Dear Mediterranean Wanderers
Something happens when we connect with the thing in life that flickers a light inside us that stirs us awake. There’s a sudden electricity that sparks a ripple effect in our entire being. It’s as though, in that moment we have woken from a deep, dormant slumber. We have found the very thing that has been missing our entire life and that feeling is so powerful, it creates a wave of sensation that illuminates who we are in the brightest light. It radiates as we’re walking down the street, it impacts the people we come into contact with and it allows us to recognise something we’d not been aware of before. It is our Personal Calling and the effect of realising that Calling, allows us to come face-to-face with the potential of who we are. My recent friendship with the amazing Martina Hughes – Tantra Teacher and founder of Tantric Blossoming has given me the opportunity to engage with a woman whose passion and purpose is to support and empower men and women to lead full, rich and heartfelt lives, and teaches them how to bring a sense of personal responsibility and awareness in order to foster inspiring, enriching and dynamic relationships with their partners. Her journey through Tantra has inspired thousands of conversations with men and women on the topic of love, intimacy and relationships. Her teachings have allowed her to connect and understand the various narratives that hold people back and her compassionate and heartfelt approach as a facilitator, instils an automatic trust in her. I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity to share Martina’s story and the chance to have her impart such soulful wisdom and insight on a topic so dear to all our hearts. I hope you enjoy our interview:
You faced a significant turning point in your life quite a number of years back and left a secure corporate path to pursue your interest in Tantra. What pushed you to take that journey?
Definitely my desire for something more in life. There was a sense of something missing in my life and the choices I’d made up until that point were made from a very safe and secure and rational approach, but my heart was still hungry for more, my spirit wanted a more complete and full expression and ironically enough, having worked as a chartered accountant for many years and having worked with a lot of small businesses, I had always said that I would never have a small business, because so many small businesses struggle and don’t survive. At the point where I knew I needed to start my own business I just knew that I didn’t have a choice. It felt like if I didn’t take that step to jump into running my own business, I would be slowly dying inside, because I no longer felt inspired or passionate and I wanted to move into a space where I could be supporting and empowering people to live deep, authentic, rich and meaningful lives.
What made you choose Tantra to do that?
I didn’t actually choose Tantra, it was more like Tantra chose me. The way that it panned out, I’d studied re-birthing, shiatsu, energetic healing and attended a lot of intuitive workshops, so I was offering some small workshops and sessions offering those skills, and enjoying what I was doing, but aware that there was still something in terms of my direction and purpose that hadn’t crystalized. Then I went to a Tantra workshop purely for my own personal growth and development and in that weekend workshop, it felt like my life turned around 180 degreesand after that workshop everyone I knew responded differently to me because I felt different from the inside out and suddenly everyone wanted to talk to me about Tantra. They wanted to understand about the journey I was having around my own feminine energy and orgasmic energy, so I was spending a lot of time talking about feminine energy, orgasmic energy, Tantra, sexual energy as Life Force, masculine/feminine dynamics, so it became quite obvious that Tantra essentially turned up as a calling for me, but it certainly wasn’t something that I went seeking. My very first Women’s Workshop that I ran – Sacred Sexuality for Women, there were 20 people in my very small flat in the Eastern suburbs in Sydney and then I ran the same workshop a few days later and another 20 women came, and I ran it a few weeks later and there were more women, so there was this sense of being shown quite quickly that this was the work for me to do. I felt very nervous running my first workshops, but I also felt very passionate and inspired as though I had found my groove and my way in the world.
What I love most about your approach as a facilitator is your uninhibited openness, honesty and the way you are willing to express and show your vulnerability through your own personal experiences. You’re willing to take yourself to places that most people would be reluctant to visit. Tell me a little bit more about this approach and how it impacts your work as a facilitator?
Vulnerability from a facilitator is incredibly powerful. When there are people sitting in a room with a facilitator who’s willing to bare their own personal story and to open up on a meaningful level and in a heartfelt way, it creates a level of softness and openness in a room. It helps other people understand that it’s safe to feel the things that they feel and it gives them a sense of permission to express what’s going on inside of them. There’s space for conversations to be had that might not necessarily be possible in other parts of their life. Vulnerability as a facilitator is an interesting journey to walk because if the facilitator is processing live and just dumping into a room, that doesn’t open the way. In fact, that might make people scared, but if a facilitator is cold and detached, then it’s not inspiring, it doesn’t create the safety. So sharing vulnerability the way I see it is sharing how I feel, sharing the lessons learned from my relationships, my Tantra journey, sharing what it is that touches my heart and has changed my life so that other people can take the gold from that and take what works for them and leave behind what doesn’t. But it also supports them to find what really sparks their heart as well. We’ve just had the Me Too movement and I think part of the reason that’s so popular is because once one person speaks out and hears something vulnerable, it gives others permission to say: yes, that happened to me as well. So equally, when I’m standing there as a woman, sharing about the ways in which I want to receive love and give love in a relationship, other women recognise that in themselves and think: yeah, that’s how I feel but I didn’t have words for it before. It’s a constant evolution. I’ve always shared parts of my story, I recognised quite early on that I respond really well to people’s stories and I’m the kind of person that wants to know why you do what you do…Because when I hear why someone does what they do, there’s this connectivity, even if what they do is different to me, there is something in what they share that gives me chance to understand them better and it gives me insight as to why they are making certain choices. I started to see that as I shared aspects of my personal journey, I would feel people in the room heave a sigh of relief and they’d feel safe and open up. I recognised that there was a line around that. You don’t share things when they’re completely raw and busted open. But sharing things in such a way that comes from an empowering place and a place from understanding myself. It’s a little bit like what Brene Brown says: the wisdom comes from having jouneyed it, but if we try and share our story when we’re still in the middle of the rumble, then the wisdom hasn’t been processed yet and it’s just messy.
