Want to know the secret to personal fulfillment and creative flow? San Francisco company OneTaste believes Orgasmic Meditation is the key – a 15-minute intimate practice inspired by the principles of the Slow Food movement. Nicci Talbot went to a lecture with its founder Nicole Daedone to find out more.
Last week I had an email from a coaching friend inviting me to a ‘Clit Skit’ in Brighton to learn ‘how to OM’. I’ve heard plenty about Orgasmic Meditation, some positive, some negative and thought it seemed a bit too Landmark-y. All that ‘sharing frames’ talk and ‘nest building’ is a turn off and I’m not into group sharing particularly. Also you need a partner to OM as it’s not a self-pleasure technique, which changes the game somewhat. “Fancy OM-ing with me tonight?” isn’t a standard invitation between friends.
My friend was full of enthusiasm however and said the new TurnON group is being led by a medical professional and that there’s been a push to bring OM into the medical arena, which would be helpful. It is life-changing stuff she says and Nicole is an “amazing speaker” so I would definitely benefit from going to the talk if I could make it…
I struggle with the “business of orgasm”, the endless search for a little pink pill to fix women’s ‘sexual problems’ and the commodification of our bodies but when you look at OM for what it actually is – a 15-minute structured clitoral massage – it’s actually very simple. It involves people not products (organic lube and ‘Powered by Orgasm’ tee shirts aside) and aims to raise sexual energy and optimise our hormones by “recalibrating the limbic system” (the science bit is on their website).
Given that I’ve been juggling several projects lately I could certainly do with a little recalibration. I’m also interested in developing a structured daily practice to work alongside the jade egg that will boost my energy levels and enhance my creativity. So why not? It’s been four years since Nicole was last in London so I’m curious to hear what she has to say. Things have moved on and I wonder how her own personal practice has changed since she set off down this path.
OneTaste is an American company, which has expanded from its San Francisco commune roots to become one of the top 5000 fastest-growing companies (INC Magazine). Nicole has appeared on TEDX talking about ‘The 15-Minute Orgasm” – the cure for hunger in Western women, alongside various eminent speakers in the education sphere and was featured in Tim Ferris’ best-selling book “The Four-Hour Body”. However, there’s been talk of cults, gurus and questions about the ethics of making money from female orgasm. The sex coach I was sitting next to told me she’d signed up for a Mastery course with Nicole Daedone, one of the most expensive trainings she’d ever done and she wasn’t there for half of it. She made a complaint which Nicole took on the chin apparently, but it’s not great PR. This 2013 article for Gawker by journalist Nitasha Tiku gives a thorough briefing into the history of OM.
I admire Nicole for realising her vision and creating a simple, mindful practice that enhances intimacy and relationships. It may not be to everyone’s taste but she has brought female pleasure and orgasm into sharp focus and says, quite sensibly, that she would rather use pleasure than denial to enhance people’s lives. Denial of desire is the cornerstone of most religion and it fucks people up.
So what does OM involve? You ‘build your nest’ (blankets and cushions) and the woman undresses from the waist down and gets into a comfortable position to receive the massage. Her partner wears latex gloves and uses lube to gently and slowly stroke the upper left quadrant of the clitoris for 15 minutes exactly, responding to feedback from her. It is non-directive – orgasm isn’t the goal – it’s about raising sexual energy, recalibrating the hormonal system by balancing oxytocin and testosterone to put you in a ‘continuous state of orgasm’ which will improve libido, desire and energy levels over time.
Devotees say it is life-changing and has improved their sex lives and relationships as well as making them more direct and communicative in a professional sense. I find it a little odd that there’s no eye contact during the process but I suppose that makes sense if you are receiving OM from a stranger, which is what happens during group sessions.
The OM Lecture
I arrived at 7.45pm to pumping house music and a registration desk manned by attractive staff wearing ‘Powered by Orgasm’ tee shirts. Copies of Nicole’s book Slow Sex were on the table next to the Apple Macs and I was offered bottled water rather than coffee. We were ushered upstairs as the lecture was about to start and as there were no seats left (300 people there) I made my way to the front and sat on the floor next to the sex coach and her friend. Apparently they turned 40 people away… At 8pm Nicole strode in wearing a grey leather mini dress and thick strappy black heels. She looked sharp, tan and healthy, her long brown hair replaced by a sleek blonde bob. She kicked things off by asking us for 10 questions which she would try to answer…
How has your OM practice changed since starting it 20 years ago – surely you don’t still do four hours a day?
What do you do with your mind as a daily practice?
How does OM relate to feminism?
How does the male/female approach to OM differ?
What’s in it for the men?
How are OM-ing and death related?
How do we negotiate and maintain desire in a fast-paced world?
