The Girl with the Bear Tattoo

bear_1402239cI like to look at people’s tattoos. The ink they have placed on specific parts of their bodies. And, I wonder what significant meaning they hold.

A couple of weeks ago, a girl was next to me in my yoga class and as I looked over at her, I noticed she had a bear tattoo on the upper part of her left arm.  This surprised me, because girls normally get tattoos of flowers, words, Chinese symbols or, like me, dragons.  I wanted to go rushing over to her with my millions of questions to find out what it meant and why she put it there. But, being a respectful yogini, I didn’t want to interrupt her centering before class and left the questions until after our practice.

After a final Namaste ended our practice, I ventured over to the girl with the bear tattoo to inquire into its meaning. My mind wondered if it had something to do with Native American heritage or if she had taken on the bear as her token spirit guide, something to protect her in times of trouble.

Gently, I approached her and she seemed a little hesitant at first. As she could feel my genuine intrigue, she opened up and shared with me what it meant to her. Bears fascinated her with their power and might but, at the same time, she had carried a fear for them. With that, I told her it was really cool and she replied, “Thank you for noticing.”   I heard the gratefulness in her voice that came from someone recognizing what she honored and it brought a warm feeling to my heart.

Afterward, I started wondering about the things in our lives that carry power and might but at the same time, invoke fears in us that we are trying to overcome.  The girl used the bear tattoo as a reminder that something big and powerful can be scary but instead of running from it, she had it out in the open to meet it head on.

The exchange reminded me of what Carolyn Myss says about facing your shadow side, the fears that we keep hidden, “Bring your shadows into the light or you will be fighting them in the dark.”

Lots of love and light to face your fears-