Compassion, Gratitude, Present Moment Awareness


Art by Foster Turtle

“Maybe it is time for you to walk into your fears.” 

Where do I begin? 

Dr. Lindley explained that people oftentimes seek out their fears in order to build courage. Some opt to walk on fire, others swim with sharks. I decided to start with the most accessible route: my fear of needles.

I decided to start with the most accessible route: my fear of needles. 

For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of needles. I have passed out on many occasions while getting my blood drawn. With each of my three pregnancies, I declined an epidural, because my fear of the needle was greater than my fear of labor pain. 

I immediately went home and contacted a tattoo artist. 

I decided my fear of needles was a perfect starting place. Michael Brown suggests that the things that are difficult, like triggers, are messengers that point us to our unfinished work within. Michael suggests figuratively dismissing the messenger (the difficult person or situation) and breathing through the difficult feelings that come up without resisting them. 

I had never before entertained a tattoo. I decided to go with something that represented my journey into fear. A Triskele is an ancient symbol found in many cultures. The Celtic version of the three legged spiral represents a journey of forward motion to reach understanding. The three connected spirals represent everlasting cycles, transforming at each point. The three representations that held special meaning for me:

  • Body, Mind, Spirit
  • Father, Son, Holy Spirit (Divine Feminine)
  • Life, Death, Rebirth

I especially connected to the Triskele as a reminder to not forget my body again. As a child, I learned to forget. There were a lot of good reasons to not trust the sensations of my body or the emotions of my heart. My little girl (me as a child) coped with the chaos by disconnecting from her body and living in her mind. The coping strategies of a little girl are necessary and work for a time. But, these coping strategies became an obstacle to living life fully as an adult.

My fascination with the  Enneagram began to open my eyes to how fragmented I had become. Like the Triskele, the symbol of the Enneagram is also divided into three parts that make up the whole: body, heart, and head. The Enneagram teaches that we develop unconscious coping strategies at a very young age to manage overwhelming fears. When we are afraid, our strategies corner us into rigid unconscious patterns. We unconsciously fragment ourselves, relying on one strategy, while neglecting the other parts of the whole. I relied solely on my thoughts, while neglecting the body and heart. 

My coping became an obstacle to living fully.

I was missing the gifts of the whole.

Unfortunately, the mind by itself has no anchor in present moment. Thoughts by themselves reel haphazardly between past and future like a ship missing its compass in present moment awareness. The sensations in the body; the breath, contractions, lightness, heaviness, etc., always exist in the present moment. Your body sensations are always now. The itch on your foot happens now. A mind that is anchored in the sensations of the body is here now. Emotions anchored in the body are here now. Sadly, a mind all alone by itself is left to think constantly and unproductively with no hope of discernment.

I chose the Triskele as a reminder to not forget my body again. 

I picked out the image of the Triskele featured above. I loved that the three spirals were not perfectly symmetrical, each one is a little different. Each spiral has its own unique wisdom. I could learn to honor the wisdom of each as an experience of the whole. I also loved the three dots that are not typically part of the Triskele. For me, they represented the tools I would need on my journey: compassion, humility, and gratitude. The entire image with its spirals and dots represents Divine Love. 

I decided the image would need to be somewhere I would see it every day because of my tendency to forget myself. I wanted to fully commit, no matter what anyone thought, to really taking on this journey whole-heartedly. I chose my inner left forearm – also connected with my heart. 

Perfect love drives out fear. Love is the guide. Open in love.

Honestly, consciously choosing to get the tattoo gave ample opportunity to work through my fear of needles. For four weeks, I meditated every morning and night. I breathed through the sensations of fear without resisting them. On the day I received the tattoo of the Triskele, I felt completely peaceful. I experienced a needle for the first time without fear.

When the artist was finished, I looked down at my arm and smiled. 

And now it begins…

I commend my Spirit
unto the grace of the Great Way.
Whether consciously or not
this has always been
the doorway to liberation.

All you lovers of truth
and all you true lovers
now is the time to be done with it.
Wash your battle-scarred hands 
in this Presence among us.

Cast off your warriors’ clothing
and slip into your night slippers.
Untie your hair or cut it off.
The Hidden One is present
and doesn’t care where you’ve been 
or what you’ve done
or what you are doing now.

Commend all of yourself-
body, mind, and spirit
to this Grace.
Slip out into the night air
into the waiting
quivering birth of this Golden Heart.

Lean down now
like wet, green grass and
kiss the bottoms of your feet.


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