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Meditations on pain.

Yesterday I got a new tattoo. The fact itself is not very interesting, but the experience I underwent is. I spent about 5 hours on the table, being tattooed. It was special. I have several tattoos already but they always took about an hour and I didn’t really immerse myself in the experience.

Unsurprisingly, I was exploring pain. Fair to say, at first I was experiencing pain and after a couple of hours I stared to explore it. To my surprise at some point I even fell asleep. When the master was working with the small needle, I totally drifted away and was dreaming. I still felt pain, but it wasn’t disturbing or anything. I knew it would be painful and uncomfortable, yet, there was longing towards the session. For me, each new instance I put on my body, signifies a particular moment in life, an important stepping stone or an insight that has left a remarkable imprint. Especially in the past I was drawn towards assigning conceptual meaning to whatever I decide to put. My last two are aesthetic choices and I see them as energetic boosters. Having them on my body makes a difference in how I feel myself in the world. Images are strong communicators not only towards the outside but the inside as well. I truly enjoy carrying these images with me, they are almost as my personal totems reminding me what is important, cheering me up, keeping me company and protect from dangers.

The newest tattoo is an animal, cold blooded predator. He is kind looking, yet, powerful and fearless. In some traditional cultures there is a saying that a person never chooses an animal, the animal does it. If we are drawn to something without necessarily having an explanation, it can mean that there is a certain trait which is attractive or relevant at the moment. When I went to the studio I had different idea in mind, the master felt that I was a little wobbly and she gave me a book, an atlas, to browse and see what looks at me. Yes, exactly, that is how I chose to make a tattoo. The decision making process was very intuitive, I fully surrendered without questioning. It felt good to do it this way, in contrast to gathering and assembling layers of meaning. Quite quickly I was drawn to my animal and after an hour of drawing, we could start.

The time on the table is always special. You disconnect from whatever was bothering you before, fist focusing on pain and comfort and after just being with the feeling not assigning a particular judgement to it. The length of the session allowed me to fall into a kind of trance-like state. The night before I didn’t get enough sleep due to the early train departure, so tiredness nicely contributed to the experience. I tried to think while being on the table, but all the attempts where failing. I wasn’t even focusing on pain that much, but felt how all the thoughts and parts were the same. In non-dual meditation practice, which I’ve been practicing for some time, it is the main principal. Realise that whatever is experienced in the moment is just an experience you have no control over. Thoughts, sounds, sensations, images, are just appearing by themselves. There is no point of becoming frustrated, angry or try to push them away. While being tattooed I explored the idea. And to my surprise after a while pain became one of the many other experiences which where appearing in that particular moment.

It took long to get into the non-resistance state. Without a doubt meditation experience reinforced me during the process. Perhaps if even makes my practice stronger. In the end it was 5 hours meditation session of great intensity. After the session was finished, I kept on wondering, what does my body thinks now. Why is it not opposed to this painful procedure, isn’t it going against the survival instinct. Avoid pain in all possible ways. I don’t have the answers at the moment, because my body very clearly is done with me for today. I will listen now and withdraw to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day, a first full day with my spiritual animal.

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