Mantra Tattoo ๐Ÿ–Œ

This is my forearm tattoo which is a kind of Aztec/hieroglyphics jumble of symbols. Where each symbol represents a different mantra/quote or lesson I want to remember. Mostly designed by myself with various input along the way.


Here's a guide to each mantra/symbol.

Phase 1 Mantra Tattoo Explanation

1 - Ego is the Enemy


As an awesome person it's hard to remember that you're not actually as awesome as you think. And thinking you're more awesome than you are has a lot of downsides.


The first part of this symbol is the loose form of the letter G from the word "Ego":

Mantra Tattoo Ego is the Enemy

Mixed with a devil horn to symbolise enemy:

Mantra Tattoo Horn

2 - Overcome your impulses


Most of the stupid things we do in life come down to giving into our monkey brain and acting on impulse. Where taking a moment to think a bit beforehand could have been a better idea.


This one is shown through a pulse wave for the impulse part:

Mantra Tattoo Impulse

3 - 80:20 ratio


The 80:20 ratio is the idea that with many activities we do, you should be able to find the key 20% of work that accounts for 80% of the progress. We don't always need to do 100% of the activity so this is about being effective with your time, not just efficient. As it's totally possible to be very efficient at doing something that doesn't need doing. This is about being efficient at doing only what needs to be done.


At all the points labelled (3) in the image, you can see a break in the artwork. These breaks loosely represent the 80:20 ratio.

4 - Focus


I'm notoriously bad at focusing on 1 thing at a time. This is to remind me to stay focussed.


The spiral going inwards represents focus.

Mantra Tattoo Focus

5 - Filter all your decisions through your why


Whatever purpose(s) and goals you have in life, every decision you make should be in service of 1 or more of those goals. Otherwise why are you doing it?


This one is made of 2 parts. The question mark, symbolising why:

Mantra Tattoo Filter

And 1 half of a filter flask to show the filter part of the mantra.

Mantra Tattoo Why

6 - Listen


One of the best ways to improve your relationships is to simply listen to the other person. It's all too easy to be thinking of what to say next, or commenting in your mind, rather than actively listening and absorbing what the other person is saying and doing. It's a lesson from improv comedy that I find super important in life.


The first part of this is the letter L from "Listen"

Mantra Tattoo Listen

The next part is audio waves.

Mantra Tattoo Audio Waves

7 - You will not live forever


I don't particularly want to die, and kinda feel like I'll live forever. This is a reminder that it is not at all likely.


A broken triangle, showing that it does carry on forever.

Mantra Tattoo Death

8 - Yes And


"Yes And" is one of the core principle in improv comedy, which I've done quite a bit of. It's about agreeing and building stuff together. The ideas can be taking into real life and I've found them super useful for improving relationships and having more fun with folk.


The letter Y:

Mantra Tattoo Y

The letter E:

Mantra Tattoo E

The letter S:

Mantra Tattoo S

And finally and ampersand "&":

Mantra Tattoo And

9 - Rationality


"Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" is my favourite Harry Potter book, and an amazing fan fiction. It explains a lot of great concepts about rationality and taught me loads. So this is a reminder of that.


This part of the tattoo is meant to loosely represent the Elder Wand from Harry Potter. If you see the depictions of it from the films you can see the loose resemblance.

Mantra Tattoo Rationality

10 - Don't be a dick


Rule no 1. Don't be a dick.


Get it?

Mantra Tattoo Dick

11 - Don't take things too seriously


Why have a serious life when you can laugh at everything?


It's a face shrugging its shoulders. Kinda like it's going why not?

Mantra Tattoo Serious

12 - Live in the now/mindfulness


Mindfulness and meditation get a lot of things right. Focusing on the moment rather than the past or present has helped me be happier. I don't want to forget.


This whole piece and the circle at the bottom forms a giant exclamation mark, for now!

Mantra Tattoo Now

13 - Hell yeah or no


There's so many amazing things to do with your time, if you have too much choice sometimes if your response isn't "Hell Yeah" maybe it should be "No.


The devil horn stands for "Hell"

Mantra Tattoo Horn

The 2 vertical lines are an "OR" symbol in JavaScript

Mantra Tattoo Or

Updates ๐Ÿ”ผ

2019-09-09 - 2019-09-09

Got the 2nd phase design tattooed.

Mantra Tattoo Phase 2

2019-07-01 - 2019-08-30

This was for the phase 2 designs. I got the initial tattoo done in December 2018, so this piece of work was to add a few new mantras to the original:

  • Don't be a dick
  • Yes and (improv comedy saying)
  • Live in the now (mindfulness)
  • Rationality (Just a reminder about being rational)
  • Enjoy life
  • Don't take things too seriously
  • Hell yeah or no

Unlike the first phase which was entirely designed by me, I did some initial designs and got some help on 99 designs and then finished it off myself from there.

  • Finish the design for phase 2

Phase 2 Mantra Tattoo Design