Was I in a sex cult? I still don't know if I was in a sex cult. Was it edgy with some weird power dynamics and lots of erotic energy? Yes, yes it was. In my six years involved in OneTaste I still don't have answers to most of my questions.
To say my relationship with OneTaste and Orgasmic Meditation (OM) is complicated would be an understatement--it was in fact more of a continually chaotic, rewounding, and transformational collaboration.
Despite all of that I miss who I was during the time I was embedded in its teachings. While I didn't work for OneTaste, I was deeply involved through taking classes, participating in group orgasmic meditation practices, going to lectures at the center, and even worked at one of their events giving astrology readings--pictured left. Yet years later I still can't seem to grok the impact it had on me, though writing helps me make sense of my soul...so here I go.
Last week when I logged into Netflix the OneTaste trailer showed up and my stomach dropped. A slew of unprocessed emotions and anxiety coursed through my body followed by flashes of memories. I watched the film sitting there stunned as people said and named things I had only felt but not been able to admit to myself or anyone else for that matter. I even caught an image of the back of my head in a lecture in the footage. I haven't talked much about OneTaste to anyone--not even my therapist--still feeling in a fog about what the experience was and how to process it even after so much time.
It has been 12 years since I OMed for the first time and I’m finally ready to “come” out (sorry, couldn’t resist the easy pun there) of the OneTaste closet. Like many survivors of sexual trauma, I somehow put myself in situations that were meant to pull out the pain--and I believe OneTaste was one of those, including many others that I won't name in this article for fear my parents will read this.;)
I don't remember what first inspired me to go to OneTaste or how I even heard about it, all I knew is one fall day in 2010 I found myself in a small room off Folsom Street with 10 other nervous strangers. It was a long day and I cried at all the breaks not knowing why--something scared me and excited me all at once. I understand now how powerful OMing was for me and its revolutionary ideals. I felt its potential to help women like myself reclaim and re-inhabit their bodies, and with it their sexuality. To practice receiving pleasure--still something I struggle with--in a world where sex often focuses on men.
Philosopher Michel Foucault (thanks to my friend for introducing him to me during our grad school time…you know who you are) talks about the evolution of a woman’s sexuality from an object of desire to a subject of pleasure. OneTaste gave me an idea of what this might look like. Like many women I have a strange relationship to my sexuality. I want to be desired and yet then feel overwhelmed by the attention. I want to have enjoyable sex and yet a lot of times get so overwhelmed I can’t say what I want. I feel inappropriate for wanting it, and scold myself for even wanting it.
I feel equal parts participating in my own virgin-whore split of not being good partner material and also to let my desire take me over. Truth is, I want to bite and scratch feel all of my turn on with someone I love dearly--to live out my duality as a sacred prostitute of sorts enjoying the peaks and depths of sexuality and sensuality and yet I didn't get a feeling of that possibility until OneTaste.
After a few hours at OneTaste for the first time, it suddenly seemed so obvious why as a “spiritual seeker” I never found what I was looking for. I was attempting to transcend, when my spiritual path required a descent--a feminine descent into myself, my body, and my depth. I have always found it easy to access an experience of unity and lightness, what I struggled with was accessing my uniqueness and darkness. The parts of my soul that yearned for me, as the unique expression of the universe and not just the spiritual being who wanted to merge with existence. With OM I could do both. For so long I followed spiritual practices that took me out of my body or required stillness, but I wanted a practice where I can squirm and writhe. Enter the cornerstone of OneTaste--Orgasmic Meditation or OM.
It took going against every instinct in my body to take my pants off in a room of strangers and allow a man I didn't know to touch me and stare at my private parts for 15 minutes--and for good reason. I hadn't even considered my past sexual trauma at that point, only that the facilitator was asking us to be as uncomfortable as possible so I went for it and the rest became OMing herstory.
