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.

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

  1. We all have different stories to tell but the regrets are very similar in that we have all done things in our past that we wish we hadn’t done and that there was a deep knowing within us that what we were doing was going against these feelings just so we could fit in.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. I can remember so many times when as a child I hardened and braced myself against what was being directed at me. It has taken years to reverse this process and to understand that when we are fully open to all possibilities the awareness this gives us allows us to observe and not take on other peoples ideals and beliefs of how we should be think and act.

  4. 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.

  5. Ouch! What pain we can put into our bodies and not only for a cosmetic look or appearance but the many hours of seriously hard training we do to get that so called good physic.

  6. 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.

  7. “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.

  8. 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.

  9. ‘So I lay there on the table connected with this exquisite stillness… 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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