For the uninitiated, it’s a partnered experience of stroking around the clitoris for 15 minutes, with only one goal: let go and feel.
The stroking is meant to happen in an incredibly specific way — on the upper-left quadrant of the clitoris in an up-and-down motion, no firmer than you would stroke an eyelid. It’s done (usually) by male partners wearing latex gloves dipped or coated in lube. There is no stroking of male genitalia.
This method began making its way into public conversation after The New York Times wrote a profile on OneTaste, the first-ever orgasmic meditation company. Founded by Nicole Daedone and Rob Kandell, their original tagline was “A pleasurable place for your body to be.”
Over the years, OM has been endorsed by celebs including Kourtney Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss. But thanks to its high prices — a single class costs $149 to $199 — OneTaste faced some backlash, with former participants claiming OneTaste pushed them into debt. Others called the practice a ‘sexual wellness’ cult.
Since then, OneTaste has rebranded as Institute of OM, and orgasmic meditation continues to hold appeal for folks who are feeling unfulfilled sexually, or craving a deeper connection.
As Anjuli Ayer, CEO of Institute of OM says, “It’s for any adult looking to improve their emotional and physical health and who is willing to try new things.”
Ayer also considers OM a goal-less practice. “The intention is not to serve as foreplay or to get the participants to orgasm.” That’s right, while the practice has orgasm in the name, orgasming isn’t the goal. Rather, it’s to bring your attention to the present moment and experience pleasure.
Sounds a bit like traditional meditation, no?
“OM is a meditation in connection,” explains Ayer. “It merges the power of meditation with the experience of being in an orgasmic state.”
Does that differ from other forms of meditation?
“While traditional meditation was for spiritual purposes and intended to get you to question your reality, over the years meditation has turned into a health or anxiety-reducing methodology and mindfulness therapy” says Hindu meditation guru Shree Ramananda of Meditation and Happiness.
This change, he says, is okay. “All meditation counts as meditation. Meditation is simply a method to connect with your true self. Or rather, a way to escape the character/roles we often confuse ourselves to be.”
And for others, yes, it could look like partnered, clitoral stroking for 15 minutes — which is how long Ava Johanna, an international yoga, meditation, and breath-work instructor, recommends folks who are new to meditating, meditate for.
“For an athlete, that could look like getting into the flow state of exercise. For someone else, that could look like repeating a mantra,” she says.
“If you can forget yourself and who you are through orgasmic meditation, then it is doing its job,” says Ramananda.
Ayer explains the connection between OM and traditional meditation further: “Both seek to improve the connection between the practitioner’s mind and body. Both allow you to not only have more serenity with yourself, but also to deeply connect with others.”
That said, clearly orgasmic meditation is not for everyone — considering the intense intimacy one might not be ready for, on top of the costly courses, you may want to try traditional meditation instead. Check out these meditation apps and these meditation videos to get started.
People who practice OM claim to experience increased happiness, less stress and anxiety, and have healthier, more connected relationships.
For instance, Kendall says, “I’m not a scientist but I can say that [practicing OM] helped my confidence — it helped my relationships with women. It turned my volume up. I felt like I finally understand women and how their bodies and minds work.”
Finally, there are all the health benefits associated with regular meditation.
“Meditation opens your ability to communicate and relax, can improve your body image, increase circulation and blood flow, ease pain related to muscles and joints, improve sleep quality, and increase libido,” says meditation expert Linda Lauren. She also says that her clients have reported that traditional meditation has enriched their experience in the bedroom.
The Institute of OM will soon be offering their curriculum online, but you can download their free orgasmic meditation guide. Other instructions can be found through instructional YouTube videos, like this one or this one.
Note: These videos, due to their nature, are NSFW! Keep reading for a text-only guide.
- Set up “nest”: Make sure your environment is comfortable and relaxing. That can be set up with a yoga mat, blanket, or firm cushion for the person stroking to sit on.
- Have a hand towel, timer, and lube within reach.
- Get into a comfortable position.
- Set the timer for 13 minutes, and then an additional timer for 2 minutes later for a total of 15 minutes.
- The person doing the stroking should describe what they see in terms of color, texture, and location.
- The stroker should apply lube to their fingers, then ask the person being stroked if they’re ready. After verbal consent, the person stroking can begin stroking the upper left hand quadrant.
- When the timer dings at 13 minutes, the stoker should begin using down strokes.
- When the second timer dings, the stroker should apply pressure to their partner’s genital using their hand until both participants feel back in their bodies.
- The stoker should use a towel to wipe lube from the genitals to the hands, then put nest away.
“The first time you try it, go in with an open mind. Let go of any preconceived notions you have about what it is,” suggests Ayers.
While the official OM practice is a partnered activity (one person does the stroking, the other gets stroked), you can do a variation on your own.
What if you don’t have a partner? Try meditative masturbation, a solo practice. While orgasmic meditation is strictly a partnered activity, it is possible to perform meditative masturbation alone, which Johanna says is also good for you.
Whether you’re interested in trying orgasmic meditation, or simply stroking yourself, taking the time to focus on your own pleasure can bring about a meditative quality that allows you to establish a stronger sexual-wellness connection within yourself.
Given today’s go-go-go speed, the idea of dedicating 15 minutes a day to stroking or getting your clitoral area stroked might be a new self-care technique to get behind.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.