My Tattoo Removal & The Power of Stillness

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.

340 thoughts on “My Tattoo Removal & The Power of Stillness

  1. That is exactly what I feel anxiousness is .. something that is telling us that we need to be aware, deepen and connect with ourselves and feel what is there to be felt ‘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.’ I feel I need this reminder!

  2. We often contract, harden and brace ourselves in anticipation of pain and/or fear, but the safest place for us is to be in connection with our essence.

  3. Awesome to recognise that when we connect to our stillness it supports us to know what our next true movement is and thus we have no need to go into protection and brace ourselves against whatever pain we are trying to avoid.

  4. I have spoken to many people who have tattoos to ask them how does it work to get in some cases such intricate designs and then why did they decide to put a tattoo into their body? Some people saw their body as a blank canvas and for others it was a spur of the moment idea. Everyone I spoke to can remember their first tattoo and where is it situated on their body. And most admit to it being painful, especially if it is on the inner part of the arm to me it sounds excruciatingly painful to have a tattoo and just as excruciating to have it removed.

  5. “Of course, this is a work in progress and I don’t aim for perfection (because then I’d set myself up to fail!).” I love what you have shared as most of us want to be perfect and so we are not aware that we set ourselves up to fail. That is for me a real illness and it is good to be more aware of the fact that we are already everything.

  6. Stillness is so powerful, it is deeply healing and loving. When we walk into a room that is held in stillness, it feels deeply nurturing and yummy. When we move in stillness, it has the power to inspire, clear and heal wherever we go.

  7. ‘So I lay there on the table connected with this exquisite stillness…..in what I can only describe as the vast, silky ocean of my own love.’ I have been here too, Katerina, so lovingly in touch with my own love and the absolute knowing of this all-powerful place of being allowing me to retrace my steps and tenderly hold myself as I cross paths with the choices I made when living in a very disconnected way.

  8. There are some things that just hurt us at every step. The body cries out when you bring it into the body. Then the silent hurt starts, sometimes leading to more or to the wish of removing it altogether. The pain we feel in the removal is not just the one associated with it but with what you have done to yourself altogether.

  9. This blog has stayed with me since I first read it, as it makes so much sense to me to stay in connection to our stillness when we have pain. I remember years ago when I first began using the Gentle Breath Meditation and my back went into spasm and was very painful, each time the pain was felt I used the gentle breath technique to reconnect me to my soul and stillness and it made a remarkable difference to my pain levels, and I feel I recovered more quickly by being in my stillness, as well as using gentle movement to keep my back from getting worse.

    1. Connecting to our stillness is way better (and cheaper) than any pain-killing drug that our doctor can prescribe.

  10. Katerina, I love the way you turned this experience on its head and the gold that you then discovered, what a turning point to see that life presents and that we always have a choice with how we respond.

  11. This is an example of true healing, clearing away the energy of our past actions that effect our current choices. Clearing those choices that where not loving to make more space for those that are.

  12. Reading this this morning I feel deepened in my own stillness.
    Inspirational and, “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”, eloquently expresses the quality of stillness.

  13. “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!).” I appreciate what you have expressed here that perfection sets us up to fail, the same as the getting it right which sets us up for getting it wrong, putting us back in the yo-yo of judgments. I have at times been in sever pain and i found that hardening only makes the pain worse, when I have been able to surrender to the pain it makes it so much easier to deal with.

  14. As you say we are encouraged from young to toughen up to the world and just get on with life. So there is no place for stillness and connection to who we truly are. Allowing ourselves to reignite the stillness and the beauty that such a connection brings is exquisite I feel very blessed that I have worked on myself enough to be able to reconnect back to this inner most part of us all.

  15. This is such a beautiful sharing and makes me ponder on what a ‘pain’ really is – that thing we recoil from, yet it calls back to a part of us where love was previously somehow not allowed to flow through in the way it could have and that could be physical and/or emotional, offering us an opportunity to go underneath it and reconnect. It’s just fascinating.

  16. It is so awesome to read about a person discovering the ultimate strength and power that comes from being connected with one’s inner stillness.

  17. It reminds me of when me, I partner and daughter were supporting my Mother in law to surrender to die.
    There was such a oneness in working together. That nothing belonged to one. It was a letting go And letting love in.

  18. Fitting in and being cool are so seductive to those who feel not enough as they are, but they leave you forever seeking and not knowing that you are enough. You need to have the latest thing, which is never just you being you. It’s like a constant hamster wheel and the fear of falling off must be exhausting.

    1. So true Fiona and we tend to make unloving choices when we feel we are not enough, so it is so important to look at why we feel this way and what is the cause and heal it so we can embrace and live the truly amazing beings that we are.

  19. If we could handle a painful operation like this, what else could we do? Sometimes it takes something really painful or even life threatening to learn to surrender to stillness, which is basically to surrender to God. Beautiful sharing Katerina, thank you.

  20. All the tension and conflict that can occur within myself or with another is BECAUSE I’ve left my Stillness. None of this ‘she said this/He did that’ stuff, that comes in after we leave our Stillness. Thank you Katerina for this reminder.

  21. I am totally amazed at how we actually fight ourselves so that we don’t get to feel how powerful we are and how exhausting it is to continually fight our innate stillness. No wonder we are all living in exhaustion.
    The more I allow myself to drop into the stillness the more I feel my own love the feeling is quite exquisite and I am left wondering why I put up such a fight to deny myself this love that I have craved all my life.

  22. It is quite interesting, that getting tattoos became so fashionable in the last recent years. What does it actually reflects back where we as humanity are at? Why do we need that kind of painful accessory to cover ourselves? What if those who carry those widespread tattoos are the most sensitive people, that actual rebel against the falsity they feel in this world and mistakenly but intentionally protect themselves with that kind of look?

  23. You must be out of your own stillness and love for yourself when you decide to get a tattoo. How could you otherwise go somewhere to have pain?

  24. “Let my stillness instruct my next movement or behaviour.” Beautifully expressed Katerina, we will always connect to the quality of love and preciousness within us the more we surrender and allow our body to lead the way.

  25. Recently, I have been getting leg cramps on waking in the morning and now since reading your blog, rather than bracing myself and jumping out of bed to relieve the pain, I stay in bed for a while to feel the depth of the pain and to uncover what it is that I have created which is being released from my body. This allows a deeper connection with me at the start of my day. Thank you for the inspiration to feel what is beneath my pain.

    1. Allowing ourselves to feel the pain and go deeper allows for us to release so much more. We can then appreciate the healing that is happening and we stay connected. A lovely sharing, thank you Elizabeth.

  26. As I read your blog I am reminded of the force that goes into life and the surrender that supports us when we take our foot off the pedal. That is what I can feel in your blog. Once we take the foot off the pedal and stop pushing through pretending we are not feeling what we are feeling then we can see why we did what we did and let go of the hurt and pain we have been carrying around.

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