I just spent the past 7 months living in an Orgasmic Meditation house.
Yup, you heard me right.
And it was an absolutely amazing, frustrating, complicated, and fascinating 7 months.
But let’s back up a bit.
So…what the hell is Orgasmic Meditation?
It may sound a little weird, but hundreds of practitioners swear Orgasmic Meditation has transformed their lives, their relationships, their health, and yes, their sex.
The practice itself seems to be derived from the Eastern spiritual lineage of tantra (ever heard of tantric sex?), but a woman named Nicole Daedone formalized the practice and dubbed it “Orgasmic Meditation”, or OM for short.
Her organization, OneTaste, has popularized OM and has even built a spiritual path and community all centered around this practice. There are now OneTaste centers all over the world where people come for morning and evening OM practices, just like yoga, and can take workshops and programs.
The organization itself is pretty controversial. There are those who call it a weird cult. Say it brainwashes people and takes all their money. And yet, others swear that it’s the most powerful, transformative thing to ever happen to them. That OMing and OneTaste’s programs are the most powerful tools for self-expansion they’ve ever come across. That their lives have a clear “before OM” and “after OM” demarcation.
So, how did I get involved in all of this?
The first I ever heard about OM was a few years ago, when I read the book Slow Sex by Nicole Daedone, OneTaste’s founder (and guru – she’s pretty much worshipped). The book was amazingly insightful and the benefits of the practice sounded too good to ignore.
But every time I went to learn more (at their social mixer TurnOn events), I got turned off. There was something about the OneTaste vibe that felt unsettling to me.
After a few years of this, my curiosity finally grew strong enough that I decided it’d be worth exploring – weird vibes be damned! At this time, I felt like I had enough of a grounding in who I was that I could safely explore something like this. That I could shield myself from anything that didn’t resonate with me, and open myself to that which did.
So I began my journey in Los Angeles, spending a few months exploring the OM community there. And for the most part, had a really wonderful experience.
I made some amazing friends. Had some OM’s that blew me away. And even dated a beautiful, soulful woman I met at one of their events.
However, there were still enough strange, discordant experiences to leave me feeling wary and protective of myself. The culture had hints of cultiness, aggressiveness, and money-hungry-ness that felt off to me. But for the most part, my experience was very positive.
A few months later, I felt a strong pull towards San Francisco to explore community living. But I had no idea where I’d live. No idea where I’d find this “community”.
And so, you can imagine my surprise when an OM friend casually mentioned to me, “You should come live in my Orgasmic Meditation house in SF!”
Wait, what? For real?
I soon learned that there were OM houses all over the world, where practitioners lived together in community. Most OM houses are structured so there are two people (usually a male and female) sharing not just a room, but the same bed!
If you’re thinking, “That sounds batshit insane”, well, that’s kind of the point.
The compression of so many people living and relating in close quarters was supposed to bring up your shit and fire up your triggers. To allow everything to come to the surface so you could face it, work with it, and grow from it.
Honestly, it sounded pretty damn crazy. Especially since I’ve always needed more private space than the average person.
Yet something in me was intrigued.
It would be an amazing opportunity for me to really dive deep into this practice, which had given me some cool experiences thus far. It would be a chance to really see what else OM had in store for me.
And the house was actually calmer and more peaceful than I thought. I stopped by for a visit and it felt more like what I’d imagine a yoga house to be – just a bunch of practitioners living mostly sober, clean lives. Healthy, organic food stocked in the kitchen. And everyone focused on expanding to their full potential, which is what I’m all about.
And more than that, it was finally a chance to live in COMMUNITY. I was so hungry for that.
Having worked from home for my entire adult life, I was sick of being completely isolated and alone during the 9-to-5 workweek. And my time in Kauai reminded me that living in community is a) fucking awesome, b) possible even after college, and c) so goddamn fulfilling.
So for all those reasons and more, I said yes. And they said yes to me.
And just like that, I was officially living in an Orgasmic Meditation house.
I had no idea how long I’d initially stay. I started off thinking I’d only last a month or so before I’d be crying for my own bed. But one month went by. Then two. Then three. And before I knew it, 7 months had transpired.
And in those 7 months, I laughed, I cried, I got majorly annoyed, I felt my heart open, and yes, I stroked a lot of clitoris.
