Fun, more pleasure and menopause? Can these experiences go together? In this episode and the next, we present talk radio show host Rebekah Beneteau and her guest Yvonne Wray, a researcher from the Welcomed Consensus. These two women have a lively conversation exploring this paradoxical theme.
Rebekah: Good evening everyone and welcome to the Ask Me Anything Love and Sex Show. It is January 30th, 2013 and although it’s frosty outside it is going to be nice and warm on the show tonight because I am thrilled to have as my guest a woman that I have just discovered by the name of Yvonne Wray.
I will tell you a little bit about Yvonne and how I found her as a referral through Twitter to her blog. www.menopause-flashes.com is her website, Menopause Flashes – Turning up the Heat.
Yvonne’s background is that she’s a sensual researcher with the Welcomed Consensus and she’s been intensively focused on Deliberate Orgasm and pleasurable living for the last 18 years. More recently when she celebrated 50, she began her menopause blog which highlights her experiences and research into this topic. I think that she has a lot of really positive viewpoints about menopause and just about life in general, about living a pleasurable life which you all know is my goal in life to get everyone on track with finding what pleases them and living their life that way. So, everybody please help me welcome Yvonne. Welcome to the show.
Yvonne: Thank you, Rebekah. I’m glad to be here.
Rebekah: The first thing I want to know, we always like to start at the beginning, is how did you get into being a sensual researcher? What set you on that path in your life?
Yvonne: That’s a good question. Well, I was in my early 30’s and I was having a very successful career in Silicon Valley. I am actually a tech geek, you could say. My background is computer science and I have a degree from the University of Texas. I was in Silicon Valley in the early 90’s when the internet was just getting big, just starting out. Although I was gratified with my career and all of that I was really looking for a way to express myself and for more to life. I had a wonderful relationship and a good sex life, but I just knew that there was more that I could be experiencing as a woman. So my ears and my senses were perked up to hear anything that came along my way that might be something like that that I could add to my life. I was introduced to the Welcomed Consensus when I was about 31 and I started taking some sensuality courses. A good friend was the one who introduced me. I immediately thought that the things that they were saying made sense. I tried on some of the things they had to say and I loved it from the very beginning. That’s when I became a sensual researcher.
Rebekah: Okay. And what did that entail for you in the beginning? What types of sensual research did you do?
Yvonne: In the very beginning I took my first sensuality course, as I said, with the Welcomed Consensus. It was called Common Sensuality and it’s a class that was lecture/discussion. Some of the things that we talked about were how to look at sensuality and look at sexuality from a different way than what was out there in the men’s magazines or the women’s magazines or the newspapers. It’s a class that anybody can take. The Welcomed Consensus, we still have that class. It is also the same information that is available online in the DOing Essentials Sensuality Teleclass so people don’t have to travel to take it. Yeah it’s great. New technology – we just love it.
Rebekah: I’ll tell you I first heard of The Welcomed Consensus in 1996 when I was at healing school and a friend of mine had heard about the teachings. They were coming to Boston. A team from the Welcomed Consensus came to Boston and she took the Common Sensuality class and she came back and she told me everything that she’d done. I thought wow!
Yvonne: Oh right. I was in Boston, I was assisting that course.
Rebekah: Oh my, wow. So you know my friend Marilyn?
Yvonne: I do.
Rebekah: There you go! People who have been listening to me for a while know that I have been a student of Lafayette Morehouse and I think that the information that you all have is very similar. They are very parallel tracks, have a lot of things in common. One of the things that I love about all of you is that you are very tech savvy. They have a wonderful website, folks at welcomed.com Correct? Go ahead spell it.
Yvonne: w e l c o m e d dot com
Rebekah: There’s a lot of resources on there, DVDs and all kinds of things. A lot of articles that I think people would enjoy reading.
Yvonne: That’s right.
Rebekah: There you go. There’s a saying that you can’t copyright the truth. I love knowing there are different people presenting similar information with some differences because you go to the teacher that calls to you. You go to the place that you’re drawn. And the place that you feel comfortable and this way more people can be exposed to good information, I think.
Yvonne: I absolutely agree. Absolutely
Rebekah: But this is my first time getting to have a formal conversation with someone from The Welcomed Consensus because I haven’t actually studied. I’m really fascinated. What would you say is the core of the philosophy?
Yvonne: Right off the bat I would say Deliberate Orgasm. Deliberate Orgasm encompasses its technique, a particular technique for having and producing female orgasm and orgasm in a partner’s body. It is also a model of sensuality. It’s a model of orgasm and it’s a whole lot of viewpoints on living sensually, living pleasurably and having winning relationships. Because there are many people out there that just don’t know how to please their partner or win with their partner. Deliberate Orgasm and the information included gives you those straight forward, winning viewpoints.
