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Shambhala Sun | May 2012
You'll find this article on page 58 of the magazine.


Never Too Old


It wasn’t easy to find the right spot for my Tibetan OM calligraphy tattoo. My first choice was the little space between my inner ankle and heel. But my tattoo artist put the kibosh on that idea, telling me up front that the skin in that area is tough, the tattoo wouldn’t heal well, and in the end I’d look like I had a jailhouse tattoo. He suggested going just above the ankle or higher up toward the more fleshy part of the outer calf. Or I could consider such popular sites such as the sacrum or back of the neck.

These last suggestions received an immediate no. Feeling like I was mature enough at fifty-eight to finally get a permanent mark on my body, I wasn’t going for a secret tattoo only known to my lover or the other yoginis in my studio changing room. I wanted my tattoo to show!

I put on my glasses to more carefully consider my options. This is the same body that I touch every day in the shower, that I stretch and twist every day on the yoga mat, and that I usually dress in at least three different outfits before settling on the clothes for each day. But with my glasses on—whoa! My hands were looking way too much like my mom’s, and she’s eighty-five. My upper arms were out of the question, looking strong but squishy, too. And I wasn’t crazy about my calves, either.

Using a finger to keep my glasses on as I bent over, I took a closer look at the top of my feet. Even they were getting wrinkled and dry. For a moment I thought maybe I’m just too old for this, my body is just too crinkly and blubbey and flakey and wrong. Then I got a grip. My feet have wrinkles because I’ve been articulating my phalanges and stretching my metatarsals all day for the last forty years. And it’s winter and my feet are dry, and so what?

I took off my glasses and told Damian to put the OM on the top of my right arch. It cracked a little bit during the healing process, especially where my foot bends as I stand in a fierce Warrior One Pose. But when I come out of that pose, the top of my foot smoothes out again, clearly exposing the symbol of OM, the union of body, speech, and mind. How perfect that my tattoo flexes, stretches, and changes just like the rest of me.

Cyndi Lee is founder of OM yoga in New York City and the author of
Yoga Body, Buddha Mind. Our thanks to her for providing the above photo of her new tattoo.

From the May 2012 Shambhala Sun magazine. Click here to browse the entire issue online.

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