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Conscious Inklings Blog. IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INK-SPIRATION. / conscious-ink

If not now when? temporary tattoo

Life is short. There is no more time to waste.

Life is short. There is no time to waste time on what does not matter. What matters is our bliss and our bliss and doing whatever it takes to achieve that.
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This Little Light of Mine

This Little Light of Mine

A few months ago, after being repeatedly encouraged by friends, I decided to check out a class at a local dance studio.  I browsed through the descriptions of the various classes and for some reason, a class called “Pop Video with Brandon” just stood out to me.  Who doesn't want to be able to dance like they’re killing it in a music video?

So, I showed up to my first day of class, and as I sat on the wooden floor of the dance studio, stretching, I realized that I was really nervous.  I hadn’t taken a dance class in over 15 years, and even then I took modern and ballet.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to learn the pop and hip hop infused choreography and that I would end up just making a fool out of myself.  Just as my anxiety was starting to hit a peak, the instructor walked, or rather, bounced into the room.

I was instantly fascinated with Brandon.  Everything about him was striking.  Physically, he was tall and lean, with ebony skin, and a megawatt smile.  He was dressed in true pop video star style, with 1970s basketball short shorts, sneaks, and a barely there tank top, and somehow, on him, the look seemed simultaneously fabulous and effortless.  Even more striking than his appearance though, was, what I can only describe as, his aura.  An incredible light seemed to radiate from him, and I was so busy being intrigued by this person that I forgot how nervous I was.

Brandon hit the music and we warmed up to the sounds of Beyonce, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson, before shifting into the choreography.  I watched Brandon demonstrate dance sequences, and I could feel my movements becoming stiff and awkward as my incredibly stubborn perfectionist tendencies took hold.  I continued to study Brandon, trying to understand the secret to his dance amazingness, and then it hit me.  While he was certainly executing every move to perfection, fluid in one moment and then sharp the next, it wasn’t what he was doing as much as how he was doing it.

The only word that accurately describes Brandon when he dances is fierce.  As I watched Brandon dance, I noticed that he was expressing every ounce of his passion, joy, and talent in every movement.  He wasn't holding anything back, he was fearless, and it was a revelation. He moved around the room, beaming his infectious, child-like smile and calling out encouraging things to my classmates and me.  “Work it!....Yeah!...Holla!”

I looked around at my various classmates—people of every age, shape, color, and gender.  They, too, were completely letting go and dancing like their lives depended on it.  No, not everyone was hitting every move perfectly, but no one seemed to care.  They were all too busy being Beyonce, Britney, or Michael.

As I found my own fearlessness and began to let go of my inhibitions, self-criticisms, and worries, I found a power inside of myself that I didn’t even realize I had been suppressing.  I found my own fierceness, and I realized that this is what makes a pop star.  This is the “it factor” that people talk about.  The ability to not hold back even a tiny bit of your own greatness, and I couldn’t help but think about one of my favorite Marianne Williamson quotes.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ ”

In that moment, I realized how much I have lived within this perspective, this idea that I should be careful not to shine too brightly.  That it might be threatening to someone else or that it might be too much to live up to.  That, maybe, I am not worthy of being great.  But the ever-wise Marianne Williamson goes on to ask the question that Brandon implied in his class. “Who are you not to be?”  Why should you subdue your light?

Williamson illuminates the truth that was unveiling itself to me.  Sweat-soaked, in the middle of a dance class, with club music blasting, I realized what my classmates and Brandon seemed to already know.  “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

This is what Brandon’s class was about—liberation.  Liberation from our fears, from the limitations that we place upon ourselves.   I went into a dance class, hoping to get a good sweat and some new moves, and I came away with a lesson that I have carried with me every day since: Not only do you not have to hide your light, you absolutely should let your light shine as brightly as it will, because the very act of doing so just might give someone else permission to do the same.  And that is, most definitely, a gift.

 Looking for a way to remember to let your light shine?  Check out the amazing affirmation tattoos in The Conscious Ink Store

Conscious Ink tattoos are designed to encourage you to connect with your inner light and share it with others!

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The Art of Balance

The Art of Balance

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of balance.  It’s one of those things that we often take for granted, like our health, but once we’re struggling to maintain it, its value becomes abundantly clear.  Losing your balance physically can be an uncomfortable and even scary experience.  One moment you might be standing with your feet planted firmly on the ground, but then the surface beneath you shifts, and your body must immediately respond in order to regain stability.  Luckily, our bodies are built with systems that work automatically to maintain physical equilibrium.  We don’t have to think about how to adjust when we feel ourselves becoming unsteady; our limbs simply move into place to attain balance once again.  But, what happens when the loss of balance occurs on an emotional or spiritual level?

