Updated: Oct 29, 2018
At Bigger Life Adventures we’re devoted to finding authentic, meaningful experiences when we travel. Here’s Carrie’s story of one of the coolest things we’ve ever done! Sak Yant bamboo tattoos in Ayutthaya, Thailand!
I have a magic tiger on my back.
And it’s so easy to forget about him! But every once in awhile when I actually look down at my lower back in the mirror, I’m reminded of a very special day.
"Sak yant” bamboo tattooing is a sacred art native to a special mystical group of Buddhist monks in Thailand and Cambodia. The tattoos are given not based on the receiver’s aesthetic preferences, but on what the “ajarn” believes the recipient needs most to protect him or her.
My tiger with its head turned back over its shoulder is a blessing for protection and strength. The tiger is looking over its shoulder at the past, which was difficult but will make me stronger, the Ajarn told me. In fact, Ajarn Wao was shockingly spot-on in telling me some specific details about my dark past without me giving him any clue. In the future my enemies will become jealous of my strength and success, but I shouldn’t worry because in the end I will overcome them! Thus, my tiger is also a reminder to stay in the moment and not worry about the future!
The other part of my sak yant experience which I can’t stop thinking about is this special age chart that Ajarn Wao drew for me.
This chart is based on my birth sign, the Thai zodiac, and a few things I told him about how rough the last couple years of my alcohol addiction were. This chart shows that I am now on the upswing, leaving those years behind me as the worst times in my life, and I will never have to go back to that low level again! Things are going to keep getting better and better until apparently there will be a slight dip when I’m 34. The ajarn implied that this could be because of the jealousies of my enemies, or could be a minor car accident, or something like that. Of course, my worrywart, future-tripping brain immediately started freaking out about “What will happen when I’m 34?” when I received this chart. “But don’t worry!” The ajarn said, “That is nothing major compared to what you have been through, and anyway, it’s not until then. Stay in the now.” This, I think is the ultimate puzzle of a gift that my sak yant experience left me with. The knowledge that negative events will certainly happen in the future but there’s literally nothing I can do about them! It’s really a perfect lesson in mindfulness. And now, I get to go through life with a magic tiger for protection, warnings of what to watch out for, and a reminder to stay present.
Interested in getting a magic Sak Yant yourself? Join us on our Ascend to Your Higher Self in Thailand retreat, Feb. 1-8, 2019. The Sak Yant Experience is an optional add-on and there will be a half-day of time allotted to those who wish to go get their sacred tattoos. Or you can read our more lengthy write-up, watch a video of our experience, and book your own tattoo here!