The MORE of Mariah McKenzie’s book title means a few different things. For starters, it’s an acronym for Multi-Orgasmic Response, the extended pleasure trip most people associate with the tantric sex author McKenzie writes about. And while the “wild” and satisfying sex that she and her husband have always enjoyed is an important aspect of her journey to healing—and a key theme of the book—we learn that there is a deeper wisdom to be gained from these practices, one that has to do with the intimacy between lovers and their connection to the infinite. This is the true “more” that the author is seeking—and ultimately finds.
McKenzie, a writer from Washington state, met her husband Jake when she was only 20 years old. The two had a deep connection from the start, but their happiness was sometimes threatened by his tendency to become depressed and her phobias and anxieties, including a fear of flying that put her work as a travel writer in jeopardy. When the couple became romantically entangled with another partner their problems came to a head. Though it was an experience McKenzie was open to, it ended up troubling her deeply and this life-quake set McKenzie on a course of self-discovery. She and Jake began with the ideas of Margot Anand, who developed a practice called SkyDancing Tantra. Working with these sexual techniques brought McKenzie joy and pleasure, but also awakened painful repressed memories from her early childhood. It’s at this point that the real substance of the memoir—the mystery at the heart of her life—becomes apparent.
After studying Anand’s teachings, Mariah and Jake become involved with a number of other spiritual groups, some of which required major life changes. Among other adventures, they attended shamanic dreaming workshops, lived on two ashrams in India over the course of a month, and traveled to Chichen Itza for a ceremony at an ancient Mayan sacred site. At one point, when their two daughters were still small, the family of four spent a few months living on a remote Mexican island. There were venomous scorpions all over the island, and to McKenzie’s horror she realized they could be crouched in any dark corner of their small cottage. She likens them to the excruciating memories stuck in the hidden parts of her mind—but just as the scorpions could be devoured by the large spiders that were also native to the place, she knew her pain must have natural predators, too. This talent—her writer’s gift for seeing symbols, and therefore meaning, in everyday events—acts as her guide as she feels around in the dark, trying to understand the source of her fears and sadness. As she begins to unlock some of the pain of her early childhood, she’s able to see some of her persistent problems in a new and hopeful light.
Though some readers may feel alienated by the author’s exotic experiences, anyone who has undertaken the hard work of healing past trauma will relate strongly to her journey. In one especially lovely moment, McKenzie discovers that her writing practice is one of the most significant ways she is able to access her spiritual side. At times the book reads too much like a diary and is bogged down by unnecessary details, but McKenzie’s spiritual quest feels urgent throughout. Readers will root for her to discover happiness and meaning. And though the memoir is chockablock with esoteric ideas, these are balanced with a sturdy practicality, both of which readers could benefit from. On the challenging process of learning to meditate, McKenzie writes: “It’s a bit like exercising. At some point you realize that if you keep at it … eventually it is going to get easier, but maybe not before you get really sore and tired.”
With great honesty and bravery, Mariah McKenzie details her life’s spiritual journey—a challenging and rewarding quest that was sparked by an extramarital affair.
~Katie Haegele for IndieReader