 We can lose our emotional balance in a number of ways.  Unexpected life events sometimes leave us feeling as if the ground beneath our feet has shifted or we dedicate too much of our time or energy to only one aspect of our lives.  Over time, too much or not enough work, play, sleep, or food eventually take its toll on our wellbeing.  Addictions, emotional struggles, and unfair expectations lead us to push the boundaries of what is healthy for ourselves, and we restrict, over-indulge, pressure, or neglect ourselves until we feel completely disconnected from our own centers.  We suddenly find ourselves living lifestyles that aren’t sustainable, but how do we stop?  How do we find the balance that we lost?

Any yogi can tell you that balance is a skill that must be practiced and honed.  It is not a static state that will necessarily persist once attained, but requires constant maintenance.  You might find your balance, then start to lose it, recalibrate, and find balance again only to feel it slip once more.  While our physical response to losing balance is automatic, it is still an ability that can be refined and the same is true of our ability to maintain emotional balance.  It is through the practice of staying present in each moment and staying connected to our inner truths that we build a deeper awareness of the unique set of factors that lead to a strong spiritual foundation in each of our lives.  As we becomes more tuned in to our emotional states, we see more clearly the signs that let us know when we have pushed ourselves too far or have neglected something that is vital to our sense of wellbeing, and we give ourselves the opportunity to become experts in the never-ending art of creating balance.

Want to stay present, tuned in, and balanced in your every day life? Click HERE and see which message is speaking to you today. 

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I am enough. Enough.

I am enough. Enough.

There were really only a few different types of thoughts that were coming up for me and the category of thought that seemed to be most prevalent and most persistent was what I call “planning”.
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The Secret to Life

The Secret to Life

Have you ever known someone who appeared to have the secret to life?  Someone who inspires you on a daily basis to be a better you just by being, well, them? I’ve been lucky enough to have a few of these people in my life and I have always been amazed by the way they seem to never really struggle too much with anything.  While it’s possible that these people are just really lucky and never have anything negative happen in their life (okay, actually not possible), it seems to me that somehow they have managed to figure out how to respond to whatever comes their way with an incredibly grounded sense of peace and acceptance.

This is certainly not to say that their lives are perfect by any means, but that in the midst of even their most difficult times, they know that the moment will eventually pass, and they focus on looking for something positive in every moment, every interaction, every life experience that comes their way.  They make it their mission to find joy, beauty, and love in everything around them.

So this is the part where I remind you that the title of this article is “The secret to life” not “ I have the secret to life”, because I certainly haven’t figured this one out, yet.  Still, I have been very observant of those around me who seem to have the hang of it.  I notice the ways that they breathe into the difficult moments, let go of the things that do not serve them, and move towards the experiences that make them feel blissfully alive, and I take very good notes.  (Mostly, mentally though because it might creep my friends out a bit if I was following them around with a notepad and pen.)

I pay close attention as they handle the situations that arise in their own lives with a sense of acceptance and faith, compassion for themselves and others, and a joy that is not based in anything more than the simple joy of being alive and present for the moment at hand.   I watch as they approach their experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to laugh at life’s ironies and at themselves.  I watch and I remind myself that the secret to life is not a magic bullet that rushes in, but is, in fact, a practice.  It is a conscious choice to set positive intentions for yourself and others every day.  It involves a constant dedication to creating a life that is rich with positivity and love, and even though it may not make all of life’s difficulties disappear, it most certainly creates a new perspective in which every experience can be embraced as part of the simultaneously intricate and beautifully simple experience of a life well-lived.
Set positive intentions for yourself daily with Conscious Ink temporary tattoos. Our tattoos were designed to help you find joy, beauty, and love in every moment and are available in The Conscious Ink Store
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How our outer world reflects our inner world...literally.

How our outer world reflects our inner world...literally.

Mirror, mirror...what do you have to teach me?

We often hear that our world, and our relationships, mirror back to us how we're acting and behaving. Oftentimes, people think that this simply means what's being reflected back is our treatment of others…what some people think of as Karma, so to speak. While this may also be identified, this isn't the primary mechanism of how this "law" works.

With a deeper look, we see that our world, and relationships, actually reflect back HOW WE TREAT OURSELVES. So, if we don't value ourselves, the world reflects back situations where we won't feel valued. If we see ourselves as stupid, the world reflects back situations where we will feel stupid. If we run away from our emotions, this is the behavior we'll experience from others. Our thoughts, actions and behaviors are fueled by the beliefs we have about ourselves, and our world.

