women around me. This is all the proof I need—my vagina is weird. It’s been confirmed by teachers who see pantless women on the daily. My body is broken.

I desperately want to reach “the orgasm state,” or a state of pleasure. Of course, this doesn’t stop the feelings of disappointment that well up in me after the 15 minutes of OM-ing are finally done. I realize that I’d been waiting for confirmation that I have the potential to have an amazing orgasm, and my vagina is beautiful. Neither of those things happened.

Once I have my pants back on, I rush straight to the bathroom and I cry. I cry because I think I’m broken. I cry because I think I’ll never have an incredible moment of sexual pleasure. I cry because I feel like my body is broken, and no man will want to stay with me because of it. Dysfunctional body = unlovable person.

Once my tear ducts finally dry out, I emerge from the bathroom. People are sitting on the floor, chatting and eating dark chocolate. In any other space I would keep my intense emotions to myself. Yet, after everyone has been so honest with each other all day, I feel compelled to join a circle and confess what I’m feeling. Despite my embarrassment, I’m only met with support. Surprisingly, it’s the men who are especially helpful, giving me hope for every douchey frat bro who makes me feel like men are garbage humans.

A guy with a ponytail encourages me to let go of my shame, and understand that all vaginas are beautiful. A middle-aged IT worker says that every man should feel lucky to give a woman pleasure and shouldn’t hang his own personal pride on her orgasm. Even the personal trainer, who by this point has sweat through his shirt with nerves, tells me that my nether regions are fine. “It’s like having a slanted dick,” he says. “At first, you’re kinda like, what? But then you get used to it. Whatever.” Okay, maybe not the best phrasing. But he meant well.

At the end of the class, everyone says something that they learned. When it’s my turn, I take a deep breath: “I realized that I need to work on loving my body.”

As I walk down Broadway after the workshop, I keep thinking about what one OM veteran said during our final group reflection: “When I OM’ed for the first time, I felt like I was unzipped. I felt so vulnerable. But then I realized that I didn’t want to zip myself up.”

I don’t want to do orgasmic meditation again—at least in an anonymous group setting. Sure, I love receiving sexual attention, and not being expected to do anything in return. Yet being surrounded by so many people for such a specific sexual activity, I learned, makes me feel too self conscious. I can’t focus my attention on simply enjoying the pleasure I feel, and asking for adjustments to heighten the sensations. However, once I have a long-term partner, I am be open to OM-ing with them in a private space.

The Orgasmic Meditation workshop helped me realize how deep my shame of my vagina’s appearance truly is. I haven’t addressed these feelings before, because I felt like I was “sexually empowered” enough to realize that I should love my body. But the truth is, I haven’t fully reached that point yet. And now that I’ve uncovered that truth, I know that I don’t want to zip myself back up.

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