Here are a few personal takeaways from my time at the house of Orgasmic Meditation…
Disclaimer: these are my personal, subjective views and not fully representative of Orgasmic Meditation or OneTaste. If you’d like to know what it’s really like, you’ve got to find out for yourself.
1. Sexual energy can be more than just lust
Whenever I tell people about Orgasmic Meditation and how you’ll often do it with people you just met, the first thing they ask is, “Wait…but isn’t it…sexual?”
That question always throws me off a bit. I think what they’re really asking is, “How can you do something lusty/romantic with a non-romantic partner?”
I used to think sexual energy only came in those prescribed flavors too. But after OM, I learned that sexual energy can be so much more than just lusty.
It can be quiet, angry, heartbreaking, buzzy, cloud-like, sharp, and everything in-between.
Sex can be as open and full of range as our emotions (and in fact, I’d argue that sexual energy and emotions are part of the same energetic system. They’re one and the same!).
I think one of the most powerful things about OM is that it began to expose my cultural conditioning around sexuality. Made me realize that our culture teaches us what sex is supposed to look, feel, and be like.
But none of that is inherently true.
Our culture teaches us that sex should be a goal-oriented mission of turn-taking, with each person slavishly working to get the other (and themselves) off, often at the expense of true connection and fulfillment.
Our culture also dictates that it’s weird to take your pants off in a room full of people. Or to touch someone’s genitals that you’re not romantically involved with. (Or, in the past, to engage sexually with someone of the same sex or different race.)
But these rules aren’t etched into stone. Not at all.
Once you take a step into another cultural perspective, it’s amazing how quickly your sense of what’s normal will shift.
Our beliefs and views on sex can be much more fluid than we think.
And much more expansive.
Our culture paints sex with just one or two colors. But once you step outside our culture’s narrow framework, there’s a whole palette waiting to be discovered.
2. Living in community is fucking AMAZING
I’ve lived in community twice before in my life: in college and, more recently, in Kauai.
Both were some of the most fulfilling and memorable times of my life. And living in the OM house was no exception.
It’s an amazing thing to come home to laughter and dancing in the kitchen. To spontaneous cuddle sesh’s. Vulnerable heart-to-hearts in the hallway. Movie nights with a new flirtation who just moved in. Group hugs around a housemate breaking down in tears.
Excitement. Pain. Joy. Sorrow. All was welcome here.
There’s something special about home not just being a place of rest, but also a place of excitement, flow, and connection. Where the mundane moments of life you’re usually rushing through – like cooking and cleaning – become opportunities to hang out and drop in.
The OM house was particularly exciting because it was tied into the larger Orgasmic Meditation community. Out-of-town guests and community members would frequently swing by or stay for a weekend or more. I was always meeting new people. The house had so much flow. And the dynamic was always shifting, changing, and never going stale.
And the house was so intimate and vulnerable with each other. I loved that.
We had weekly house meetings where we shared what was going on in our lives. And people were SO honest and raw. Housemates opened up about the pains of breakups, unexpected life changes, feeling lost and confused. And we also got to share in each others successes, new loves, and breakthroughs.
The intimacy and vulnerability shared amongst housemates was truly something special. It helped open up my heart and dropped me down to a deeper level of connection with my emotions, especially the “negative” ones like sadness and pain.
Here, the “down” was just as beautiful as the “up”, if not more-so.
When people ask me what it was like living in that OM house, they usually expect a crazy answer. But the first thing that always comes to my mind is: love. There was a lot of love there.
There was a lot of other shit too, but there was a lot of love.
3. The house wasn’t as wild as I thought it’d be
When I first heard about an Orgasmic Meditation house, I pictured hedonistic madness run amok. But in reality, the house is actually very calm and peaceful.
I always tell people to picture a yoga house. It has a clean, sober living vibe. It’s peaceful and quiet. Most housemates get up early and go to morning practice. When people ask each other to OM, it happens behind closed doors and with a vibe similar to asking for a massage.
But don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly a convent either.
There’s definitely a good amount of sex happening in the house, but again, behind closed doors. There weren’t any orgies happening over the kitchen table (although, apparently that happened once before my time).