We actually create (subconsciously) a reality that brings forth situations that trigger the feelings we're used to having. Think about it. We end up feeling the same feelings over and over and over.

The people, situations, and scenery may be different, but the underlying storyline stays the same.

This may seem cruel and unusual karmic punishment. But, in truth, it's actually grace in action. This mechanism allows us to see vividly where our wounds and patterns are, where we're off the mark, where we're not in alignment with our true selves. It gives us the opportunity to learn, heal and make new choices that reflect the truth of who we really are.

So, if you're not sure of all the subtle, and not so subtle, ways you're treating yourself, and the beliefs you employ, just notice how the world is treating you. Then notice how you're treating yourself the exact same way. If you’d like to change these patterns, make a commitment to treat yourself in the way you'd like to be treated from the outside world.

Breathe. Be gentle. Have compassion for yourself. A lot of emotions may come up. Perfect. This will give you an opportunity to practice self love...the one and only, all-purpose healing elixir.

Frank Gjata,

Founder, Conscious Ink

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Unlocking the Door to Forgiveness

Unlocking the Door to Forgiveness

I was having a conversation with a family friend recently and the topic shifted to the importance of forgiveness.  My conversation partner mentioned that she felt like she was pretty good at forgiving people and I responded by telling her that I forgive, but that first I need a resolution.  She very quickly pointed out that that was not, in fact, forgiveness because forgiveness is not conditional.  When she said this, I had an immediate physical reaction.

I wanted to argue with her, to defend myself, and to tell her that you can’t just decide to forgive someone.  I wanted to say that you have to truly feel forgiveness before you can bestow it upon someone else, and as much sometimes I wish I could, I can’t choose what to feel.  Clearly, her comment had struck a nerve, and in my experience, that typically means that someone has shone a light on a truth that is difficult to face.

Since our conversation, I noticed that messages about forgiveness were popping up all around me, and once again, I knew that the universe was trying to show me the places inside of myself where I still had room to grow.  If I am going to be really honest, I have not been very good at forgiving people.  I have struggled with holding on to hurt and anger, and at points, have held grudges for very long periods of time.

I used to think of forgiveness as something that we do for someone else, to release another person from their guilt, but in recent years, I have had a new experience of forgiveness.  I have had moments in which, quite spontaneously, I could feel myself releasing the hurt and anger that I had held onto from old, broken relationships.  These moments left me humbled as I felt the heavy burden of carrying all of that negative energy lift, and this new sense of lightness led me to the realization that forgiveness is much more about the individual who is giving forgiveness than the one who is receiving it.

The actions of others that tend to hurt and anger us the most are usually the ones that reflect the parts of ourselves with which we struggle most intensely.  The things that are the hardest to forgive are often the things that hit closest to home, the things that we too feel guilt around.  Just like you have to truly love yourself before you can love another, you must also forgive yourself before you can forgive others, and the key that unlocks the door to forgiveness is compassion.

Jack Kornfield says that, “forgiveness simply means never putting another person out of your heart.”  As we develop a deep sense of compassion for ourselves, we can extend that love and understanding to include those around us.  While it may not be possible to simply choose to feel forgiveness toward someone, we can start with trying to understand that person.  Even the tiniest spark of empathy can be fed and tended to until it builds into the full flame of compassion that allows us to release hurt and pain and to let go The temporary tattoos in the Conscious Ink Store were designed to promote personal growth and inspire people to live the most authentic, blissful lives they can imagine.
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Rebecca's Story

Rebecca's Story

People are always telling us how much they love sporting our fun, inspiring, and provocative body art, and it is always such a gift to hear that people enjoy our tattoos as much as we do!
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Are You Pretending? Take This Test.

Are You Pretending? Take This Test.

As humans, we do a lot of pretending.

A lot. A lot.

We may pretend that small talk is interesting. We may pretend a problem isn't really a problem. We may pretend that we're not truly responsible for the state of our lives.

If life was an acting class, we'd all get "A's"!

But when we "pretend", we live in a fake world, a world that doesn't exist.  And we can't change anything in a world that doesn't exist.

And we wonder why things stay the same.

It's kinda funny, in a predominantly materialistic world, where possessions are lauded, we humans, really don't want to "own" anything! Well, anything that requires our responsibility, our accountability. 

Of course, it's understandable. For the most part, we've been living in a world that equates responsibility with blame, and shame.

We don't want to posses anything that could land us in hot water.

But here's the problem of shunning ownership of a situation in our lives: If we don't own something, we have no power over it.

It's worth repeating. If we don't own it, we have no power over it.