Rebekah: One thing that I’ve found is that when I am well cummed the whole world looks better. I’m a much nicer person to be around. I enjoy the people around me a lot more. I have more to give when I’m filled up.
Yvonne: Yes, we find that too. Yes, absolutely. It’s one of those things, it’s a basic. All the things it takes to have a Deliberate Orgasm, for me to have it in my body with a partner or I can have one by masturbation. All the things that it takes for me to lay down and actually have pleasure, be pleasured. All the things that it takes are the same things that it takes to live pleasurably, be a pleasant person, have winning relationships, have fun conversations and fun in my whole life. I mean all the same things apply. So it’s not isolated to the bedroom and it’s not isolated to the sex act. Although the sex is so fun, it’s not isolated to that and that’s the great thing about Deliberate Orgasm. It spreads out into your whole entire life which is really how this research, my personal research that I’m doing with menopause actually came about.
Rebekah: I love that. I love the idea that it’s not just limited to the bedroom, how you said it filters out through your whole life. So what was the connection, how did you go from the sensual research, how did menopause incorporate into that?
Yvonne: By living with these viewpoints from Deliberate Orgasm, by living in a pleasurable and sensual way, and being used to having orgasm every day. I have what are called DO dates, Deliberate Orgasm, with a partner, I have that every day. I have this really fun practice that I have in my life every day. So I notice my body, I notice the cycles throughout the month. I have been doing this for 18 years and very seriously looking to see what does Deliberate Orgasm do? What are the effects in my body, in my mind and in my life? It is something that along with my tribe, along with the Welcomed Consensus all of us we talk about on a daily basis. So for 18 years this has been an integral part of my life. I began to notice the signs of menopause in my body, which I didn’t actually recognize at first as being menopause. As I started noticing these changes that I thought were kind of weird, I was able to notice them pretty quickly because I was used to paying attention to my body. I was used to paying attention to my monthly cycles. I was used to noticing the changes in my sexuality and my response and my desires, all of those things.
Rebekah: Thank you. You said so much and there are things that I want to come back to. The first thing I want to say is that you have been living in community. The Welcomed Consensus is a communal household, but you can have a community without walls as well, right? If you create, cultivate like-minded people around you you can have this kind of environment wherever you are, would you say?
Yvonne: Absolutely. Definitely. In fact, the research that we do or the conversations that we have include people immediately here in household but they also include people who live elsewhere. It is an extended community of people who are interested in the same things. There are people throughout San Francisco and different places. Like I said before, I was in Boston and there is a group of people out there who are interested in this information. Everybody who wants to be part of this extended community, there’s different levels of communication and interest and exchange of ideas and exchange of experiences. It’s all part of the community.
Rebekah: Do you find that being in community is helpful to growing in this way?
Yvonne: It is absolutely helpful. For example when I was first noticing the signs of menopause I didn’t actually know they were signs of menopause. My first thought was something weird is happening to me and so at first I didn’t say anything. I had, of course, an inkling that it must be menopause or something like that because I was afraid to talk about it. But once I did, when I talked about it with my friends, and my friends are like-minded, they have as the foundation of their own life pleasurable living and these viewpoints from Deliberate Orgasm, then I was talking to a group of people who wanted me to succeed. Who wanted me to have the things that I wanted. Have a pleasurable life. Have success and win out of the experiences with menopause. So that helps a lot. It helps a lot to be able to talk and have the things that I want. To have a like-minded group of people around, whether they are in the same room with me, whether it be somebody I talk to on the phone. That’s what I mean by an extended community. People can create that for themselves anywhere they are.
Rebekah: Right, right on. Now I want to peel back a little bit because you use the term Deliberate Orgasm and I would like to distinguish for people who may not know. What’s different about a Deliberate Orgasm versus how most people do it. Start, go quickly, get to the end, finish, fall asleep. Or maybe you make it last a little bit longer, a little bit more romance. I know, but I think that some of our listeners may not know what you mean by making orgasm deliberate.
Yvonne: Deliberate orgasm starts with the person deciding. For example, I will use myself as an example. It starts when I decide that I want to have the experience. Very, very briefly, it is two people putting their attention on one person’s body. So if I’m the one that’s going to be having the orgasm it would be my partner putting their attention on my clitoris and putting their finger, their index finger, on the most sensitive spot on my clitoris and stroking that spot. The only goal is pleasure. There’s no other goal. It’s only for pleasure. Having that stroking for as long as I want, it could be 5 minutes, it could be 15 minutes, it could be 3 minutes. It doesn’t have a formula to it. Orgasm can be very intense, it can be soft, it can be meandering, it could be sharp up and down peaks. It can be a lot of things. In fact, every DO date, every single time it’s unique.