There’s this sense of personal accountability that you have a very gentle way of instilling through your teachings, with the emphasis on cultivating awareness about the kind of relationships we want to foster in our lives. What triggered this conscious awareness in you?
I’m really aware of and sensitive to the gender blaming in relationships – like men do this and women do this. It’s part of our learned human protection to look for someone to blame, to look for who the problem is and it doesn’t serve anyone to have the quality of relationship that they desire.I would notice in my women’s workshops – my intention in these workshops was to support women to be themselves, to embody their sexuality and their femininity and to create the kind of relationships they desire, but the women would come to the workshops and they would say to me: yeah but how do I change my husband/partner, how do I make him be different?And that’s not the space I want to be working in because it’s not about manipulating or changing or problem solving the other person.Each person can only make change in their own life. Something I’ve recognised from past relationships, is that I can never change somebody else, but I can change the way I show up. I can change the kind of woman that I am and how I’m living so that I attract a different quality of partner and I can inspire a partner to show up differently with me, rather than nagging or complaining. It’s choosing to come from a place of inspiration for a different kind of relationship which is a very different approach to the complaint approach.
How long did it take you to arrive in that understanding within yourself?
Tantra has been the central part of my journey the last 14 years and I would say even today, it’s still a work in progress, but very early on in my Tantra journey, there was this recognition of personal responsibility around feeling empowered and being empowered to have the kind of relationship that I would desire. The core of the recognition came early, but the evolution, the embodiment and fully living it has really taken 14 years. I came to Tantra at 31, so I already had 31 years of habitual conditioning and patterning around relationships and that thing that’s very present in our society of complaint and blame and I’ve embodied and learned and taken that on. Even though I knew I wanted to live differently, there were many layers of unravelling and each time in my life that I would come to a place where I thought I’d worked something out, then 6 months or 12 months later there would be somewhere else that I would be forced to have a deeper look at personal responsibility and somewhere else where I’d be forced to look at how to really, truly create the kind of relationship I want. There are always more nuances and layers that are revealed.
There’s an internal trigger that’s activated when we are pursing our truth and in alignment with what we are supposed to be doing. It’s as though we have an awakening and become connected to our Life Force. I liken it to emerging out of a deep slumber. Tell me about what the biggest impact has been for you, leaving your old life and stepping into your new one?
The biggest impact…? Everything! I’ve been on this part of my journey for the last 14 years and everything in that 14 years has changed several times over. Even on my Tantra journey there are some quite marked distinctions of different stages that I’ve gone though in terms of my own personal transformation, so at each stage it’s as though there’s something in the flavour of the work that I offer that becomes deeper and more distilled. There’s often a sense that my client base changing in accordance with what’s happening inside of me. As I stepped into greater vulnerability – there’s quite a significant turning point around that about 7 years ago, I noticed the people showing up around me were more willing to step into vulnerability. Both clients and friends. If I go back to 2004, when I first discovered Tantra, there was this sense of certain friends falling away other friends coming closer, opportunities opening up and life having a different flow. There was also a sense of my inner world feeling like it was standing on such a strong foundation. There was this absolute knowing that this was the path for me. Similarly being in relationship with my partner Rod means that there’s another personal evolution of Martina, as well as the evolution of my business Tantric Blossoming because the work and the flavour of the work is changing and the conversations we’re having with people via our work as a couple is very different than the conversations I was having with people as a single woman.
Over the years you’ve had the opportunity to speak with thousands of men and women on the topic of relationships, sexuality and intimacy. You’ve heard people’s deepest, darkest secrets that they’d never reveal to anyone else. You’ve hosted Retreats, Workshops and offer personal Mentoring. What has this journey come to teach you most about yourself?
It’s actually incredibly humbling. Having just come home from a 5 day Retreat, which 15 people journeyed, the thing that I’m most present to right now is how incredibly powerful and resilient our human nature is. How incredibly vulnerable and sensitive and delicate our human nature is. That is the great paradox of life and that in itself – to be so present to strength and sensitivity, to power and vulnerability to the resilient nature and the delicate nature, to feel all of those parallels siting together, and to watch a group of 15 men and women deeply journey through those places over 5 days – looking at man, woman, relationships, looking at healing of feminine sexuality, healing of masculine sexuality, healing of sexual trauma, healing of relationship pain and past hurts, sitting with all of that, really brings me to a place where there’s an element of the work that I do which is holding a space for the unknown and in holding that space for the unknown, there is a sense often in the work that – I don’t know what’s going to happen next. But there’s a quality of magic that happens in bringing people together in healing and transformation, and that quality of energy and magic is bigger than my humanness. Bigger than anything I could dream or imagine and that’s what’s so humbling. There’s a letting go that I do, there’s a surrender that I do, of just trusting that life will flow through me, through my team, through the participants in a way that supports people to go as deeply as they can possibly go. That’s not something that the human mind can fully understand or can control or can consciously create, but there’s such a magic in it…There’s a ripple effect that happens in the group. Watching one woman sharing about her sexual trauma then activates something for somebody else and creates a healing for somebody else and then creates a shift in another place. There’s all kinds of ways that energy moves in the group that I could never plan for, but by being in service, I hold the space in such a way that that energy moves exactly as it needs to in the space.
What’s been the most rewarding thing about following your passion?
The most rewarding thing is knowing that the differences I’ve made in my life can then be utilised so that others can make a difference in their lives…Watching people make active change to have the kind of life, relationships, intimacy they desire – that’s incredibly rewarding.
For more information on how Tantra can inspire your life and for details on Martina’s upcoming Workshops, Retreats and Mentoring, click HERE
Happy Travels, Paula