Tantra and tattoos in Japan

To my surprise I have found many similarities between my time in Japan and the Tantra workshop I did in Thailand a few weeks before. Both experiences were all about embracing my feminine side, being in the moment, surrendering, not trying to control. Since this was such a powerful experience, exploring an important but unfamiliar side of me, I decided to get a tattoo as a permanent reminder to explore further. More about that at the end of this post… The central theme of my Japan trip was ‘Lost in translation’. Not being able to understand the language made me feel like a complete beginner again. I kind of like the feeling of wonder, of being able to say ‘I have no clue’ of not being in control. Just like in the tantra workshop I felt like this was not my ‘language’, not my area of familiarity. Which means a chance to be surprised, to learn and to grow.

Many people asked why I didn’t use Google translate more often. Practically this was not always possible: there are so many signs, everywhere! Plus it was often too cold to take my gloves off, take my phone out, take a picture, look at the translation, put my phone back, gloves back on and continue to the next mysterious sign. But the most important reason I did not try to translate everything turned out to be psychological: apparently I had decided to give up control and go with the flow. I liked that idea. It made me feel like “Esther in Wonderland” with a surprise around every corner. This feeling of surrender even applied to food (my passion!).

Normally I am pretty picky about what I eat: I prefer biological, local, vegetarian or even vegan food. I try not to eat refined sugar, bread, rice or pasta and make sure I get enough veggies. Forget about that in Japan. Food is always a surprise. So I had to completely let go again. I eat what I am being served (rice, noodles, fish, meat, whatever!) and don’t even think about trying to control it. I surrendered and now feel completely free from any restrictions or ‘rules’. When I leave Japan I can decide if I want to go back to my regular ‘diet’ or not. I went skiing in a snowstorm, in an unfamiliar area, with very poor visibility. This meant that I had to completely trust my body; having more than 30 years of ski experience, my body would know what to do. And it could decide and react faster than my brain. I had to trust the little experience I had with Japanese ski resorts: slopes were prepared well; no hidden bumps, no unexpected turns. I had to trust nature: this powder snow was soft, not frozen or heavy like sometimes happens in Europe. I had to trust, let go and surrender. Be completely in the moment to react to whatever I felt was needed that instant. And you know what? I enjoyed the feeling of being completely in the moment, of not thinking at all.

The skiing was incredible; I did not fall or even stumble once. Sometimes I felt like I was flying, many times a smile appeared on my face. In this case I don’t have to explain the similarities to tantra, do I? So what I wanted to share is that these completely different situations, locations, themes and intentions can lead to the same insights and experiences. It actually reinforces the familiarity of being in the moment when you experience it twice under such different circumstances. You learn to recognize it, trust it. Even ‘going with the flow’ needs practice and experience before you can trust it. Just like my body knows how to ski in a snowstorm, based on many years skiing experience. So how do I keep practicing this state of surrender?

On the last evening of the tantra workshop in Thailand – a celebration of the god and goddess in each of us – somebody put a sticker tattoo on my upper arm. I really liked it. It made me feel feminine and aware of my body. The days after, as the sticker tattoo kept drawing my attention, for the first time in my life I started thinking about getting a tattoo. Now, with these recent experiences in Japan, I wanted to keep this feeling of surrender and wonder about life, of flow and being in the moment. A tattoo could be a perfect, permanent reminder to seek this state of awareness. And what better place to get a tattoo than in Japan? So I went to a tattoo shop and had a tattoo designed.

Esther jacobs gets a tattoo

The tattoo represents my feminine side. It is homage to the strength and wisdom of my body, to sensitivity and strength, trust and surrender. The waves stand for the effortless flow of life, for movement, for dancing through life. The dotted lines remind me that I do not have to take a straight line to a goal anymore; instead I want to enjoy the journey and take my time: the trip itself is my goal. The dots, or circles, are a representation of the universe in it’s simplest form, a primal symbol of the sun, of life and the universal cycle of life. And, of course, looking back, you’ll be able to connect the dots… 

The next day I went back and got the tattoo!!!!
connecting the dots tattoo
Esther jacobs gets a tattoo

WHAT ABOUT YOU? If you would ever get a tattoo, even if you never thought about it before: what would it stand for? What would it to mean to you? Do you need a tattoo to remind you of this, or is there another way you can invite this in your life?

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