Rebekah: Um hmm. Just breathing in that description. Very relaxing. I know that when I, in my research in this plane, my definition of what orgasm looks like has changed and expanded a lot from how I used to define it. Do you find that? It sounds like it from your description.
Yvonne: Absolutely because the traditional approach to orgasm is, people talk about foreplay and then you’ve got to get warmed up and then you’ve got to get to a certain crescendo and climax and you go over the edge. That climax, that one or few seconds of bliss, pleasure, contractions and perhaps release, that’s what is defined as the orgasm. And it’s very narrow. That is how I defined orgasm before I first took the Common Sensuality course way back in 1995. My definition of orgasm has expanded from that point forward. From the time when I decided to become a sensual researcher and really look and explore my sensuality, every year my orgasm gets better. Every month there’s something new that I experience. Every day, DO date, every orgasm I have – it’s just so endless. The potential for female orgasm and using this model of orgasm in somebody’s life, it’s unlimited.
Why I can say that with such confidence, it’s not an intellectual thing. I feel it in my body. I have to say, I know sometimes people think, “Oh Yvonne, you’re from California and you’re so San Francisco. You’re kind of in this…You know it’s not the same for people across the US. You’re in this unique special situation.” But you know what? I’m a really down to earth, practical person. I mean I have a computer science degree. I ‘m not really into those kinds of… I don’t know what to call them exactly. But I am a really practical person although I’m talking about orgasm and a definition of orgasm, I’m talking about something that I feel, that I experience. It’s a reality, not just a play on words so to speak.
Rebekah: Right. I hear you sister. And I’m a jaded New Yorker. I can say that it’s absolutely true. You know much to my surprise I think that I have a greater capacity for sensual pleasure than I did when I was much younger. Supposedly in my prime, my 20’s and 30’s. I think it got really hot after I turned 40.
Yvonne: Yes. It can keep getting better and better. Why I say this about me being a practical person is because I just know there are women and men out there that think “Well, oh yeah”, they can just brush it off because I’m this San Francisco sexual person or something. But it’s not true. That part doesn’t really matter so much except to say that I’m really every woman. Every day I go through the same types of resistance that women have to having pleasure. Those kinds of every day decisions, those everyday choices that every woman goes through and every man goes through in order to have a good relationship. In order to have a good sex life. In order to have something that you can sustain over years and years and years. This information about Deliberate Orgasm is something that can get better for a lifetime. It really can. Your friendship with you partner can get better for a lifetime. Your orgasm can get better for a lifetime. And that’s one of the things that is so fun about making this transition into menopause. It is confronting that I thought, even living this way for 18 years, I really thought that I was going to be losing something. I mean, I’m losing my sex hormones, right? I’m going to be losing. And I didn’t even realize I had these kind of beliefs until they hit me in the face.
Rebekah: Umm hmm, right. And what else? What were some of the things going in that you suddenly found yourself forced to examine all over or renew?
Yvonne: Just that I was really uninformed about menopause. I really thought some of the things I’m sure commonly other women think. That you do lose your sex hormones, you lose your desire. That you’re aging and therefore, you know you’re going to be less valuable, less sexual, less. You’re just going to be less. Then all the terrible stories that you hear about how hard it is for women to go through menopause. I could not put pleasure and menopause in the same sentence except to say that menopause is not pleasurable. I really had a big clash of beliefs there that erupted into my life when I realized — Hey Yvonne, you’re going into menopause here.
Rebekah: Umm hmm. When I was browsing for images to use in the picture roll that runs while we’re on the radio every other cartoon had a woman with a knife in her hand. Or there was a lot of negative imagery about the experience of menopause. And I was sort of hard pressed until I found that one which I kind of like. It says I don’t have hot flashes, I have short vacations in the tropics. I thought that was a way of giving a little positive frame.
Yvonne: Yeah, it’s interesting, too, because the pictures that I’ve seen oftentimes they show women with gray hair. I have some gray hair but I’m 50. I started going into menopause a few years ago though, so it started a little while back. I know this is totally unbelievable, but I imagined that my hair would just all of a sudden be turning gray really fast. It’s those kinds of things, those images that you pick up from society all your life, your whole life. You’re picking this information up. You’re not really necessarily, I wasn’t aware of it until I turned 50. I started confronting that I was entering menopause. I had to do something. I had to do something deliberate in order to change the way that I was approaching going into this next phase of my life. I’m really grateful for the information that I did have that I could make that change pretty quickly, turn it around to have fun. I look for ways to have fun and look for ways I can take advantage of what I am feeling in my body with these hormonal swings and these mood swings. There are things that I notice that I experience that I can have more fun with now because I know what’s happening. Because I have these viewpoints from Deliberate Orgasm to lead me there.
