This was my 4th tattoo, and first foray into color. This may come as a surprise…it may not. Maybe you’ve seen the ink in my skin, poking out from under a pant leg, or peeking up over my shoulder.
I know some folks don’t like tattoos.
I’m not here to defend my choices.
I’m here to talk about how much that sucker hurt.
Cuz, duh. Having needles stabbed into your skin repeatedly and rapidly is probably at least mildly painful for most people.
And I’m a ninny. Yeah, it’s said that women are built for pain. That we have a great pain threshold because we birth babies. I’m not. (Built for pain nor having babies.)
So I wind up making my tattoos a big deal. An ordeal. With a magnificent, gorgeous and permanent outcome.
As I sat down in the chair, watching my artist clean and sanitize and set up the space, I felt that familiar sensation. Heart leaping into chest, and then dropping down into belly. Simultaneous excitement and fear.
He looked at me with a grin, leaning toward my arm “Are ya ready?”
So ready. “Let’s do it!”
And it began. The inside of the forearm is a soft and tender place. Watching the ink settle in to my skin was fun…until it wasn’t. I started to tighten up.
And then fidget.
It occurred to me: Holly, you’re a yogi. Focus on your breath. So I started to watch the movement of my breath. Watched it move out and in…
and it still hurt like a mother.
So I changed my approach. I slowed the movement of breath, and let the abdomen expand and relax with the movement of breath.
OUCH! Not working.
After moving through my yogic arsenal, I mentally tossed up my hands and decided to just pay attention to how much it hurt.
And you know what?
It got easier.
It really seemed to hurt less. Immediately. Was that the endorphins kicking in? Cuz they say that endorphins play a role in managing prolonged pain. I decided to pretend I was a scientist. I went back to my breath. The pain increased. I went back to the pain. It became tolerable again.
I went with it. I’m a big fan of doing what works. The artist and I did chat quite a bit, but I stayed right there with the sensation of those needles.
What’s the point?
Sometimes we are better served by listening to what hurts. To give it the attention. To sit with it, rather than trying to escape it. It isn’t just a physical pain. It can be grief, anger, loss, or any of the more serious unpleasantries in life. By being right there with it, we can have the experience without it being too bad in the end.
Yogis, take note.
Sometimes we focus on breath. Sometimes that is the best thing to do.
Sometimes we give our awareness to that which is asking for it. Be there, for a little while.
When you are ready, when it is over, when you can let it go, it will make that letting go sooooo much sweeter!
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