Quite literally, too. We have no control over something we don't own. We can't paint a car with pink polka dots, if we don't own that car. But if we own that car, we can change it, modify it, improve it, anyway we like. Fun times.

The same applies to anything we're willing to own...a challenging relationship, an unsatisfying job, our self-defeating behaviors.

When we take personal responsibility for everything in our lives, the first thing we may notice is that...it's freeing! The opposite of what we may have thought.

The truth is light, very, very light.

The next thing that we may notice is that...we feel energized! Pretending, hiding, posturing are all very heavy, draining energies.

So, here's the invitation: Own some situation in your life you've been afraid to acknowledge.

It can just be to acknowledge it to yourself to start. Try it on. Own it. Then if you're feeling brave, say it out loud. Sing it. Dance with it. More brave? Share it with a friend? Even more brave? Share it with a person that is directly involved with your newly acknowledged truth.

Then implement wonder.

Get curious about how you may have been subconsciously attracting the situation. How do those energies feel familiar? Where did you learn these behaviors?

Then implement compassion, for yourself, and everyone involved.

Once you're ready, ask yourself what actions and behaviors would set yourself up to receive what you truly desire. What actions and behaviors would reflect your authentic self, as opposed to your wounded, subconscious self?

Breathe.

Let those sink in.

Make a commitment to these new self-loving, authentic actions and behaviors.

And if you falter, give yourself a break. Simply re-commit.

Be gentle. Yet, move forward. One step at a time.

Courage, dear heart.

 

Frank Gjata

Founder, Conscious Ink

 

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Wanderlust: A Journey Back To You

Wanderlust: A Journey Back To You


“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
-Steve Jobs

We humans are quite keen on knowing where we are headed at all times. It gives us a sense of certainty. Something tangible to hold onto, like a road map that guarantees if you take all of the right turns you will arrive at your destination. The problem is that life does not work like this. Life is not a straight-line trajectory- it ebbs and flows. Often times you have to wander off-trail to figure out who you are, what it is that you want and bring these desires to fruition.

I have always been a wanderer myself- quick to abandon a promising, secure path the moment it proves to not be a fulfilling choice for me. My family and friends were particularly worried when I dropped out of high school 3 months into my freshman year. Although this is the path that is seen as necessary in our society, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more waiting for me outside the classroom.

From wandering off of the societally appropriate path, I was able to get in touch with myself and achieve what I previously thought was out of reach. Over the course of 4 years I traveled across the country, hiked through the Sierras and managed to complete my Associate’s Degree at 18, when my high school class was just graduating. This all came from listening to my intuition and letting it guide me, even when it felt insanely impractical to do so.

All too often our desperate need to know where the next step will lead blocks the guidance our intuition provides for us. Intuition is like that high school boyfriend your parents didn’t care for. It shows up, windblown hair and leather pants, daring you to hop on the back of its’ motorcycle. Every bone in your body is screaming for you to hop on, but your mind is like erm, Amanda, you have Biology at 12. And this is how you miss out on the thrill of a journey intuition paved out for you.

Wandering is an essential part of listening to your intuition.

Your intuition will lead you down awry paths that may not always make practical sense but feel right in your gut. Onlookers will likely take your swerve off-track as a sign of you being lost in life but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Following your intuition only brings you closer to yourself. In reality you are not lost, you are actually closer to finding yourself than ever before.

With that being said, I urge you to tune into that gut feeling lying beneath all of the well-laid plans. When you get the impulse to flee from the perfect path you’ve carved out for yourself, know that there is no harm in wandering off course.

Often times it is the dirt road with the overgrown bushes that leads you back to who you really are.

 

Amanda Brown

Conscious Ink Staffer

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Behind the Ink: “I can begin again…”

Behind the Ink: “I can begin again…”

“It looked like a death sentence,” says Collins King about the moment she got up at 3am to reflect on her cancer diagnosis. But fast forward nearly a decade and now she is celebrating 7 years cancer-free! “I'll be 7 years out in November 2017 for Triple Negative Breast can-sur. I don't even spell it out and give it merit.“

But after chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, at 53, Collins started having body issues. Then Collins saw Conscious Ink tattoos  pop up in her Facebook newsfeed. Collins had decided to start a workout regiment. She wanted something positive on her skin that was visible to keep her on track, keep her positive and so she began wearing a Manifestation Tattoo on her right wrist every day before a workout.

You are loved.

Love your body.

Empowerment.

These were the words that she wore to remind her of her own strength. “Every time I look down at that tattoo, I am reminded that I can begin again.”

Collins can’t have tattoos (needles) in her arm and these tattoos allowed her the beauty and purpose of a tattoo without the actual ink, needles or permanence.