Rebekah: I want to know and I’m sure our listeners do too, what did you start to do? How have you found to make being in menopause more fun?
Yvonne: The first thing I did was I started talking about what I was experiencing. But one of the pivotal moments, I have to say, is when I stated and I actually made some goals. I did it in, we put on retreats here and the Common Sensuality course is one of the things that we include in our retreats. It was during one of those courses where I was assisting. I was in the back of the room getting ready to film the instructors giving the lecture and the other participants of the course were giving their goals. I was having that big clash of beliefs that I was just telling you about. I couldn’t reconcile putting fun and menopause in the same reality. So there I was in the back of the room and RJ, one of the instructors, it was my turn to give my goals and he says “Yvonne”… And in that pause as I was trying to figure out how to get out all these questions about menopause that were so relevant in my life in the moment and I was so confused. I thought It’s my turn to give goals, I’ve got to give goals!
I looked at all of the questions, since I was so conflicted about putting fun and menopause in the same sentence. I thought that is really the kernel of what I want. It’s my desire. I want to have menopause be pleasurable. I want it to be pleasurable for me. I want it to be fun for me and the people that are around me. When I looked at it as a sensual goal, that changed everything. That is my goal. That is my goal I formulated in that moment during that particular retreat, but that is my goal right now. It is to have fun and to feel the changes I’m going through. Feel the changes in my body and experience them pleasurably. So those things, those two goals are the things that guide my choices on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis now.
Rebekah: Can you say more about that, maybe give a demonstration or example?
Yvonne: Yes I can. Absolutely. One of the examples I like to give is… hot flashes and mood swings are two things I know that women, a lot of women, experience when they’re going into the transition. They are two things that I have experienced a lot of in the last couple of years. I’m not one of those women that is, they call them symptoms of menopause, I’m not symptom-free. Although I don’t call them symptoms. I call them signs. But I’m not one of those women that just have easily felt Oh, okay, I’m going through menopause, no big deal. I have experienced these strong and intense hot flashes and these strong and intense mood swings.
One of the things that because of my goal of pleasure and of having fun I took the information that I knew from Deliberate Orgasm and from noticing the changes in my body through my monthly cycle, my monthly menstruation and the highs an lows you experience with that. I applied it to these swings that I was having and it’s really fun. I thought your hormones just decline and they go down and then that’s it. But that’s not really what I experience. What I experience has been more of… it’s like sometimes my hormones are rushing up and I feel this high from them and sometimes they’re rushing down. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow. There’s really no rule or formula to go by. I really thought there was going to be some rule.
Now this is the really fun part because Deliberate Orgasm, actually the act of DOing, getting DOne and having a Deliberate Orgasm, I can take advantage every day of those changes, of those swings. If my hormones feel like they are in an upswing, boy I can lay down, have a Deliberate Orgasm and build. I can build, on that hormonal rush and have an even better orgasm. I’m building on this foundation that’s within my body and having it be even more fun.
Then on the other side, when I feeling that down swing of hormones or you know I’m in a quieter place, or I feel even I might kind of depressed — you know I have felt depressed. I can take that and I can also use Deliberate Orgasm to enjoy it. I can relax. I don’t have to be worried about being depressed. What I can do is I can pay attention to my body. I can approve of what I’m feeling and I can know that if I want to feel pleasure I can lay down and I can stroke my clit myself. I can have a partner stroke it. I know how to relax. I know to feel my body in a pleasurable way. And I don’t get stuck in this box of I’m depressed or call it something. It doesn’t have to be labeled like that. And I do experience it pleasurably.
Rebekah: Right. That’s great. What I’m getting is that, and I agree with this, that you don’t have to be the victim of your emotions and let that put a cap on what’s available to you sensually. That you can show up for sensual pleasure even if you’re depressed. If you’re high it’s going to be one kind of experience and if you’re quiet it’s going to be a different kind of experience. But you can still have the experience.
Yvonne: Right exactly. And the people around me, because that was another part of my goal was to have it be fun for the people I live with, for the people I interact with and I relate with. When I tell the truth about what I’m feeling and just say it straight out — Oh, this is how I’m feeling today… I can enjoy the communication and the intimacy that comes with that. I find that it’s that way always.
It is the same every day in life. It’s not just in menopause. Every day your moods are changing. Every day how you are experiencing your life changes moment by moment. So in that communication with my friend, when I’m telling him and letting him know what’s happening, that creates movement. It also moves the energy through my body. It moves the energy through my life and it opens up more possibilities for more pleasure and more enjoyment. That happens in conversations every day.