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.

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

  1. Stillness is something I really want to work on, as I am still doing and speaking from my head, where there is no stillness. Crazy to observe that a part in me actually does not like stillness, as it does not like love and harmony.

  2. Inspiring to read that you got under the pain, and feel your stillness and love. Indeed an amazing experience, if you could do this with pain, than why shouldn’t you connect to this stillness and love when there is no pain? And why not connect to your love and stillness every single moment?

  3. It’s often in those moments where the stakes are high that we make the choice to connect within and we find our stillness, that settles us more than anything. But it is when our life around us is seemingly ‘normal’, with no threats or unbearable pain, that we tend not to make that choice. The result is a life reduced, a life where we suffer from not being in deep and tender connection through our exquisite stillness to the preciousness we are and come from.

  4. This is a totally different approach to pain than we learn to deal with it and it makes sense, instead of shutting oneself out by going tense to allow oneself to stay, and as you did drop more into your body and that way we know the rhythm in which to proceed.

    1. This can be applied to many moments in our lives, giving birth comes to mind…. going within and allowing the rhythm of the body to do its thing, instead of clenching and hardening the body to make it through.

  5. What I understood from what you have shared is that there is a level of love we feel when we drop into stillness where everything is complete. There is no searching, no longing, it is full of our love and that is powerful and strong and connects us clearly as one. From that space I cannot imagine we would be capable to war, of hate or even of jealousy and comparison.

    1. That is exactly it Lucy. Most of us would relate to going about our lives with something niggling in the background (or the foreground), something narky hanging around, and getting grumpy at some point during the day. That’s on one end of the scale. On the other end, we have the brutality of war, mutilation and barbaric acts that continue to this day – how does a fellow man do this to his equal brother?
      Whether it’s the niggly little irritation or the extreme barbaric act, what has been abandoned first and foremost is the connection within ourselves, our connection to our stillness, and to what is this most sacred place within. It’s when we let ourselves go there, through right living and the choice to do so, that we feel the amazing love that we are and that we share with one another. There is no room for aggression of any kind, when we choose this quality of being for ourselves.

  6. Thank you Katerina for a beautiful sharing, of the power and depth of stillness we can experience when we truly surrender, in your case to the pain, but it can be anything in life where we can be deeply held in the safety of our love. A depth of love that is available to us all.

  7. This is amazing Katerina – I have heard accounts of how painful tattoo removal is, but working with Dr Anne Malatt, surrendering to stillness and clearing the emotional baggage that is carried in the original tattoos, takes this to a whole new level.

  8. I have not had a tattoo but I can relate to how you feel about having it removed with how I feel when I have work done on my teeth. There is an anxiousness and tension that goes through my body that I can feel I allow to dis-connect me from my inner stillness. I can feel the disregard and neglect in my earlier years that have caused a mouthful of fillings and this then reflected how I never really honoured or took care of my body until something went wrong. Tattoo feels like another form of disregard, a distraction from not wanting to feel how we really feel about our body.

  9. There’s always the choice to harden up and push through or to surrender into ourselves to our stillness within. The former keeps us running on the hamster-wheel of existence, whilst with the latter we stop running and start truly living, knowing every we step we takes brings us one step closer to our essence and our home.

  10. This is a beautiful supportive description how there is another way of dealing with painful procedures and uncomfortable situations in life and how we can support each other in that.

  11. I was never attracted to a tattoo or what it offered but I did get a belly button piercing done, for the same things you describe Katerina, wanting to impress the people around me at the time, to show I was cool, hip and chilled, and the most crazy one, I wanted to show others that there was more to me then what they thought. I say crazy, because this is the least way of truly showing the world all I am. My body immediately rejected it and I painfully tried to keep it going for a few months until my body started to push the piercing out of my body. Rejected myself and my body… my body rejected the falseness.

  12. It is amazing how often we can do something we don’t really want to do, but override due to wanting to fit in… completely disregarding who we are and often the bodies we own. It is great that in this case it is something that can be reversed, and done correctly can offer a great lesson in making choices from love… and the harm we can do when we don’t.

  13. I’ve never had a tattoo removal, however I can totally relate in that when I experience difficult times in my life, no matter how painful or difficult it can be it’s possible to connect to something much deeper and grander inside me that makes the biggest and worst situation seem like child’s play.

  14. To be able to connect to the stillness that we all have access to within us is probably the most empowering thing that we can do for ourselves in any given situation. And there is no amount of money that can buy this, for it is truly priceless.

  15. This description of how the laser removal works is enough to put me off ever wanting a tattoo! Once the pigments have been released by explosion, I assume the body must then deal with those toxins circulating in the system. Apart from the pain of the procedure, this is such a strain to put our body under.

  16. I agree that stillness is ‘the ultimate place of safety we all yearn for. It brings a quiet steadiness and confidence that is unshakeable. Once you are in stillness, there is no such thing as needing safety as you know how everything you need is right there within you.

