I’ve wanted a tattoo since the day I turned eighteen. While the design has changed over the last five years, the desire never did. I’ve been in the middle of a season of change (and those closest to me have been changing, too) and recently, it seemed like the right time to get some ink. While the decision to go was something that felt right in my gut, I spent about two days thinking about the design and what I wanted to get.
I settled on the phrase ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ in Sanskrit, inked across the inner side of my left forearm. You can’t see it when I’m writing, typing, or talking – and it’s not the hand that I shake with. I actually struggled to take pictures of it at different angles. It’s pretty hard to see unless my arm is turned upward. The placement wasn’t coincidental, either. My tattoo is only visible when my arm is out and my palm up: a commonly position for worship, prayer, or surrender. While I write in a journal with my right hand, my open arm holding the journal is outstretched and the tattoo is visible.
Om Namah Shivaya is a phrase associated with prayer, divine-love, grace, truth, and blissfulness. It translates to ‘I bow to God’ (technically, ‘I bow to Shivaya’ in Sanskrit) and has been translated loosely as ‘I recognize the divine in me.’ Sanskrit dates back at least 4,000 years and is one of the oldest languages in the world.
I wanted a tattoo that would speak to all elements of spirituality in my life. As I grow, my faith never changes while my definition of religion does. This tattoo is something that reminds me of the divine, of God, and of the greater things in life.
In the past calendar year, I graduated, moved into a new apartment, and got a new job. This year only has more changes in store – I’m going to India in October, for starters – and this is a season of my life that I want to remember. I never want to forget the experiences I’m having with those closest to me in this stage of life and that seemed like a pretty permanent thing to me.