It was a series of intuitive flashes that brought this belly tattoo to life. A desire to baptize-as-beautiful some bodily damage rendered during child bearing; a passion for honoring my creative center mixed with some celebration of the deep call to service through energetic healing–all of these left me facing a consult with a tattoo artist to run through options of how to make manifest all of this – on my belly.
Some irony here is that I’ve never wanted a tattoo. I’d not connected with any imagery that I could picture being branded upon my body for the rest of my life.
Artist: “I won’t touch or tattoo over these areas of your abdomen for these reasons. Typically this is how a tattoo over a much-less affected area would go…and your areas are profoundly affected. “ Me, to Artist, “Is there a way to make something work? What can you do?” Then I got to witness Artist’s energy start to bubble and ping….”Well, I can incorporate the scarring as negative space for some Japanese finger waves, like this…” he takes me to examples of images… “Then a lotus could emerge from it, something like this..”
Me, “Sold. How much can I put down today as a deposit?” I left ten minutes later with a future, 5-hour appointment booked.
Between this and my scheduled appointment, I did ask a few people about their tattoo stories and experiences. If they relayed to me how much pain may be involved, I didn’t hear it. I heard things like, “it feels like a series of bee stings and gets more annoying over time more than anything…”
Appointment day arrived and I posted for my appointment. After a brief review of the artwork and some prepping of my belly, we got started. First needles down, my response is, “Um, that hurts. It feels like an exacto knife going into my skin. Forgo any test areas – just keep rolling through.”
I called a mental/spiritual meeting with all of my Guides/Guidance system. I asked my body to release DMT, and any all chemicals/neurotransmitters and energies to reduce pain, reduce blood pressure and increase my tolerance for this experience. I asked for the healers that I channel to flow as much through me and to me as possible for this experience.
My Guides showed me that each needle down from Artist, infused my body with healing energy. I was being tortured artistically (of my own choosing) by a Healer. Ok, I agreed, this is good. But why so much pain? They began to stand around us fascinated. My Guides asked me if it felt like a cactus being rolled over my belly? Or a sander being applied to my skin? I could feel Guides and Angels stroking my hair and supporting me energetically, the whole time. Artist and I talked for the first hour or so. We discovered commonalities in our passions for education, community contacts and walking through the world in alternative ways. I reached a point of needing to ‘focus’ on pain reduction in ways other than conversation.
I found myself, as a frequent out-of-body traveler, unable to leave my body. Me to Artist, “I can leave my body quite easily. I’ve been doing it since age 7 that I can remember. I’m trying to do so and the pain of each needling commands me into my body. This call to Presence is unique and fascinating.” And off I went into my zone again for awhile.
I practiced Tonglen meditation for awhile. It’s a Tibetan Buddhist practice of breathing in pain, transmuting it and expelling less pain, essentially. It was less than effective in this case.
I turned to mantra, mentally. This did help and it took my perspective to a level of attention, that while still in the pain was also above the pain. I have no trouble existing at multiple levels of consciousness simultaneously, so this approach worked a bit. I was surfing the mantra of something around love, beauty, peace, no pain, etc. This started to get me to a borderline comfortable space (not much about this 5 hour foray could be described as comfortable), until of course, I began to feel like I was going into shock. I had begun to feel that I was leaving my body and also felt my hands, arms and feet chattering with cold. I was heady and feeling like I was loosing it or slipping into some version of shock. So dramatic sounding, I know! Me to Me, mentally, “We are not pulling this Drama here. I’m sure Artist knows CPR but I’ll be damned if this process is going to be interrupted by something like that. He probably won’t be able to finish this tattoo today if he has to do CPR on me.” Me to Artist, “OK. So I’m feeling really cold. Can you please turn up the temperature in here? “ Long pause while he looks at me and contemplates, “Ok.” Gloves come off, he disappears and reappears a few minutes later. My body warms and I stay out of that shock zone.
I begin to realize, that we are only about halfway through (2 hours in) by now. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to make it through this. I ask for a break again and he looks at me funny – I tell him I really only want my headphones to try and listen to an audio book. Getting them and getting re-started, with narration in my ears, seems to work for a minute. I become acutely aware of the brightness of the lights and find a way to cover my eyes and begin with some yogic breathing/pranayama. I tried nadi shodhan breathing but to no avail. It involved just too much attention. I settled in with ujjayi breathing, a very natural state for me. Ujjayi breathing is best known by the loud, nasal type hissing that accompanies it – this sound is also called ajapa mantra. Ajapa mantra, also known as the ‘unspoken mantra’ serves three purposes, all of which felt critical to this process. It helps to slow the breath down, in order to focus awareness on the breath and to prevent your mind from wandering and finally to regulate the smooth flow of breath. I’d had a chat with Artist on whether breathing interfered with my directions to ‘stay still’ during the body art process. He said he can work with typical, diaphragmatic breathing. Well I knew I was going all deep and loud and filling my belly with this one. It was the ticket though, he’d had to deal in my mind. We never discussed it – I just got loud and rhythmic and he rolled right along with it. Whether my belly was distended or deflated with air, he did his thing. I initially tried for a deep, belly-filling breath before needles down – but realized that either direction worked to reduce the pain and settle into a flow with him.
Inspired by Maya Angelou, I recently swore off of cursing. In reality it has been reduced while not completely eliminated. During this body art process I uttered only one curse word. I’m pretty proud of that fact. More so, I’m feeling pretty victorious and courageous. I’ve been told I now have ‘street cred’ for undergoing a 4+ hour tattoo on my belly as a first-piece-of-body-art. Not going for street cred, but for healing and personal expansion, I suppose street cred has its place in those processes.
Matt Stankis at Northside Tattoo in Wilmington, DE http://northsidetattoos.com/ is the consummate, body Artiste professional. He’d come highly recommended to me and my experience will perpetuate this high level recommendation.
Having been on steroids during one of my pregnancies, they wreaked havoc on my belly skin. Matt doesn’t tend to do scar work and has a particular approach for stretch marks. My case was something I don’t know that he’d seen before and I give him huge kudos for swiftly coming up with a way to artistically honor this process and part of my body for me.
All of my spiritual healing and guidance have served me well – I had very little redness from the get go and a swift healing process. Nine days out I am still peeling a bit and will post photos in the future. In the meantime, know that the verbal feedback is a whole slew of impressed beings with Matt Stankis’ artistry.
Angela Bixby is a professional psychic, medium and energy healer in Wilmington, Delaware. Her passion is teaching and coaching people through their own lotus openings as they grow their intuition.
Learn more about her here: www.energyintuit.com