“I love wearing them and when my friends ask, ‘did you get ink?’ I say ‘temporary on the skin, indelible on the soul’ to them.”

In the end, it comes down to the words we choose for ourselves.

Collins says that if she could leave a single message to the world, it would be:

“Life is a Journey, not a destination. Go with God. Oh,and of course cancer sucks!”

***
We are honored to be a part of our Inkers journey towards healing.

Have you struggled with an illness? How did you overcome it? What mantra would you claim (or have you claimed) for strength for the journey?


Share your story of healing with our Conscious Ink family. Our collective stories are powerful when we allow them to rise.



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Behind The Ink: Laurie's Story

Behind The Ink: Laurie's Story

Laurie Brown sent her experience of hope and healing. This is her story.

This journey started in February of this year. After a routine mammogram, I was informed that I had breast cancer. I was stunned. Up until that moment, I had never been a patient in a hospital. The last time I had been in a hospital was 56 years ago when I was born! I thought to myself this can't be happening to me. I never get sick. But the tests didn’t lie, and I had to come to terms with the fact that I had cancer.

On Monday, March 27th, the surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled.

It was supposed to be a relatively easy procedure. But then just prior to the surgery, it was determined that the invasive nature of the cancer required a surgery that would be more involved than a lumpectomy. It would be a major surgery. They performed a partial mastectomy on the left breast (where the cancer was located) and for cosmetic reasons, a similar procedure on the right breast.

It turned out that despite the tiny size of the tumor, the genomic analysis of the tumor itself revealed that it's a high-risk cancer (meaning it’s highly invasive and likely to recur and metastasize). That all translated to chemotherapy instead of radiation therapy. In addition, the oncology surgeon recommended that I undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy by the end of the year.

This was devastating news.

When I was informed that I would have to undergo chemotherapy, I was encouraged to seek out community forums like the one at breastcancer.org. The forum has been an invaluable source of support and information (from current patients and survivors). In addition to extremely helpful tips to get ready for and cope with chemo, women have shared the many resources available to breast cancer patients. One of the women shared that she had received a temporary tattoo from Conscious Ink so I decided to check it out. At that point, I had been through one round of chemo and I was looking for any and all forms of support.

I figured since I spend most of my day typing on a computer, I would purchase the tattoos in pairs and apply one to each forearm for the remaining five rounds of chemo. Since the tattoos are temporary, I planned to apply them a few days prior to each round of treatment so that I could focus on the affirmations for a few days – even if only in my peripheral vision.

My favorite word is “Grace”. So I started there.

The chemotherapy would be administered via infusion. To accommodate this process, a port-a-cath (port) was installed in my chest wall. The sight of the wound and the port bothered me. For the first time since this all started, I did not want to look in the mirror.

Then my Conscious Ink order arrived. I decided that if I had to look in the mirror, I wanted to see something positive. I placed the “Perfectly Imperfect” tattoo near the port. When I saw myself in the mirror, I saw the tattoo. I felt better – almost instantly.

I just decided to shave my head since the chemo was making it all fall out (I was kinda hoping the chemo would make me lose weight, not hair!) The bonus tattoo “It’s going to be okay” that came with my order is a wonderful reminder to keep my head and heart high.

So far, I’ve been through one round of chemo with my Conscious Ink tattoos. I know that glancing at “Grace” and remembering to just “Breathe” helped to calm me in the days leading up to the treatment day. I am hopeful that as I continue on this road to recovery, all of the affirmations that I’ve chosen will help to ease the anxiety and fear that can be frequent companions.

Despite the scary diagnosis, painful, (sometimes debilitating) treatment, I cannot, will not, complain. I am blessed to be surrounded by so much love and support from friends and family and coworkers. But what has really given me hope since my diagnosis is the outpouring of truly caring support that I have received from strangers. I don’t mean people like oncology nurses whose job it is to care for me. I mean people I have never met. For example, when I placed my tattoo order, I included a note about why I was making the purchase. On the packing slip that came with my Conscious Ink order, I found a handwritten note from someone named Stephanie. She encouraged me and told me that she was sending “abundant love and healing light” my way.

In today’s climate of hatred and intolerance, these simple acts of compassion and sympathy are sorely needed.

If I could tell the world one thing, I would say, “Be kind.” Take a moment to let people know you care about them. Send cards, texts and emails filled with encouragement, support and much needed humor! Sending a brief one or two line note might seem like a small thing to you. Trust me, the impact can be profound.

* Do you have a Conscious Ink story to tell? Share it with the Conscious Ink family by emailing amy@consciousink.com. 

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