The first time I OMed was with a tough, motorcycle guy in a leather jacket and it was awkward to say the least. I remember when he asked me to OM with him, he was terrified and I wasn't used to being intimidating--I liked it. I felt completely numb when he touched me, and he obviously had never found a woman's clitoris before. I pretended to make noises anyway, protecting his ego and my own vulnerability to receive, but also the opposite of everything I knew OneTaste was wanting me to try on. Thank goodness my second session was with an experienced OMer, I felt relaxed, lighthearted, but still nervous. However, it was after the practice ended that I knew something important had happened.
My most vivid and magical memories often occurred after OMing. The first time as I left and walked down the street to see the guy I was dating at work I felt power coursing through my body. On my way to see him someone popped out of a coffee shop and offered me a free drink and I found $10 on the sidewalk--the magic seemed to show up immediately. Then I walked up to him interrupting him at work without apology, then told him to take me to dinner, he agreed excitedly and then did a handstand. When I asked him later he said he hadn't done one in a decade but something about me in that moment was so exciting that he felt out of control.
For the next few years I attended lectures and OMed with a few people, then eventually took the class again. This time in a huge room with a lot of people and I decided not to do the practice at the end of the day during the optional lab. I told myself I didn’t feel comfortable enough with anyone from the class to do the practice, but really I was scared. Scared of the power I felt in myself from the last time I practiced. Secretly scared of the woman I would be if I actually inhabited my body and myself, worried people would be afraid of me and that I would become entirely undateable and my already dwindling pool of potential partners already felt low.
Again I continued going to group OMs, women's events, and monthly lectures--especially when Nicole Daedone was giving them at the new beautiful space off Market Street. Then there was Nicole. She inspired and enthralled me, I loved sitting in the jam-packed rooms hearing her speak--everything she said made sense to me. How female pleasure could change the world and that desire was the key to life. I remember her telling a beautiful story about how monogamy was so difficult because we had to keep making the same rose beautiful over and over again. Every now and then she would say something and my stomach would clench, but I ignored it and often got caught up in the celebrity-like status of her.
One of my favorite things was when women lectured at OneTaste because they would often sit with their legs wide open. It was as if I could feel all of their power shooting out from their vulva and had to try not to look, especially when they were wearing skirts. I wanted to be more like them...and I knew they wanted that.
After my practice became more regular, I felt more like the woman I want to be than ever before. No longer afraid to walk the mile from the OneTaste Center home late at night. I would sometimes shoot my hands into the air feeling like there was power running through them...once a power line sparked when I angled at it and it hit a bird. I was terrified of myself and also loved it. Call it Kundalini or whatever you want, I felt profoundly powerful and I loved and hated it all at the same time. I sometimes scared myself with my boldness. I had more Kundalini experiences in two weeks of OM than I did with years of Kundalini yoga or 100s of ashram meditations.
I surrendered to my body every time I did the practice...to the wild feminine within me. With each OM I felt the enormous power of my own life force that pulls me towards everything I want. For so long I had been so out of touch with my body that I was always confused about what I wanted. I exited myself when desires came up, moved away from them.
The desire for OM medicine was incredible and it started to run me (or ruin me). Not in a Buddha-desire-is suffering way, but a I’m-a-woman-that-the-Buddha-will-never-fully-understand way. My desire had been forced under so many layers of niceness I can’t suffer because I don’t even know what I want. I loved the woman I was becoming, she felt more like me. Sometimes during the practice I would feel numb again--hello trauma--and other times my whole body would come alive.
I could feel the subtlety of the down and up strokes and groan in pleasure with both...but I fucking loved the down strokes. They took me into myself, away from the merging of the practice with the electricity of a finger on a nerve ending and instead touched a core part of me often ignored. The place of authenticity and pure Eros of my own life force.
Pre-OMing my niceness made my boundaries non-existent and everything I wanted felt unsure. After OMing everything was clear and I could feel all of my "yes" again. OneTaste showed me all the places I was stingy with intimacy, but it was attempting to show me in a way that ultimately was unhealthy. Pushing me into thinking intimacy was something that happened immediately when I allowed a stranger to stroke me rather than something that grows over time.