A lot of people in the house and community experimented with kink and BDSM. There were whips and ropes hanging over the kitchen entrance, rarely used. One of my housemates was pretty much dating a dungeon master. But for the most part, I saw more kink, craziness, and debauchery with my Burner friends in San Francisco.
For me, the wild part of the house and community was the ease and openness with which sex could be explored.
It was pretty normal in the community to ask someone for a “makeout”, which could be anything from an actual makeout to sex or more. And people in my house and community definitely took advantage of it!
I’ve had roommates ask each other for a makeout over lunch (“Right now? Okay, let me finish this bite.”) Throughout the day, there’d be people stopping by for scheduled OM’s and makeouts. It wasn’t uncommon to hear muffled moans floating throughout the hallway.
Sexual exploration was actively encouraged in this community. They saw sex as a way to explore, learn more, and grow. That’s something I really appreciated.
Here, sex wasn’t shunned. Or shamed. Sex was CELEBRATED.
But as progressive as that was, I was disappointed to see much of the old culture of sex still here. A lot of people still treated sex as a competitive sport. Comparing how much sex they were having. Using sex as an ego game to feel better or worse about themselves. There was a fair of amount of gossip floating around. And the community felt fairly heteronormative, especially for San Francisco – barely a handful of LGBT people.
One thing’s for sure though: if you want to have a lot of sex and not be shamed for it, you can definitely have it in this community.
4. In a passive-aggressive culture, sometimes you need a little aggressive
One thing I always found off-putting about the OM community was their hyper-aggressiveness. The community really loves riling up harsh emotions and dropping uncomfortable “truths” on one another (which they call verbal “stroking”).
I initially hated this but eventually came to respect this approach towards life.
The truth is, we live in a passive-aggressive culture where people are so afraid of uncomfortable emotions that they tiptoe on eggshells around each other and never say what they really think and feel.
During my time at the house, I learned for myself how true that was.
I realized how often I would pretend to laugh off something that pissed me off. Or would keep from saying how I truly felt just to maintain harmony with others.
I didn’t realize it at first, but every time I swallowed my own truth, it turned to poison. Every time I played myself small, it killed me a little inside. Until one day, I couldn’t take it any longer.
So I began to push back. And stand up for myself. And say what I really felt, even if it made others uncomfortable.
And just like that, the poison transformed into medicine. I could feel my own power and authenticity in a way I hadn’t before. And it was enlivening.
I also finally found the answer to a question I posed in this dialogue on dating: “Is there a way to be authentically edgy without forcing it or ‘putting it on’ just to be attractive?”
Answer: Yes. By speaking your truth. By not playing small to make others comfortable. By not being afraid to express your authentic self. And by being okay with not pleasing everyone.
That’s how you can be authentically edgy. It’s not by acting like a dick or playing hard to get. It’s by actually putting your true self out into the world. Without constant censorship. Without smoothing over every sharp corner.
It was an amazing lesson.
And it helped me realize how passive-aggressiveness and wanting social harmony all the time can really be a detriment to authenticity and true connection.
5. But hyper-aggressive can be just as bad as passive-aggressive
Just as passive-aggressiveness can cause blind spots and be detrimental to authentic growth, so can hyper-aggressiveness.
The OM culture really encouraged aggressiveness and people blowing up and snapping at each other. And on a certain level, it was actually kind of beautiful.
They talked a lot about allowing people to be “uncalibrated”. To give yourself the permission to be messy, to be imperfect, to just BE…without worrying so much about being perfect.
To allow yourself to be uncalibrated at first, so that you can then learn to calibrate and get it dialed in right later.
There’s something wonderful about that.
But unfortunately, it seemed like a lot of people got stuck there.
The point of being uncalibrated is to calibrate eventually, right? But I’d often see people blow up at others, yell, lash out – and learn nothing from it. They’d justify their behavior (or demonize their behavior), and then go on to repeat that behavior.
A lot of times people would project their own issues onto others, get caught up in stories, and fly off the handle. And while there was a certain beauty in not shunning that kind of uncalibration…it often never became calibrated!
Instead of freeing them to break out of their patterns and drop into a deeper layer of truth and freedom, I saw a lot of the opposite. People staying stuck in their stories. Caught in their projections. Imprisoned in the same looping patterns.
