Originally published @ Cosmopoilitan
The focus is on removing any other distractions and prioritizing the process of pleasure itself.
There are several different types of meditation, from zen and chakra to yoga, and they all have their benefits. But, there’s one that you probably won’t find on meditation apps and that is the unique practice of orgasmic meditation, otherwise known as OM.
What is orgasmic meditation?
Orgasmic meditation involves a partner stroking the upper left quadrant of the clitoris (as this part is supposedly the most sensitive) for 15 minutes, gently and with a lubricated finger. Sounds pretty familiar, but how exactly does it work as a form of meditation?
How does orgasmic mediation work?
Despite its name, the practice isn’t solely for women and people with vulvas to reach the end goal of an orgasm. While a more intense orgasm is a bonus, during this 15-minute session, the focus is on removing any other distractions and prioritizing the process of pleasure itself.
It may sound a lot like regular sexual stimulation, give or take a few minutes, however sex and relationship psychotherapist, Miranda Christophers, explains the difference. “Orgasmic mediation is to do with the mindfulness aspect. It’s being aware that other thoughts may come in, but moving them to one side and then going back into focusing purely on the sensation. It’s about focusing within the body rather than within the mind and really noticing the feeling.”
Essentially the meditation aspect comes from being present in the moment, rather than focusing too strongly on how long it’s taking you to reach orgasm, saying the right things or looking at pornography, or your partner.
Where does orgasmic meditation come from?
Orgasmic meditation is a practice that was adopted and made mainstream in 2004 by co-founder of OneTaste, Nicole Daedone. Daedone claims she was introduced to this practice by a Buddhist monk in her 2011 TEDx Talk. During Daedone’s leadership of the company, she marketed orgasmic meditation as an opportunity for people to reclaim their sexuality, improve their sex lives and even help with recovery from sexual trauma.
Quite a lot of power and pressure to put on such a simple method, but with these claims in mind, it’s not surprising that orgasmic mediation became so popular.
OneTaste was a US business that taught orgasmic mediation workshops, including dozens of women ‘OM-ing’ together. It got really popular, but faced a great deal of controversy over the price of its workshops and the way it ran its operations, particularly when Bloomberg published an expose on the company in 2018. “Many who’ve become involved in the upper echelons describe an organization that they found ran on predatory sales and pushed members to ignore their financial, emotional, and physical boundaries in ways that left them feeling traumatized,” the investigation found.
The company was also described by former community members and staff as similar to a “prostitution ring”. OneTaste responded calling the claims “outrageous” and denied that employees were ecnouraged to engage in sexual acts with each other. Shortly after this, OneTaste closed its US locations.
Orgasmic meditation wasn’t exclusive to the US either, TurnOnBritain brought this practice to the UK, also with in-person classes, coaching and events but has since stopped providing these offerings, according to their website. Instead, they are offering private consultations.
There are a range of OM meetup groups worldwide, either no longer running classes or with postponed classes due to COVID-19. So, while OneTaste as a company name may no longer be around, OM affiliates still exist.
The appeal of orgasmic meditation
Orgasmic mediation centres female pleasure, which is naturally alluring to most. But on a deeper level, and with the alleged benefits in mind, it speaks to those who seek a more profound experience with their bodies.
Miranda says, “There is a lot of benefit to focusing the body on sensations and can include genital touching. This can progress into mindful self-pleasure or mindful masturbation. If they’re experiencing sexual dysfunction such as vaginismus, it’s a way they can go into really being present in their body, feeling the sensations, and then allowing arousal to build through that.”
Although orgasmic meditation is sold as a partnered experience, somatic psychologist and sex therapist, Dr Holly Richmond, says a woman or person with a vagina can perform this act by themselves too.
“This practice creates an intention around sexuality to really focus on how you can feel best in your body,” she says. “The best sex starts with knowing ourselves, our own bodily exploration and what feels good to us without the projection of what feels good for other people.”
Is orgasmic mediation an authentic practice?
While Miranda and Dr Holly see the benefits of orgasmic mediation, they both say it wouldn’t be their go-to recommendation for their own clients.
As mentioned, the founding company, OneTaste, had its controversies, but even if you separate the company from the act of orgasmic meditation, it isn’t a flawless practice. For Dr Holly, her issue with orgasmic meditation largely lies in the name.
“I love that it’s a practice about presence, and I think all women would benefit from that, but because of the nature of the name ‘orgasmic’, it feels like a goal-oriented process,” she says.
“In my practice, I would work on developing a sexual template with a woman and figure out what turns her on and what her buttons for desire and arousal are. This would be a few weeks or months into her self-pleasure protocol.
“It could hurt if she just went for orgasmic meditation with the goal of ‘this is definitely going to help me reach orgasm’. But if this practice doesn’t work for her, I wouldn’t want to put any more shame or blame, [or aid in] someone feeling broken or incapable, so that’s why I like to start with just self-exploration and pleasure.”
As a result, focusing on the mindfulness aspect of orgasmic meditation is the priority here, but even with that, Miranda states that this practice shouldn’t be seen as the ‘be all and end all’ of all things pleasure in attempts to be one with your body.
“Mindful pleasure is great, but there’s nothing wrong with also enjoying more eroticised pleasures and orgasms. Nothing needs to be one dimensional,” she says.
“You could try different things and the important thing is that nothing becomes too narrow. The wider the lens and interests, then the more enjoyable and healthier somebody’s sex life may be.”
Whatever you might think of orgasmic meditation, if we strip it down to its simplest form of just combining mindfulness and elongated pleasure, it’s fairly harmless. But, relying on it as a DIY or partnered experience to resolve all of your sexual issues or awaken your sexual wellbeing, isn’t recommended by certified therapists – and understandably so.