If you come to class this week, you may catch me gingerly trying to protect my fresh tattoo from irritating bra straps. After nearly ten years, I am finally in the process of getting the artwork on my back finished! Started the project back in the mid-2000's and had to put on hold when my younger two made their way into my life. While I found birthing my little guys to be quite a bit harder that getting inked, that tattoo gun can get pretty intense, particularly on the spine where there are a ton of nerve endings. No matter what the physical sensation, mindfulness is the answer!
As we got started, Sarah, the artist, offered me a squeezy stress ball to cope with the intensity. "I'll let you know if I need it," I responded. Deep breath in...and the work was underway. Deep breath out. I know I was making some pretty funny faces. I probably looked like the bulldog with the kitten from Looney Tunes. But I found I didn't need the squeezy ball. On the contrary, I found myself focusing on my breath, and gently shaking my hands in an effort to release tension. Some areas, particularly the sharp lines near my spine, were pretty damn intense. Deep breath in...Grimace...Deep breath out...Wiggle fingers...Deep breath in...Repeat. Each time Sarah changed colors or tools, I got a little break to regroup, much like the break between contractions. And again...Deep breath in...Release tension...Deep breath out.
As I often say in class, "you can do anything for one minute." A minute of a challenging yoga pose, a minute of getting tattooed, a minute long contraction, a minute of undergoing an unexpected cesarean, or a minute of a toddler tantrum...just one minute and repeat. Life is a series of minutes made up of all different kinds of sensation: emotional, physical, mental...pleasurable, painful, just plain something you're not used to...Letting go of the labels, the attachment to something being easy can shift the experience incredibly. It's a very simple concept, but not always easy. Like anything it takes practice. Fortunately, every moment of life is an opportunity to practice being fully present, using the breath to embrace whatever the moment brings. I've been known to literally cry on the way to the dentist- after my son was born, and years of mindfulness practice, I got a root canal with no anxiety at all. The more you practice the easier it gets. I've got a few more appointments before the art on my back is complete. In the meantime, I will embrace each moment, each breath as a gift...and be ready for the next round of art on my skin.