If being passive aggressive is an unhealthy, inauthentic way to relate to people, being hyper-aggressive can be just as off balance, but on the opposite side of the spectrum.
A truly healthy, balanced way of relating to others and showing up in the world lies somewhere in the middle. Not at the extremes.
6. OM turned up my inner-body sensitivity
In my first week of OMing, I felt nothing.
When it came time to share frames (the part at the end of an OM where you share a sensation you experienced), I had to make up answers cause I didn’t think I felt anything.
And then a few weeks in, I had my first WOW WTF experience.
I was OMing with a friend when suddenly electricity arced throughout my body as if I had plugged my finger into a 9 Volt battery! My friend felt the same, saying her body felt like it had turned into a roaring power generator.
Then a few weeks later, I had a heart-exploding OM with a famous actress, in her mansion overlooking the Hollywood Hills.
Throughout that entire OM, I felt a flood of warm, cloud-like energy float around my shoulders, back, and arms. But it wasn’t until the end, right as I was taking off my gloves (OMers wear latex gloves for sanitary reasons) that the cloud shot straight into my chest and I heard myself gasp.
It felt like the switch to my heart had just flipped on and was now overflowing with love. For at least 5 minutes, I couldn’t do anything but sit there, breathing heavily, on the verge of tears.
It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.1
However, those dynamite OM experiences were few and far between for me.
My typical OM’s filled my body with electricity and lots of energetic sensations, which was awesome. But besides those fun sensations, I didn’t seem to get any deeper benefits from the practice, as many others did.
But one thing OM definitely did, and this is a big one: it turned the sensitivity of my body WAY up.
It helped me slow down and tune into the energies and sensations that are always swimming throughout our bodies, but which we usually ignore.
It helped me realize that in most of my sexual experiences, I was mostly up in my head and barely in my own body. That I wasn’t really feeling. I wasn’t really there.
And that new level of body awareness, coupled with other meditative/consciousness practices I’d been exploring, has opened up a whole new level of connection with my inner world. Both emotionally and sexually.
Maybe this is too much information, but for example, I’ve recently been experiencing full-body orgasms and even multiple orgasms for the first time. This isn’t all due to OM, but it definitely had a big influence in helping open those energetic doors.
Orgasmic Meditation is a practice I’d love to continue to do every once in a while. If you have any interest in exploring your sexual energy further, it’s definitely something I’d recommend you try – especially if you’re in a relationship.
It really helps you communicate more openly in the bedroom. To ask for what you want. To give and receive feedback without hurt feelings. And it helps reframe sex as a goalless exploration. To think less, feel more, and invite in a fuller range of sensations and emotions.
If it resonates and you’d like to deepen your practice, then you can get further coaching and instruction later. But just like regular meditation, I think you can get started and receive a lot of the benefits on your own.
Speaking of OneTaste…
7. OneTaste and Orgasmic Meditation are two different things
In the same way you don’t have to be a Buddhist to meditate, you also don’t have to join OneTaste to practice Orgasmic Meditation.
The practice, I find to be a beautiful one. I would recommend it to anyone and can only see benefits.
But not so with OneTaste, the parent organization.
OneTaste is an organization I have very mixed feelings about.
On the one hand, I think it’s wonderful that an organization like OneTaste is growing so fast and spreading a more open, conscious approach to sexuality throughout the world.
But on the other hand, I find them to be pretty weird. And off-putting. And even dangerous, in some ways.
First of all, OneTaste is one of the most aggressively money-hungry organizations I’ve ever come across.
From the moment you go to one of their events, the sales machines swings into full gear! They call and text you incessantly. Constantly push you (hyper-aggressively) to sign up for their latest programs. Use every sales tactic in the book to get you to take out your credit card (including using your specific issues and wounds as leverage).
And these classes and workshops range from several hundred to TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars. Seriously, their highest tier programs run well over $10,000 or $20,000!
I even had a housemate who spent close to $100,000 for the all-inclusive Membership package! (Luckily, she got most of her money back when she decided to leave.)
Now to be fair, charging a lot is not necessarily a problem in and of itself.
