by Katerina Nikolaidis, Australia
I recently had a very painful procedure to remove a tattoo I have on my body. For those who are unfamiliar with what this involves, the removal is undertaken over a series of treatments with laser therapy. This releases the tattoo pigment held in the body by causing little explosions, which feel like they are burning the overlying skin.
This was my third treatment, so I had a pretty good idea of what was involved and that it would again be very painful. On previous occasions I had observed how I would automatically go into a bracing and hardening of my body in order to be able to cope with the pain. But each time I did this, with the support of my wonderful physician, Dr Anne Malatt, I could feel that it is actually possible to stay open, without hardening, while experiencing the pain of the procedure. I could do that by simply connecting with myself deeply and honouring how much pain I could take at any given moment – going at my own pace and my own rhythm.
So this time around, as I lay on the table, I first felt the anxiousness that was in my body. I realised this was my body telling me I needed to deeply connect and feel something I may not be wanting to feel. As I began to connect, I first felt the sadness of where I was with myself many years ago when I decided to have the tattoo in the first place…. how I was so desperate to belong, to be seen as ‘cool’, as ‘hip’ and attractive. I felt the sadness of how much I longed for recognition from my then boyfriend, and from the party crowd we used to hang out with. I was so desperate to fit in that I made the choice to disconnect from myself and my body, and do things that deep down I never really wanted to do in the first place, such as getting a tattoo.
It was painful to feel all that (in pretty much a single moment), but I then made the choice to surrender deeper and feel what was underneath the pain. As I did this, I felt my tenderness and my stillness, and how beautiful I actually am. In the stillness I felt my true beauty, this amazing beauty that I had tried to cover up all those years ago with a tattoo and many different identities to fit in with the world. So I lay there on the table connected with this exquisite stillness, ready for the laser to begin, in what I can only describe as the vast, silky ocean of my own love.
We all worked together, the physician, the assistant and me, steadily and gently applying the laser to the tattoo on my body. We knew exactly when to stop, when to let my body have a break, when to continue.
I realised then just how powerful we actually are when we let ourselves stop and feel, and connect to our stillness; that stillness which is within every man and every woman. Most of us are not brought up to know this as our truth – we are taught from young to brace ourselves, to toughen up and to stay in the doing in order to protect ourselves.
But in our stillness, our power is beyond anything we might have been taught. In our stillness, we don’t feel threatened or disturbed by what is outside of us, because we are in the ultimate place of safety we all yearn for. We are being held by our own love, the way a loving mother holds her young child.
And in that warm, delicious connection, we connect with everyone else. It’s no longer a situation of ‘us and them’, the patient on the table and the practitioner applying the laser treatment. We are all in it together, all of us playing our equal parts, simply getting on with what needs to be done – with this amazing stillness that comes from within us.
With the reference point that I now have from this incredible experience, I’m looking forward to building this into my everyday life, knowing that when I’m faced with the adversities that life can throw at me, that I always have another choice. To connect deep within me, and let my stillness instruct my next movement or behaviour. Of course, this is a work in progress and I don’t aim for perfection (because then I’d set myself up to fail!). But what is amazing is to know that there is another way. A way that is so powerful, for it is pure love.