IOM Foundation

Research Projects

Study #1: Neural and physiological mechanisms of OM

Nicole Prause, PhD and Greg Siegle, PhD

Summary: This study, using a total of 260 participants, monitors the physical and mental responses before, during, and after Orgasmic Meditation. It is the first study in the US since Masters and Johnson to focus on partnered stimulation, and uses EEG to measure both participants. Approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) in November 2016, this is the first partnered stimulation study granted IRB approval.

Study Abstract

Orgasmic Meditation (OM) is a 15-minute practice that involves structured, partnered genital stimulation. Individuals have reported a variety of positive effects of regular OM practice, including being more focused in their regular life activities and elevated mood. However, no experimental research has been conducted with OM that would allow understanding of how OM leads to these benefits. We propose to use measures of brain (electroencephalographic) and body (physiological) reactivity to understand how OM leads to changes in functioning by 1) characterizing brain and body reactions to OM, 2) associating observed reactions with performance and physiological reactions to well-characterized tasks that measure cognitive and emotional functioning, and 3) associating observed reactions with self-reported functioning. This work will be done in couples practicing OM in a private, real-world setting rather than a laboratory.

Status: data collection was completed in December 2017. Articles are currently being drafted and submitted to scientific journals.

Study #2: Does Orgasmic Meditation trigger a mystical experience?

Ben Emmert-Aronson, PhD, and Vivian Siegel, PhD

Summary: This study, using a total of 788 participants, applies an established questionnaire (the Mystical Experience Questionnaire, or MEQ30) to test whether OM triggers a mystical experience, and to compare the intensity of the experience to what is seen in response to psilocybin. Either partner in the OM was invited to fill out the MEQ30.

Study Abstract

Roland Griffiths, a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, developed a 30 question “Mystical Experience Questionnaire”, or MEQ30, which provides a validated and quantitative measure of mystical experience (Frederick S Barrett, Matthew W Johnson, Roland R Griffiths. Validation of the revised Mystical Experience Questionnaire in experimental sessions with psilocybin. J Psychopharmacol. 2015 Nov; 29(11): 1182–1190.). The MEQ measures four different aspects of the mystical experience: mystical (feelings of oneness); transcendence (loss of boundaries of time and space); ineffability (inability to put the experience into words); and positive mood. The MEQ30 has been used successfully to demonstrate that the hallucinogenic substance psilocybin triggers a mystical experience, and that a single event can lead to lasting and profound change. The current study asks whether OM triggers a similar mystical experience for its practitioners. 788 OMers agreed to complete the MEQ with one powerful OM in mind. Respondents ranged in age from under 30 to over 80; in time OMing from under 6 months to over 7 years; and in frequency of OMing from once a month to daily. In a second study, aimed at addressing whether a "typical" OM also triggers a mystical experience, and whether the experience is similar for both participants in an OM, 100 experienced practitioners (at least 6 months in a daily practice) were asked to complete a paired MEQ30 after their "next" OM.

Status: Preprint posted on mindRxiv. Siegel, V., & Emmert-Aronson, B. (2019, September 17). Measurement of the impact of orgasmic meditation on mystical experience.