  17. Tattoos should definitely come with a health warning, much like cigarettes do, as the evidence is mounting about the toxicity of the ink and the risks that are inherent. And yet there is more to tattoos than just this, as Katerina shares, there are emotional reasons we look to get tattoos, deep unsettlements in our body, and perhaps we need to ask more of the why questions, delve a little deeper in answering the question of what we get out of having tattoos, because for sure the answer is more than just that they “look good” even if you believe that to be true.

  18. Katerina, it is great to read about how you surrendered deeper and connected with the stillness inside of you. I had a similar experience when I gave birth to my son, I connected to the stillness inside of me and did not go into panic or emotions and instead stayed very calm and steady and found that I knew exactly what I needed to do and I worked with the midwife and the doctor in a very calm and loving way, this felt amazing, that in what could have been a very emotional situation, that it was possible to remain present and calm, the nurse came to see me afterwards and said it was very beautiful to have experienced this and could not believe how calm I had been, so I can relate to what you are sharing here Katerina, ‘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’.

  19. Such a beautiful reminder that there’s nothing for us to do but just be. We are so conditioned to counter/deal with whatever we are presented with in life, basically living in reaction constantly, but there is another way to live which is actually very simple and effortless when we connect back to the stillness inside us.

  20. I love the way you have described the power of stillness here Katerina as “being held by our own love.” The powerful steadiness and strength of beauty when we connect with our essence is absolutely beholding and all encompassing. In being committed to go beneath the pain and sadness you were able to reconnect and feel this exquisiteness we all hold within.

  21. The ability to connect to our stillness and know ourselves for that quality is one of the greatest resources we have to come back and reclaim who we truly are without falling prey to the illusions of the world.

  22. Thank you for sharing about how you supported yourself through what sounds like a very painful procedure, by choosing to go beneath the pain to access your living stillness which allowed you to stay open and feel what was there to feel. I will bear this in mind the next time I face a challenging or painful episode in my life.

  23. Katerina this is a really gorgeous blog, you have shared so clearly how allowing ourselves to feel what we do, hurt, anxiety etc, can mean then afterwards we can experience a return to our stillness. The alternative is to also not feel, to keep running away from ourselves with behaviours and more anxiousness etc, and live in the permanent state of tension which is the stillness calling us back out of the angst.

  24. Katerina, this line really hit home to me “knowing that when I’m faced with the adversities that life can throw at me, that I always have another choice”. How true your words, as often I see the hurts and dilemma in my life as something too great for me to contend with, whereas in truth this is not the case at all, just surrender, allow and accept, it is always about our choice, stillness is there awaiting our return to our true self.

  25. When we are steady and connected to the stillness within, it provides an infinite amount of support in bringing a quality and integrity to whatever we choose to do.

  26. I have come to see that I learned to brace myself very early on in my life and part of the bracing was holding my breath, waiting to see what was going to come next. It is only recently that I have identified that the bracing and the breath holding have been part of my life since those early years but now they have been acknowledged heal the issues behind these harmful patterns are now beginning to be revealed and from there healed. I still find myself holding my breath at times but I catch it quickly and then choose to breath with gentleness once again.

  27. Beautiful sharing Katerina.. there is so much on the surface that we are distracted by. Underneath all we ‘see’ in each other is the mechanics of the universe. We have divine creation and the dense creation that is all around us but there is so much more inside of us (all).
    I love how you expressed this Katerina, and not something we always acknowledge, that under all this dense matter is our Soul, pure and divine. NOTED — “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.”

  28. Very revealing that clearing the imprint and ink from a tattoo revisits the sadness and emotions that are held in the body from when it is first imposed on the body. If we were all taught when young to connect to our inner stillness then the tattoo parlours would be out of business.

  29. ‘To connect deep within me, and let my stillness instruct my next movement or behaviour.’ Beautiful, Katerina. The absolute antidote to that fact that ‘…we are taught from young to brace ourselves, to toughen up and to stay in the doing in order to protect ourselves.’ As I am finding, allowing stillness to guide me takes commitment as everything in the world wants us to do otherwise, as do my own patterns and momentums.

  30. Giving ourselves the space to feel any ill-emotion in our body and in doing so allowing the emotions to leave is freeing the body to be and live in the expansiveness it naturally is. It is truly a wonderful gift we can give to ourselves and we are not a failure to seek support to assist us in the letting go.

  31. “To connect deep within me, and let my stillness instruct my next movement or behaviour.” This stops us going into a reaction of what we may have felt. It is amazing how much more we find out about our true selves when we surrender and connect to the stillness.

  32. I we were taught from a young age how vitally important our bodies are and of the importance of taking loving care of them, I feel abusing our bodies in anyway shape or form would be much less prevalent than it is in today’s society.

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