Her own experience of the menopause lead wellness writer Sophie Benge to work with White Calm Retreats founder Rebecca Tucker to create a women’s wellness retreat that would change the menopause experience for all women. Here she explains her journey…
“The human energy system is fascinating,” says Sophie, “and we can use if if we know how; it’s very efficient and very effective.” Speaking about her experience with and beyond the menopause, Sophie is emphatic about the positivity of the journey she has been through thanks to the people who have helped her through the menopause, not least the channelling of sexual energy courtesy of Kalindi Jordan (find out more later this week).
“I have suffered symptoms of menopause and it’s a minefield, and I speak for many women of a similar age when I say it’s very difficult to navigate. I think part of the reason for that is that the subject is still a little taboo.”
Having become a part of the wellness industry 18 years ago when she wrote her book The Tropical Spa, whilst living in Asia, Sophie is all too aware of the power of spa culture when used correctly. At the time she was editor of Elle Decoration and she wanted to put the culmination of her understanding into print. Today she continues to write for magazines and consult on spa brands seeking her advice, but when it came to menopause she realised there was a real gap in the conversation.
“What really struck me was that so many of us [women] are cut off mid way down our bodies that we have forgotten, or our lifestyle is such, that we have neglected that part of our sensuality. People are so much in their heads - coping with the day to day or being a mother, working and running a household, that we reach middle age and have forgotten about our lower regions!”
Sophie is not simply talking about sex, this is about neglecting sexual energy, she explains: “that doesn’t just help us to orgasm but helps us to stay more grounded and connected in general. Feeling more vibrant and more alive.”
Her journey began when, having been to a sensual women’s workshop, she met a sexologist and an orgasm specialist and by the end of the workshop she was in tears: “I found myself crying because I was a middle aged woman who felt I hadn’t received the level of sexual pleasure I could have, and that made me sad.”
At this point she was introduced to Kalindi Jordan, an expert in sexual energy whom she describes as: “a very body sentient and almost psychic person. She does sessions that have made me feel much better about myself. It’s very hard to language but its very powerful.”
Realising the power of Kalindi’s approach, Sophie joined forces with White Calm Retreats’ Rebecca Tucker, herself an devotee of creating retreats that have a long term impact on client wellbeing, to create retreats to help women approaching, during and after menopause to navigate all aspects from the physical to the emotional. “I thought so many women could benefit from the work of Kalindi. A lot start to feel a bit dejected, miserable - we lose our sense of womanhood over time - so many women say that and I don’t know if it’s an equality thing or being stressed - women often feel ashamed of wanting to live sensuously.”
Of her own experience of menopause she says: “I had just split up from a relationship, I was really low and it exasperated my symptoms - I lacked energy, I lacked focus, I did have brain fog, I did burst into tears - it really hit me over the head with a truncheon.”
“I had had an easy pregnancy and easy periods all my life and was hit with it all in one go. All the people my age who were talking about were asking the same questions: should we do HRT? Should we drink wine? Should we do more exercise?”
Also joining their team of wonder women is Dr Amalia: “she is a fabulous woman,” says Sophie; “she understands women have to carry on life whilst wanting to feel well and dealing with the transition of menopause. We still want to drink and go out to eat - we can’t just sit at home having vegetables all the time. She’s great at giving lifestyle advice as well. Balance is key.”
“We decided that because menopause is such an amorphous issue, we needed to tackle it from different angles. We did a taster where we did a simple body practice focused on bringing energy into the lower area of your body and afterwards everyone felt calm, warm, energetic, in touch with their bodies, one woman even felt a little turned on. When we can feel connected. It’s a very visceral thing.”
Sophie speaks almost magically of the power of her rediscovered energy - there’s a youthful lightness to her happiness that she’s eager for other women to experience, and she puts so much of it down to this experience of renewed and redirected sexual energy harnessed through meditative practices such as womb yoga.
“It’s almost like coming home,” she says, continuing: “it’s gut intuition, our womb space, where we’ve created new life, where we have our most powerful experiences - it’s our powerhouse and our nurturing centre. With ovarian massage you’re breathing into all of those tiny tiny nerves - inside your womb space - just waking it up.”
Balancing that experience with the more left brain experience of physiology to help with the hormone changes and physical symptoms, the retreats offer information and advice to help women find the right path for them through menopause. “You can learn about the difference between HRT and bioidentical hormones and get concrete lifestyle advice so you feel more informed,” says Sophie. “We also do yoga and in the evenings and try to get out of our heads and into the body with dance or drawing - just to free flow consciousness - it’s very empowering.”
Talking to Sophie it’s clear that this is so much more than jigsawing together a retreat and is very much a labour of love that she wants other women to experience for both practical and joyful reasons.
Enthused she concludes: “the female essence inside every woman is an energetic and magnetic quality that makes her feel attractive, radiant, sensual and grounded. If you want to be more open in your body, more connected to your own sexual nature, feel more pleasure in intimate situations, and be joyous in the moment, these workshops and retreats will guide you to find, tap into, play, practice and fully live in your feminine power.”
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE NEXT WOMEN’S WELLNESS RETREAT from 26th-28th JANUARY 2018