“Orgasm and death? That’s a biggie. Did you have anything specific in mind?…” She was expressive, funny and articulate, answering the questions deftly. Her academic background is women’s history and semantics and the love of language shows in her choice of words, which were dynamic and empowering. There are no vaginas at OneTaste, only pussies (and purring ones at that, I imagine).
The official line is that she was introduced to OM by a man in a Buddhist monastery, but Nitasha’s article suggests other influences including Victor Baranco, a guru type who worked at La Fayette Morehouse in the ’60s, an ‘Intentional Community’ in San Francisco, which practised ‘Responsible Hedonism’. Rolling Stone described Baranco as the “Colonel Sanders of the commune scene” and there are tales of 3-hour public demos of his “Deliberate Orgasm or DO-ing” practice, which had people flailing about, limbs akimbo. OM has inevitably been compared to this practice as Nicole was a student of his work and by default she has become a ‘lifestyle brand’ for the female orgasm, which probably doesn’t sit that comfortably. Someone has to be the face of the company and an attractive female instructing others in the art of clitoral massage is more acceptable than a man.
I found Nicole refreshingly direct and down-to-earth and what she had to say made perfect sense. She talked about the challenges of running a controversial start up, her vision for the company: ‘Yoga for your orgasm’ – bringing orgasm on to the yoga mat and having ‘sex’ in sentence without people having to whisper it. She wants to slow things down in a world that is saturated with sexual imagery, porn and designer sex toys. OneTaste teaches a simple way to do this, a daily practice that will nourish you from the inside out and aims to quash the hunger that we struggle with on a daily basis to fill ourselves up emotionally be it shopping, food, relationships or porn. She wants to increase awareness of how our bodies work, to expand women’s capacity to receive pleasure and challenge the notion that we have to earn pleasure and work hard for it.
All in all, a thought-provoking lecture, which left me hungry for more. So I guess I’ll have to get myself down to the Clit Skit and give OM a go…
Nicole Daedone: 20 Lessons in Loving
I am deeply feminine-ist but not a feminist. We need to go there together, not one sex against the other. We’re not there yet – there’s still a sense of one downmanship between the sexes.
We need to break the habit of looking for the problem and get beneath the problem to identify the desire: what do we really want in life?
One stroke can build an entire orgasm. I kept a journal of my strokes and stopped focusing on things I thought I should be experiencing. Then my orgasm got REALLY big.
TurnON is a state of being, like the first day of Spring when things are lighter and you have a spring in your step. Our aim is to have you feel like this all of the time so you go out into the world ready to create.
Tumescence is a visceral hunger, it’s biological. Cortisol rises and we need oxytocin to balance it. The aim of OM is to optimise the sex hormones so that partners are in an optimum state for relaxation and relating. OM raises oxytocin levels in the body and the only other experiences that do this to same degree are childbirth and breastfeeding.
My capacity to receive has increased since I started practising. There’s a sense that we have to work hard to deserve pleasure and OM is about learning how to receiving a gift. I can rule the world but my gift is being able to hand that power to my boyfriend and letting him be the big, bad wolf, the protector.
For the first three years employees are nourished, it’s about filling people up before they can offer it out. A balance of production and creativity.
Rather than having relationships based on need we need to learn how to fill ourselves us so that we can treat partners like the joyous luxury that they are.
OM helps men develop a ‘felt sense’ of being so that they can intimately know a woman’s body.
Orgasm is a reflection of the life process – we all come from at least one orgasm. I chose orgasm rather than Buddhism as a vehicle because it doesn’t contain any directives.
When you develop a deep practice of orgasm your system heats up and you purify, the old stuff moves out and you can release it. Women often cry during a session.
Orgasm is an analogy for enlightenment and a catalyst to ignite your blueprint to become progressively more of who you are.
Research from the Netherlands shows that during female orgasm the cortex shuts down totally and so there is no judgement centre. This is the only time this happens for women.
We live in the story of how things are rather than how they actually are.
I speak at conferences around the world and cultural differences aside, fundamentally we’re all the same: scared to lose control.
Open your desires and let them out. Stop playing small. I wrote down four desires when I was doing my practice. I learned how to receive. “You are a free woman” has become my mantra.
I had a year of living non-monogamously and started saying yes to sexual encounters, which reverses cultural stereotypes. I learned that men wouldn’t take yes for an answer. “Oh I can’t sleep with you right now because I have a meeting…” For men, the hunt is as much fun as the capture.
I had seven wedding proposals during this time and my editor said “How did that happen!?” I didn’t pull emotionally and it unnerved men: they didn’t know how to respond to me.
There are two pathways of thinking: habitual and new. Aim for the latter so that you become a creator in life and not a responder.
The man who introduced me to OM said “For 15 minutes I will stroke the upper left quadrant of your clitoris… and then we’ll talk.” That was it. It was clear that he was offering me something so the only thing left was to say yes. He dismantled my vigilance centre. I’m up here on stage today because of that direct experience.
The next OM class takes place in London on 25th October 2014.