But when an organization constantly encourages people to go into debt (and many do) to take their programs, it feels like they’re walking a dangerous line.
Secondly, the rumors are true: OneTaste IS a little culty.
The first term you’ll see when you google ‘OneTaste’ is: cult. And in my time getting to know the organization, I think it’s lightly appropriate.
Let’s take a look at psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton’s “three primary characteristics of destructive cults”:
1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship.”
Yup. Nicole Daedone, the founder of OneTaste, is definitely revered in an almost idol-istic way. She’s worshipped as a guru who can do or say no wrong. Her wisdom is elevated to an almost mystical level.
During one of her programs, she actually told my friend, “You are going to fall in love with a man here.”
Now, there was only one eligible bachelor in the group and my friend had absolutely NO attraction to this guy. But as the days passed, she found herself drawn to him, and then determinedly pursued him for weeks!
Maybe Nicole Daedone’s intuition was just right on, but what I fear is that her word is so highly revered, people will subconsciously bend their actual desires and wishes around it.
2. A process of indoctrination is in use that can be seen as thought reform (“brainwashing”)”
Eh, it’s a bit of a stretch, but they do teach their own unique way of approaching life and relationships. Participants end up seeing the world in a distinctively different way, using their own language and terms, and feeling separate from and superior to the “muggles” out there.
Honestly, not that different from any other cultural group out there (i.e. religions, spiritual groups, Burning Man folk, etc.) but it is to a strong enough degree that I did take note.
3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.”
There was definitely no sexual exploitation here, more like sexual liberation.
However, I’ve known many OMers who felt like OneTaste pressured them to prioritize the needs of the organization over their own, much like a classic cult.
They were pushed to constantly help with events, to volunteer, and especially to RECRUIT for OneTaste. If you didn’t spend all your free time giving back to the organization, you were seen as “not a team player” and they’d turn their back on you.
They’d get sneaky too.
Once they tried to get my house to take in a “team player”. When we decided she wasn’t a good fit for the house, they began pressuring us constantly. Then they manipulated an easily impressionable housemate to report on our house meetings and throw in specifically seeded talking points. Like a spy!
For all of the above reasons and more, a lot of former OM’ers really do feel used and taken advantage of by OneTaste.
A common sentiment, as echoed by a friend (and former OneTaste superfan) is: “I fell into OneTaste’s trap.”
To many, the organization feels manipulative, untrustworthy, and not holding their best interests at heart – qualities reminiscent of many cults.
Look, they’re no Scientology or Heaven’s Gate. Not even close.
But OneTaste does operate in a way that I’ve found annoying, distasteful, and in some cases, deeply unsettling.
And more unfortunately, these issues keep a LOT of people from exploring what I find to be a beautiful, expansive practice.
Note: Apparently, OneTaste is going through some major organizational changes right now. So hopefully some of these issues will be addressed going forward.
8. Living in a singular culture can be toxic
Make no mistake, OM is not just a 15 minute practice. Nicole Daedone has constructed an entire spiritual path from it, complete with a radically different worldview, terminology, and ways of interacting with others.
When I first moved into the OM house, it was exciting that everyone there lived life according to these principles of OM. It wasn’t a OneTaste staff house, so it had a looser, more individualistic vibe, but everyone OM’d frequently and had been greatly influenced by OneTaste’s teachings.
I was stoked to dive in and explore this unique world.
However as the months went by, I found myself resonating less and less with their worldview. Which became frustrating. And eventually toxic.
Being a dissident amongst a house of devotees can be a very confusing, self-negating experience.
It felt like my unique perspective on life – my worldview, the lessons I’ve learned, my way of seeing things – was entirely dismissed.
Part of this is just due to being a new member of an already established cultural group (i.e. Christianity, CrossFit, Veganism, Paleo-ism, etc.).
Any insular group that feels it’s figured out a better way to live also assumes those who don’t live that way are fools (or heretics, or sinners). Any viewpoint outside of their own is seen as “wrong” or “naive”.
But part of this was also due to elements unique to the OM culture itself.
For example, the OM culture strongly revolves around coaching and pointing out each others blind spots. This is great and all if done by a skillful coach. But often, I saw lots of people sloppily projecting their own shit onto others.
