Day 49- sorry mum but this is a tattoo meditation

Tattoos are a rite of passage, marks of spiritual devotion and cultural significance, talismans and symbols. I have chosen this design because it represents my heritage, my Mexican bloodline, the fascination with death culture that almost laughs in the face of death and embraces it as a part of life. I have chosen to place it on my foot because that is my root, my connection to the ground.

We are in Oaxaca and we spend the morning eating egg yolk bread dipped in hot chocolate and tamales. In the evening we return to the plaza Santo Domingo and I prepare myself for the pain. Sitting in the chair, my stomach is flipping from the sound of the needle. I sit back and relax my jaw as the needle digs into my skin. The first sting is always the worst. The skin on the top of the foot is very thin. There are many nerves and small bones there. The pain is some of the worst I have ever felt, but at the same time I know that I am creating this for myself. I allow all my attention to focus on the sensation of the needle touching my skin. I become totally engrossed in the experience of pain until it no longer hurts. I feel the pain, but it is no longer a bad experience, it is just an experience. The tattoo takes about an hour to complete. As it gets close to the end, I allow myself to come back into the room. The intense focus of pain on my foot is grounding so that I don’t find it hard to adjust out of the meditation. The tattoo is beautiful and we are late to meet my family for dinner.

My right foot is swollen and I spend the rest of the night limping around. I am like Frida Kahlo, who suffered from an injured right foot for her whole life.

Not everybody likes tattoos, not everybody agrees with them and I know that every time I get a new one, many people in my family shake their heads in disapproval. But this is a part of me, this art is in my skin and is part of who I am. I don’t offer any apologies for them. After all, they are just a part of my body and my body is not the sum and total of who I am. I am more than my skin and the pictures on it. I am more than my body in this lifetime. When I meditate, I transcend beyond this body, beyond the pain and I am my true self. And my true self is love, not judgement. My true self even loves my tattoos.

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