It did help me see that I can cultivate erotic connection with someone without the pressure of sex. I confronted a part of my body that I've been taught to hide and shame. I loved that it was a practice I couldn't do alone, it requires an other, just like life. OMing helped me realize that through partnership and others we become the powerful beings we are meant to be.
The second time I took the Intro to OM course was with a partner of mine, I was excited to share the experience with someone else and I loved him dearly. I had never been in a relationship with such devotion and receptivity. Though after several months our sex life was struggling and I thought OMing would help. He mostly spent the entire class charming and making jokes and when it came time to OM I couldn't. We tried at his apartment the weekend after, but as we OMed I knew our relationship needed to end. I was devastated, but I couldn't deny the power of the practice--I can't hide from my desire with OM.
The last time I took the course in 2017 I met a guy in tech and we started OMing regularly at his apartment, once he asked me to make out and when things started escalating I felt scared. I was practicing receiving, something so rare for me as a woman and suddenly it felt I owed him, as if our OMing had been keeping tally and he was waiting for the right moment. This was when things started to feel different for me, something had shifted that I couldn't put my finger on (pun intended).
By this point I had been around long enough that sometimes "Master Strokers" would ask me to OM, and it was so divine that I kept going to the group sessions and even to the new women's groups that were emerging. I couldn't get myself out of the OneTaste orbit even when the energy started to change. They started playing music before someone would come up to talk and there was mention of a "beast" and sexual freedom. The pricing and pressure to sign up for more courses got more and more intense. At the time as a poor graduate student it seemed like a pipe dream. I would dread after lectures or any event when all the sales people would start talking to people, that was when I would immediately rush out of the building. The people whom I experience as nice suddenly felt pushy and wanting something from me. My body didn't feel as safe as it used to, but I didn't listen...the desire for the next peak kept me going for a few years after.
Since then I stayed away from OneTaste, but I'm aware of how much it still sits in my psyche. As I type this I glance at a wall hanging in my bedroom that reads "Love Happens in the Messy" that I got my last time at the center on Market Street. The simple truth of it reminds me that love and connection is no simple task to taste. Nicole Daedone's book Slow Sex remains on my shelf next to my philosophy and depth psychology books. I often think about my "tumescence type" that I learned about during my first workshop and how I still get afraid of the things I want most. The paper quiz is folded inside Nicole's book and my original notes about my partner at the time versus mine.
I didn't feel prepared for how much watching the documentary would impact me. Hard to admit to myself that I haven't fully looked at the things and places I did that created even more unsafety in my body. And the confusion I still feel about a group where I felt so much joy and sweetness and also so much pain that I convinced myself was good for me.
Like any complicated, transformational relationship, OneTaste rewounded and healed me simultaneously. And I'm grateful I stopped when I did, that I pulled away when I wasn't able to have the conversations I needed around trauma. I see that I have a propensity for wanting to join things a bit cult-like during times when I feel lonely. OMing and OneTaste served its purpose and I'm grateful for my unconscious that pulled me there as someone new to San Francisco who had no idea what pain was her body. Intimacy is no longer something I need to share with a guy I met in a class nor do I get the urge to have strangers stroke my clitoris.
Sometimes in chairs I find myself sitting with my legs wide open channeling the women I admired from OneTaste, perhaps hoping to remember a part of me I have lost since then. I miss being a part of something so edgy and unique with so many fascinating people--some I am still in touch with today. Like many communities, there exists a shelf life and I'm grateful I was there even for part of it.
After all of this, I miss the me I was during those years, she was more powerful...less people pleasing. More in herself and less focused on others. She let her desire lead and it took her to many magical and strange places--like OneTaste.
Was on the Dateable podcast talking about my experience, listen to that here.
Tagged: onetaste, om, desire, passion, orgasmic meditation