And it completely bred a culture of judgment. And arrogance. Of believing you know what’s best for someone, better than they do themselves.
I would often get annoyed in conversations with OM’ers because instead of actually connecting with me, it felt like they were analyzing me. Scanning for blind spots. Weaknesses. Trying to figure me out.
It felt like I was constantly being judged for what I wasn’t and what I should be, instead of being seen for who I actually was.
This wasn’t everyone, but unfortunately, happened more often than not.
And all of this ended up having a toxic, detrimental effect to my self (image, esteem, worth – take your pick), which surprised me.
Over the years, I’ve built a very strong sense of who I am. My strengths. My weaknesses. What I have to offer the world. What’s true for me. And what isn’t.
But living amongst a group of people who didn’t fully see me – even as loving, authentic, and deep as they were – began to erode all of that.
I began to feel depressed and lonely in a deep way. Began to doubt myself. Began to tamp down my unique perspective. Began to believe I had no value to give to the world.
Their way of seeing me, as much as I knew it was untrue, began to seep it’s way into my consciousness.
And the more it did, the more I slowly shut down.
It felt like part of me was dying. And in a way, it was.
Just as the human body needs the nourishment of food and water, the human soul needs the nourishment of being seen. Recognized. Appreciated.
I didn’t fully realize how starved I was until I finally moved out of the OM house and into a possibly crazier situation: a diverse, free-spirited 40-person mansion (yup, that’s not a typo).
Here, there was no group think. No singular culture. The mansion was incredibly diverse, with people from all different backgrounds, cultures, sexual orientations, and mindsets.
Here, my unique perspective was welcomed and celebrated, not dismissed.
And it brought me back to life in a way I couldn’t have imagined.
My depression and doubts melted away. Neglected aspects of my personality came back online. My creativity and sense of possibility exploded.
To be seen and appreciated by the people you surround yourself with is more than just nice.
It’s nourishing. It’s healing. It’s necessary.
And just like a breath of fresh air, you don’t realize how much you need it until it’s gone.
Ultimately, OM wasn’t the path for me
For the most part, my time in the OM house was a truly beautiful experience. It wasn’t without it’s frustrations, but they were frequently outweighed by laughter, vulnerability, and love.
My time within the greater OM community was slightly more troubling, but overall, still an experience I’m grateful for.
I learned to embrace the down. Find my edge. Open up my sexual energy. Immerse myself in authentic vulnerability. And got to connect withth a lot of amazing, unique individuals.
But ultimately, OM wasn’t the path for me.
Part of it was due to the culture: a little too much hyper-aggression, judgment, and cultiness.
Part of it was due to the teachings: while there’s wisdom there, it felt too dogmatic and overly focused on the ego (reinforcing the ego identity, getting caught in stories).
But at the end of the day, it wasn’t the path for me for one simple reason:
I don’t believe in THE path.
There’s no one-size-fits-all path out there for anyone. No fully formed system or philosophy you can just blindly follow and be set for the rest of your life.
There’s only YOUR path.
And you don’t FIND it. You’re constantly CREATING it. Brick-by-brick.
By taking what works and leaving the rest.
Getting your influences from as many sources as possible, not restricting yourself to just one. Not letting others tell you what you should do and how to do it. Feeling what resonates and moving towards that. And when the resonation stops, not being afraid to move on.
This is how you create the only true path: the right path for YOU.
And you do it by staying loyal – not to a teacher, or a path, or a philosophy – but to your own intuition. Your gut. Your heart’s calling.
Wherever it calls, wherever it wants to go – follow.
That’s how I ended up in situations I never could’ve imagined for myself, but were exactly what I needed. Like living in a 40-person mansion. Or starting my own animation company.
Or, of course, moving into an Orgasmic Meditation house.
I’m so grateful I followed that call to OM. I learned so much. Had such beautiful experiences. And met such amazing people.
But right now, I’m being pulled in another direction. The world of OM is not resonating with me so much these days. Could that change? Of course. But right now, it’s pushing me in another direction and I have no choice but to follow.
As OneTaste would say, “follow your desire.” And I must continue to do so. It’s the only thing I can do.
So thank you OM, for everything. It’s been a wild ride.
One that I’m glad to get off of, but more glad to have gotten on in the first place.